Rogue are the champions of APAC Premier

The Grand Final of the APAC Premier was expected to be a slugfest decided in no small part by mental fortitude. The first map epitomised that, as Lunatic-Hai won Numbani after playing the whole map twice. It was to be their only map victory however as they were wiped away by innovative strategies on King's Row and the start of Nepal, and strong teamplay gave Rogue the ability to clinch out Nepal and win Anubis and Hollywood. Rogue had successfully got their revenge and proven themselves as a true world talent, taking the trophy for Europe.

The bracket could not have played out more perfectly from a spectator standpoint. The West and the East battling for the trophy at APAC Premier, a rematch of the group stage games that had been so phenomenal between Rogue and Lunatic-Hai. Korea had shown their incredible ability by winning three out of four maps against the Europeans in the groups, pushing them into 2nd seed for Group B and giving them a very tough Quarter Final game. Rogue had come back though with a great showing against AF.Blue, and smashed their way through the Chinese Semi-Finalist, chomping at the bit for their revenge. The stage was set for an important battle and with the pressure on in a monstrous best-of-seven Grand Final, the team with the most stamina, motivation, and talent would prevail.

Rogue had looked very strong on Dorado, Hollywood, and Assault maps coming through APAC, whereas Lunatic-Hai shone on Numbani, King’s Row, and Route 66. The Control maps had been very close between Lunatic-Hai and NRG, and Rogue hadn’t been feeling them in recent history; momentum was going to be insanely important in such a long match, setting the scene for a very important map draft.

Numbani

The two teams had not played Numbani against each other, and both had 100% win records in the tournament on the map, but Rogue’s attack against NGA with a D.Va had looked clownish in the Semis. They opened with the same strategy but with more vision, diving quickly to the top right to take out Esca on McCree. They got cleaned up quickly by Lunatic-Hai’s tanks however. The next two attempts with ultimates were likewise negated as Rogue were picked on entry, but a Sound Barrier push let akm’s Reaper take down Leetaejun despite being hooked and Esca was booped off the side by winz on D.Va. Without their dps players Lunatic-Hai couldn’t hold, but Rogue only had three minutes to push.

The momentum of TviQ bursting forward as Genji along with another four players from Rogue let them capture the second checkpoint in barely a minute, as Lunatic-Hai looked unusually timid and unwilling to engage. As they took a fight at the bend Rogue were prepared and slung a Nano-Blossom into them, picking up three instantly and then coming back around for another one. akm’s timing had bust the final stretch right open, but ultimates were now not live for Rogue. They tried to use the opening anyway and popped out a desperate Graviton, but it caught only the Roadhog and just kept the fight alive. That bought enough time for uNKOE to get yet another Nanoboost however and he slung it onto akm as the Frenchman once again ripped through the lines of Lunatic-Hai, spraying down death onto their supports and completing the point with 1:40 left in their timebank.

Rogue had started slowly onto the first checkpoint but their attack overall was far more focused than Lunatic-Hai’s. Momentum was now all in favour of Rogue, and the Koreans had to find their form before going down instantly.

Rogue

Lunatic-Hai opted for a Tracer and McCree comp to attack, into a triple tank without a Reinhardt from Rogue. Lunatic-Hai slowly took ground on the top left, sitting behind Dean’s shield and spamming out a fight. Rogue were relying on the shield being splintered and akm hitting a hook, but neither happened as Miro provided more bubbles and a good initiation to kick the fight off. They overwhelmed the top side and quickly took the first point.

Reinforce swapped to Rein as akm also went to McCree. A Nanoboosted Esca ripped through the team though, taking out TviQ on Genji to start and then piling damage into the rest of Rogue. It took a Graviton to stall Lunatic-Hai before the checkpoint and Rogue were then able to frustrate the attack in their next few attempts, stopping their supports perfectly in consecutive fights. TviQ was unleashed on Genji and started doing crazy work for his team, slaughtering key targets repeatedly to stall Lunatic-Hai down to their final minute. By the time the Koreans finally captured, they only had two minutes left.

After disengaging to avoid a Deadeye from akm, Dean took a Nanoboost and an Earthshatter to kill three and take the cart inches from the end. Rogue had their own Shatter and a Graviton to answer; winz and Reinforce were taken down instantly but Rogue squeezed out the necessary damage and spawns came in to wipe Lunatic-Hai with 20 seconds left. Dean took another huge Nanoboost to kill Reinforce and akm, spearheading his team into an overtime win. They had done the bare minimum possible to force Rogue to attack again, but as they capped in overtime Lunatic-Hai would have no opportunity themselves.

All Rogue had to do was capture the first point to win the map. It had been the one part of their game that was shaky, and they opted for a crazy play. Instead of going with a classic composition or even their D.Va strat, akm went Bastion with TviQ on Mei to try and establish position and shred a few targets that would not be expecting the deadly omnic. Esca himself was using Mei though and blocked the Bastion repeatedly, finding a headshot onto TviQ as well to win the Mei 1v1. Rogue immediately abandoned the strategy and took TviQ on Genji and akm on Reaper with 40 seconds left. Esca popped his Blizzard aggressively and Dean slammed his hammer around, wrecking four and securing the draw. As per APAC rules, the map had to be replayed, making the best-of-seven a best-of-eight.

Numbani Part Two: Revenge of Korea

The unique APAC rule added a depth of mindgames to the replay. Rogue started with their D.Va strategy into the McCree comp of Lunatic-Hai in a complete replica of the first round. This time though Esca was left completely alone and isolated, Leetaejun and Miro nowhere to be seen. Rogue breezed through the defense and captured, pushing around the first bend before being battered back by an aggressive Lunatic-Hai.

The Koreans waited around the bend until they saw the whites of Rogue eyes, then jumped in Miro and went for a hook, pushing their advantages to the max to take fight after fight right outside Rogue’s spawn. Rogue still had three minutes to push through but were starting to get antsy, swapping TviQ over to Mei then to Reaper in an attempt to find the golden ticket through the streets. Miro was applying godly pressure every time Rogue pushed, cutting off supports and pressuring their dps players from behind.

It took another two minutes for Lunatic-Hai to be pushed backwards and as soon as they started rolling Lunatic-Hai couldn’t get seated again. Rogue were finally able to take the second checkpoint with two minutes left; akm and TviQ had found great success on McCree and Reaper, with akm outclassing Esca in his midrange damage and TviQ taking very impactful Nanoboosts. The two of them carried their team to a quick storm through the final stretch, completing the map with 1:11 still in the bank.

Lunatic-Hai discarded the Tracer in favour of a Roadhog for their attack. TviQ tried for a cutesy play, flanking all the way behind top left for an attempt onto the supports but found all six from Lunatic-Hai ready to focus him down. Lunatic-Hai again managed to blow apart the first point defense and get to the second bend without any resistance, and Esca took a Nanoboost with his Deadeye to pick up three and get a full wipe from the Europeans. With an unreal six minutes still in their bank, Lunatic-Hai were knocking on the final stretch.

A huge range of ultimates were popped into the fight after two minutes of grinding, but Rogue held strong with their McCree/Reaper combo and winz’ Zarya play. Rogue went for an aggressive push with TviQ Nanboosting in but it was a real overextension; he was picked up by a combination of Ryuhejong and a Deadeye as Reinforce was also killed by the McCree ult. A Nanoboosted Dean combined with Lunatic-Hai’s own Graviton Surge to gift them the win with an incredible 3:23 still in the bank.

Rogue had one minute to push and started with their D.Va play. They were mulched instantly, giving an early ultimate advantage to Lunatic-Hai - with ten seconds left their second push came in, finding Ryuhejong and Esca straight away, but TviQ couldn’t find another kill with the Dragon Blade and the tank ults came in to keep Lunatic-Hai in it. A Nanoboosted Miro flew around, battering Rogue with his fists and slamming the stragglers out of Numbani to lock out the Europeans.

Rogue had to hold for over three minutes to force another replay of Numbani at best. Tobi and his team again took top left behind Dean’s shield, not quite split apart by an Icewall from TviQ. They established position and hit a hook onto the Mei, grabbing an early pick and eating the defenders alive. Lunatic-Hai ground out an important win on Numbani and took the mental advantage - after 50 minutes only one map had been played of the best-of-seven Grand Final.

King’s Row

The second map was worrying for Rogue, as Lunatic-Hai had looked superlative in their previous appearances. Their payload synergy had been excellent so far as well as their high success percentage on attacking Hybrid control points. Lunatic-Hai started on defense, with Rogue on attack.

TviQ started on Hanzo but just to spam a Sonic Arrow, instantly swapping to Pharah. It appeared to be an inspired decision as his ability had revealed a Mei defense, leaving Lunatic-Hai completely open to an attack from the skies. Leetaejun hit a nice hook but couldn’t finish his kill, and the raw damage coming in from TviQ let his team take the first point perfectly. Lunatic-Hai kept Esca on Mei and swapped over Leetaejun to McCree, pushing up the the streets to defend. A bread and butter Graviton into Barrage gave TviQ a spree of kills in the streets, and Leetaejun couldn’t do a thing. He was even caught in the next fight by TviQ who gave an absolute masterclass on the hero, annihilating everybody on Lunatic-Hai despite not having a Mercy to damage boost him.

Lunatic-Hai were pushed back to the last bend of the foundry and made another change, letting Esca take McCree to try and shut down TviQ. His Pharah play was so aware though, calling out the McCree as a focus and instantly killing Esca, then unleashing another Barrage into a Graviton to take the attack with 4:16 still left.

Rogue start to build up speed Rogue start to build up speed. Image credit: Carson Knuth

It had been an unreal counter to the Lunatic-Hai Mei composition, and the Koreans had not been able to react. Rogue were on their feet after the blindingly fast attack, and instantly all thought of Numbani was out the window. TviQ’s Pharah had given them new life.

Rogue ran a Mei composition to defend, presumably with an idea in mind of how to repel a theoretical Pharah counter themselves, but Lunatic-Hai predictably used their Mei composition on attack again. TviQ found a level on Mei that he had only shown previously on Dorado in the groups of APAC, but it still wasn’t enough to stop Esca and Miro on their most powerful roles. Rogue went crazy on the streets defense though, going hyper-aggressive and shoving all the way past arch on their counter-attacks. The unconventional strategy delayed Lunatic-Hai for another minute or so but again the Korean Mei composition prevailed. Rogue spawned quickly enough to get another defense up before the foundry, delaying again, and Lunatic-Hai had three minutes to take the final area.

TviQ once again picked up Pharah, taking a Nanoboost to run rampant and crush the attack. Rogue pushed forward to get as much room as possible but this time Lunatic were prepared, baiting them into a very powerful Leetaejun Reaper Nanoboost. The result of that push saw Lunatic-Hai within metres of completing the map, before TviQ took another Nanoboost with a Barrage and wiped them again.

Lunatic-Hai now had less than a minute to complete. Esca took McCree but he couldn’t get near TviQ who was playing with excellent movement and positioning. Again Rogue kept the Ana rather than the Mercy to give him Nanoboosts and TviQ evaded Sleep Darts and hitscan shots to carry his team to a dominant victory. Rogue had innovated live in a tournament, and Lunatic-Hai had shown that despite their technical skill they couldn’t keep up.

Nepal

Village

Lunatic-Hai appeared to have the better tools to approach Control than Rogue, with Miro and Dean especially. TviQ rolled out on Village with Bastion immediately but it was akm on McCree who hit a flash and shut down Leetaejun’s Tracer. Rogue took the first point and Miro was forced onto D.Va to try and counter the Bastion. At 50% to Rogue Miro took a Nanoboost and shredded three people with his Mech, but TviQ replied with his own to find two, still on Bastion. Without a Zarya from Lunatic-Hai they had far less utility in their composition and never tried to dive onto Rogue, getting destroyed again by a novel strategy from Rogue that they were keeping for the Grand Final.

Sanctum

The mad Swede picked up Hanzo on Sanctum, with akm alongside him on McCree. He picked Miro from distance and the crazy poke damage forced Lunatic-Hai out of the first fight. A Nanoboost from Dean let his team recapture the point, dodging a Dragonstrike, and TviQ went to Reaper. Miro, back on Zarya was a formidable force for his team as he piled out damage and kept his players alive. As Lunatic-Hai went into overtime on the back of some very successful deathball teamfights, winz hit a five man Graviton to let Rogue back in. Dean’s Nanoboost and Earthshatter again found three and opened the doors for the rest of his team to recapture the point and make it 1-1.

Shrine

Shrine next and Lunatic-Hai took the health pack side slowly, Ryujehong healing up his team. Dean and Leetaejun were picked though and Rogue took the fight and the height advantage, holding onto it for the next couple of fights easily. They got to 91% before the Koreans recapped, using Dean and Leetaejun’s Tracer to full effect, but TviQ came back in on Reaper with the rest of his team and cleaned up. They took a lead at 2-1.

Village

The teams returned to Village and Rogue ran their Bastion strategy. This time Lunatic-Hai had a plan though and dived, shattering Reinforce’s shield and wiping the Europeans with a nice Biotic Grenade. For the next two fights Lunatic-Hai played aggressively, stopping Rogue in the chokes and using a couple of ultimates to wipe them before Rogue could initiate. With the timer ticking up to 80% Lunatic-Hai looked clinical, but Rogue had finally got a range of ults up. Rogue popped a Sound Barrier, Deadeye, Nanoboost, Earthshatter, and Death Blossom but it was an embarrassment of riches - in their desire to overwhelm Lunatic-Hai they popped the Lucio ult defensively, wasted the Shatter and the Deadeye, and couldn’t turn the fight with their Nanoboost and Blossom. It was a failure that Lunatic-Hai were all too ready to capitalise on, drawing at 2-2.

Shrine

The last round was Shrine, and TviQ chose yet another hero with his Pharah making a reappearance. Esca on Reaper and Leetaejun on Tracer could do little and Rogue ground out a fight based on damage, taking crucial height advantage early on. Again Leetaejun was countered by akm’s McCree, causing a huge dps advantage for the European side that Esca tried to equalise with his own McCree. Prophetic composition changes followed as TviQ moved to Roadhog to counter and Esca switched back to Reaper in the same spawn wave.

TviQ got peppered a little by Leetaejun but stuck to his pick, helping out winz’ Zarya to provide a huge chunk of health and take down Esca. Rogue retook the point and used a Graviton to help keep themselves in control, akm going wild with Reinforce stepping up as well for a very cohesive performance from Rogue. They took the round and the map, winning on the opponents’ pick and hyping up the European players even more. It was visible from their body language and their expressions that Rogue now felt unstoppable.

Temple of Anubis

Lunatic-Hai opened on attack with their Mei composition, into a Junkrat defense from TviQ. Rogue defended from market as usual but it was TviQ who was instantly hooked by Leetaejun to open up the fight. Esca on Mei showed his insane talent to wipe Rogue and they set their minds to the second point. As Lunatic-Hai entered, akm took a Nanoboost to kill three and kill the push. Another minute of half-hearted prodding gave ultimates to both teams, and again akm stopped the push with a Nano-Blossom.

With a couple of ults advantage from the last fight, Lunatic-Hai went in for another push. Both Blizzards were exchanged but Dean whiffed an Earthshatter, with uNKOE also finding two from a safe position to win the fight for Rogue. Rogue were able to hold onto the next push with only their Graviton, TviQ again reaching a really high level on Mei. Lunatic-Hai gathered all six ultimates and pushed through the caverns, but as they grouped up to push akm took a Nano-Blossom and destroyed the Koreans. They simply could not get into a position to push properly as Rogue actively applied pressure every time. An incredible display from Rogue, particularly TviQ and the setup of the Nano-Blossoms, saw them lock Lunatic-Hai out of the round at 1 point.

Grand Final of the APAC Premier Grand Final of the APAC Premier. Image credit: Nate Nanzer

If Rogue could capture the first point they were guaranteed a draw, and if they could carry momentum through from the successful push they would have a very good chance at going up 3-1 in the series.

Rogue’s attack was dive-focused, Reinforce taking Winston with TviQ and akm on Genji and Reaper. Both tanks died in the first fight for Rogue and Leetaejun hit a great hook onto TviQ to stagger the spawn a little longer. The Genji returned with a vengeance though with Dragon Blade and Nanoboost, forcing Lunatic-Hai to give up a Blizzard and Sound Barrier to negate it.

A Sound Barrier and speedboost from KnOxXx let them enter the point where the focus was off TviQ, who used his Dragon Blade to pick up two and then uNKOE gave him a Nanoboost to continue applying pressure. It became a messy desperate fight as Lunatic-Hai tried to commit to the full defense but Rogue came out on top eventually; they had a real opportunity to roll the momentum through with both dps ultimates live and nothing for Lunatic-Hai, and TviQ found both ultimates as he dashed towards spawn. Rogue were now in their element, as the masters of drawing out long fights on attack on Anubis. They ground out a win, sending them up 3-1 with patient play - never overcommitting, selecting targets perfectly to stem the tide of spawners, and finishing in control.

Hollywood

There could be no better map in the pool for Rogue to try and finish on than Hollywood. Their play on the map had been sublime all tournament and the confidence was in full flow. Ever since the Pharah strategy on King’s Row had worked to perfection the team had felt the win coursing through their veins. Every round win, never mind map win, had seen them jump out of their seats in raw passion. They had taken their potential emotional weakness in a best-of-seven and turned it into a motivating strength, pushing each other to believe in the win and ignore the adversity facing them.

Lunatic-Hai on the other hand looked subdued, but much as they had done all tournament. The team was far harder to read from their faces, but their play had seemed duller as they were forced to stretch outside their comfort zone and deal with new compositions and strategies.

It wasn’t a new composition on the defense from Rogue though as they took a standard Mei lineup, and Leetaejun on Roadhog hooked the powerplayer of TviQ immediately. Reinforce went in to try and turn the fight but Leetaejun smacked him down and took the point in seconds. They now had to deal with Rogue’s hyper-aggressive forwards hold in the streets. Both Blizzards were popped but TviQ got caught and Leetaejun stepped up to keep hitting hooks and finding picks again. Throughout the tournament he had been simply a stable player rather than a star for the team, so once he was on fire the team looked far better.

It took a Nanoboosted Reaper with a Sound Barrier and a Graviton to stop the Koreans in Hollywood streets, and they again struggled to group back up. Rogue’s aggression kept knocking their rhythm askew and they needed five ultimates to get in position and start the ball rolling again. They wiped Rogue after streaming from the roofs and tried to take their momentum forwards, but winz found another Graviton and akm went on a killing spree to stop them again before the second checkpoint. 90 seconds left. Leetaejun hopped over to Tracer and found two in a long and messy fight, but TviQ’s Blizzard along with KnOxXx’s Sound Barrier kept them alive and Rogue held strong, shutting down Lunatic-Hai’s push and setting a clear marker in the sand for their tournament victory of APAC Premier.

On attack, TviQ brought out his Hanzo. It had been incredibly hit and miss throughout the tournament, but when it had hit against NGA he had single-handedly taken the map for his team. They were playing into Lunatic-Hai’s Mei composition, and he slung in arrow after arrow finding a ton of damage. He got his Dragonstrike and found the Mei as Reinforce and akm burst in to initiate, TviQ clambering up into cafe to find another pick onto Ryujehong.

Five minutes to push to the second checkpoint. Lunatic-Hai had already made a terrible error by overcommitting to the defense and bleeding in another four deaths. Utterly unnecessary, it gave akm and TviQ room to take control of the roofs before the payload was close, delaying the defensive setup from Lunatic-Hai for crucial seconds. Rogue had gone so far forward, strolling in due to the staggered spawns and locking Lunatic-Hai almost all the way back into their spawn. The Koreans eventually got out of the choke but at a heavy loss of lives - the payload kept moving and Lunatic-Hai were again bleeding players.

Lunatic-Hai had one last opportunity to stop Rogue before they reached the checkpoint and won the entire tournament. They ran desperately out into the streets as TviQ positioned himself on top of house, waiting, patiently watching, as Lunatic-Hai dashed into a trap. winz baited them in as they speedboosted forwards with a Nanoboost on Dean - he popped out his Graviton which caught five ripe juicy bodies. TviQ saw his opportunity and popped a perpendicular Dragonstrike which pounded through the defenseless heroes, plucking the souls from five of them and granting his team an open passage.

It was beautiful. They couldn’t have asked for a cleaner red carpet to their trophy as they jumped onto the cart and rode it to glory. They took the map, the series, and the tournament. Rogue were the APAC Premier champions.

With a first place showing at ESL Atlantic Showdown, a 2nd place in the EU Overwatch Open, and a first place at APAC Premier, Rogue could not be denied their title as the best team in the world.

Josh "Sideshow" Wilkinson
Overwatch analyst, writer, and caster. Former TF2 expert. Shed occupant.
Find me on twitter at @SideshowGaming

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Quake TF2 Masterrace @_@

Quake TF2 Masterrace @_@
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