South Korea’s best Overwatch team will be decided this weekend
The second season of OGN’s Overwatch APEX League will conclude on April 8 with the best-of-seven grand finals between RunAway and Lunatic-Hai. An epic season of Overwatch has all culminated into what will be a tight matchup between two of the world’s top teams.
Even before season one of Overwatch APEX, Lunatic-Hai were heralded as the kings of the Korean Overwatch scene. But they’ve always failed to find a victory at a major LAN event. Now with arguably the strongest roster ever assembled, it seems high time for the kings to claim their throne.
The Lunatic Hai roster boasts some of the most explosive players in the league, including Gong “Miro” Jin-hyuk and Ryu “Ryujehong” Je-hong, both of whom are obvious candidates for the best player in the world on their heroes (Winston and Ana, respectively).
Through a combination of the offseason roster shuffle and a scandal, Lunatic-Hai fought through the second season of Overwatch APEX with a refreshed team. Picking up Kim “Zunba” Joon Hyuk has proven to be wise, as his supportive Zarya style compliments Miro’s dive-heavy Winston play.
During the offseason, Miro also found a dive buddy in the form of Lee “Whoru” Seung Joon. Whoru’s addition has been hugely successful as the team has historically lacked an explosive DPS player. Whoru’s Genji play is perfectly explosive, and with the aid of Zunba and Ryujehong has had a highlight reel of a rookie season.
RunAway, meanwhile, has gone through a staggering transformation since last season. They are finalists after finishing last in their group and battling their way through the promotion tournament to stay alive.
At the end of last season Kim “Haksal” Hyo Jong’s explosive power seemed to be gone and some speculated his aggressive style of Genji had been figured out. But this season Haksal has been revitalized with an expanded hero pool and the proper support of his new co-DPS player Lee “Stitch” Choong Hui.
RunAway’s main tank, Ryu “Kaiser” Sang Hoon transformed his play and is now a monster Reinhardt who frequently outplays his opponents. Combined with Haksal’s resurgence, the two form a potent carry duo.
Aside from the returning stars, RunAway also found themselves some fresh talent during the offseason. Kim “KoX” Min Soo moving onto Ana and Stitch’s flex DPS play have lead both to excellent rookie seasons.
RunAway is led by the founder of the team, Yoon “Runner” Dae Hoon. Runner’s energy in the booth is famous, and a big part of the reason Western fans have begun to love RunAway.
Whoru vs. Haksal
Perhaps the most explosive part of the matchup between RunAway and Lunatic-Hai will be their Genji players. Whoru and Haksal have both proven to be among the top tier of Korean Genji players and the more effective of the two will be a critical offensive advantage for their team.
During the semifinals on the current patch Whoru spent 87.5 percent of his playtime on Genji and averaged .398 Dragonblades used per minute. Meanwhile Haksal spent just 61 percent of his time on Genji and averaged over 0.4 ultimates per minute, meaning that their ability to charge ultimates is very similar.
Even their kill-to-death ratio is nearly identical, with Haksal at a 1.7 and Whoru at a 1.8. Statistically speaking both players are shockingly close on Genji. It’s the added versatility that Haksal brings to his team that gives the edge to Whoru, however.
Haksal spends 39 percent of his time playing off tanks in order to fit into his team’s compositions, and on those picks he does not shine. Haksal simply does not have the same game impact on his off-tank pickups, and leaves the carrying to his allies.
On the other hand, Whoru sticks with Genji an overwhelming amount of the time and consistently performs at a high level. Both players are consistently impressive Genji players, but because RunAway takes Haksal off of Genji more often, we’ll see a bigger game impact from Whoru.
Kaiser vs. Miro
The main tank players for both RunAway and Lunatic-Hai are one of the primary playmakers on their respective rosters. Now that they are going head to head, it’s obvious that the amount of pressure each player will be able to put on each other will be a turning point of the series.
Both players have clearly different focuses, however. Kaiser put 82 percent of his time in the semifinals playing Reinhardt while Miro puts 69 percent of his on Winston. Kaiser is clearly the more effective Reinhardt, averaging .418 Earthshatters per minute to Miro’s just .359.
Even under a simple eye test one can see Kaiser has more control over Reinhardt. His charges are excellent and the way he hops around to maximize his movespeed while shielding his allies is unique.
But when it comes to Winston play, there is similarly no contest. Miro averages .344 Primal Rages per minute to Kaiser’s scant .231 per minute. Once again, under the eye test it’s clear that Miro is the better Winston player, as he pushes the hero to limits many players can’t even envision.
When it comes to which player will be more impactful over the course of the series, Kaiser will have the advantage. The Overwatch APEX format is a best-of-seven series with just a single king of the kill and two capture point map. These are both map formats where Winston play can usually shine. But now instead of being a potential 40 to 66 percent of the maps played in a best-of-five series they only comprise 29 to 50 percent of the maps.
No matter the length of the series there will be additional payload style maps. And on these maps, Miro plays up to 20 percent more Reinhardt, as it is often demanded in order to allow his team to defend critical chokepoints. And if Miro is forced to play the Reinhardt-versus-Reinhardt matchup with Kaiser, he will lose.
But if Lunatic-Hai can force RunAway to play dive against dive then Miro’s Winston will exert much more pressure on the backline than Kaiser’s and in turn Miro will be more effective. It all comes down to the team’s style matchup.
Predictable v. Flexible
Lunatic-Hai has made themselves famous this season as a dive team, whereas RunAway has shown a greater tendency to play triple tank compositions but continue to hold dive in their back pocket.
During the semifinals Lunatic-Hai played a whopping 81.7 percent of their game time on a three-by-two composition. Most frequently that composition was comprised of Genji, Lucio, D.Va, Winston, Tracer and Ryujehong split 50/50 on Ana or Zenyatta.
On attack this composition skyrockets to a 95 percent play rate with D.Va, Genji, Tracer, and Winston always being played. Lucio and Zenyatta round out the team each at a 94 percent play rate. What this means is that when defending against Lunatic-Hai you completely know what to expect. They will dive you and attempt to coordinate around Discord Orbs to quickly eliminate key targets.
Conversely RunAway played 47 percent of their semifinal match as a triple tank, double support, single DPS composition and 32.7 percent as a three by two composition. The added flexibility from RunAway is only a good thing.
The ability to play a slower tempo game with triple tanks will be an aide in countering the high pace of Lunatic-Hai. Combined with the ability for RunAway to still play an aggressive dive composition when needed means they can choose the tempo of the game to fit their own needs.
The team style matchup will provide RunAway with another edge in the battle as long as they don’t get baited into trying to match Lunatic-Hai dive for dive. But ultimately, the matchup will come down to a single player.
Can EscA show up?
The secondary DPS player of Lunatic-Hai Kim “EscA” In-Jae had an underwhelming season. EscA used to be the most impactful DPS player on Lunatic-Hai but is now overshadowed by Whoru and Miro’s carry performances. His game impact was hardly noticeable and frequently a point of weakness for the roster.
Heading into the semifinals Lunatic-Hai was facing Meta Athena, a match that by no means was won. Meta Athena had been having a storybook season and if Lunatic-Hai wanted to defeat them it would take something extra. EscA was that extra.
In likely the best series of his life EscA put on a dazzling Tracer performance, and was a huge factor in dismantling Meta Athena. Because of this, EscA will be the x-factor against RunAway.
In an epic quarterfinal series between RunAway and Lunatic-Hai the underdogs RunAway were able to take the victory. However this was before EscA found his second gear, and I firmly believe that with EscA at his new peak Lunatic-Hai will take the grand finals.
If EscA carries over the level we saw him at in the semifinals I don’t see a world where RunAway can deal with that pressure. With EscA at that level, Lunatic-Hai now has four terrifyingly good dive players focusing down whoever Ryujehong targets with Discord Orbs.
In this situation, the raw offensive power of Lunatic-Hai will overpower the defensive triple tank setups from RunAway. And due to the Overwatch APEX best-of-seven format there will be five payload-focused maps and one capture point map. All six of these maps allow Lunatic-Hai to play their favored all-in dive style on offense.
If RunAway takes the series, it will have to be off the back of their big playmakers Haksal, Kaiser, and KoX. Haksal and KoX will likely meet their match in Whoru and Ryujehong, but Kaiser has a very serious chance to run over Miro in a Reinhardt vs. Reinhardt matchup. But as we’ve discussed, Lunatic-Hai does not trend toward playing that style of game.
Who will take it all?
It’s important to remember that RunAway is essentially an amatuer team. Many of their players still go to school, Runner has a child to care for, and they have no team house or coaches. There is no reason they should have made it this far in the tournament.
Conversely Lunatic-Hai have always been held as one of the top Korean Overwatch teams, repeatedly coming just shy of winning their first major title.
Ultimately this series is for Lunatic-Hai to win. They are the kings who have never ruled, and are trying to claim their throne for the first time. RunAway are the of the loveable underdogs attempting to play spoiler.