Runaway Vs Lunatic Hai: There can be only one
The second season final was always going to be a blockbuster and having 2 teams with so much on the line coming in made it even more meaningful. In the pink corner you have Runaway, the amateur underdogs, faced with relegation at the start of the season living out their Cinderella story making it all the way to the finals. In the blue corner you have Lunatic Hai, one of the best professional Overwatch teams around, boasting an impressive line up of players but lacking the one thing needed to properly cement them as a top team, a big tournament win. Lunatic Hai also lost to Runaway 2–3 during the first round of the play-offs. Revenge was definitely on their mind.
The battle ground would be at the Tiger Dome. Seating around 5,000 dedicated fans, the stage was set for an epic contest and I was lucky enough to witness it live from the stands surrounded by screaming fan girls. The extra production effort was also appreciated by the fans as they cheered every time a match up was shown. It was a great experience being in a full stadium as this epic battle played out between these 2 tops teams, but in the end there can be only one.
While the Lunatic Hai fans were loudly out in force it was all Runaway on the first 2 sets, taking the slight edge over Lunatic Hai in some of the key match ups. Even some well placed sleep darts by Je-Hong stopping Haksal’s Nano blade was not enough to stop Runaway taking the first set on Oasis 2–1. Both sides were sloppy to start with. A busy week leading up to the finals and some pre-finals nerves seemed to be a contributing factor as both teams took awhile to settle in.
The second set at Hollywood was again a close and messy affair. Mistakes from both sides and even a Boostio from Lunatic Hai kept the score tight. Runaway missed a chance to hold Lunatic Hai before the second point, wasting their alts and with Runner being caught out of position more than a few times, this would be a foreshadowing factor in later sets. But with the help of King Kaiser on the Reinhardt, Runaway managed to come out on top taking an unexpected 2–0 lead.
Lunatic Hai was looking deflated but after a tactical pause, they came into set 3 on Volskaya Industries on fire. Runaway tried as best as they could to contain them but were sloppy and unable to hold back a rampaging Lunatic Hai. With the help of EscA who was starting to find his groove, they easily won the set making better use of their dive composition than Runaway, making the score 2–1
Lunatic Hai seemed to have switched gears slightly and were starting to make better decisions as a team while Runaway seemed to have reached their peak. Set 4 on Route 66 was a close back and forth affair with some big plays from both sides. In the end, king of the clutch earth shatter Kaiser and Runaway managed to clinch out a hard fought win to go up 3–1 However, Lunatic Hai seemed to be turning up the heat with both EscA and WhoRU really finding form and this would be evident in the next set.
Even though Runaway was on set point, Lunatic Hai didn’t seem as phased and set 5 on Hanamura showed just how good Lunatic Hai is with their top players becoming much more aggressive and pushing Runaway back at every step. Runaway was also struggling to clean up their Alt economy and their player positioning was still not improving. Lunatic Hai easily held out Runaway to take the set and bring the score to 3–2
Set 6 on Dorado was no different with Lunatic Hai charging ahead and Runaway unable to do anything to stop them. Try as best as they could, there was no stopping Lunatic Hai who took the set and inched closer to a massive comeback, levelling the score 3–3
The final set was on Runaways favoured map Echienwalde where they had already put together some big wins this season. But for them, it was not to be. Lunatic Hai was now a team possessed and firing on all fronts. They were not going to let this chance to finally crown themselves king slip from their grasp, easily dispatching Runaway to take the set and the finals with an epic come back 3–4
Key Match Ups
Haksal Vs WhoRU was a key Genji match up and even though Haksal got caught a few times with some great sleep darts by Je-Hong (who was on form the entire game) he was able to push the advantage in the beginning but by the 4th set WhoRU was not only on top but was unstoppable, earning himself the converted Finals MVP in the process.
Battle of the tanks. Kaiser was struggling in the first set but got out of second gear eventually showing us just why he is the new king of Reinhardt, master of the clutch earth shatter, consistently hitting them big during the whole 7 games and out playing Miro’s Reinhardt to give his team a solid foundation to fight around. However, Miro was much more effective with his Winston play towards the back half of the finals. That coupled with the effective dive composition Lunatic Hai was running, Runaway didn’t stand a chance.
Esca Vs Stitch was the match up I saw as the tipping point. While stitch was bought in as a top tracer player, he wasn’t quite good enough to contain EscA who is levels above everyone when he is on form. Stitch did a great job early on though and deserves a lot of credit but EscA was just too good in the end.
Lunatic Hai finally managed to secure that elusive championship and thoroughly deserved it here. While they were a bit slow to start, they found their groove and in the end were unstoppable. A superior dive team, great individual and team efforts put them in a league of their own. Runaway fought impressively but at the end of the day they couldn’t finish off the Cinderella story, falling agonisingly close. Silly mistakes managing their alt economy and bad player positioning allowed Lunatic Hai to catch them out on multiple occasions. The production value and clips added to the event to emphasise the drama between these two teams was really well played by OGN and made the atmosphere electric. On the negative side, there was some technical difficulties in the first few sets, those coupled with extra long breaks between sets really dragged out the final, even worse in a venue with no food or drink stands inside. The marathon of a final lasted well over 4 hours till we finally had our victor.