Photo via @avecle6
On November 4, 2017, the all-French lineup of Rogue played its final match.
Just nine months ago, Rogue formed its six-man roster by filling out their final slot with NiCO, a relatively untested Genji main. Many scoffed at the finalized team; the Rogue of old was an incredible powerhouse based on the dual threat of TviQ and aKm. New Rogue had an unclear goal and an inflexible lineup, and consequently, very few believed that this team would push its legacy past its prior peaks.
As it would turn out, flexibility could be an overrated aspect in creating teams. Rogue took to the newly minted triple DPS composition and made it their bread and butter. With winz sat comfortably on Lucio, aKm and uNKOE taking to the backline as Soldier: 76 and Ana, and KnOxXx, SoOn, and NiCO causing disruption on Winston, Tracer, and Genji, Rogue found its foundation—building upon it was the logical next step.
Their subsequent success should be common knowledge to all who follow the professional Overwatch scene; the six members of Rogue went on to win every western tournament they participated in, spanning from February to July, taking names such as Envy, Immortals, and eUnited in their quest for the crown. Throughout the period, the team played mostly the same style—minor factors changed within the team depending on the metagame or the map, but Rogue was unique in that the team refused to give up its style.
Photo via TaKeTV
At the same time, recounting Rogue's legacy should be an honest endeavor. For all the domestic success that the team enjoyed, their eastern exploits left much to be desired. The team attended APEX Season 3 with the loftiest of expectations, but an unfortunate group draw soon dashed the hopes of many. Rogue started off their matches with an ominous series against Mighty AOD—many expected the series to end in a 3-0 sweep, but Rogue struggled at times, dropping Temple of Anubis and even showing weakness at the beginning of their Watchpoint: Gibraltar.
What would come next was a must-win for the French side: a matchup against Kongdoo Panthera. While the team is now a household name, they entered APEX Season 3 as a large question mark. Its short history was full of disappointment, and Panthera's opening match against Lunatic-Hai ended in a reverse sweep, showcasing the team's nerves in high-pressure matches.
Rogue faced its biggest test and came up short. In a match that legitimately could have ended in a 3-0 sweep for the French, Rogue threw away advantage after advantage at every last turn until Kongdoo Panthera walked away with a 3-1 victory. The French later entered their final test demoralized and distraught, and left Korea with a fitting end: a 3-0 loss to the defending champions, Lunatic-Hai.
Many make excuses for Rogue; after all, the team faced not only the defending champions (and later, eventual winners) in Lunatic-Hai, but the second best team as well in Kongdoo Panthera. At the end of the day, Panthera's performance only ramped up as the tournament progressed, while the French team threw away the opportunities handed to it when they mattered most.
Despite the blemish, Rogue left Korea with their skills unquestioned. All-star coach of Lunatic-Hai—and currently Team Seoul of the Overwatch League—alwaysoov noted that aKm was one of the best Soldier: 76 players in the world. uNKOE and SoOn received universal praise for their performances as well, and while KnOxXx, NiCO, and winz played lesser roles in terms of flashiness, most Korean coaches and players reaffirmed that Rogue was an incredible team with a simple weakness: adaptation.
Ironically, Rogue's breaking point might have been familiar to most of the team. In the premiere season of APEX, Rogue looked to be the favorite of the tournament, and in an infamous moment of arrogance, aKm chose to pick Envy as his team's first opponent. Most will remember the following series of events, as Rogue lost to the struggling Envy after a patch landed featuring massive D.Va buffs, and later disbanded, leading to a three-month rebuilding period.
Rogue's indecision in terms of playstyle only haunted the team, and its results after returning from APEX were indicative of the French's struggles. Despite winning the BEAT Invitational, Rogue nearly fell to the up-and-comers of Arc6 in their final tournament run. Immortals even nearly handed Rogue a first western loss, taking the losing end of an incredible 4-3 series. Both teams played styles that heavily depended on responding well to D.Va play, with a focus on Pharah from Arc6 and an affinity for focusing down D.Va's mech from Immortals.
The following months felt even more trying for the French squad, as a host of visa issues and lifestyle complications occurred, forcing the Rogue players to play their Season 1 Contenders matches on laptops from another country. While many figured that the team might simply have lost its touch, the French immediately took Envy to the brink in a 3-2 series upon re-entering the country, and dominated a struggling Kungarna as well. The team clearly retained skill, but was unable to prove as much, as the damage was done throughout the disappointing season of Contenders.
BlizzCon's Overwatch World Cup serves as a celebration of Overwatch through a series of showcase matches, but 2017's edition was a reminder of Rogue's legacy. The team brought out the best from the Chinese, with a nailbiter of a Junkertown to close it out. They fought the Koreans valiantly, forcing Tobi and Ryujehong to make incredibly clutch plays in order to take the French side down. They gave crowds a memorable farewell against the Swedes, despite the fatigue of playing against the best team in the tournament only minutes before.
Love them or hate them, everybody must at least acknowledge a respect for them—BlizzCon marked the end of an important storyline in Overwatch's history, and the all-French roster of Rogue should be remembered as such. Some will enter Overwatch League as in the case of uNKOE and SoOn, while the others remain pondering an unclear future. In the end, the moments that the six created together should never be forgotten.