Very few times in Overwatch we have witnessed two teams clashing in back-to-back Grand Finals and on different patches, nevertheless. Partial reason for this has been the lack of many grand tournaments where the best teams are invited so as to have the chance to clash again. APAC Premier 2017 is one of these rare chances in which we will see the best team challenged again and, if they win, they cement themselves as the absolute best in the East right now and, in the absence of more international premier tournaments, the whole world.
But how will these finals play out? Let’s see how the teams played so far in the playoffs and what we can expect out of them.
[Hero Pools] How much has Mercy affected the two teams?
As always, once in a new meta, one should examine how the players adapt to it and which new heroes, if any, they adopt. In short, their hero pools. From a quick look, one can see that Runaway has actually found more success with Kaiser on Reinhardt & Winston than TiZi on Winston. In their first match, before the latter replaced the first, Runaway steamrolled MVP Space getting a 3-0 lead. In that match Kaiser played 65% of his time on Winston. In the semifinals against Miraculous Youngster that wasn’t as close, he played 89% of the game on Reinhardt. Apart from Kaizer’s hero pool, which returned to almost full-time active duty, another change hero-wise is Bumper who had to swap from Lucio to Mercy. No Haksal Support in this meta. However, Bumper is struggling on his new hero, as his stats indicate, and in many cases he’s been found to be out of position or going for risky plays and getting punished. Kox is still flexing like crazy when he’s not on Zenyatta duty, since in this meta the main Support combo is Zenyatta-Mercy. The rest of team is playing to their strengths with JJanu on D.Va with a few glimpses of Roadhog here and there, Haksal still alternating between Zarya and Genji, while TiZi is the Winston and possibly Orisa specialist (for Junkertown). We knew Stitch had a great McCree and we see him on it more than previously, but, additionally, we see him staying on Junkrat as well on certain maps.
On the other hand, GC Busan’s hero pools are pretty similar to the ones they had during the Grand Finals of APEX S4 apart from Closer that has moved on to Mercy duty. This means that their style has not changed all that much and, judging by their dominant performances in both Quarterfinals and Semifinals, the introduction of Mercy hasn’t really affected them, which is something I expected. Profit still alternates between Tracer and Genji, in accordance with the tactic and the map, while Hooreg continues to focus on hitscan heroes when he’s not on Tracer, both enabled by this meta. And with the new resurrection to erase their few mistakes, this team looks much stronger than before. In some cases, they don’t even need Mercy to win. One of the things to note, but I am not sure how much it will affect the finals and if GC Busan will use it as a trump carp is Gesture’s, the team’s Main Tank, flexibility to Soldier76, Zarya and Roadhog for brief moments.
[Team Compositions] What are the defaults?
Just by looking at GC Busan’s hero pools, one can easily figure out what their default and most played compositions are. Their combined playtime so far is 1 hr 43 mins 50 secs and their most played composition amounts only for 27% of it (27.5 minutes). Therefore, although they haven’t really abandoned their playstyle that secured them the trophy in APEX S4, they are not one-dimensional. In their top 10 most played compositions, one can see that Genji-Tracer is their usual DPS duo while D.Va-Winston is their Tank Duo. They haven’t played Reinhardt at all in this tournament, but we are not 100% sure they won’t get him out if Kaiser messes up them with his. One can also note that with the Lucio comps they didn’t have all that much success. With one of them actually, a comp that included Pharah, they had 0% fight winrate; no fights won. Other comps that they had little success with are Ana comps, below 35% fight winrate as you see in the image below. I am looking forward to see if they bring them out in the finals and how well things will go for them, but I expect them to stay away from them unless necessary.
Looking at Runaway composition stats (again, note that the sample size is very limited – 2 matches only), they also prefer Genji-Tracer as their primary, default DPS duo. As far as Tanks are concerned, however, they walk a very different path since they have the best Reinhardt in Overwatch, allowing them to play Reinhardt-Zarya comps. Their stats are kinda boosted because they found huge success with the said comps against Miraculous Youngster in the semifinals, but it’s still something to take into consideration. Teams feel confident running things that have worked for them and don’t play entirely differently. One more thing that Runaway will feel comfortable running with is Stich on Junkrat. One of the comps built around him has seen 13 mins of playtime (10% of the total playtime) and a 84.21% fight winrate. No compositions with a 0% fight winrate in the Top 10.
Overall, it will probably be again a clash of the Genji-Tracer combos, but this time around with the new D.Va and Mercy, Runaway will look to take advantage of the viability of Reinhardt and maybe find the success they were denied in APEX S4. I wouldn’t advise them to start with TiZi, since he’s still probably kinda shaky in this meta and Kaiser looks a lot better.
[Player Stats] A lot rests on the shoulders of Bumper, Ariel is a PTK surprise (query link)
Moving over to player stats, things to look at -with such limited sample size- are trends in terms of who secures the most kills and needs to be shut down for each side, alongside with whο is a potential weakness. Something that popped up during the PTK comparison is that Ariel, the D.Va player (100% pickrate) for GC Busan has secured slightly more kills than Hooreg, the hitscan DPS player. This can partially be explained by the fact that they had steamrolled their opposition in both matches of the playoffs so far, but it also shows a trend that he can be a potential threat with the new, more offensive D.Va. Profit obviously stands at the top, with 28.8% PTK. Moreover, don’t forget that since Mercy rarely secures any kills, the PTK of the Supports is lower and is distributed between the other roles.
Looking at first deaths ratios, although we have no perfect understanding of how the ressurection affects their impact, at the top stands Hooreg with 10.94%. Haksal follows at 9.14% but it’s Kox with 8% FD, that can be the weakness for Runaway, since he plays mostly Zenyatta and this means that they are required to burn their first ress on him. Apart from Gesture who is third in line, all the other members of GCB are at the bottom and this could be a bad indicator for Runaway. It means that they have conceded the first blood in fights quite a lot against their opponents in playoffs so far.
Finally, I want to point out Bumper’s deaths number, because I feel, combined with what we’ve seen on the broadcasts so far, that his positioning and movement as Mercy is lacking and he’s going for some risky plays that get punished. In comparison, Closer, his counterpart, has died significantly less and he’s at the bottom, with Kaiser (!) and Ariel.
In these finals I feel that the win condition for Runaway is to deal effectively with the tanks of GC Busan and make sure they constantly pressure them. They should start with Kaiser and use every card up their sleeve, like Stitch on Junkrat, to leave less space for Profit and Hooreg to work with. One of the things I can’t really touch upon, due to the teams having played only two matches, is the map picks. Eichenwalde cost Runaway the Grand Finals of APEX s4. They should pick carefully the maps they want to take GC Busan on when it’s their turn to choose. Maps that enable this new style of theirs must be prioritized. GC Busan, on the other hand, needs to refine their synergy even more and pressure Bumper and lead him to make mistakes. I am not sure how much practice they have against Reinhardts at the level of Kaiser, but one can count on Profit to deal with him with a few Pulse Bombs.
My personal feeling is that this final will either be very close, going back and forth, or a total and quick stomp. GC Busan looks better in this patch than Runaway and I would give them the edge. Runaway remains the underdog in this meta and tournament. It would require a huge effort and everything falling into place to get the win and stop the train to Busan. Can they do it?