Due to shared losses against KongDoo and wins against Flash Lux, both teams’ tournament hopes came down to their final matchup.
Although their seasons had gone similarly, the two squads had shown opposite strengths.
If Fnatic had to be identified by a single hero pick, it would be their 85% pick rate Reinhardt. Fnatic’s main strengths were their teamwork and shot-calling, which were both suited to Reinhardt’s defensive style, rather than Winston’s more aggressive one. In order to qualify for playoffs, Fnatic would most likely rely on punishing aggression from RunAway, rather than creating their own.
RunAway played the reverse of their opponents’ strategy. Unlike Fnatic, who loved tank heavy Reinhardt strategies, RunAway had made a name for themselves in the promotion tournament, mainly using all-in 3 DPS strategies. After shelving their aggressive substitutes for most of the season, RunAway decided to bring them back for their third match, in the hopes of bouncing back after being destroyed by KongDoo Panthera.
Although Fnatic’s rough series against Flash Lux would normally make them slight underdogs, RunAway’s revamped roster had yet to prove itself against premier teams. As a result, neither team was coming in as a favorite.
RunAway started the series with a 2-0 win on Oasis, which showcased their revamped roster.
The first round was a one-sided affair on University, thanks to Park “BUMPER” Sang Beom’s Zarya. Although both sides went for 3 tank cores of Reinhardt, Zarya, Roadhog, Ana, and Lucio, RunAway’s Zarya tipped the scales in their favor. By using his barriers to enable Kim “Haksal” Hyo Jong’s aggressive Genji, BUMPER turned both himself and his star DPS into threats. With his Genji both protected and quickly earning him energy, the new Flex player enabled his team to take the first round with a score of 100-35.
The second round was much closer, as the teams fought over control of the Garden. RunAway got out to another early lead, thanks to early kills in a Pharah Mercy mirror match. Despite Lee “Stitch” Choong Hui and Kim “KoX” Min Soo’s early advantage in the matchup, Hafþór “Hafficool” Hákonarson and Scott “Custa” Kennedy outperformed them in the ensuing fights. Although Fnatic’s airborne duo nearly earned them the round, RunAway clinched it in the end, thanks to Haksal’s solo abilities. With 99% control on each side, Haksal reminded Fnatic not to underestimate him, as he earned an uncontested double kill, which won the second round for his team.
Thanks to great performances from both newcomers and mainstays, RunAway came out to a 1-0 lead.
Both teams tried to vary their styles on Hollywood, but Fnatic ended up out of their element.
Fnatic’s attack started with both sides running Reinhardt, Zarya, Ana, and Lucio. Fnatic rounded their comp out with Roadhog and Soldier 76, while RunAway went for D.Va and McCree. After taking point A off the back of Matt “coolmatt69” Iorio’s Roadhog hooks, Fnatic transformed their lineup into a dive comp of Winston, D.Va, Genji, Soldier, Ana, and Lucio. Unfortunately for the North American squad, their inexperience with aggressive strategies reared its head just before they could earn a second point. After nearly pushing through the streets phase, Fnatic got overconfident after a team kill, and spread out in search of more kills . This plan went catastrophically for them, as RunAway stuck together, killed Fnatic’s isolated members, and stopped their attack with one point.
After their aggressive misstep, Fnatic returned to their defensive comfort zone, choosing to run Reinhardt, Zarya, Roadhog, Soldier 76, Torbjorn, and Ana. Likewise, RunAway decided that single DPS wasn’t their forte, and brought out Reinhardt, Winston, Genji, Widowmaker, Ana, and Lucio. RunAway’s pivot worked wonders, as they immediately broke through Fnatic’s defensive line, thanks to a string of head shots from Stitch’s Widowmaker. Fnatic tried to hold out with a dive comp in the street phase, but Haksal and Stitch obliterated them with similar efficiency, putting a quick end to their crusade through Hollywood.
RunAway dealt the killing blow on Volskaya Industries, with another dominant win. After patiently capturing point A using Reinhardt, Roadhog, McCree, Soldier 76, Ana and Lucio, Fnatic struggled to make any progress onto B. Although the North American squad had a good initial push, their game plan fell apart afterwards. Once Stitch’s Roadhog and Haksal’s Genji started eliminating members, Fnatic looked lost, as they repeatedly let themselves get split spawned. With most of their opponents’ attacks being either uncoordinated or undermanned, RunAway’s assassins easily held them off of point B.
Unlike their opponents, RunAway followed their first point capture with a quick second. Using their triple threat of Haksal’s Genji, Stitch’s Soldier 76, and Bumper’s Zarya, RunAway cleared Fnatic out in their first push, and proceeded to take both the game and match.
Even if RunAway don’t make it past the round of eight, their new roster is a clear improvement. Although this roster’s undefeated streak is unlikely to continue against increasingly talented competition, today’s game showed an understanding of both their play style and team dynamic. With a clear vision of what style they’d like to play going forward, RunAway will surely be proud of their journey from last place in season 1, to top eight in season 2.
Unfortunately for Fnatic, the same could not be said about their time in Apex. Although any number of factors could have contributed to their poor form, Fnatic looked like the weakest Western team this season. Hopefully for Fnatic’s fans, this performance will light a fire to improve in the players, rather than throw them into a slump.
Images via OGN Global (Twitch.tv/ognglobal)
Thanks for reading. If you have any feedback or criticism, please send it to me via either the comments section, or twitter dms! (my twitter is @munchelloo)