The Grand Finals match of APEX Season 3 is, undoubtedly, the match of the year. The teams that are going to clash in this one are the best in Korea and they also are the ones eliminating Rogue in the Group Phase and Kongdoo Panthera stopped EnvyUs dead in their tracks in the semifinals, the top 2 teams in the West right now.
Read in this article about what to look for in this great match and each team’s strengths and weaknesses.
Third time’s the charm
Let’s start with a short recap of these two teams’ course in the tournament, because they have quite a history. They were placed in the same group and their group phase match was the very first of the tournament! That time Kongdoo Panthera started the game quite strong taking the first 2 maps off Lunatic-Hai. But then, because of the change in the map selection process for this season, where every map is available to be picked for every game mode (no more RNG map generation), Kongdoo Panthera was unprepared to face Lunatic-Hai on Volskaya Industries and suffered a tilting loss. After that, they lost both Escort and 2nd Hybrid and the match ended 3-2 in favor of Lunatic-Hai.
Since the map pool expanded in Season 3, it was inevitable that teams would have practiced some maps less; maybe not at all, even. However, fate had in store the revenge match for Kongdoo Panthera in Quarterfinals. 3-1 was the final score and the only map that Lunatic-Hai managed to win was the Control one, which was Lijiang Tower with a score of 2-1. This time around Lunatic-Hai played without WhoRU who was suspended from the team and was replaced by Gido. In this second match, Kongdoo Panthera was prepared for Volskaya Industries, got 2-points in their attack and then full held Lunatic-Hai, a devastating loss for the APEX S2 champions.
Due to the double elimination Quarterfinals brackets, Lunatic-Hai managed to win over Conbox Spirit and move on to the Semifinals, having another chance to face Kongdoo Panthera in the finals if both teams won over their opponents. And they did. And not only they won, but both won in dominant fashion, steamrolling EnvyUs and Afreeca Freecs Blue with a 4-0 score.
Their final time facing each other will be a Bo7 and let’s break down their strengths and weakness map-wise so far.
Map Pool Strengths & Weaknesses
In a Bo7 series, Control is played once and it is randomized, so all that needs to be discussed is who has the better map score so far on each map.
As you can see in the infographic, Kongdoo has played Ilios, Oasis and Lijiang Tower. No Nepal, at all. On the other hand, Lunatic-Hai has played Ilios, Lijiang Tower and Nepal, but no Oasis as a Bo3 first map. They played one round on Oasis as a tiebreaker.
On Ilios, Kongdoo Panthera has 1 win in 1 game played, whereas Lunatic-Hai has 1 win and 1 loss. The map favors Pharah comps (all its submaps do), so Kongdoo Panthera is the definite favorite.
On Oasis, Kongdoo Panthera has a score of 2W, 1L and since it’s another Pharah favored map, their chances are increased to win it.
Lijiang Tower is the tricky one. Kongdoo Panthera hasn’t won once on this map and they played it twice, whereas Lunatic-Hai has 1 win and 1 loss. Also, their one win is over Kongdoo Panthera, so although the map has submaps where Pharah can do damage, I wouldn’t say it favors Kongdoo’s style too much.
The one map that Lunatic-Hai has the upper hand on is Nepal (3W, 0L). Kongdoo Panthera hasn’t played it at all in this tournament and only one map favors a Pharah comp, Shrine. So, if this map is selected, it’s pretty fair to say that Lunatic-Hai can get a morale boost and secure the first win.
In their previous matches, Kongdoo Panthera won on Ilios 2-0, while Lunatic-Hai won on Lijiang Tower 2-1.
All in all, if the Control map is Oasis or Ilios, I think Kongdoo has the better chances to get it. If the map is Nepal, I favor Lunatic-Hai. If the map, however, turns out to be Lijiang Tower, it will be a brawl with Lunatic-Hai having the better morale based on past results.
The second map, as well as the last one in a Bo7, is a Hybrid map. From this map onwards, not only times played matter, but also times a team picked each map.
Despite Kongdoo having played 6 games and Lunatic-Hai 7, they have played the same amount of Hybrid maps, 8 maps each.
Kongdoo Panthera had dominant performances on Numbani (3W, 0L) and Hollywood (2W, 0L), a so-so showing on Eichenwalde (1W, 1L) and one loss out of one game on King’s Row against Lunatic-Hai in their first match; their pick as well. The interesting stat to note is that Kongdoo has picked Hollywood two times and have won both times. You can expect them to pick it as the 2nd map, if they were to lose Control.
For Lunatic-Hai, things are worse on Hybrid. They have played Eichenwalde (2W, 1L), Hollywood (2W, 2L) and King’s Row (1W, 0L. They have not been dominant on any Hybrid map and the interesting thing is that they have picked only one hybrid map out of all eight. Still, there is something more worrisome than their performance and this is that they haven’t played Numbani at all in this season, which is another strong map of Kongdoo Panthera.
So, if Kongdoo Panthera gets to choose the two Hybrid maps (in the scenario that the map goes the full length with Lunatic-Hai winning the 2nd Escort), they will be getting morale boost injections.
Assault maps are the ones to look out for. They will be the deciding ones for the whole match, because both teams’ results are relatively close and Kongdoo Panthera has the disadvantage of not having played Temple of Anubis at all in this tournament.
Volskaya Industries (2 W, 1L) & Hanamura (2W, 1L) are the map scores for Kongdoo Panthera with them never picking any of these maps.
For the side of Lunatic-Hai, things look a bit worse with Volskaya Industries (2W, 1L), Hanamura (1W, 1 Tie) & Temple of Anubis (1W, 1 Tie). Although they are not losses, these ties may hint a bit of weakness for Lunatic-Hai.
If Kongdoo Panthera gets to choose an Assault map, they will probably go for Hanamura over Volskaya Industries, which is the map Lunatic-Hai feels the most comfortable on because of Esca’s Sombra plays. Either way, one of the Assault maps for the Grand Finals will definitely be Volskaya Industries.
As for the Escort maps, Lunatic-Hai has played fewer maps overall, 5 in 7 games, but they have played all 3 of them, while Kongdoo Panthera has played 6 times Escort, 3 times on Route 66 and 3 times on Dorado, their weakest Escort map with losses against Lunatic-Hai and Mighty AOD.
Let’s break it down further.
Kongdoo Panthera has 3 wins on Route 66, whereas they have 1W & 2L on Dorado. They have picked these maps 1 time each only.
Lunatic-Hai has played Route66 (2W, 0L), Dorado (1W, 1L) & Watchpoint: Gibraltar (1W, 0L). They chose Dorado once, in the second match against Kongdoo Panthera and they lost.
I expect Kongdoo Panthera to pick Route66 if they are the ones picking an Escort, whereas I think that Lunatic-Hai feels more at home on Dorado, despite their loss against Kongdoo Panthera. If one is to pick Watchpoint:Gibraltar, it will be Lunatic-Hai in all likelihood.
For this season, apart from player stats, I sat down and did some Composition Analysis, which you can find here, because it is much more execution-based and almost all teams play the same compositions. Therefore, knowing which team did better with a certain composition and on which maps can give us some insight as to what each team is expected to deliver.
Let’s start with Kongdoo Panthera.
Kongdoo Panthera has better results with their Top 8 compositions based on playtime. The first three comps have seen equal usage (45 mins) and the team’s Fight Win % is above 50%, which means that they are doing quite well. The one with the highest Fight Win % (59%) and high usage time is the Pharmercy Comp. This composition is the one giving the team the edge on Control maps and you can see that they have used it on all 3 they have played.
Another interesting thing to note for Kongdoo Panthera is that they have played only one Sombra composition (Tracer-Soldier76-Sombra-Lucio-Winston-D.Va) in their Top 8 most played, with 19 minutes of playtime and the maps they used this composition on are: Volskaya Industries, Route66 and Oasis. For Oasis, it’s known that University is the Sombra strat map.
Finally, Kongdoo Panthera has played 3 comps where their best performance was against Lunatic-Hai.
Time to look on the Lunatic-Hai side.
At a first glance, their Top 8 Most Played compositions aren’t as successful as Kongdoo Panthera’s. Two compositions with low Fight Win % and their most played composition don’t have more than 50% fight winrate. One thing to notice, as well, is that the first two compositions have way more playtime than the rest. 65 minutes & 51 minutes when the third one is at 39 minutes. The increased playtime is also explained because of the extra match Lunatic-Hai has played.
The most played composition of Lunatic-Hai’s is a Genji composition and after putting WhoRU on the bench, the team doesn’t prefer to play Genji comps a lot, so this comp’s stats are dependent on the team roster. Interestingly enough, Lunatic-Hai has 3 Sombra Comps in their Top 8 Most Played with two of them having above 55% fight winrate. Esca on Sombra has unlocked many maps and tactics and he has found great success with her.
The ace for Kongdoo Panthera is their Pharah composition whereas for Lunatic-Hai’s aces are the Sombra compositions. The latter, however, has also the hidden ace of WhoRU, that, if they choose to field him, can shift the balance and make all the data collected irrelevant.
I have released the player infographics for both teams for some time now, so as people who are interested in identifying trends can use them. Now it’s time to put some context into them and to tell you the players I am gonna keep an eye out for and the players whose performance I think is key to win the Grand Finals.
Note: The following are not the only or the best aspects of a player’s game to look out for, but my choices.
Miro vs Fissure, the battle for King of the Jungle
Miro has held the title for the Best Winston in the World for months now. This season of APEX is the time to prove once and for all that he is the Top Ape. The only obstacle in his way left is Fissure, who has been steadily improving throughout the season after the shaky start against none other than Miro’s team. Fissure also started the season with a bit of Reinhardt, as well, but as the graph shows, he dropped him in the Quarter Finals phase and he’s playing Winston 100% now.
Their ground stats (K/D/U) are pretty similar, PTK as well, with Fissure having a bit more deaths on average than Miro. One thing to keep in mind is the game against Mighty AOD, that Kongdoo Panthera used as a practice match rather than taking it too seriously.
A notable difference between the two is that Fissure has been securing far more kills with Primal Rage than Miro, so maybe that’s an indicator that his Ultimate usage is crisper and he has better control over it. Since Primal Rage is actually a reactive Ultimate, for clutch situations, one should keep an eye out for this aspect of their Winston play, in particular.
Zunba vs Void, the Gundam Showdown
Another big clash in the Tank division is between Zunba and Void, the D.Va players for these teams. Zunba has been praised as the best D.Va player in Korea, chosen to represent Korea in the World Cup. Void, on the other hand, has come into the spotlight in this season with some really well-rounded Mech Bombs.
Ground stats-wise, they are on the same level with Void having a bit of an edge in the Ultimate department mostly. 0.4 points is a significant difference for players at this level. Their Ultimate performance is also on par, but Zunba had a better showing in the latter stage of the tournament, while Void had his rise in the group stage, hitting the peak of his Mech Bombs against Lunatic-Hai, in the match they won.
So, it will be really interesting to see who will get the most value out of their mech bombs and I will keep an eye out for that.
Birdring vs Gido, Master vs Newcomer
If it will come down to a Tracer battle, Gido needs to be the one going against Birdring. If Gido, for some reason, doesn’t play in the Grand Finals, Birdring will definitely have the better showing on Tracer.
As far as ground stats are concerned, Birdring has the edge both in Kills and Deaths. It’s not even funny, because he secures 2.6 kills on average /10mins more than Gido and he dies almost 1 time less. Still, they generate the exact same amount of pulse bombs and this can be proven significant, because a double Pulse Bomb kill can turn the tide of an engagement and secure a point by itself.
But Gido needs to clutch those Pulse Bombs, because Birdring surpasses him in this department, as well. Not even funny how good he is with his Pulse Bombs, with a minimum of 20% Pulse Bomb Accuracy and an average of around 30%. Gido’s average is around 20% and in the one game against LW Blue, he didn’t manage to secure a single pulse bomb kill (according to stats accumulated by WinstonsLab).
Crouching Panthera vs Lunatic Dragon
Kongdoo Panthera as a team is the product of combining the best players from the two Kongdoo rosters to make a super team that will bring home the APEX trophy. During the first Season, Kongdoo Uncia managed to reach the semifinals, but lost to Team EnvyUs after a hard and close fight. In the second season, Kongdoo Panthera reaches the Quarterfinals stomping their opposition in the Group Phase and everything looked ideal until the whole team crumbled. Now a Kongdoo Team has made it all the way to the finals and they have all the pieces they need to get the trophy.
Lunatic-Hai, on the other hand, despite dominating the local scene hadn’t managed to reach the success they were looking for before APEX S2. APAC, APEX S1, IEM Gyeonggi were all tournaments they had a good showing but fell short in the end. Until Dean and Leetaejuhn were forced off the team and Zunba with WhoRU helped the team secure their first title. Now it’s time to see if their APEX S2 success was just the beginning of a long road of domination or it was just a glimpse of triumph in the most competitive region in the world right now.
All questions will be answered in the Grand Finals match on Saturday. Don’t miss it.