A crucial earth shatter paves the way for Runaway
It’s semifinal time for OGNs Apex season 2 and the first match up saw dark horse Runaway take on favourites Luxury Watch Blue (LWB)
Semifinals always give promise for intense match-ups as teams and players fight that little bit extra harder when everything is on the line. Sometimes teams buckle under the pressure and sometimes the matches fail to live up to expectations. But this semifinal gave us everything we were hoping for, a gruelling back and forth exchange between 2 teams, going to a fifth deciding map in a final filled with massive plays from both sides. While Runaway might have secured the win, it was by no means easy and LWB was not going down without a fight
Set 1: Control on Lijiang Tower
It seemed that LWB was either asleep at the keyboard or suffering some jitters as they came out very slowly in the first set. Runaway went up 99–0 quickly in the first map, with LWB managing to salvage some dignity by taking the point for a brief moment before Runaway finished them off to go up 1–0. LWB started to wake up during the second map but not enough to stop a rampant Runaway who had found a nice groove with Haksal running rampant on the Nano Blade to see the first set go to Runaway after just 2 control maps.
Runaway 1 LWB 0
Set 2: LWB chooses Kings Row
After a slow start in the first set, LWB made a strong comeback on attack in the second set with an easy first point grab and a strong street push, catching Runaway off guard. Runaway managed to regroup and slow LWB down but not before they managed to get 3 points in OT.
Runaway on attack really struggled in the street stage with LWB showing just why they are favourites. Even though LWB were still making some bad decisions with the Nano-Boost, their staunch defence saw Runaway shut out in the foundry. The 2nd set going comfortably to LWB 3–2
Runaway 1 LWB 1
Set 3: Runaway chooses Hanmura
Runaway was first on attack and looked horrible at the beginning, some strange hero picks and sloppy play saw them almost totally shut out from the first point. But a couple of big team plays helped them secure the first point in OT. The second point, however, proved to be a cake walk with LWB getting steam rolled ,giving Runaway 2 points.
LWB on attack took the first point relatively easy but the second point proved much harder. Runaway managed a herculean effort on defence to push LWB out and kept the control percentage low during each push. In the end they managed a massive stall to shut out LWB taking them down 2–1
Runaway 2 LWB 1
LWB took a tactical pause after failing to stop runaway ahead of a do or die map. They clearly looked rattled after failing to make any headway in the previous set.
Set 4 Route 66
LWB was on escort duty first and slowly but steadily crept forward, however Runaway managed to eat up a lot of time. A big earth shatter and graviton combo saw Runaway almost team wipe LWB towards the end of the map. However, LWB regrouped and managed to push forward completing the map in OT for 3 points.
Runaway started off with a solid push for the first point but used a lot of Alts to get there, allowing LWB to stall them and eat up a lot of time for the second point. Runaway manged to push through with less resistance in the final phase and ended up finishing the map with a 12 second advantage.
In the time bank tie breaker, LWB started off first and went on a massive push, again showing just how dangerous they can be when they are firing as a team, as they managed to push through just shy of the second point during an intense OT period. This effort clearly shook Runaway as they were unable to stop them at such a crucial juncture. Having no counter at all to this push and with their time bank effort being stalled out right at the start, Runaway wasted an opportunity to shut it out there and then
Runaway 2 LWB 2
Runaway took a tactical pause after blowing a chance to seal the victory. The players were clearly frustrated at their effort in the last map. Kaiser looked especially annoyed and frustrated with that effort but the true test would separate the goods from the greats in the final map. It is one thing to be down on your efforts in the past, it is how you rise from adversity that defines greatness.
Set 5 Runaway chooses Eichenwalde
LWB had the first push but struggled to make headway as Runway was all over them, clearly fired up and looking to make amends after their last mishap. Half way through the street phase Runaway almost shut LWB out with time up and the OT timer almost out, yet somehow Fl0w3r came up with one of the plays of the day. He not only held the payload but managed to rally his team to reach the second point and finished up just shy of the 3rd, meaning Runaway would need to basically push right to the end to win. The perfect set up for a grandstand finish.
Runaway started strong but LWB fought them every inch of the way. Runaway however still managed to have a decent amount of time in the hall after a solid street phase to try and finish off the match. This set the scene for the dramatic final fight. With the game on the line, Kaiser came up with the play of the game by hitting a massive 5 man earthshatter, setting up a 5 man wipe that allowed his team mates to push through. LWB threw everything they had at Runaway but the damage was done. Runaway took the set as well as the game to cement their spot in the finals.
Final score: Runaway 3 LWB 2
It is always great watching young players deal with the pressures of finals competition. Seeing when they stick to what they are good at and see how they react when things don’t go their way. You could see when each team was on fire was when they focused on their strengths while trying to exploit their opponents weaknesses. There were times when both teams stepped away from this and the other team would make them pay dearly. The match was scrappy at times but it made it that much more exciting to watch. While both teams still have a lot of work to do they showed us why they deserved to be there. Kaiser with his crucial 5 man earth shatter and steadfast Reinhardt play during this semifinal match in my mind easily earns him player of the day.