Where's the Damage, NRG?
NRG knows they have some severe issues to fix if they ever want to live up to the potential of their Overwatch squad. Back in October, the team looked to solve some communication issues thanks to having too many cooks in the kitchen; bringing in Seb "numlocked" Barton and Mathew "CLOCKWORK" Dias, with numlocked main-calling for the team looked to solve the issue.
The team even brought Samuel "oPlaiD" Lingle in as a coach, though oPlaiD has not joined the team in Korea for OGN APEX. The remedies signaled clear goals from NRG: they believe their problems are centered around communication and coordination issues. The rest will follow.
We knew they wouldn't be anywhere ready before they faced KongDoo Uncia at OGN APEX. But at the same time, no one expected them to do as poorly as they did. After all, they were a globally recognized squad with a deep pool of TF2 veterans and popular figures. Their star player and the face of the franchise, Brandon "Seagull" Larned, led Team USA at the Overwatch Cup to some of the closest matches that Team Korea had in that tournament.
KongDoo Uncia, meanwhile, wasn't even in the top-five of Korean teams at the event. Their clear advantage over NRG was that no player from Uncia traveled to BlizzCon, instead spending the time practicing in Korea.
Both teams did share one thing however: their only wins at OGN APEX came from beating the worst team in MVP Space.
But after a quick 3-0 loss against KongDoo, it's clear that coach oPlaiD and the rest of NRG have a lot of introspection to do.
Blowing a 4-1 Ultimate Advantage
NRG's problem in their match began in Nepal. Off the gate in Sanctum, both teams showed mirror compositions of Ana, Lucio, Reinhardt, Zarya, Roadhog and Hanzo.
But immediately, an individual problem reared it's head; within the first minute of the round, Kim "DNCE" Se Yong already charged his own Dragonstrike to 100 percent, with Seagull still stuck at just below 50 percent. The one-on-one disparity between the two Hanzos quickly snowballed after DNCE picked up a solo flank against Seagull, allowing KongDoo to take the point and shut out the entire Sanctum entrance from NRG.
At Village, Seagull switched to the Mei, but once again couldn't control his opposing DPS player, this time, Kim "birdring" Ji Hyuk on Genji. While NRG put up more of a fight this round (they were shut out 100-0 on Sanctum), they only scored at least 50 percent before the KongDoo took the point.
While Hollywood was also a whitewash for NRG, it was the Volskaya round that's indelible to fans who watched NRG's match against KongDoo Uncia. How does a full team with four fully charged ultimates in their warchest lose to a single McCree ultimate?
It's not quite the level of the Golden State Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead, but it's close. In a ridiculously advantaged push on offense that saw NRG packing a Reinhardt ult, an Ana ult, a Reaper ult and a Zarya ult against DNCE's lone McCree Ult, communication issues saw NRG get wiped instead.
Going into their point take attempt at Volskaya, NRG was able to sneak into the high-ground at the back of the point. They dropped the Zarya ult, catching out two people on the side of KongDoo.
Whether through miscommunication or misplay, NRG also deployed their Ana ultimate on CLOCKWORK's Reaper too late to see that KongDoo had already escaped the clutches of the Graviton Surge. Even more mind-boggling is the fact that CLOCKWORK still elected to use the Death Blossom on a lone, isolated target -- greatly wasting the damage on the Nano Boost.
These factors all led to them getting blown out of the point, with KongDoo securing a full-hold. On defense, NRG also lost key trades that led KongDoo Uncia to full sweep the American team, 3-0.
Where's the Damage?
It's difficult to be so hard on NRG knowing that they have had, at maximum, two or three days to practice their coordination with their new players. Observers noted, however, that there shouldn't be too big of a difference. After all, CLOCKWORK has had a history playing with both Tim "dummy" Olson and Carl "enigma" Yangsheng.
But at the same time, NRG got outplayed as individuals. Miscommunication or not, NRG needs to look long and hard at their key players and see if they can draw out the star power needed to succeed.
Nepal, as a whole, highlighted some very important holes in NRG, namely that they don't seem to have the damage needed to compete. Seagull is a jack-of-all-trades and that status is hurting his team more than it's helping.
Although he is listed as a DPS player on the team's page, it's more accurate to think of Seagull as a flex player, constantly shifting hero picks to serve NRG's needs. While this is completely fine, that means that NRG conceptually lacks the essential firepower to punch through well-coordinated defenses, since Seagull is by definition never going to be the best-in-class at dishing out damage.
His flex nature on the team is taking a toll on the team's performance, which is apparent when you take a look at his own style when playing key damage-dealing heroes. His Mei play serves more as a utility rather than a ranged-sniper. Compared to Lunatic Hai's Esca, the difference is deadly apparent; NRG simply does not have the force needed to make plays for themselves happen as reliably as they need. It needs to come out of Seagull. Instead, both he and Enigma are sharing duties by plugging holes instead of taking proactive measures to win matches.
CLOCKWORK may well turn out to be the DPS player that NRG needs in order to punch through and live up to their wasted potential. A good offensive player on a team of flexible talent can spell the difference between a stand-still and a last minute successful push.
But until NRG can find a way to finally bring Seagull's full potential away from his schizophrenic state on the team, it looks like NRG will continue to be the butt of many jokes.
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