Intel Extreme Masters Gyeonggi is about to hit your screens, featuring an Overwatch tournament with six of the best teams from Europe and Korea competing for $100,000. Four Korean teams and two European teams will be clashing from December 16th - 18th at Goyang Stadium for the entertainment of viewers there and at home. The unique tournament design and new teams on show promise a spectacle to end the Korean Overwatch calendar on a high, keeping the intercontinental rivalry fierce.
The APEX finalists AF.Blue and APAC finalists Lunatic-Hai are joined by two respected top Korean teams, LW Red and Kongdoo Panthera, to form the Korean home side. The two challengers from Europe are new-look Rogue with their French lineup and the newly reformed Misfits with their Swedish outfit.
The tournament format is a single elimination bracket with best-of-five games throughout, and Control maps played as best-of-three. As there are six teams, AF.Blue and Rogue have been given byes into the Semi-finals.
There are therefore two Quarter-finals on the first day, as two teams are eliminated immediately, two Semi-finals on the second day as another two teams drop, and then the Grand Final on the third day to crown the winner.
With the high level of these teams, the recent roster switches, and the deadly single-elimination bracket, IEM Gyeonggi has formed a dangerous path to the trophy.
The tournament is also using a pre-determined map system, a cause of major discontent within the player community. In each series, the maps rotate between different gamemodes to ensure a spread are played on; this has led to Volskaya or Hanamura being in the first three maps of every match, other than the Grand Final.
Friday 16th December
23:00 PST / 07:00 GMT / 16:00 KST - Misfits vs. Lunatic-Hai - (Hollywood, Volskaya, Lijiang, Route 66, Numbani)
01:00 PST / 09:00 GMT / 18:00 KST - LW Red vs. Kongdoo Panthera - (Eichenwalde, Hanamura, Ilios, Gibraltar, Numbani)
Saturday 17th December
23:00 PST / 07:00 GMT / 16:00 KST - AF.Blue vs. TBD - (Gibraltar, Ilios, Hanamura, Hollywood, Lijiang)
01:00 PST / 09:00 GMT / 18:00 KST - Rogue vs. TBD - (Route 66, Lijiang, Volskaya, Eichenwalde, Ilios)
Sunday 18th December
- 18:20 PST / 02:20 GMT / 11:20 KST - Grand Final - (Hollywood, Eichenwalde, Lijiang, Route 66, Gibraltar)
For more detailed information, please follow the links to our match ticker where teams and scores will be updated live.
ESL recently announced their talent for this event, which includes Overwatch staples Mitch "Uber" Leslie and Jason Kaplan, alongside ESL veterans Leigh "Deman" Smith and Seth "Achilios" King.
Catch all the action live from Korea with the casters on the ESL Overwatch Twitch channel.
- Kalle Haag "Zave" Nilsson (support)
- Andreas "Nevix" Karlsson (flex support)
- Jonathan "Reinforce" Larsson (tank)
- Sebastian "Zebbosai" Olsson (flex)
- Kevyn "TviQ" Lindström (flex dps)
- Tim "Manneten" Byhlund (dps)
This is the new Swedish Misfits deck, freshly shuffled. They have kept very little of their former team as only Zebbosai and Nevix remain, with the latter returning to his former role of flex support. On paper, this team could be excellent: they have proven star talent in TviQ, Nevix, and Zebbosai; their players are some of the most versatile in the entire game; and they have the experience to allow rough diamonds like Manneten to shine.
The issue with that analysis is that there are so many unknowns about this team. They have essentially fused together three separate Swedish duos without prior experience together and have had no time to prepare for this event. In the long term, this roster looks highly capable and unlikely to tear itself apart, but for this patch in particular questions must be asked.
Every team that formed a piece of this roster was struggling with the tank-heavy patch. They have talented players who are not only wasted as tanks, but who have little experience or proficiency on them. Reinforce's playstyle must be toned down orders of magnitude to succeed, and developing skills outside Rienhardt is also necessary in the long-term. Zebbosai has shown very little affinity for playing tanks as flex, almost always opting for Zarya or a dps hero.
The two dps players have the flexibility to pick up Roadhog or Zarya if required, or indeed play any range of offensive combos, and Nevix is an excellent Ana. But if the core tanks are not forming a solid frontline, Misfits could find themselves being torn apart by those with more discipline and preparation.
While SoOn was the voice behind Misfits' passion to dive in the past, Zebbosai was a key component in linking his team's abilities together into a coherent system that worked despite the patch. The new Swedish Misfits looks similar - a roster with star talent, waiting to be unleashed. It will be very interesting to see whether, with the little time they've had to prepare, Misfits opt to play the tanky compositions we've seen for months or attempt to bend the meta to their will once again.
- Yang "tobi" Jin-mo (support)
- Geum "dean" Dong-geun (flex support)
- Gong "Miro" Jin-hyuk (tank)
- Ryu "ryujehong" Je-hong (flex)
- Lee "LEETAEJUN" Tae-jun (dps)
- Kim "EscA" In-jae (dps)
Lunatic-Hai always enjoyed running triple tank with Reinhardt, Zarya, and Roadhog forming the core of their team. As their run through APEX developed though, the tanks frequently swapped roles and Lunatic-Hai looked to be testing out a shuffle within their team. Miro was showing amazing talent on tanks of all sorts and ryujehong, despite his formidable skills on Ana, had more to give. The weak point was always LEETAEJUN, whose percentage playtime on Roadhog belied a consistently underwhelming level on the pivotal hero.
They have now shuffled their roster around, moving ryujehong to flex and dean to support, letting Miro pick up the main tank. This is likely to be a shifting dynamic within the team that sees ryujehong fluidly move from main tanks to offtanks to dps when required. LEETAEJUN remains on 'dps' (Roadhog), where he will have to play at a previously unseen level to match the expectations of his team.
Lunatic-Hai were knocked out in the Quarter-finals of APEX by Kongdoo Uncia in a tight game which could have gone their way despite looking shaky on the new patch. With more time to adapt to the changes, and with the team now more comfortable on their roles, Lunatic-Hai should be a real contender for the title.
Afreeca Freecs Blue
- Park "Dayfly" Jeong-hwan (support)
- Ahn "AMY" Min-yeong (flex support)
- Kim "adam" Yoon-hik (tank)
- Kim "Mano" Dong-gyu (tank)
- Jeong "ArHaN" Weon-hyeop (flex dps)
- Jeong "recry" Taek-hyun (dps)
- Kim ”TaiRong” Tae-yeong (coach)
Afreeca Freecs Blue have recently changed two of their players in the APEX offseason, which is likely to negatively impact them for IEM Gyeonggi. Their new players, Mano and AMY, should add a layer of depth to the team's hero pool but will likely exacerbate the lack of mid-fight cohesion. They have been seeded into the Semi-finals which gives the team time to prepare and study their opponents - and they know which maps they need to practice to make the finals - but they are likely to be underdogs against whichever team faces them.
Even after their finals appearance in APEX, AF.Blue desperately need to win the Semi-finals match to be under consideration as a world-class team. Their strengths lie in preparation; if they can build a formula to deal with Misfits or Lunatic-Hai and their tweaked roster can execute it, they have a chance.
Luxury Watch Red
- Heo "Gambler" Jin-woo (support)
- Jang "Luna" Gyeong-ho (flex support)
- Song "janus" Jun-hwa (tank)
- Park "Saebyeolbe" Jong-ryeol (flex)
- Hwang "nanohana" Yeon-oh (flex dps)
- Kim "Mek0" Tae-hong (flex)
- Kim "Pine" Do-hyun (dps sub)
This LW Red team is incredibly interesting. It bears more of a resemblance to APEX Season 1's LW Blue than their sister Red, as both supports and janus have directly moved over and Saebyeolbe moved into flex. The real power injection has come in the form of the old LW Red duo, nanohana and Pine.
These two players are a step above the usual Korean dps level in terms of their mechanics. If LW Red can combine the structured play and strong ultimate cohesion of Korean teams with the star talent of two elite dps players, they will have created a monster. This monster will require development though, as the core of LW Blue was still not the strongest and they have had little time to gel.
The challenge for LW Red will be containing their two dps players, who have become used to using their raw deathmatch to overpower the Challenger teams. Putting a leash on them in terms of positioning could be hard, though one is likely to be playing D.Va or Roadhog some of the time.
This is another team who have to quickly adapt to the changes made to their roster before IEM Gyeonggi. Their playstyle is likely to be messy and exploitable but with flashes of excellence. Getting the balance to go the other way and striving for clinical teamwork will be the key to getting success from this roster.
- Lee "Bishop" Beom-joon (support)
- Yang "Luffy" Sung-hyun (flex support)
- Yoon "Butcher" Seong-won (tank)
- Koo "EVERMORE" Kyo-min (flex)
- An "wakawaka" Jee-ho (flex dps)
- Kim "Rascal" Dong-jun (dps)
Kongdoo Panthera should have had a chance to battle-test new recruit Luffy and to showcase their talent at MSI MGA, but it was not to be. They are a team that underperformed in APEX and ended up in 3rd place, but after their two initial losses at APEX they've been on a series of crushing victories. Whilst these wins were not at LAN and not in big tournaments, they boast a 14 match winstreak with 1st place finishes at MSI MGA Asian qualifiers and Nexus Cup Halloween. They have wins over some top teams in there as well, beating LW Red, LW Blue, AF.Blue in recent memory.
The team plays a wild, pick-focused style with their aggressive tanks that saw them stomp the old LW Red roster 2-0 and then 4-0 in the finals of the Nexus Cup Halloween. Just prior, they had lost 1-3 to LW Blue at APEX, with the first two maps decided on a knife edge.
The game between the new Luxury Watch Red roster and Kongdoo Panthera will be fast and furious. Both teams have key star players that must perform and neither team usually plays a steady, positioning-focused style. It's a wild ride that could sweep either of the teams to the finals.
- Jean-Louis "KnOxXx" Boyer (support)
- Benjamin "uNKOE" Chevasson (flex support)
- Nicholas "skipjack" Rosada (tank)
- Michael "winz" Bignet (flex)
- Dylan "aKm" Bignet (dps)
- Terence "SoOn" Tarlier (dps)
- Philippe "Lanf3ust" Rivain (coach)
Rogue, out of all teams involved, kept the most of their identity in the European triple shuffle. They essentially took a direct swap of skipjack and SoOn for Reinforce and TviQ; a switch that sees them own arguably the two best hitscan players in the world and also gives them a more stable primary tank.
Their style may change more than the small adjustment would suggest on paper though, as they now lack a lot of the aggression and surprise potential that the Swedes offered. It is presumed that aKm will take over more of the flex dps role, but all of the players notoriously dislike the tank meta and French Rogue may simply try to outskill their opponents with SoOn and aKm's prowess.
Rogue have been given a bye into the Semi-finals, where they await the winner of LW Red vs. Kongdoo Panthera. This side of the bracket screams unpredictability and high-aggression play, which should prove exciting but chaotic. The entire tournament will give us a first glimpse at these teams as they slam through a fast-paced, deadly bracket.