The underdogs get their shot: APEX Season 2 Group B Preview
With the conclusion of the first stage in APEX's second season, eight teams moved on to the next stage of the tournament. The first seeds in each group, (Kongdoo Uncia, Meta Athena, Lunatic-Hai, and Kongdoo Pathera) had to draw to see which order they would pick their opponent, (EnVyUs, RunAway, Afreeca Freecs Blue, and LW Blue), and what group they would play in.
Meta Athena was the second team to pick their opponent and group. With EnVyUs already picked by Lunatic-Hai, Meta Athena chose to play Afreeca Freecs Blue in Group B. Meta Athena chose to stay away from the winner of Lunatic-Hai and EnVyUs, perhaps perceiving them as strong teams that want to possibly face in the finals.
Whenever you talk about Meta Athena, you must mention their star Zarya player, Choi "Hoon" Jae Hoon. Hoon is the star player of the team but there is another member of this roster that needs recognition, as Choi "Kris" Jun Soo has kept Meta Athena’s hopes alive in many situations.
His play on Lucio is crucial to staying on a point while wall-riding in order to allow his teammates to respawn and hold on defense. Not only has he been critical in keeping a point alive, Kris has also made many big plays by knocking opponents off of the map or important areas. Not always seen as a mechanically challenging hero, Kris makes big plays that other Lucio players do not.
Afreeca is also partly defined by star player Jeong "ArHaN" Weon Hyeop, but ArHaN would not be able to make as many plays without the help of DPS partner Jeong "Recry" Taek-hyun. Recry is the secondary DPS player on Afreeca and is not given as many resources as ArHaN, but is able to continually perform for his team. These two teams have not played each other in any recent tournaments and have no prior results to go off of.
Kongdoo Panthera was the unlucky team to be the last pick and was put into a matchup against LW Blue. Though they were not able to choose their opponent or group, they are in the arguably easier group with Meta Athena and Afreeca Freecs Blue.
Kongdoo Panthera also had an easier group to play but they still showed their strength by not dropping a map in three series. They have an extremely flexible team with all of their players going onto multiple heroes. Kim "Rascal" Dong Jun has the deepest pool with nine heroes and An "Wakawaka" Jee Ho is right behind him with eight. This versatility can keep opponents guessing and they never know what will come next.
LW Blue made it out of the group of death but it was a close call, with Misfits right on their heels. LW Blue has many star players on the roster. Park "Saebyeolbe" Jong Yeol may be overshadowed by his DPS partner, Hwang "Fl0w3R" Yeon Oh, but he is currently one of the best Tracer players. Darting around, he is able to pick off key targets and create openings for his team.
LW Blue did defeat Kongdoo Panthera at IEM Gyeonggi in the championship winning run. At the time, they were known as LW Red, but LW Blue is the same roster that won the IEM title. LW won with a decisive 3-0 sweep, shutting down Kongdoo entirely. These two teams also played in the last season of APEX, where LW won 3-1.
The first match is difficult to predict, as Meta Athena is still somewhat of an unknown quantity but Afreeca has not looked like the team that went to the finals of APEX Season 1. I believe Meta Athena will win 3-1 off the back of another carry performance by Hoon on Zarya.
With all of the history between these two teams, LW seems like a significant roadblock for Kongdoo Panthera. I expect the trend to continue, despite Kongdoo not having dropped a map yet. Kongdoo will have a chance to upset but I predict the score will be 3-1 to LW Blue.
The winners match would be Meta Athena against LW Blue. I do see LW Blue continuing their run and winning this series 3-1. Although Meta Athena has upset some teams in this tournament, LW Blue is a strong team with a good meta for them currently.
In the losers match between Kongdoo Panthera and Afreeca Freecs, Blue Kongdoo should come out as the victors. The overall team strength and versatility of Kongdoo will throw off Afreeca and the DPS duo will not be able to carry this team out. The series will be tight, though, with Kongdoo barely winning 3-2.
The final match of the group will see Kongdoo Panthera play against Meta Athena. This is another tough match to predict because both teams are on a similar level of skill and current form. I predict Meta Athena will gain the advantage and win the series 3-2, although it will be tough.
This leaves Meta Athena and LW Blue moving on, while Afreeca Freecs and Kongdoo Panthera will have to watch the matches from the crowd.