Nearly five hours into the OGN Overwatch Apex finals, a devastating mistake nearly cost Lunatic-Hai the championship crown.
Challengers KongDoo Panthera started the Overwatch Apex finals, held outside South Korea’s massive Lotte World Tower, with the early lead. The team nabbed Nepal before losing to Lunatic-Hai on Eichenwalde, but quickly returned after a Temple of Anubis draw to earn a point for Lijiang Tower. By the time the tournament reached Lijiang Tower again, KongDoo Panthera was up 3-2, only one win away from dethroning Lunatic-Hai.
And that’s when Lunatic-Hai started to do what they do best—withstand their opponents. Not quite the same deficit as the Overwatch Apex season two finals against RunAway, where Lunatic-Hai was down 1-3, Lunatic-Hai rallied for the next map, Dorado, after sitting on stage for hours in a grueling series with multiple draws.
Skill-wise, Lunatic-Hai and KongDoo Panthera match up similarly: But it’s Lunatic-Hai who has the mental fortitude and experience to close out a championship series. Sometimes, however, the kings falter.
As the last map of the series, Lunatic-Hai simply had to keep KongDoo Panthera from pushing the payload all the way to the end of the map. With mere minutes left on the clock, it looked like Lunatic-Hai just may have been able to hold off KongDoo Panthera—until KongDoo Panthera masterfully coaxed Lunatic-Hai out of position to back-capture the point.
It’s a very clever play. Lunatic-Hai set up a strong defense directly on top of the payload, which was a fraction of a meter away from being captured. There was no way that KongDoo Panthera would be able to take them head-on. So they don’t.
KongDoo Panthera initially moves in from the left, pushing through the small room adjacent to the payload. The team moves in, pushing right, splitting Lunatic-Hai right now the middle. Half of the team in corralled back into the Numbani Heritage Museum—and the rest are no where in sight. KongDoo Panthera didn’t even have to secure any kills to capture the third point on Numbani: It was their positioning and distraction tactics that proved superior.
KongDoo Panthera forced Lunatic-Hai into a tie-breaker.
But that sparked something in Lunatic-Hai, because from there on, it was easy. Lunatic-Hai full held KongDoo Panthera in the tie-breaker map on defense. When attacking, the reigning champions only needed one tick to become two-time champions. After five hours of nonstop Overwatch play, Overwatch Apex came down to the last two minutes. And Lunatic-Hai only needed one of those minutes to reclaim their crown.
Once Sombra turned off the lights, it was over. Lunatic-Hai was named champions.
It’s a title they’ll look to hold onto when Overwatch Apex returns later this year for a fourth season. International teams, like Team EnVyUs or Rouge, will not participate in the South Korean tournament’s fourth season. An exact date for season four has not been announced.