We are almost at the end of the of OGN APEX Season 4 Quarterfinals phase. Last week saw winners ascend to the playoffs and losers depart the tournament, and when the dust settles on Tuesday the field of teams in APEX will be reduced to just four.
Friday became an exact mirror of the week before. Cloud9 KongDoo were proven to be the KongDoo we have come to know and love, whilst RunAway survived another heart attack against GC Busan and narrowly avoided a couple of teammate concussions during the celebrations. Then on Tuesday, CONBOX tripped near the finish line against LW Red, while Lunatic-Hai’s tri-yearly wakeup call spurred the title defenders on to dispatch X6-Gaming.
The great news for RunAway is that with KongDoo topping their group, and Lunatic-Hai dwelling in the lower bracket, at the very least they’re guaranteed a newly promoted Challenger team for their semifinal matchup (though we hope they don't underestimate on whoever that is). Better news for the viewers though, as the potential of the APEX Season 3 Grand Final rematch in the semis is just one series win from happening.
Your weekly trio of CommanderX, TISrobin311, and I are back once again, and we’re also joined by a special guest: Around the Watch host and Overbuff data analyst CaptainPlanet! The last week of the Quarterfinals have only two rematches from the first week, so grab the popcorn and prepare for another week of Korean Overwatch.
Friday 29th September, 6:00 EDT / 12:00 CEST / 19:00 KST
NC Foxes and LW Red meet up again and for one final dance with a spot in the top four on the line. LW Red will be keen to serve up revenge as the Foxes were responsible for sending them to the lower bracket earlier in the Quarterfinals phase.
The two Challenger teams are up for a rematch, and this time there's no second chances for either of them. I can't really judge NC Foxes' match against Kongdoo cause of how good their opponent was, and they didn't really stand much of a chance. LW Red meanwhile have been climbing out of purgatory - they've been through two five game series in two weeks. Their struggle against CONBOX isn't a good sign, and judgement tells me hell won't let them out that easily. NC Foxes are the next heir for the Royal Road by the end of a five game series.
Both teams had a tough second match in the quarter finals. NC Foxes lost to Cloud9 Kongdoo but then again who hasn’t. While LW Red struggled past a CONBOX team that at the start of the season you would have expected them to crush.
I expect LW Red’s fall from grace to be completed here with elimination from Season 4. I still expect it to go the length of the series due to differing map strengths but LW Red’s recent performance has not given me any reason to believe they will redeem themselves here. I expect we will see changes to the roster before Season 5. For NC Foxes the win to get into the semifinals will be accomplishment enough in itself, which is just as well as I do not think they will make much impact in the final four.
I’m not sure what to expect out of this match. Although the level of the series is expected to be lower compared to the later match (LH vs GC Busan), what makes this match particularly interesting is the fact that it’s a rematch. A rematch is always entertaining because both teams have already assessed their strengths and weaknesses against each other, and as a viewer we are able to inspect what kind of changes they practiced in order to overcome their flaws. LW Red will have thought of new strategies against NC Foxes to redeem their loss, but NC Foxes will come equally prepared. I suspect the series will be even closer than last time, but NC Foxes taking the win again at the very end.
This will be a battle of maps. Wekeed of LW Red has been flexing his Junkrat lately, but Junkrat is only viable on a limited swath of maps. Assuming this is a roughly even matchup, each team will be able to choose two maps on their way to completing the Bo5. Looking at their previous matchup, LuxuryWatch Red actually got several Junkrat-positive maps in their pool, but it was a surprise full-hold by NC Foxes on Hollywood that doomed their matchup. If I were LW Red, I would try to be the team picking the last map, and to pick King's Row, to maximize my chances of success. Let's see how it shakes out!
Friday 6th October, 6:00 EDT / 12:00 CEST / 19:00 KST
Lunatic-Hai have GC Busan in the way from the semifinals - the ones that took them down two weeks ago. GC Busan want seconds, but Lunatic-Hai has a crown to keep on their heads.
The APEX champions are getting back on their feet and showing glimpses of their old selves. Hopefully their demons have been put to bed, but their heads will be in the crosshairs of GC Busan once again. GC already dealt a devasting blow before, and they're out to crack the skulls. Lunatic-Hai however are a team that learns and adapts from their mistakes, and there’s two seasons of trophies (and similar scenarios) to justify their strength. This time they’re ready for what’s coming.
Last time these teams faced off it created the biggest upset of the season. GC Busan’s close loss to RunAway suggests they are the real deal and should not be underestimated going into this fixture.
Lunatic-Hai on the other hand looked much more convincing in their last game against X6, though it’s difficult to know what to make of this game given X6’s limited playtime versus top class opposition this season. Saying that Lunatic-Hai have always come out on top because of their ability to adapt. This time they will be much better prepared for GC Busan and while they will be pushed all the way, Lunatic-Hai should come out on top.
This will be the most exciting ‘quarterfinals rematch’ in APEX History because it’s the first time Lunatic-Hai had been taken down 3-0 since their match against Kongdoo Uncia in APEX Season 1. Although they are in for a very tough opponent this time, Lunatic Hai’s strength always derives from their ability to adapt to their previous mistakes. Their experience throughout the three seasons will be the strength they need to overcome the crisis and make to the semis. The key point of this match is which roster Lunatic-Hai picks for this particular match. Will they maintain their Gido & WhoRU lineup as they showed a fantastic performance in their teamwork vs X6-Gaming? Or will they try Esca & WhoRU once more with a completely different strategy? Whatever it is, the series is certainly bound to be gripping to all Overwatch esports lovers.
Let's be frank: do you really think Alwaysoov is going to lose to the same team, twice? GC Busan has steadily been improving as a team and shocked the world when they sent Lunatic Hai to the loser's bracket, but "The Soov" now has ample film and time to gameplan around them. That, and a locked-in Lunatic Hai roster will spell the end for Busan's run. I grant Busan one win because of Lunatic-Hai's Control Map weakness and the sometimes-coin-tossy outcomes of 2CP, although Lunatic-Hai should stomp regardless of which Assault map they draw given the importance of team strategy on those maps. Knocking out a giant is impressive, but it ain't gonna happen twice. Prove me wrong, Busan.