Apr 27 2017 - 1:22 pm

Predictions for OGN’s Overwatch APEX season 3 group stage

We break down who you can expect to thrive
Overwatch Analyst
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Photo via Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch is once again returning to Seoul, South Korea, for the third season of APEX. And it’s looking to be the toughest yet. As the majority of the best teams in the world gather to do battle, the stakes have never been higher.

With such a difficult field, understanding who is favored to make playoffs or flounder in groups is tricker than ever. Here are our predictions.

Group A

Clearly making playoffs: Lunatic-Hai

Likely making playoffs: Rogue

Swing team: Kongdoo Panthera

Definitely last: Mighty AOD

It’s a no-brainer to expect Lunatic-Hai to make playoffs. The current reigning champions proved they are one of the best teams in the world through a grueling playoffs where they were only ever seriously challenged by RunAway and Meta Athena. But neither of those teams appear here, and they seem poised to 3-0 their group for a third season in a row.

Meanwhile, for poor Mighty AOD, they are far-and-away the worst team in this group. The newly promoted team is not bad by any stretch. But in company like this, they are going to get crushed. I anticipate Mighty will be unable to win a single series.

Where this group gets interesting is with Rogue and Kongdoo Panthera. Normally I’d be hesitant to place Rogue above Panthera, given all of their recent results have only been online against mid-tier North American teams. Over the past four months, however, they have at least proven consistency in their one style, and haven’t lost a single series.

On the other hand, Panthera has undergone massive roster changes including dropping their star player Koo “Evermore” Kyo Min and adding the relatively unknown player Void. According to Christopher “Montecristo” Mykles on the most recent episode of OverSight, Panthera’s recent scrims have not been going well.

With so much uncertainty for Panthera, I give the edge to Rogue. But as the two teams don’t play until mid-May it’s entirely possible Panthera can improve by then. As such, Rogue versus Panthera is the swing match of this group that will likely determine the group’s second seed.

Group B

Clearly making playoffs: RunAway

Likely making playoffs: X6-Gaming

Swing team: Kongdoo Uncia

Likely last: Afreeca Blue

Another no-brainer for playoffs is RunAway. The second-place finishers from last season who only lost in narrow fashion due to well timed over-performances from Kim “Esca” In-Jae of Lunatic-Hai and their own lack of experience. The strength of their recent performances speaks for itself and they also look poised to 3-0 their group.

Conversely, Afreeca Blue has stubbornly chosen to continue playing around Jeong “Arhan” Weon-hyeop, despite his underperformance. They barely skated into the playoffs last season and if their tactics remain the same, I doubt they will this time around. If they switch their focus onto Jeong “Recry” Taek-hyun, however, they have a chance to pull some upsets. I still don’t believe they can make playoffs in this group, but they could play spoiler to one of the two middle teams.

Those two middle teams are Kongdoo Uncia and X6-Gaming. Uncia, much like their sister team, also went under some drastic roster changes. With three new players that we know nothing about, they are difficult to evaluate. But the strong tank core of the roster gives me hope.

And when we compare Uncia to X6-Gaming who appeared to struggle a bit on LAN in the promotion tournament the question of who comes out on top becomes even muddier. However their DPS duo is incredibly good, and I imagine some of their stage-jitters will be gone now that they have had some exposure.

I wouldn’t be surprised either way between Uncia and X6. But because X6 is a known quantity, with their most notable recent underperformance likely to be fixed with stage experience, I have to tip the odds in their favor.

Group C

Clearly making playoffs: LW Blue

Likely making playoffs: Conbox Spirit

Swing Teams: Flash Lux, MVP Space

Both LW Blue and Conbox Spirit have brought on new talent during the offseason. LW Blue bringing on Kim “Pine” Do-hyun from their sister team LW Red, and Conbox adding two players: Park “Architect” Min-ho and Choi “Asher” Joon-Seong. Each player has undeniably leveled up the available talent on their respective teams.

But LW Blue stands head-and-shoulders above Conbox as at each position LW Blue has a more talented player. As the third-place finishers last season, they are a favorite to make a deep run in the tournament, while Conbox is looking to make playoffs for the first time.

Where this group becomes an oddity is in the two bottom teams. Flash Lux and MVP Space both qualified for this season through the promotion tournament, but not in nearly as confident a fashion as Conbox.

Neither team has a realistic chance at defeating either of LW Blue or Conbox and are instead dueling each other to avoid facing relegation. Flash Lux, led by their star DPS player Byung “Fleta” Sun Kim, looks to be the stronger of the two as his partner Kim “Veil” Ho-wook has shown significant improvement.

It’s a sad predicament for both teams, but the most deciding series in this group will not be to determine the playoffs seed, but to determine the worst team.

Group D

Clearly making playoffs: Meta Athena

Likely making playoffs: Team EnVyUs

Swing team: BK Stars

Definitely last: Rhinos Gaming Wings

The fourth-place finishers from the previous season, Meta Athena, are clear favorites to exit their group with the first seed. Kim “Libero” Hye Sung has proven his prowess as a playmaker for the roster and they crushed through a nearly identical group in season two.

Rhinos Gaming Wings on the other hand is going to be one of, if not the worst, teams in APEX. Kim “Mango” Tae-goo is a bright spot for the roster, but he simply will not be enough. Sadly they will not take a single series in this group.

The middle of the field is where group D gets interesting. Team EnVyUs made a direct mechanical upgrade by adding Lui “Lui” Olivares in place of Dennis “Internethulk” Hawelka. The resulting role swap for Jonathan “Harryhook” Tejedor Rua is less of a concern, considering he is simply returning to Lucio duty.

EnVyUs had a promising performance in the Overwatch Rumble despite their lack of practice, and hopes are high they can improve over their last season's performance.

Conversely, BK Stars have continued the trend of bringing on new unknown talent in the form of Ham “Tarpon” Eun-Sang. Considering that their new roster is an unknown quantity while EnVyUs is looking promising, we have to give the edge to EnVyUs.

In the previous matchup between BK Stars and EnVyUs, it took an incredible carry performance from Timo “Taimou” Kettunen to bring the Western team to victory. EnVyUs has demonstrated a strong grasp of their own style, but a weakness at confirming to the current meta. If BK Stars have improved and can abuse that weakness, they have a chance at upsetting EnVyUs.

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