Pipe Dream Rosters Part 1: Frontline Fiesta
Super teams have always been somewhat of an enigma. They never fail to generate hype, but they nearly always fail to generate results.
Time and time again, across all games, an organization tosses together a team full of star players and finds that the team can’t work. Sure, an all-star roster can out-skill weaker opponents, but once they face tougher competition they will always run into difficulties.
There will simply be a lack of resources. Each star player will be used to having a certain amount of support given to them in order to succeed, but once every player on the roster requires that amount of support and nobody is a role player, they begin to realize the team dynamic is flawed.
Prompted by a question I received on Twitter, this series will be about laying out Korean Overwatch rosters that would likely be called super teams due to the number of high profile players. These rosters, however, will actually be functional teams instead of six star players thrown together.
That means these rosters will have to include clearly designated carry players, secondary carry players, and consistent team role players to round out the team. My second requirement will be that the teams need to be versatile, with deep hero pools in order to avoid being patch dependent. The third and final requirement will be that I cannot overlap players. These rosters I describe will be able to exist simultaneously.
SKT, CJ, KT, are you listening?
Frontline Fiesta: Panker, Hoon, Birdring, Recry, Tobi, Luna
This first roster is defined by the strength of its tank players, who are surrounded by a cast of supporting members. There is a heavier emphasis on damage from the tank positions, both of whom receive the majority of resources to also be the primary playmakers. The DPS and supports on this roster are still top level talent, however they are used to operating with a lower level of support and are therefore natural fits within a tank-focused roster.
Where to start with Panker. Easily the best Korean carry tank player, likely the best Korean Reinhardt, and definitely in the conversation for the best Reinhardt in the world. He also holds the title of the sneakiest Reinhardt in the world, frequently hiding behind off angles in order to land Earthshatters on entire teams.
Panker and Hoon both rank near to the top of their roles in ultimates charged per minute, which creates a situation in which this roster would have an engage ultimate for nearly every fight. Given the relative ranges of the heroes that these two players use, the frequent engage is required to enable them to be the damage carries.
Panker’s ability to engage past or around the enemy Reinhardt is critical for this roster. Neither of the DPS players are quite as aggressive on their own engagements like an Arhan or Shadowburn, but both work quite well as opportunistic clean-up players.
There really is no other player you could substitute in for Panker. Miro Jin Hyuk of course could excel as a carry Winston, but he can’t match the Reinhardt play of Panker. For this roster, I value Reinhardt skill over Winston skill, because of the way Hoon plays.
Hoon starts building his lead by utilizing his ally's Reinhardt shield, as he draws enemy fire by standing in front of his own Reinhardt to build up his energy. In order to have this front line dynamic work, Hoon needs the best Reinhardt available, and that is Panker.
This, of course, means that a dive composition from this team would not be very strong, as Panker rarely plays Winston or Dva. Given the fact that both Birdring and Recry play top level McCree and Roadhog, however, I would make the counter argument that this team would instead simply play a triple tank composition and deal with the dive with their low cooldown pick abilities instead of matching dive for dive.
As a new player to Apex from Meta Athena, Hoon has had a standout performance and is currently looking like the top candidate for rookie of the season. On this hypothetical roster, and on his real roster, Hoon is the focal point of the team.
Hoon and Panker would continue their normal play patterns, standing heavily forward to entice the enemy to fire at them. Hoon often steps in front of the Reinhardt shield in order to absorb as much of that fire as possible. He then takes the energy he has built up and deals a ridiculous amount of damage for a Zarya to charge graviton surge faster than any other player.
On this roster, Hoon is your preferred Nano Boost target because of his consistency. The extra damage he then deals with that boost guarantees a graviton surge. Hoon’s other skills, along with his reliability to then hit several members with that graviton surge, make him a stable, but explosive, focal point of this roster.
The primary downside to Hoon as a player is that he is essentially a one-trick pony. He plays Roadhog and Dva occasionally, but spends the overwhelming majority of his time on Zarya. This is a major restriction to the versatility of the team, however, I’ve specifically selected very versatile DPS players to compensate. This is also less of an issue when considering the versatility of Zarya herself.
When you start wondering who you could replace Hoon with, there is no other name. Sure, Bernar and Zunba are excellent Zarya players, but they can come nowhere near the carry levels that Hoon reaches. Specifically when paired with an aggressive primary tank player like Panker, Hoon can build his energy quickly to be the main playmaker for the roster.
Birdring and Recry
Filling in the two DPS positions are Birdring of Kongdoo Uncia and Recry of Afreeca Blue.
Both players are selected for their versatility. The two players combined have played 11 unique heroes this season, with Birdring playing seven different heroes and Recry playing ten. But critically there is significant overlap between the two, as both play Roadhog, McCree, and Soldier 76.
This means that if either DPS player goes to a more specialized pick, such as Birdring’s Genji or Recry’s Pharah, one of the two can still play the standard heroes to a high level. The versatility that each brings allows this roster to play a dive composition, triple tank, or double backline hitscan if they choose to do so.
Being a versatile DPS player doesn’t make you special anymore, however, especially not in Korea. What makes both of these players unique is that on their current rosters they are not the primary carries. Birdring plays second fiddle to the frontline of Kongdoo Uncia, while Recry is overshadowed by Arhan.
On each player’s roster, it is instead one of their teammates who is the primary recipient of Nano Boosts and other aid. Despite the lower resources that both players work with, both of them manage to have impact the game at an incredibly high level. The best part of their impact is how consistently high the level is; you always know they will be dealing solid damage.
As of late, both players have managed to step up on their respective teams, with Afreeca Blue even beginning to show that they are considering playing around Recry instead of Arhan. Neither player is as consistent of a playmaker as Panker or Hoon, but they remain capable of taking over individual fights, just not maps.
Because of that, the DPS players on this roster function in the secondary carry role. They are not always required to step up and win you the game, but if your primary carries are having an off day then you still have a chance. Heaven forbid, if all four are having a good game, good luck to those in your way.
There are a multitude of DPS players you could slot onto this roster. Notably, there is Whoru from Lunatic-Hai, who is another low resource Genji player. I chose Birdring over Whoru, however, because while Birdring has proven he can play several heroes at a high level, Whoru has only showcased Genji. While Whoru may develop a deeper hero pool eventually, at the moment Birdring is a much more well-rounded pickup.
As far as a replacement for Recry, there is almost no argument. Nobody matches the versatility of Recry, who has played nearly every offense hero, both snipers, and even some off tanks. When you consider Recry’s skill on each and every hero he plays, you can see how tricky he would be to replace.
The one replacment for Recry that I have personally considered is Rascal from Kongdoo Panthera. He is also quite versatile, sitting at eight unique heroes played, including an impressive Sombra last night against Flash Lux.
But specifically for this roster, his versatility is less impressive because he does not play Roadhog or McCree. This means that if either of those heroes is needed, then Birdring cannot play Genji. Rascal does play Genji himself, but his Genji isn’t on the same level because he prefers other heroes. In addition, for our purposes, the fact that he flexes onto Zarya is irrelevant due to Hoon’s preference for her.
I think Rascal edges out Recry in terms of pure skill, but due to Recry’s hero pool fitting better with Birdring and the rest of the roster, I’m choosing to go with Recry instead.
The support players from Lunatic-Hai are unrivaled in Korea. There is no better Korean Ana or Lucio players than the duo of Ryujehong and Tobi. There is only one of each player, however, so I was forced to break to duo up in order to make two different rosters as strong as possible. If given the chance, I would have both Tobi and Ryujehong in every roster.
Tobi was selected for the tank-centered team due to his frontline style. Many Lucio players either stay back, dancing on the payload, or spend their time somewhere in the middle of their team. Tobi, on the other hand, loves to mix it up with the tanks.
Frequently found sniping kills on fleeing players, Tobi’s willingness to chase with speed boosts was something I noted in my players to watch series early in season one. That willingness to chase is especially important on a roster where the tank players are your primary playmakers.
Neither Zarya or Reinhardt, the preferred picks of Hoon and Panker, have reliable gap closers. To get into range of their foes, they instead must walk. Tobi’s greater tendency to chase with speed is a boon for his tank players.
That isn’t to say Tobi is simply an aura bot. He’s an incredibly creative player and, like all great Lucio players, abuses wall riding to create advantageous situations. My favorite Tobi play was on Temple of Anubis against LW Blue. As Lunatic-Hai began to lose control of the second point, Tobi climbed the Anubis statue and hopped around out of range of LW’s tanks in order to stall and prevent them from winning. After doing so, he jumped down and promptly chased the fleeing players for a double kill.
Tobi is one of the best Lucio players in the world, and due to his "in-your-face" play, he is a natural fit in a frontline-focused roster. There is no replacement that comes close to equaling Tobi in this specific purpose.
The former Samsung Galaxy League of Legends support player now finds himself as a top Overwatch support playing for LW Blue. While he can’t match the likes of Ryujehong in terms of pure skill on Ana, Luna has his own upside: excellent Zenyatta play.
On king of the hill maps, Luna frequently plays the omnic over Ana. When he does so, LW Blue quickly focuses down the targets with discord orbs on them in order to gain a quick numbers advantage and overwhelm the point.
Discord orb is a particularly powerful ability when playing a tank-focused composition. With how consistently the large crowd control ultimates are available from the aggressive tank players, the discord orb means that it becomes child’s play to pick off the stunned targets one by one.
Luna is not just limited to placing orbs upon his foes, however, as he’s perfectly adept at dishing out damage himself. When Luna plays Zenyatta, he heals and outputs enough damage to build his ultimate, Transcendence, rapidly. Because of this, he is able to average one ultimate every two minutes.
Transcendence has always been an ultimate that encourages scrappy, prolonged teamfights. Compared to the ability of Nano Boost to enable one player to end a fight immediately, Transcendence instead enables the entire team to endure. The massive amount of healing is a must-have to survive the enemy Nano Boost engage and take longer teamfights, during which you can work down targets one at a time with discord orbs.
Rapid healing is even more effective when paired with tanks. It’s nearly impossible to out-DPS Zenyatta’s healing, so your only choice is to attempt to instantly burst the enemy carries. When the enemy carries are tanks with massive health pools, however, it is impossible to burst them down.
Luna’s Ana is not on the same level as someone like Ryujehong, but realistically nobody matches Ryujehong. Luna is perfectly serviceable on the pick, however, and is a proven top tier support. His ability to play Zenyatta at such a high level allows him to fit well into the theoretical tank-focused roster I have created, and makes him an invaluable final piece to the puzzle.
Put a bow on It
This roster has clearly defined goals. Play the Reinhardt shield battles up close and personal, get Hoon to build a Graviton Surge by himself or lend him a Nano Boost to do so quicker, then let him engage where the DPS players can capitalize on the work done by their tanks and clean up. Rinse and repeat until victory is acquired.
If you were attempting to build a tank-focused roster out of Korean players, I believe this would be your best attempt. But don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the multitude of insane Korean DPS players. Part two of this series will be a DPS-focused roster.
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All images via Blizzard Entertainment