Diagnosing the Seoul Dynasty

March 31st
written by Volamel
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2018-02-02 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

 

The Seoul Dynasty have again missed another stage playoff. With a core of legendary players from the APEX era of Overwatch this should be a team that makes the playoffs each stage without a doubt. I wrote that Stage 2 was supposed to be a return of form now that the support line could return to some of their comfort heroes, but underlying problems still hold them back from reaching their first stage playoffs and could hamper their season playoff position. In Stage 1 the Seoul Dynasty ended the stage with a 7-3 match record and a 25-2-16 (W/T/L) map record. In Stage 2 the Seoul Dynasty ended the stage with a 7-3 match record and a  25-0-16 map record.

With nearly a repeat record from Stage 1 leading into Stage 2, I want to provide some clarity to why I think Seoul has been struggling and attempt to diagnose the Seoul Dynasty. Disclaimer: This article was written prior to the player trade of Bunny.

 

The Dive

 

One of the largest contributors to the success in a team right now is the synergy between the main tank and the Tracer player. Pioneered by London Spitfire’s Gesture and Profit, many teams now rely on the burst damage between the Winston and Tracer in sync with one. On their previous team, GC Busan, they used this same strategy to become the first royal roaders in Overwatch APEX history.

I believe the lack of coordination between the main tank and the Tracer player to be the biggest thorn in the Seoul Dynasty’s side.

To better explain, the Seoul Dynasty have acquired an increased number first kills, historically, but because Miro enters the fight considerably earlier and disjointed from his DPS, it results in his early exit from the teamfight and a poor transition of first kill to team fight win. The historical comparison is apt because it abides by the Rule of Four or the core of four principal. Miro, Zunba, ryujehong, and Tobi have all remained within the roster since APEX Season 3.
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While their first blood percentage is up, somehow their transition ratio has gone down. This could be explained due to the fact that Miro has not had ample time to build the synergy with his Tracer player.

This is a fair argument and Stage 3 potentially could see immediate improvements , as more and more time is spent with developing Miro and Munchkin into a strong dive duo.

The problem with that is Miro’s overall play has been a bit lackluster. We have seen Seoul toy around with the idea of rotating Miro and KuKi in for Stage 1 and 2, but the results have been nearly the same. The biggest difference being KuKi’s superior ultimate usage statistically.

**Ultimate effectiveness, in terms of the Winston’s Lab definition, is found by subtracting the percentage of fights won when a said ultimate is used by the percentage of fights won without the said ultimate being used.

In Stage 1, Miro had an ultimate effectiveness of about -0.6 which is -109% the average of a rating of about 6.4 with 05:07:07 of playtime. Compared to KuKi’s ultimate effectiveness of 9.6 which is +50% the average of 6.4 with 02:33:43 of playtime. During Stage 1 KuKi played against the Los Angeles Gladiators, the Florida Mayhem, and the New York Excelsior.

In Stage 2, Miro had an ultimate effectiveness of about 5.9 which is -25% the average of a rating of about 7.9 with 06:19:38 of playtime. Compared to KuKi’s ultimate effectiveness of 17.9 which is +127% the average of 7.9 with 01:20:30 of playtime. That said, during Stage 2 KuKi played against the Houston Outlaws and the Shanghai Dragons.

 

ult effec

Another large indicator of how well a Winston is doing, in terms of activity in a team fight, is their percentage of team’s kills. For this, Miro actually fell flat during APEX Season 4 and ranks near the middle both in Stage 1 and Stage 2.

 

winstons ptk apex s4
stage 1 winstons ptk stage 2 winstons ptk

This along with his mediocre number of kills per ten minutes and his tendency to die rarely leads me to believe that Miro enters the fight out of sync with his DPS or the style that Seoul has historically played the last three events have forced Miro to play incredibly passive or they’ve consistently invested resources like Defence Matrix and Harmony Orb specifically to keep him alive.

It’s more likely to me that Miro engages too early, where his Tracer is either not in position to coordinate a dive or the pressure is split, which could be a stylistic choice. This forces him to take a brunt of the incoming backline fire and he jumps out before any DPS can follow up. That said, it seems like Miro just plays a bit too passive in terms of creating meaningful space for his DPS to work within.

Another way you can model this is how quickly Miro charges his ultimate. This should transition into activity in a teamfight, due to the nature of damage equating into ultimate charge, meaning: if you do more damage, you should charge your ultimate more quickly. Miro is as average as it gets.

 

TTCH

When it comes to a world class Winston player, on the caliber team that Miro is on, I start to question things. Perhaps these are a bit miss representative due to a more stylistic choice or a call within the team. His overall activity seems to be very shallow, which further supports my case that Seoul Dynasty’s Dives have been incredibly disjointed and off kilter. If this is true, then it shows in a lower than average kills per ten minutes for Seoul Dynasty’s Tracer players.

tracer kills per 10

A knee jerk reaction to this could be to substitute out Miro for another main tank player, which Seoul Dynasty have had the luxury of doing, and nothing substation changes. Which leads me to believe it’s a systematic problem, more than just an individual problem. The Tracer players and Winston players seemingly just have a rough time coordinating with one another. The only thing that has been a substation improvement have been KuKi’s ultimate usage and effectiveness (stated above).

 

Prescription

 

The thing is, I don’t think the Seoul Dynasty necessarily need to rebuild and restructure the starting roster to find success here. While retooling the roster could be a possible fix for the problem, it comes with its own downsides. One of the big solutions is a return to an older style of Overwatch that the core of the starting roster should know very well.

When we look at the breadth of style in the Overwatch League, three teams stand out as being incredibly stylistic or colorful: the Houston Outlaws, the Philadelphia Fusion, and, oddly enough, the New York Excelsior.

Houston shares a lot of parity with the Seoul Dynasty with both teams struggle with finding exactly what they want to do with Tracer. The one thing that helps Houston is having someone like Jake on your team, who is world class at Junkrat. Building around Jake’s hero pool, Houston can and has stylistically tried to run as much Junkrat as possible. Take a look at Houston’s match against the Seoul Dynasty on Hanamura. Even with little to no practice with this strategy in mind, Houston was able to brute force their way into winning off their fundamentals of playing around Jake’s Junkrat.

The Philadelphia Fusion has a similar style of playing around Carpe, but the major difference is how they use Fragi. Philly tends to use Fragi as a giant meat shield, which gives someone like Carpe and Boombox all the room in the world to work within. On the off hand, the coaching staff in the Stage 2 final have made it very clear that they are totally comfortable with pivoting off of Shadowburn and Eqo and throwing in Snillo to allow Carpe to flex off the Tracer pick and play Widowmaker and McCree.

And with no surprise to anyone, the New York Excelsior have some of the best players in the world, but some of their strength comes from odd places. JjoNak as one of the best Zenyatta players in the world had a field day at this stage. That combined with an incredibly strong flex tank, the worlds best Tracer player, and one of the most consistent main support players in the Overwatch League, you can see how many different styles this team can pull out at any one time. They could center around Saebyeolbe, or craft a strategy around their backline, or their front line. Any way you shape it, NYXL have many styles at their disposal.

Now, where does that tie into the Seoul Dynasty? I’ve now shown you three teams that are very stylistic and don’t always conform to the metagame. Rather, they use the metagame as a staging ground to build upon. I’d love for Seoul to craft more around their star players and be a bit more bold in what they would like to do.

Je-hong_-ryujehong-_Ryu_(2_28_18)

For example, let’s remember back to APEX Season 3 where Lunatic-Hai innovated on the way the use of Sombra, which allowed Gido to thrive. Now, I’m not saying they should just run Sombra, rather that I think having a color, or style, more centered around Fleta or Ryujehong. These are star players in their own right and you could, in theory, build strategies around some of their best heroes. Drafting more strategies around Fleta on Pharah or Widowmaker and Ryujehong on Ana full time could potentially see some benefit success. Obviously, the map pool constricts down on that idea, but again, styles consistently shine through regardless of that fact. Having a bit more saturation in terms of style could see Seoul make their first stage playoffs. Another way you could help to remedy this issues is to foster internal and rigid synergy between your substitute tank and DPS players.

The Seoul Dynasty could also take option B, which ideally would take KuKi and Bunny, who both are two players with incredible potential, and start to manufacture and expedite some synergy between the two of them within Seoul Dynasty’s “B Team” or sister team. The downside to this is that you’d be tanking the opening of the season and attempting to overperform during the latter half of the season. Another problem with this could be the integration of the starting roster. As of right now, within the Stage 2 metagame and the foreseeable future, the synergy between main tank and Tracer is one of the most important factors on a teams success and Seoul has lacked that synergy and coordination. Having KuKi and Bunny develop that on the side could see a late-season upswing for the Seoul Dynasty.

Stage 3 returns to a new metagame and a new map pool. The return of Junkertown has to play as a thorn in the side of Seoul as well as Blizzard World, which to be fair, is a new map for everyone. Obviously, this is not an easy situation to fix or attempt to remedy, but for the Seoul Dynasty to miss two stage playoffs with the caliber of players within that team is tragic. Something has got to change before they get lapped by another metagame.


Joseph “Volamel” Franco has followed esports since the MLG’s of 2006. He started out primarily following Starcraft 2, Halo 3, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. He has transitioned from viewer to journalist and writes freelance primarily about Overwatch and League of Legends. If you would like to know more or follow his thoughts on esports you can follow him at @Volamel.

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment and @tempusrob

Statistics provided by Winston’s Lab.