Nov 12 2016 - 2:52 pm
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The Hard Fought Wisdom Earned at World Cup and OGN APEX: Conbox T6 vs. Lunatic Hai

The World Cup and Conbox T6 vs. Lunatic Hai gave us many reasons to rethink what we know about Overwatch. Sandata breaks down the nuggets of wisdom in today's column.
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I had intended to write a piece on Korea's technological and theoretical advances in Overwatch following their whitewash victory at BlizzCon. The nuggets of wisdom from watching South Korea approach the game were genuinely worth gold.

I admit that BlizzCon isn't a good barometer of actual strength in Overwatch as it was largely an exhibition event; many of the strongest players from different countries weren't voted into their national teams by their fanbases.

But, from watching South Korea win and challenge accepted styles in Overwatch, it’s clear that there’s value in breaking down the lessons and comparing them to how we think about the game in its current form.

No other match this week demonstrated this need to dissect concepts being brought out of Korea more than Conbox T6 vs. Lunatic Hai. On the surface, it looked like a throwaway match; a non-playoff team fighting for their berth versus the clear favorites. It even ended 3-1 in favor of Lunatic Hai.

Instead, what we experienced were two maps that went to tiebreakers, a marked improvement from a lower rated team. In other terms, it was a demonstration of Esca’s skill and a reminder that there’s more to learn in Overwatch.

Korea understands win conditions

South Korea, and in particular Tairong, showed the world that the Koreans have an acute understanding of teams and their win conditions.

For the uninitiated, a win condition is a set of factors that, if satisfied, are highly likely to result in victory. If these conditions are not met, or are in any way neutralized, then a team is likely to lose.

Every team has a different win condition(s). For the final round at BlizzCon, South Korea correctly identified that Shadowburn was the win condition. Elbion makes the case on his column earlier this week, but I’d like to touch on it here: Shadowburn’s Genji or Reaper was likely to draw the attention of entire teams onto himself. This was helped by the fact that at least three other people on the team divert all their supportive abilities on his Genji.

Those resources, coupled with his natural Genji tendencies of using his Dash upward once fire is drawn to him, allowed Shadowburn to exhaust the enemy, giving him an easy time picking off stragglers. That's how Russia wins.

Korea’s answer: Kill everyone else but Shadowburn. No man rules alone.


By correctly identifying Russia’s win condition (Shadowburn and the mountain of resources he has to work with) and correctly approaching the problem (remove the resources, making Shadowburn’s trademark Genji-Dash-Into-the-Air-to-Avoid-Danger more a liability than a strength.

Korea used that approach -- the ability to correctly identify win conditions -- and apply different strategies to different opponents. The result was a stomp throughout the event. An exhibition event, but one that shows Korea’s understanding and approach to the game nonetheless.

People who didn’t get the memo get bursted. The people in the alleyway get cleaved.

Now back to Conbox T6 (T6)  and Lunatic Hai (LH).

Knowing what we know of Korea, it was amazing to draw knowledge from T6 and LH. With LH having little time to practice for their matches seeing as how they were at BlizzCon, T6 took it as an opening for them to exploit how LH won their matches.
The plan became most apparent at Numbani. T6 correctly assessed that while Esca and Miro were excellent at creating pressure, the lynchpin to LH’s win conditions is Jehong and his Ana play.

 

 

Esca is a true DPS player, but he alone cannot hold back entire teams reliably and at all times. Miro is probably the best Winston player in the world and a tank that creates openings and spaces, but without sufficient healing he would never be able to do as much as he can usually do.

Jehong then gives LH the ability to deal damage while creating spaces and opportunities. Without him, LH have harder time doing what they do best.

T6 did everything they could to isolate Jehong and kill him in the beginning of engagements. It would force LH to pop their own ultimates in a mad grab to win engagements despite losing Jehong. The result? Conbox T6 take LiJiang Tower, and force a sudden death on Numbani.

Countering the Deathball

Since the earliest days of competitive Overwatch, pros and high-level players realize that the 1 v 1 duel isn’t very effective. 

The nature of Overwatch is that isolating an opposite number to a straight duel is very high-risk and often low reward; spawn times, distances and the resource known as the ultimate meter make losing duels such a dangerous liability that it isn’t worth it. Losing a duel because an enemy support gets there in the nick of time suddenly results in your team losing a clash because it lacks access to one ultimate.

Korea’s answer: Kill everyone else but Shadowburn. No man rules alone.

Naturally, the baseline level of formations would be to group up - The Deathball; to push together into positions as one unit so that everyone is protected.

At BlizzCon, South Korea subverted the Deathball strategy by employing elaborate bait-and-lure strategies to break apart compositions. Flanks have alway been in Overwatch, but Korea’s coordination was something special. 

Against Russia on LiJiang Control Point, South Korea -- anticipating a Beyblade from Shadowburn and Rubikon -- lures the Reaper onto the point by showing two tasty targets: a Lucio and Zarya cut-off from their team. Russia witnessed the rest of South Korea exit the point through left-hand side of their screen. 

Except, it was a trap. Once they engage on Tairong and Zunba, the rest of Korea collapse on their backline. Shadowburn, forced to pop Death Blossom, is immediately booped by Tairong to nullify his damage. Easy pickings.

 

At OGN APEX, T6 would use the same principles to split apart LH and lure them into a Big Bang combo. 

On the second Sudden Death on Nepal Sanctum, T6 show two people on the point to lure the trailing LH into committing their resources. It’s an easy target; clear the point and LH can defend it from a T6 team that would have had to reset their team anyway, giving them free ticks on the point capture.

Except, T6 wasn’t really that far away from the point. In reality, T6 placed Liz in the backline on Tracer with Zunba focused on throwing a Graviton Surge on top of him. The result? LH walk into a Big Bang and get wiped from the approach.

Not to be outdone, LH have their own lessons on breaking up the Deathball.  At BlizzCon, we were treated to the Esca bait: against Russia at LiJiang Night Market, Esca shows himself to an advancing Russian team, denying them an easy walk-in  to the point from the front entrance. 

Once Russia sends two people to engage Esca while the rest of their team move through the front entrance, Esca quickly ducks to the side but also activates his High Noon. Russia, forced to look for cover, retreat to the alleyway that connects to the side entrance of the point...and don’t realize that ArHan has snuck behind them the entire time, the High Noon sound masking the Dragonblade activation.

People who didn’t get the memo get bursted. The people in the alleyway get cleaved.

 

 

LH used the same concept to open up spaces for their team against T6. Having had control of the Nepal Sanctum point and nearing 99%, Esca took up ArHan’s role from BlizzCon and begins to quietly creep around T6.

Miro on the other hand, stops his backline diving ways and draws T6’s attention to the point. The result? T6 completely miss Esca as he gets a quick pick off TheHell and Gamsu’s Reinhardt.

Conclusions

With their loss, T6 are now in a precarious situation at OGN APEX. They have most likely been denied the playoffs by their loss to LH, but an outside shot still remains.

The real value is in watching and reflecting these games and comparing them to what we’ve accepted as truth in understanding how Overwatch is played. The Deathball is not absolute and can be beaten. Win conditions are evolving and require different solutions.

Korea might not be on top of the world just yet, but at the very least the entire OGN APEX is leading us into a golden age of conceiving and rethinking our theories about the game.

All we have to do is watch and learn.


What are your thoughts on T6 vs. LH? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting us @GAMURScom.

Image Credit: AlphaCoders

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