Despite both placing highly in Apex’s first season, the two squads’ debut games in season two told very different stories. For the reigning champions of EnvyUS, a 3-2 win over the newly promoted MVP Infinity lineup indicated that there were slight amounts of rust, but that Envy’s team was still running smoothly. As for BK Stars, a 0-3 loss to Meta Athena (another newly promoted team) looked like bad news for the former semifinalists. Considering the difference in debut performances,as well as their overall pedigree, Envy were considered the favorites going in.
BK Stars took the first round on Nepal, thanks to relentless assassinations from their DPS duo of Chae “Bunny” Jun Hyuk, and Lee “Carpe” Jae Hyeok’s signature Tracer and Genji. After losing round 1 with an uncharacteristic comp, Envy returned to their staple picks. Now that he was playing his signature McCree and Roadhog instead of an unfamiliar Winston, Timo “Taimou” Ketunnen stepped up in the final rounds. Envy’s DPS was ruthless on both of his signature heroes, as he repeatedly caught BK Stars’ players off guard. Whether he was using McCree’s flash bang or Roadhog’s hook, Taimou followed up on both with hair-trigger head shots. Thanks to their DPS player’s near-constant influx of executions, EnvyUS rallied in the second and third rounds, earning themselves a 2-1 win.
Envy’s successes continued as they took up the offensive on King’s Row. The assault started out slow, as EnvyUS struggled to win a fight, or even just to keep up in ultimate charge. The main deterrent to their successes was Carpe’s Genji, who would repeatedly deflect the opening sleep darts, then follow up with multiple kills on his assailants. After finally taking BK Stars’ Genji down, Envy had little trouble doing the same to their point. This pattern continued throughout the remainder of the game, as Carpe would mount heroic defenses, but eventually go down after multiple onslaughts. With each success, Envy managed to escort the cart both faster and farther than in their previous attempt, eventually resulting in a full push with 43 seconds remaining.
BK Stars struck back convincingly, thanks to another great performance from Carpe and Bunny. After a rough start to their turn on offense, Carpe’s McCree finally helped his team take point A, thanks to a flanking triple kill. With the payload under their control, BK Stars’ DPS duo ran ahead, in order to cut the enemy off. Thanks to a combination of Bunny’s Tracer delivering solo picks, and a deadeye double kill from Carpe’s McCree, the rest of their team were left to push the payload into the final section undisturbed. Once inside the foundry, BK Stars’ momentum was brought to a grinding halt, as Taimou swapped on to Widowmaker. Even when faced with a full three minutes of defense, Envy’s champion roster showed their mettle, and denied every subsequent attempt from their opponents.
Despite their shortcomings on the previous map, an offensive Sombra pick granted BK Stars a second wind. Carpe started off by setting up a makeshift home base by hacking a large health pack adjacent to the point. With their foothold established, BK Stars evicted their opponents from the point. With six minutes to work with, BK eventually found Envy spread out after a flank, and used their momentary disorganization to win an easy fight for point B.
EnvyUS responded with an equally quick point A capture, thanks to Taimou’s aim on Widowmaker. Unfortunately for his team, Taimou’s success in their first push didn’t translate into their attempts at capturing the second, as he shuffled between heroes while their timer ticked down. In the end, Envy were unable to mimic their success in their first assault, and fell victim to Volskaya’s rapidly respawning defenders.
Despite falling short in their siege on Volskaya, Envy immediately bounced back on their game 4 Dorado pick. After a stagnant start using a typical 3 tank lineup, Taimou switched to Widowmaker. Just as he had in previous games, Taimou showed off his notoriously impeccable aim, as he embodied the deadly sharpshooter. With Jonathan “HarryHook” Tejedor starting their assaults with Soldier 76, and Taimou cleaning up with Widowmaker, Envy effortlessly rolled the payload through to the finish line.
Bunny and Carpe returned to their devastating pair of assassins for the final assault, but were ultimately no match for Taimou. After switching to Widowmaker during the streets phase, Taimou managed to repeatedly kill both Bunny’s Tracer and Carpe’s Genji in 1 on 1s – a feat that would be nearly impossible for most other Widowmakers. Following his repeated deaths, Carpe finally opted to play D.va over Genji, in the hopes of denying Taimou’s aggression, rather than outdoing it. Although the change in heroes did net BK Stars the second point, Taimou respawned as McCree, and continued to spread terror. Much like in the previous payload round, EnvyUS rallied together once the payload got close to the final point, and denied their opponents the full push.
With another victory going to Envy, a clear rift seems to have formed between the top and bottom teams in group A. At the top of the bracket, both Meta Athena and EnvyUS sit at 2-0, and will play each other for the group’s first seed. Although seeding is important, the bottom two teams will be playing for even greater stakes, as the loser of MVP Infinity vs BK Stars will have to face relegation matches to stay in the league.
Cover photo via OGN GLOBAL (twitch.tv/ognglobal)