With OGN’s Overwatch Apex currently being the preeminent league in the world, it’s only natural for the competition to draw lots of attention. Featuring most of the best teams in the world, it has provided us with many thrilling series and hours of highlight reel plays.
Tomorrow begins the bracket stage for the inaugural Apex league. The quarterfinal matchups were drawn yesterday and they promise many exciting and interesting matchups as many teams we’ve never seen clash will go to battle. Both as an exercise for myself and to shine some light on the upcoming games, I’m now going to provide you with my predictions, reasoning and win conditions for upsets in each matchup.
Match A: Reunited vs. Afreeca Blue (AF.Blue)
My Prediction: AF.Blue wins 3-1
Two words: Arhan, Recry. Easily the strongest DPS duo in Korea at the moment, these two Afreeca players are in contention for the best DPS duo in the world. Especially when compared to the DPS players for Reunited of Vallutaja and Unfixed, you can see the gap widen and I believe they’ll simply outclass their counterparts to carry AF.Blue to the win.
After his debut, I questioned whether or not Recry could find consistency and stay at or near his peak performance that we saw flashes of in his series against Rogue. Since then, he has answered that question with a resounding yes. He frequents McCree but also excels on his pocket pick Hanzo, on which Recry finds picks and opens opportunities for the whole of AF.Blue. He has even shown a strong Pharah who, at least in Korea, is seeing a significant amount of play on the latest patch.
Meanwhile, Arhan continues to be one of the best flex DPS players in the world, playing both an excellent Genji and Reaper. Notably that dive style of DPS player is something that Reunited showed some weakness to when they faced LW Blue’s NoName and Saebyeolbe. Look for Arhan to make big plays when he is given a Nano Boost.
Specifically on this patch, the whole team of AF.Blue seems to have received a buff. They have always been extremely well disciplined in their ultimate usage, not wasting their hard earned ultimates, a skill that is even more mandatory now. With players having less ultimates these days, this discipline will be critical in coordinating attacks with multiple ultimates.
AF.Blue is also one of the most decisive teams in Korea. When they smell blood, they go for the kill, frequently striking their foes jugular right as the control point ticks to 99 percent. When Recy does play Hanzo and finds a free kill, they seize the opportunity to push the advantage and split spawn their foes. This adds up to them being my series favorites by a considerable amount. I think Reunited may take the assault map, but I see AF.Blue taking it back on the escort map, which puts the closest the series may be as a 3-1.
If Reunited is going to take the series, it will have to be off the backs of Onigod and WingHaven, the tanks for Reunited. They will need to shut down the DPS duo of AF.Blue, possibly on new picks. Reunited looks their best when WingHaven and Onigod are also having great games, providing offensive pressure of their own. Onigod, however, may be affected by the Zarya nerfs, and I wonder if we’ll see either player on Dva.
The other serious question mark is if Unfixed will still excel on Mei after her nerf. Mei got her ultimate cost increased massively as every ult in the game is more expensive on this patch, but Blizzard specifically was also increased. Unfixed’s biggest strengths of his Mei play is his right click accuracy and wall placement, however, it’s undeniable that the decrease in Blizzard usage will affect his play. If he can remain as effective as he has been in the past, Unfixed may be another x-factor to watch for.
Match B: BK Stars vs. LW Blue
My Prediction: BK Stars wins 3-0
LW Blue is the worst team in the playoffs and made it out of groups on a bit of a fluke. The two series they won were during their enemy’s low points. They faced Kongdoo Panthera before they figured out how to play as a team, and fought Runaway as they began their slump. Just a week ago, they showed some horrid ultimate efficiency against Reunited, as they would fail to win fights when ahead by two or three ultimates.
Meanwhile, BK Stars fought their way to the top of Group B over a strong Kongdoo Uncia and recently displayed some far improved team play as they crushed NRG. Their star DPS player Bunny is likely the best Tracer player in the world and Bernar is a top-two Zarya. Together, the duo forms a fearsome tag team as Bunny distracts you with his mobility for Bernar to melt you with his often Nano Boosted energy beam.
When those two join forces, BK Stars is the best team in the world at executing the Pulse Bomb and Graviton Surge combo, also known as the Big Bang, and it frequently nets them several kills and easy team fight wins. All of the focus this tag team draws opens up plenty of space for Doyeon, BK Star’s hitscan player, to fire freely and assist in cleaning up team fights.
BK Stars has all of the tools in place to easily take this series and I do expect it to be a crushing series 3-0. Especially on the hybrid and assault maps, they are one of the best at defending a point due to their usage of crowd control ultimates.
Sadly for LW Blue fans, I don’t believe there is much chance of them taking the series. If they were to take a map, it would be the control point map and it would have to be Janus who carries them to the finish. When he debuted, his aggressive tank play was still a little unusual in professional Overwatch.
But over the recent weeks, we’ve seen tank play get continually more aggressive as teams realized how effective it was at suffocating your enemy DPS players. Especially on control point maps, where Janus can play Winston, he has a chance to overwhelm the members of BK Stars. However, it seems unlikely because of how adept Bunny is at also affecting the enemy back line.
Match C: Rogue vs. Team EnVyUs (NV)
Prediction: Rogue wins 3-0
Simply put, Rogue is the best team in the world at the moment. Their DPS duo of AKM and Tviq is widely regarded as one of the best in the world and the team operates around them so well. Reinforce is, in my mind, the smartest Reinhardt in the west and he provides such excellent pressure on his enemies that creates space for the previously mentioned DPS duo. Rogue is also one of the best teams at staying slightly spread out as to avoid enemy AOE crowd control, which makes them such a difficult team to attack against.
If you had asked me three days ago, I would have likely told you a 3-1 or 3-2 in favor of Rogue. It would have been a close series, but Rogue would have tipped the matchup definitively in their favor. However, with the recent news of Talespins’s exit from nV, they will likely have no chance. Regardless of who nV does pick up, it will be a new roster that has to both learn to work together and learn the new patch.
I wouldn’t have predicted nV to win regardless, but now it seems impossible. Unfortunately for them, Rogue is still the best, so it will be a 3-0 in favor of Rogue.
This actually gets interesting because depending on who they pick up, their ability to take a map swings massively. If nV picks up a solid DPS player, I can see a world where they win King’s Row. They will very likely lose the control map, and then have map choice for the hybrid map and can select King’s Row.
Once there, on defense, HarryHook can return to Soldier 76. He’s demonstrated his ability to play 76 time and time again, and now with the damage buff, there is no reason to assume he wouldn’t be even more effective than before. Their potential lack of coordinated engages is less of a factor when defending, and there is a small chance they could full hold point A.
However, this would still mean they would need to win an offensive push against Rogue, which is no easy task. While it’s possible nV takes King’s Row, that would only be a single map. I just can’t envision a world where a disjointed nV finds enough success to take down the top team in the world. So, I have to say that there is little to no upset potential here.
Match D: Lunatic-Hai vs. Kongdoo Uncia
My Prediction: Lunatic-Hai wins 3-1
This prediction is less about how weak Kongdoo Uncia is, and more about how strong Lunatic-Hai is. Lunatic-Hai emerged confidently at the top of Group C, which was the group of death. Group C contained three playoff caliber teams, including two which I considered potential finalists. They crushed their group 3-0, never looking like they might lose a series.
Their roster is studded with star talent and the only way you could improve upon it would be a better Zarya and projectile DPS player. They looked solid on this patch as they demonstrated they were ready to play Soldier 76 and possibly even Dva onto Miro. The coordination this team demonstrated between their supports and tank players is unmatched and is a primary factor in allowing Ryujehong and Miro to carry Lunatic-Hai.
Kongdoo Uncia, on the other hand, has demonstrated just coordination and doesn’t have the depth of playmakers that Lunaitc-Hai does. Panker is a very successful aggressive Reinhardt player, and both of their DPS players, Birdring and Dnce, have huge hero pools to play whatever is needed.
But Panker is outclassed by Miro, even on Reinhardt, and recently, Leetaejun has shown his return to Genji, which adds to his available heroes, while Esca is still a phenomenal McCree and Mei player. On top of these three, the supports for Lunatic-Hai far outclass those of Uncia.
Ryujehong is the top Ana in the world, and Tobi is a strangely effective offensive threat on Lucio, a trait that will serve him well on this patch as Lucio’s ult builds slower due to reduced healing, so the extra damage he deals will minimize the effect of the nerf.
However, sometimes Lunatic-Hai suffers from stubbornness. They refuse to switch which heroes they are playing, often ramming into the same problem again and again, despite the result being identical. As we saw when they faced nV on Numbani and Conbox T6 on Nepal, they won’t change heroes to counter the enemy defense.
As such, I can envision a situation where Kongdoo Uncia gains control on a king of the hill point, or are on defense on an assault map. From that position, I believe Unica has a chance to defend against Lunatic-Hai. Luckily for Uncia, they will have that chance several times over the first three maps, on the control points, the first point of the hybrid map, and on the assault map at both points. This is a minimum of five points they could defend, giving them opportunities to take a map.
I can envision it happening, but the chances are still low, so I only see it occurring once. Lunatic-Hai will take the series in a definitive 3-1.
We’ve already covered the ways that Uncia could take a map and those points still stand. But due to the overwhelming skill difference in teams, it is extremely unlikely this matchup gets upset. If they were to somehow pull off an upset, it would have to be a player we don’t think of massively stepping up; someone like Fatal perhaps. The Zarya player for Uncia normally has a noticeably smaller impact on the match than most Zaryas. Due to the Zarya nerfs on this patch, there is a possibility Fatal plays a new hero that we haven’t seen from him yet, like Dva. Maybe he can step up in Uncia’s pressure match to help carry the team, but it does seem implausible.
What are your predictions for the quarterfinals? Comment below or tweet your answer to us @GAMURScom.
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