Going into Blizzard’s big, multi-national bash, South Korea was a heavy favorite, but I’m not sure anybody expected them to clean up to this degree. On Saturday, they swatted away an ult storm from hell (and Austria) like a cat idly pawing at a half-dead roach, and after that, they only continued to up the ante.
For example, in the same match, they brought out reviled nipple exposure aficionado Hanzo to get some early picks while probably making Austria feel pretty silly.
Austria only got 24 kills in the whole four-map match. South Korea didn’t drop a single map, despite clearly playing with their food before eating it.
Poland fared a little better against South Korea initially, but then Ryu “ryujehong” Je Hong’s masterful Ana sleep darts (followed, naturally, by devastating Reinhardt earthshatter ults from Kim “Mano” Dong-gyu) turned the tide. Any time Poland seemed to be rallying, South Korea smacked them back down with pretty much any hero combination they wanted to use. For instance, here’s a moment where South Korea countered a nicely timed Mercy team res from Poland with a Junkrat rip tire that left Poland utterly fried.
In this match alone, South Korea used 18 out of Overwatch’s 25 different heroes, including oft-underestimated heroes like Bastion and Mei. Of those, Yeon-oh “Fl0w3R” Hwang used half, bouncing between nine different heroes and evidently having the time of his damn life.
Against The Netherlands, the cheekiness continued. Here’s a moment where South Korea blazed out to take the first point on King’s Row (securing the map in the process), and then Fl0w3R, as Orisa, did a little dance:
Against Russia, the stats speak for themselves. South Korea swept the match, handing every player on the Russian team lopsidedly negative kill/death ratios. The most surprising moment of the whole thing was when South Korea actually lapsed for a little bit, allowing Russia to take point A on their own turf, Russian map Volskaya Industries, and pull off a couple cheeky moves of their own, like this Tracer pulse bomb onto a Winston that’d already been slept by Ana:
Ultimately, though, South Korea held them off, then switched to a more meta-friendly comp and blitzed through Russia’s history-tested winter defense to take the match.
South Korea’s team is made up of players from the highest echelons of the country’s rapidly-developing APEX competitive scene, and it shows. Other regions may as well be batting away pulse bombs and hacking at holo-shields with sticks and stones. South Korea’s preparation, team play, and intuition for the subtly shifting tides of battle are just on a different level.
When this weekend’s competition was all said and done, South Korea never dropped a map. At this point in the World Cup qualifiers, the team has managed to use every hero in Overwatch except Symmetra. If they don’t do it before the tournament’s over, it’ll only be because they’ve decided to toy with the audience in addition to their opponents. The real question at this point is whether or not anybody can even force them to play to the full extent of their abilities, let alone beat them.