Afreeca Freecs Blue, who recently placed 2nd at APEX Season 1, have replaced two of their players going into IEM Gyeonggi. JIN and Yesman are no longer with the team and in their place stand Mano and AMY.
Mano will mainly be playing the offtank role for AF.Blue, flexing between a range of primary and secondary tanks as the team requires it. AMY is picking up the flex support role, a move which sees Dayfly shift to Lucio.
The purpose of this roster change is to increase the flexibility and effective hero pool of AF.Blue. While the team always approached their matches attempting to play a flexible style, it did not play to the strengths of their individual players and the execution was found lacking. Both supports for the team can now play any combination of duos, and Mano’s ability to play main tank and offtank should allow adam to stretch his wings as well. TaiRong, the coach for AF.Blue, indicated that he was aiming for players who could perform on multiple roles.
Mano previously played for Rhinos Gaming Wings in APEX Challenger up until early November, primarily using Zarya or Winston. AMY has less experience, having played for a lower level CONBOX team that didn’t find success in the Korean scene, but was noticed in ranked play after competing against AF.Blue members. When asked about the reasons for picking up Mano and AMY specifically, TaiRong said that he sees a lot of potential talent in these new recruits: Mano had maintained a top rank during Season 2 and 3 and while his style is unrefined he has potential to be a top player; AMY has talent that will be actively worked on with the rest of the team, and both provided a necessary fresh injection of new blood.
AF.Blue reached the finals of APEX after placing 2nd in their group behind Rogue. During the playoffs they beat REUNITED 3-2 and BK Stars 3-1 before falling short to EnVyUs in a 0-4 defeat. As they reached the finals through what most considered the easier side of the bracket, and then lost without taking a map against nV, questions were still asked about the level of the APEX finalists.
In the finals they appeared to be locked in a struggle with their own identity and style, often running compositions that looked under-practiced and did not fit the strengths of their players. Rather than re-assess that approach and focus on making their star players shine, AF.Blue have doubled down on their composition-focused strategic approach. In order for this to work moving forwards, they need their players to be comfortable on a range of strong heroes and comfortable adapting on the fly with each other.
JIN, formerly the team’s primary Zarya, moved to Roadhog at the end of APEX and ArHaN was attempting to pick up the D.Va in the finals. With JIN now out of the team, the only current player in the roster with Roadhog experience in top tournaments is recry. adam and JIN had both flirted with D.Va, but neither stuck to it; the entire team seemed uncomfortable settling their tank roles.
The addition of Mano into the mix could solve a lot of the problems for this team if he can take the weight of any tanks that the others lack ability on. In the short term, in this heavily tank-focused patch, AF.Blue will need to quickly develop a proficient system with Mano in it.
The new roster will be battle-tested immediately at IEM Gyeonggi in just over a day. Due to their success at APEX they have been seeded straight into the Semi-finals, and await the winner of Misfits vs. Lunatic-Hai.
TaiRong spoke about the team’s feelings going into IEM Gyeonggi:
It’s a big challenge and a tough time for Mano and AMY, but I hope that this IEM gives them inspiration on their road to becoming a top tier player.
- 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)