The final week of the group stage started last night with two matches that can both have a huge impact on who goes to the playoffs. The first match was between Flash Lux and Rogue, where Rogue felt confident sitting atop their group in safety, and Flash Lux needed to take a series off of the European powerhouse to preserve their shot at the playoffs. The second series of the night was between BK Stars and NRG and was do-or-die for the North American roster, as a loss would end their season.
In case you missed any of last night’s action, we’ve got you covered with our recap.
Flash Lux vs. Rogue
The series kicked off on Nepal: Shrine, and immediately, Rogue reminded us how good they are. They easily took the point after a scrappy skirmish and they solidified their hold with some excellent ultimate combos that allowed AKM’s Reaper to tear Flash Lux apart. They cleanly swept fights and took the lead 1-0 on Nepal. On the second point of Village, Tviq pulled out his infamous Bastion and Flash Lux was completely unable to deal with the damage he output. Unkoe consistently built Nano Boost much faster than his Korean counterpart, and Tviq took the boost in his tank form to literally blow his foes away. Rogue took the 2-0 win without even letting Flash Lux capture the point once.
After such a thorough beating, Flash Lux chose to take the series to Kings Row for the second map. Rogue initially held Flash Lux well, but an overextension from AKM allowed Flash Lux a way in, and as such, they nearly captured the point. But Rogue wasn’t done. They filed back onto the point, where Reinforce hit an excellent Earthshatter on most of Flash Lux that was followed up by Tviq’s Blizzard to retake the point.
Rogue had used many of their ultimates in retaking the point, which meant that Flash Lux could return and take the point in overtime. But with just a couple of minutes left to complete the streets phase of the map, Flash Lux became desperate. They attempted several times to begin their push, but Rogue repeatedly denied them, holding them at the initial archway.
Now it was Rogue’s time to attack, and Knoxxx brought out an offensive Junkrat that he paired with AKM’s Widowmaker and Tviq’s Hanzo. Their composition was theoretically terrible, and we saw such ridiculous things as a Nano Boosted Hanzo. Rogue was able to take the point, but immediately following that, they got crushed. It gave the ultimate advantage over to Flash Lux and created a situation where Rogue was reliant on individual plays to win. Luckily for Rogue, they have Reinforce, and he took his team’s Nano Boost on Reinhardt and did the damage himself, securing the win for Rogue.
Flash Lux appeared to have no chance in this series. Rogue was styling on them, playing troll compositions and still crushing them. In one last attempt to take even just a map, Flash Lux chose Temple of Anubis, a map with upset potential. And it went better than one might have expected. Flash Lux was stalled out for a few minutes, but was able to combine a Graviton Surge and a Nano Blade to cleanly sweep the one fight they needed in order to take point A.
When they attacked point B, Flash Lux simply traded damage, building their ultimates then they went for a fight. The baited out five ultimates from Rogue, and now had a six to one ultimate advantage. It seemed Flash Lux would be able to close the map with time to spare, but it was not to be. Flash Lux crumbled under the pressure Reinforce and Winz put on them and they were unable to push their advantage. In the end, that indecision meant they failed to capture the second point, meaning Rogue just needed to finish the map in order to win.
On Rogue’s offense, they attempted to run a Widowmaker on AKM to find some picks, but he was unable to do so. Pumple’s Winston dove upon him repeatedly and didn’t allow him to take any clean shots. Once AKM switched onto Reaper, Rogue was able to hit their stride. They quickly took point A, and turned their ultimate advantage into a convincing second point take. They finished with minutes to spare, easily taking the map and the series 3-0.
This meant that Rogue was secured to go through to playoffs, as they didn’t drop even a single map, going 3-0 in their match score. Whereas Flash Lux and Afreeca Blue’s matchup later this week will decide who goes forward in the tournament and whose run ends in groups.
BK Stars vs. NRG
The second match of the night was critical for the fan favorite NRG. If they lost this series, they would be the first Western team to be eliminated from Apex. However, if NRG won this series, they would force a three way tie in Group B between them, BK Stars, and Kongdoo Uncia.
The series kicked off on Nepal: Village, and Seagull decided to show off his flexibility. Playing an offensive Junkrat, he was able to put down a lot of poke damage. But this poke meant that BK Stars’s Ana player Twilight charged Nano Boost nearly 40 percent faster than Dummy, and that ultimate enabled an easy team fight win and point take.
NRG quickly streamed back to the point, but they showed they haven’t learned from their past matches. Failing to check their corners, they allowed Alarm on Reinhardt to hit a massive Earthshatter on five players to crush NRG and hold the point to 99 percent. Needing to only win a single fight, Bernar on his Zarya hit a multiman Graviton Surge that was followed by Bunny’s Death Blossom to cleanly secure the point.
The second point of Nepal was Sanctum, and NRG swung back. Seagull was once again on Junkrat and found some initial picks. But once he got picked off by Dohyeon’s Hanzo, it was the beginning of the end. Alarm took the Nano Boost on his Reinhardt and put the hammer down on the members of NRG. In the next fight, Dohyeon and Bernar combined Dragonstrike and Graviton Surge to easily solidify their hold.
BK Stars made a critical error, however, and allowed NRG to sneak onto the point and capture it. NRG managed to get 99 percent of the point captured, and put the pressure on BK Stars to take the map back. But Bunny rose to that challenge. He finally switched to his Tracer, a hero that he is easily top-two in the world on, and in back-to-back team fights, he picked up triple kills. This momentum swing countered the NRG offensive push and allowed BK Stars to narrowly close the map, taking the series lead 1-0.
It was now time for NRG to select the hybrid map of the series, and they chose Hollywood. BK Stars started off on offense and they quickly pushed the point. They made sure to attack before Seagull’s Mei had time to charge a Blizzard, and as such, convincingly cleared the point. But in the streets phase, it was an entirely different story. Seagull’s Mei consistently had excellent walls to separate the members of BK Stars to stall out and Blizzards to win team fights.
In their last attack, BK Stars punished an overly aggressive position by Seagull to quickly take him out and prevent him from using Blizzard. Just barely taking the point in overtime, they pushed their momentum forward. But with so little time remaining, it took just one fight from NRG to stop the push from BK Stars, holding them just short of completing the map.
NRG now had their chance to attack on their map choice, and it initially looked good. They had the first point surrounded by several players, and it looked like they would collapse. However, Milo got picked off by Bunny, which forced them to back off. This wasted some time, but NRG was not deterred and returned to capture the point. In the streets phase, NRG found an initial pick and surged forward. They zoned BK Stars with the threat of death as they pushed the payload. However, they only left a single player on the payload, and as such, they didn’t push very far.
The momentum changed when Alarm changed onto Winston. Within 30 seconds of picking up the gorilla, he found four kills to stabilize the map for BK Stars. The map came down to a desperate skirmish in overtime, in which Alarm’s Winston zoned out Clockworks’s Nano Boosted McCree. The tag team of Bernar and Bunny ended the game by killing all of NRG to win Hollywood, stopping NRG in the streets.
The North American squad was facing disaster. They were just one map loss away from getting removed from playoff contention, and potentially failing to take even a single map off any team besides MVP Space. NRG had to win every map for the rest of the series, and for the assault map, they chose Temple of Anubis.
Like so many teams tonight, BK Stars attempted to run Widowmaker to attack the first point, and like every other team, they realized it wasn’t working. It’s simply too easy for the enemy Winston to neutralize the Widowmaker’s effectiveness. In the very next fight, BK Stars took the point, and wasted no time attacking point B.
And on point B, Bunny and Bernar showed off their already legendary Big Bang combo to quickly net a triple kill for the Tracer of Bunny. The momentum he gained for BK Stars allowed them to secure the point after a long scrappy fight. It seemed like Seagull’s Mei would be able to stall them with Blizzards, but Bernar threw a Graviton Surge on the ground to prevent NRG from walking onto the point. BK Stars was able to complete the map with 2:42 remaining.
Now the pressure was on NRG’s shoulders. If they failed to capture both points, then they would be eliminated from the tournament. They quickly worked their way around the first point and took a high ground advantage. They dropped onto the point and, with a Nano Boost on Seagull’s Reaper, they took the fight convincingly.
But despite their ultimate lead heading into point B, they failed to capture on the first push. Bunny on a Reaper of his own was set up perfectly by a Blizzard to simply left click his opponents to death. Even the fights that NRG initially found kills in were inconclusive as they were not definitive wipes. So BK Stars was able to continually stream back onto the point and a heroic triple kill from Twilight’s Ana stalled out the offensive push for another minute. In the end, NRG managed to find an ultimate advantage and barely took the point, having their time rounded up to one minute.
NRG now had to attack a second time, but wasted half of their offensive time switching heroes. But, it was to no avail. Bernar was gifted a Nano Boost and then proceeded to melt NRG on his fully charged Zarya. The incredible amount of damage he dealt meant that he had a very early Graviton Surge that he used to catch the last members of NRG, and stop them from capturing the point.
Now BK Stars had over three minutes to just take point A in order to end NRG’s tournament life. BK Stars elected to run a dive composition with Tracer, Genji, and Winston. They played it beautifully, as DoHyeon on Genji found the kills as Bunny pulled focus to himself. Seagull, on his own Genji, tried his best to do the damage needed, but he too was shut down as BK Stars closed out the map and series.
With another 3-0 victory under their belt, BK Stars secured first place in their group, and eliminated NRG from the tournament. We look forward to watching BK Stars in the playoffs, and wish the best of luck to NRG in their future tournaments.
Do you think BK Stars can make a deep run in the playoffs? Comment below or tweet your answer to us @GAMURScom.
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