Colin ‘Howl’ Kenitz (06-22-2017)
Leading up to Watchpoint: Gibraltar
The loser’s quarterfinal series between Lunatic Hai and Conbox Spirit, for the first three games, was a nail biter. While Lunatic Hai took the Control Map, Nepal, in a convincing fashion, Conbox answered back with their own fairly convincing win on Hollywood; playing much better on point A offense and west world streets phase.
Esca has looked okay flexing onto the Sombra, and his soldier is always good. Despite this, in my opinion he has his highest highs on his Tracer, which he obviously isn’t playing right now since Gido is stepping in for Whoru due to disciplinary action. On top of that, introducing a new player into a team, even if they’re a sub that has played with the team a lot in scrims, changes the attitude and interactions of everyone on the team. Communication is different, tendencies are different, and players have to adjust their game sense to this different, sixth player, from what they’re used to. Besides all of this, Lunatic Hai is obviously not in their peak form right now, but that’s not to say that Conbox wasn’t performing well.
Architect has been showing up in their top 8 matches with his Genji. Gamsu has a strong Winston that controls space very well when he’s got the right support. Twilight’s ability to swap from Ana to Sombra on virtually any map shows his insight and creativity. Was it these factors alone that made this match so close? No, of course not. I prefer to focus on what teams are doing right to beat other teams, however in this case Lunatic Hai’s stubbornness can’t be overlooked. Specifically, their offense on Temple of Anubis was very frustrating to watch. After using the first EMP/Deathblossom on just architect, Esca proceeded to take something like four pushes to build a reaper ult that got instantly shut down once finally used under the Anubis bridge killing no one. Ryujehong used his EMP early in the fight before Esca had the ult, and it was a disaster of an almost six minute point B offense, resulting in a tie.
Lunatic Hai won the Tie breaker, making the series an extremely close 2-1 for them. So what happened during Gibraltar that made it so easy for Lunatic Hai? Their offense was great, and looked like the Lunatic Hai we’re used to. I’m going to focus on the Defense, where they held Conbox at point A handily. Here’s my break down.
The Set Up:
Fight 1 (3:45 minutes remaining):
Right off the bat the dive from Conbox is very uncoordinated. Gamsu dives in right away, removing him from his support and also with disjointed timing from his Tracer and Genji. In the very first fight Gamsu gets wrecked by a discord orb from Tobi’s Zenyatta, bio grenade from Ryujehong’s Ana, and Miro’s Winston. Simultaneously Asher gets 1v1’d by Gido, instantly shutting down Conbox’s first push. Architect was dpsing Zunba’s D.Va Meka instead of diving, since he switched over late from Widowmaker onto Genji. Lunatic Hai clean him and Oparochi on the Lucio up quickly after Gamsu and Asher.
Fight 2 (3:15 min remaining):
Gamsu and Miro trade Winstons, but this time Architect and Sleepybear dive Esca’s soldier and find him alone while the rest of Lunatic Hai is on the low ground and retreating past car wash. Zumba and jehong get cleaned up, but it’s of little consequence while LH has time to re-position while the cart moves slowly.
This next room is one of the best rooms for defensive holds in the game. There are three health packs to be used in this room. There is one big health pack back in server room at the rear of the point, opposite the room of check point A. There are two small health packs, labeled on the screenshot above. Notably, they’re all on the low ground, and are all accessible to retreating offenders.
If all three are hacked, it could prove advantageous for Conbox, and as they only have the lucio, it’s quite necessary to make sure they’re all hacked, seeing as the two closest ones are small, they will do little to deter the aggressive dive of a Winston and Tracer plus Zen’s discord orb. Even with the added 100 hp, a discorb orb allows tracer to one clip you with good aim.
Fight 3 (2:35 min remaining):
Twilight throws his translocator as his stealth is running out, teleporting to it as Lunatic Hai are pushing back into the room to set up their defense on the high ground. With all of his escape abilities he gets picked instantly with a discord orb on him. This gives LH plenty of time to push back Conbox, gain more ult charge, and set up a defense that otherwise would have been rushed. Architect does take down Tobi on the high ground but has to retreat when Esca pops his tactical visor. Sleepybear uses his matrix and boost to cover his team for a few seconds but Asher doesn’t retreat, staying on the payload, and gets killed. Gamsu, who had hid in the back room, reemerges only to be killed quickly by Zumba. LH successfully cleans up the fight that began because Twilight was over extended and exposed, stalling out Sleepybear’s little D.Va, giving them extra time to reset their defense.
Six Ultimates versus 5 Ultimates: Conbox Make their Move.
Fight 4 (~1:30 min remaining):
Conbox has six ults going into this, but LH has five; all but Esca’s Tac-visor. For this reason it’s notable to point out that Conbox was likely actively holding all of their ultimates until they had all six. It’s difficult at the highest level of Overwatch to accomplish stockpiling six ults without the enemy team doing the same, or at least very close. In this case, Esca used his tac-visor last fight, however, that is one of the quicker building ults in the game, and it’s also not critical to a team fight like a sound barrier, for example. This strategy relies on one team’s ability to out play the other team in “vanilla” team fights until they can draw out one or two ultimates and then disengage and reset the fight. At the highest level, optimal ultimate usage can mean that having one ultimate over your opponent means victory. I will break down how this strategy fails against Lunatic Hai.
Lunatic Hai, notably, is the team that destroyed Rogue in groups of Apex Season 3 by using the strategy of baiting out ultimates and then disengaging to create an ultimate advantage in the next fight for themselves.
At the start of this fight there is less than a minute and a half left of time for Conbox Spirit. Conbox enters on the highground and immediately drop down to the low ground on the cart to push it. As we can see above, Lunatic Hai has Esca and Ryujehong up on the high ground with Tobi hanging back in the shuttle room. Twilight goes for the EMP in the same position he was going to try earlier, the middle of this catwalk between doors, where he can likely get the most members from his EMP. I crossed a line through Tobi, since Twilight doesn’t know he’s there. The rest of LH is down on the low ground to contest the cart pushing. As a side note, Gido did just whiff his pulse bomb.
Architect swift strikes up to the high ground from the payload, signaling to both teams that the fight is about to start. Lunatic Hai know for sure, wherever he is, that Twilight has the EMP, since he hasn’t used it yet. Architect pops his dragon blade and goes after Esca. Since Esca is dead here, Jehong immediately uses his nano-boost on Miro’s Winston, who’s down on the cart and diving with Gido onto Conbox. Then, Twilight pops his EMP, catching only a few members of LH.
As we can see better from this angle just a second later, Lunatic Hai had already begun diving Oparochi’s Lucio as soon as Architect dove Esca. Oparochi pops the sound barrier, both for his own defense, but also for the team fight initiation. Things to note here are that Asher and Architect were out of range of the sound barrier. This is because They’re both back in shuttle room diving Esca and the Lunatic Hai supports. Gamsu and Sleepybear both got the Sound barrier, but neither of them are anywhere to be seen to defend their only healer. Both of them dove up to the high ground as well. Sending both tanks to dive here with no backline peel is a huge mistake either in strategy or communication. We also know that they dove much later than Architect, as both tanks have the sound barrier and Architect doesn’t. While having dive partners is a crucial part of dive comps, Conbox fails to execute the two most important aspects of dive. Diving at the same time to support one another, and not leaving your own back line completely defenseless. leaving Oparochi’s Lucio, the sole healer, alone on the cart is a fundamental mistake. Most importantly here, though, is that Tobi either managed to avoid the EMP altogether, or got his transcendence off before the hack went though.
As we can see above, the result of this was that Esca does die to Architect, however, Ryujehong falls down into Tobi’s Transcendence, avoiding the damage of both the dragon blade, as well as Asher who’s just off screen behind them right now. The two Lunatic Hai supports retreat from the shuttle room back into the main room of checkpoint A where they are by their team again.
As this fight plays out, Oparochi quickly dies to Miro’s nano-boosted Winston and Gido’s Tracer with the help of a bio grenade from Jehong, who had survived due to Tobi’s clutch Transcendence. Back in the main room, Tobi finishes off Asher’s Tracer himself with Jehong. Sleepybear’s D.Va self-destruct get’s Zumba’s D.Va’s Meka, but as Zumba’s mini D.Va retreats to one of the small health packs and Twilight Chases him down, Jehong shoots down the Sombra. Right now, the fight is three for one, as Esca is still running back from spawn, however, Conbox already used all six of their ults for this trade.
Eventually, Gido does die to Gamsu, but Architect dies to Miro while retreating. Sleepybear finally manages to kill Tobi, but after Miro kills Gamsu with the help of Tobi’s discord orb and Ryujehong, he finishes off Sleepybear’s Meka. Sleepybear is the last one left for Conbox at this point. He tries to retreat to jump off the edge to reset his Meka, however Ryujehong hits him with a sleep dart with only 40 seconds left on the timer, making it impossible for him to kill himself and reset his Meka in time for the next fight. Lunatic Hai are able to reset their defense easily, as they now have the run back time advantage this close to the checkpoint. Miro and Ryujehong were the final survivors of this fight, however, Esca had made it back toward the end, and is already sitting at 92% ult charge. Furthermore, Zumba, who’s running back, also has his ult for the final fight since he didn’t even need to use it. Now, Lunatic Hai has the ultimate advantage.
Fight 5 (~0:08 min remaining) :
Luckily for Sleepybear, he managed to get a lot of shots onto Miro during his retreat which put him at a high charge toward calling his Meka back. However, he still doesn’t get it until there are only twelve seconds left on the timer. As the timer ticks down to overtime, Gamsu’s Winston leaps to the high ground to pressure Esca’s Soldier, but Esca pops his tac-visor and Gamsu has to retreat back down.
Zumba takes out Sleepybear’s Meka, which makes for an easy pick with Esca’s tac-visor onto the little D.Va. Asher is dashing around the payload as Tracer in order to keep the O.T. going, and almost goes down to Esca, if not for the recall. Gamsu makes it back to the payload in time to continue contesting. Off screen, Miro does go down to Twilight, diving super deep where Tobi and Jehong couldn’t heal him.
Critically for Conbox Spirit, Architect goes off, killing three members of Lunatic Hai with his dragon blade and the assistance of a rapidly generated EMP that Twilight gained from taking down Miro. Architect drops Esca’s Soldier, Zumba’s D.Va Meka and the little D.Va, and, in the last seconds of the balde’s duration, finishes off with Gido’s Tracer. Despite this amazing play, Zumba managed to kill Oparochi’s Lucio, still Conbox’s only real healer. Tobi and Jehong take down Gamsu together, combining discord orbs and the bio-grenade. With no tanks or healer, Architect, Asher, and Twilight must hold the Payload in O.T. against a Winston, Ana, and Zenyatta.
Architect tries to kill Tobi’s Zenyatta, which is sitting exposed on cart to stop it from advancing while Miro rushes back to the point from spawn and chases down Asher’s Tracer. Architect gets Tobi low, but Ryujehong nanoboosts him from above, giving him damage and speed. Architect backs off, knowing how fast he could die, and Tobi gains the last bit of charge he needed for his ultimate. Sleepybear returns to hold the cart, but nothing’s going to touch this Zen in transcendence. Architect spots Jehong and takes him down, but as mentioned before, the spawn run back is in favor of Lunatic Hai here, and the rest of the team, including Esca, begin streaming back in to defend.
Zumba returns with his ult, which clears out the point, and although it doesn’t get any kills, it does two important things. First, it funneled the remnants of Conbox’s offense into the safety of Gamsu’s Winston bubble, which made them easy targets for Miro’s cleave damage and the other DPS players of Lunatic Hai. This secures kills on three members of Conbox, including Oparochi, leaving Gamsu, again, without mobility or heals for stalling.
The Second thing that Zumba’s self-destruct accomplished was destroying Sleepybear’s Meka. With that, Esca finishes off the little D.Va and Gido finishes off Gamsu, leaving Twilight all alone, and securing the map win and the series win for Lunatic Hai.
What made the Difference?
Let me reiterate what I said before a bit to frame our understanding of what made Gibraltar different from the rest of the series.
Up until Gibraltar, this series looked highly competitive. Despite Lunatic Hai taking a 2 – 0 victory on Illios, Conbox came back and took Hollywood next. On the third map, Temple of Anubis, the match actually went to a tie breaker; a one point decider on Oasis, which was taken by Lunatic Hai. This result seems quite beneficial for Luantic Hai’s favor, seeing how dominant they were on the previous control map, and perhaps lucky, in a sense. Even still, the tie breaker round was really close, boiling down to a five to two ultimate fight clearly in LH’s favor due to ultimate economy management. Despite all of this, when it came to the escort map, Gibraltar was extremely one sided. This was due to the experience and superior base skill level of Lunatic Hai, as well as the stubbornness and staleness of Conbox.
What I mean by this is pretty straight forward. Throughout the series Lunatic Hai consistently won team fights where neither team used ultimate abilities. This boils down to several aspects of their play that made them last Apex Season’s champion. Lunatic Hai generally has a very high level of ultimate management and discipline. This can be showcased in how they tore apart Rogue in group stages. In that match, Lunatic Hai recognized that their opponents like to start fights out by stacking ultimates. With this knowledge, they learned to bait out the enemy’s ultimates all at once by looking as if they were going all in on a fight, and then immediately disengaging, wasting the enemy’s ultimates. The result of this throughout a series is more frequent fights where their team has an ultimate advantage on their opponents. Another aspect of this high level of play is their game sense and mechanical ability. This goes hand in hand with ultimate management. Essentially, being able to win team fights straight up and not relying on ultimates is the key. In this series against Conbox, as well as many others in Apex, Lunatic Hai displays the ability to consistently win team fights where neither team uses any ultimates.
When I talk about Conbox Spirit’s staleness, I mostly mean their approach to team fights. Every single team fight in their offense on Gibraltar was executed in the same way. They entered on the high ground and then immediately dropped down onto the cart. This is smart, since it allows for a few moments of scouting the enemy’s positioning before dropping down to a more vulnerable position. Even from on the cart, while it’s pushing, at least a few members of Lunatic Hai must also make themselves vulnerable in order to contest the push, evening the positioning odds in that sense. However, Point A of Gibraltar is particularly advantageous for the defense exactly because of how Luantic Hai played it. Gamsu repeatedly used his jump to contest the high ground, but would have to retreat afterward. This left the follow up dive of Architect and Asher disjointed, as well as Gamsu out his movement ability. Twilight’s Sombra was satisfactory, however, he missed key targets with his EMP due to the spread of LH’s defense. Also, the strength of Sombra on this map in accordance with health packs is far weaker than it would be on a 2CP map such as Volskaya or Anubis where Healthpacks are much more central to the play around the point. This is due to the nature of needing both teams to commit members to contest the cart, a small area, whereas 2CP maps have a much larger area anchoring players movements.
On top of these two general factors, there are several more particular factors to point out. LH’s supports completely outplayed Conbox Spirit’s dive at so many points. Working together, they were able to much more effectively shut down the dive, or at least delay it until the rest of their team won the team fight. Between Ryujehong and Tobi, their superior mechanical play, decision making, and communication between one another and their team carried this map pretty hard. This, of course, also comes down to another question of Conbox’s team composition. I really have to severely question the Sombra here and the decision to have Oparochi solo heal on the Lucio. Lucio boost healing is powerful, but it’s on a long cooldown and a very limited area that can’t heal or support anyone diving when he’s contesting the cart. Even with the help of hacked health packs, with the assistance of discord orbs Miro and Gido were completely destroying Oparochi in every fight. Tracer alone can easily one clip the Lucio with a discord orb on him, but with the amount of times Oparochi was left completely defenseless, he was free for Lunatic Hai’s superior dive technique and communication.
Gamsu, although a very good player, throughout this series, made a bad habit of diving way too deep onto Esca multiple times. This not only pulled him far from the rest of the fight and leaving his team without their main tank, but he did it many times with his primal rage. While the ability to solo out one player can be extremely effective, it’s often times much more effective to disrupt multiple members, or find a support to solo out, shutting down their heals, while your team targets the DPS players. His desire to do this can clearly be drawn from the effectiveness and success of the dive meta. Teams such as Afreeca Freecs Blue, Luxury Watch Blue, and Lunatic Hai themselves execute this strategy super effectively, which is why it’s seen as Meta. However, as I’ve pointed out before, there are clear differences that make this strategy more effective for Lunatic Hai than Conbox here. Namely on Gibraltar, Jehong and Tobi can defend one another, while Oparochi was left by himself. Also, as I pointed out before, the disjointed timing for Conbox was a big problem.
In the end, Lunatic Hai’s superior game play came from their superior fundamental skill level, ultimate economy management, and communication. Although they suffered from stubbornness heavily on Anubis, overall throughout the series they were able to recognize faults and make changes better than Conbox Spirit. This is what separated Gibraltar as a clear cut victory for Lunatic Hai when compared to the rest of the series. Understanding their clear advantages on Point A, such as the run back time advantage and utilizing the high ground, are reasons that make playing a highly cerebral team such as Lunatic Hai so frightening. When coupled with their insane mechanics, it’s no wonder that the previous Apex Series champions could turn this match into their favor with a fresh approach so quickly.
TLDR: I hate TLDR’s but this is a super long article. I really enjoy breaking down fights in esports, step by step, for many reasons, most of all, so people can learn, including myself. In a nut shell – Lunatic Hai was too stubborn to change their approach when it wasn’t working. Conbox took them to Gibraltar, one of their best maps, and got dumpstered at point one due to their own stubbornness. Conbox tunneled on making Sombra work. LH’s support team could peel for each other while Oparochi’s solo healing Lucio got wrecked.
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