With the start of the Apex league, Overwatch fans around the globe are privileged to be exposed to the legendary productions of OGN. But, as with the birth of any new esport, we are being rapidly exposed to new talent, and sometimes it may be difficult to judge them.
In the Apex league, we have 12 Korean teams and four western teams. As Overwatch fans are already familiar with the western team lineups and players, they will not be covered in this series. Instead, as the 12 Korean teams debut, I will be discussing the standout players to keep your eye on as the season develops.
A DPS Chameleon: E1kino
Many players in Overwatch are versatile, being able to pick up multiple heroes, but generally to play the same style. For example, Soon on Misfits excels at both Tracer and Reaper, closing with the backline and shredding them apart. But most players struggle to adapt their mindset to multiple styles. Notably, Talespin on EnVyUs seems to have never truly recovered after his beloved Pharah slipped from the meta.
But sometimes, you find that one player who can adapt. And luckily for Flash Lux, their DPS player, E1kino, can do just that. Equally adept at diving upon his foes as Genji or Tracer, he can also surprise his foes with long range headshots on the rarely played Widowmaker, or provide consistent damage on McCree.
Especially on offense when the attacking team has ample opportunity to change up their composition, this versatility allows them to pivot mid map to find an advantage. And it’s not like E1kino is simply proficient on each pick, he is world class. He would, on the same map, successfully flank his foes on Tracer to create havoc, only to later use McCree to shut down the enemy Pharah/Mercy combination.
His notable pocket pick that he used multiple times was Widowmaker. The fact she is almost completely unplayed in the meta plays into his favor, because when he switches to Widowmaker, the enemy team doesn’t expect it and don’t properly hide from sniper fire. He abuses their exposure and promptly hits headshots to create an advantage for his team.
His skill and versatility bode well for his ability to stay relevant if the meta were to change due to patches or adaptations by the teams. Also, his playmaking makes him an exciting player to watch, and definitely a player to keep an eye on.
Death from Strange Angles: Claris
If two months ago I had asked who the best Pharah in the world was, nearly everyone would have answered Talespin. He was completely dominant, and nobody seemed able to ground him. But after the McCree and Zenyatta buffs, Pharah was simply too vulnerable and she fell out of the meta. That being said, Talespin still tried to make the pick work, to mixed success.
Talespin was well known for staying high in the sky, dealing damage from above. This style now leaves him too exposed to enemy fire, but there is another way, which Rhinos Gaming Titan’s DPS player Claris is showing us how. Instead of favoring the death from above, he utilizes unusual positioning to rain death from strange angles.
Notably on King’s Row, he would sneak around in the buildings near point A, only to jump out and use low altitude Rocket Barrages in order to increase how many rockets hit each target. But besides his ultimates, he even just places himself in odd spots to fire upon his foes.
On Numbani, in the street phase, he would place himself on top of statues and buses, making sure to still have cover, but be in a non-standard position to avoid the immediate attention of his foes. Maybe it was only effective this one time, but he was able to land several rockets before he was forced off of his high ground, creating space for his allies to operate.
It isn’t just his Pharah either. He was equally as skilled on finding opportunities to use Reaper’s Death Blossom to pick up multikills. Especially on Anubis point B, Claris constantly changed which angle he approached his foes, allowing him to consistently deal massive damage. These flanks also can split the enemy team. Either they have to turn and deal with Claris and leave their backs to all of Rhinos Gaming Titans, or keep pushing forward, leaving Claris at their backs.
Claris flanks so well that he frees up his team to deal damage without blindly sacrificing himself. His play creates opportunities for his whole team to deal damage, and as such, is a player we need to watch.
The Soviet Korean: Bernar
Zarya is one of the most versatile heroes in Overwatch. She deals damage, provides shields, and has one of the best crowd control ultimates in the game. Her flexibility means she is almost never a bad pick, and as such, we see her picked in nearly every team composition. Especially in this meta, her shield is a necessity to block Roadhog Hooks, or to save the hooked target from being blown up.
And easily, the best Zarya we’ve seen so far in Apex was Bernar of BK Stars. Many Zarya’s fall into the pattern of playing back, trying to hit their lobbed fire on their foes. But Bernar uses the windows where his barrier is available to get up close and personal, dealing damage with his beam fire instead. And BK Stars knows this. Their Ana player, Twilight, was more than willing to Nano Boost Bernar, enabling him to be a huge damage threat in the fight.
The additional damage Bernar deals means that he has Graviton Surge available more often than most Zarya players. Not only does he consistently hit clutch multi-man ultimates, but his team plays around them so well. Bunny, in particular on his Tracer, seemed always ready to follow up with a Pulse Bomb to create the big bang combo.
Bernar’s playstyle on Zarya is unique. His team sets him up to be an offensive threat, which means he gets more Graviton Surges to set up his team for offensive plays. He’s fortunate that Zarya is such a prevalent pick in the meta, and because of this, he is a player we need to keep an eye on.
Precision Korean Engineering: Panker
Overwatch is classified as a shooter game, in which, characters have guns, or ranged attacks. So you wouldn’t traditionally think of a melee character in shooter games as a damage source. And in Overwatch, we don’t really. Yes, Genji with Dragonblade is scary, but he is also insanely mobile and can close onto his enemies. Reinhardt, on the other hand, is not as mobile. Of course, he could charge into the enemy team blindly, but if he misses his charge, then he lacks one of his offensive tools and his only escape tool.
It’s unfortunate for Reinhardt because his hammer does deal significant damage, taking just a few swings to dispatch most foes. Even his fire strike hits with plenty of power. But mostly, Reinhardt is picked for his shield. It’s a game changing ability which forces the enemy team to deal with it, or they allow the Reinhardt’s allies to move freely behind him.
Shielding with Reinhardt is simple, however. Hold down your right mouse button and look in the general direction of your foes. It’s much more difficult to show up on the left side of the kill feed as a Reinhardt player. As we saw this weekend, few tank players are better than Panker of Kongdoo Uncia at doing just that.
He does the usual shielding during the poke wars, but something Panker excels at is hitting precise Fire Strikes. He consistently hits the enemy tanks when both teams are trading poke damage, but what’s more impressive is his ability to close out kills with Fire Strike. His prediction and accuracy are top notch, and he frequently would snipe kills against the enemy Tracer who was trying to blink away.
However, the most unique part of his play is how he ends up in hammer range of his foes. While most Reinhardt players are reliant on either Nano Boost or Speed Boost to close onto their foes, Panker simply edges forward. He doesn’t throw up his shield and just walk in. But instead, he moves back and forth, seemingly not committing to the fight. But the entire time, he is slowly gaining ground.
Once he closes the gap, he quickly goes to work, laying down the hammer and crushing the enemy backline while building ultimate charge to set up his allies. Panker’s unique way of playing Reinhardt is something that should probably be copied by other tank players as it’s incredibly successful. Because of that success, Panker is our final player to keep an eye on.
Who else do you think will be a standout player this season? Comment below or tweet your answer to us @GAMURScom.
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