Two titans squared off in the second semifinal, as Meta Athena and Lunatic Hai took to the stage.
Coming in as group B’s first seed, Meta Athena were the season’s biggest underdogs. After going undefeated in their run through the challenger league, Meta continued to impress in their run through the league. In order to reach the semifinals undefeated, the rookie squad used a stable of innovative strategies to take down titans such as EnvyUS, LuxuryWatch Blue, and KongDoo Panthera. Thanks to their innovative style, along with the growing hype surrounding the possibility of a rookie roster winning the league, Meta Athena had become the team to watch.
As for group A’s second seed, Lunatic-Hai were practically a household name for any fan of the league. Boasting an all-star roster, and a mastery of their signature aggressive play style, Lunatic-Hai were considered favorites to take the tournament. After losing to RunAway in the quarterfinals, Korea’s superstars would have to go through Meta Athena, if they hoped to find redemption in the finals.
Lunatic Hai kicked the series off with a massacre, taking a 2-0 win on Nepal.
Meta Athena were the first to take control on sanctum, off the back of unanswered kills from Ha “SayaPlayer” Jeong Woo’s Soldier 76. The newcomers’ success was short-lived however, as they were swept off the point with only 7% scored.Lunatic-Hai took the reigns for the rest of the round, only relinquishing control on one occasion. Although Meta Athena earned 15% creative use of the displacement Kim “Libero” Hye Sung’s Whole Hog, their opponents outmaneuvered them in every head-on encounter. Using their superior play, Lunatic Hai took the first round 100-22.
The battle for Shrine started with an extended brawl, spanning several respawn waves. When the dust settled, Lunatic Hai took command of the point. The stalemate was settled by Ryu “Ryujehong” Je Hong’s Zenyatta, who stopped his enemies’ aggression with Transcendence’s healing, then followed up with a triple kill. Je Hong and his team continued to rack up kills in the ensuing fights, as their opponents threw themselves at the objective. Through measured ultimate usage and superior coordination, Lunatic-Hai swept the round, earning them the win on Nepal.
Having lost on Nepal, Meta Athena chose Eichenwalde as the second map. Meta started the game on the attack, using Reinhardt, D.VA, Roadhog, McCree, Ana and Zenyatta, against Reinhardt, Zarya, D.VA, McCree, Ana, and Lucio. Athena’s first attack started strong thanks to a devastating Biotic Grenade from Kim “NUS” Jeong Seok’s Ana. Unfortunately for NUS’s team, split positioning made him and fellow support Choi “Kris” Jun Soo easy prey for their opponents. With their healers eliminated, Meta were forced to regroup with only a third of the capture meter. Meta Athena found success with a minute to go, by mirroring the enemy lineup.
With the streets phase ahead, the attackers chose only to trade Winston for Reinhardt, while Lunatic-Hai retooled their Zarya, McCree, and Reinhardt into Genji, Soldier 76, and a monkey of their own. MA struggled to push the cart more than halfway during their assigned time, but managed to pull through in overtime. Using a last minute flank from behind, SayaPlayer’s McCree got the jump on the defenders, earning a triple kill and the second point.
The tables were turned in the final stretch, as Meta Athena’s last attack took a disastrous turn. The attackers’ attempt at a full-push was thwarted by Lee “WhoRU” Seung Joon’s Genji, who deflected SayaPlayer’s Deadeye, stopping them with two points.
Their sights set on reaching the last choke point, Lunatic Hai mounted their offensive with Winston, D.VA, Genji, Tracer, Lucio, and Zenyatta, against Winston, D.VA, Tracer, Sombra, Ana, and Lucio. Undeterred by their enemies’ defenses, the all-star lineup used their superior damage to tear through the first point. Now that the payload was on the move, Libero swapped from Sombra for the more mobile Genji. Although Meta’s swap helped slow their bleeding, their opponents steadily pushed forward, using measured aggression. Lunatic Hai’s tempered approach continued into the home stretch, as they held back until WhoRU’s ultimate could charge. Once their dragon blade was ready, WhoRU landed the killing blow, earning four kills for himself, and a win for his team.
Their backs against the wall, Meta Athena chose Hanamura for game three. The round opened with another siege from the newcomers, using an aggressive 3 tank lineup of Winston, D.VA, Roadhog, McCree, Zenyatta and Ana, against a damage heavy single support team of Reinhardt, Zarya, Soldier 76, Genji, Torbjorn, and Ana. Meta’s dive comp blitzed through Lunatic-Hai’s point A defense, using attacks from all three openings. Even though their lightning-fast first siege allowed for 6:30 to take the second, the attackers made equally quick work of finishing the map. Meta finished the map on their first push, by sending their tanks to fight in the pit, while their teammates took shots from the rafters. By spreading out their threats, Libero and friends made it impossible to block all of their attacks, earning themselves a full push.
Lunatic-Hai tried to strike back with a dive comp of their own, using Winston, D.VA, Genji, Tracer, Zenyatta and Lucio, versus a mirrored strategy, with Roadhog and Ana replacing the ninja and omnic. Meta tried to ambush their opponents with a split defense, but their attempt was demolished by Gong “Miro” Jin Hyuk’s Winston. With their high-flying ape leaping between victims, Lunatic-Hai matched their opponents’ speed, earning point A in just over a minute. Despite matching the success of their opponents’ first assault, the attackers failed to end the round as convincingly. Now finding themselves on the defending side of a 6:30 timer, Meta Athena used their tanks to constantly contest the point, making LH’s capture much slower. Using their flow of sturdy defenders, Meta Athena ground down Lunatic Hai’s approaches, earning themselves a 2-1 win.
On the heels of their loss on Hanamura, Lunatic Hai hoped to end the series on Dorado. Meta started on offense, using Reinhardt, D.VA, McCree, Sombra, Ana and Lucio, against Reinhardt, Zarya, D.VA, Mei, Soldier 76, and Ana. After failing to ambush their opponents with Sombra, Meta swapped her and D.VA for Mei and Zarya. Using their newly added Mei’s ice wall, Meta Athena lifted themselves over the roofs of Dorado, in order to flank from an unexpected angle. Athena’s flank worked perfectly, earning them the first point. With 4:05 to get through the streets phase, SayaPlayer swapped McCree for Soldier 76, while Lunatic Hai passed WhoRU’s Soldier to Esca, in order to put him on Genji. Meta seemed to get the better of the two trades, as they faced Lunatic-Hai head on, while plowing through the streets phase. With 3:10 to reach the finish line, Esca and friends looked set to finish the map. Although they managed to get within four meters of the goal, Meta Athena’s plans were thwarted by Miro and Ryujehong. Backed up by his teammates’ healing, Miro’s Winston stalled the payload until reinforcements could arrive, in order to stop the attackers short of the end.
With the goal of getting withing 3 meters of the end, Lunatic-Hai set out with Winston, D.VA, Genji, Tracer, Zenyatta and Lucio, against Reinhardt, D.VA, Roadhog, McCree, Lucio and Ana. Led by Zunba’s D.VA, the crowd favorites immediately charged through the enemy back line, allowing them to move into the streets phase with 5:20 to work with. The payload continued to roll smoothly for most of the second leg, thanks to Esca and Miro, who hunted their enemies down, ahead of their teammates. Miro and co. hit their first snag once Meta Athena traded Roadhog for Zarya. With Hoon’s signature Zarya providing barriers, the weaker defenders were now much harder to pick off. Although Lunatic Hai managed to finish their push through the second checkpoint, Meta’s bolstered tanks proved too strong, and prevented them from reaching the third.
After suffering two consecutive losses, Lunatic Hai chose to make their last stand on Hollywood. Meta Athena started the map as the attackers, using their comfortable lineup of Winston, Roadhog, D.Va, McCree, Zenyatta and Lucio, against Lunatic Hai’s first point stall comp of Reinhardt, D.VA, Zarya, Torbjorn, Soldier 76, and Ana. The defenders’ single healer lineup stood no chance against the attacking tanks, and was immediately overwhelmed. No longer having a stationary point to defend, Tobi’s Torbjorn and WhoRU’s D.VA were traded for Lucio and Genji. Thanks to their quick victory, Meta Athena moved into the streets phase with 5:30 on the clock. Although their siege started off great, the attackers’s momentum eventually petered out. Meta Athena’s progress stopped dead in its tracks, after an all-in fight was shut down by a sleep dart onto their ulting McCree. For the remainder of their attack, Meta Athena looked uncharacteristically stumped. With constant changes in hero choices resetting their ultimate timers, the newcomers were no match for Lunatic Hai’s static lineup of mastered heroes.
Lunatic-Hai made their final push as one of their usual lineups of Winston, D.VA, Genji, Tracer, Ana, and Lucio, against Winston, Roadhog, D.VA, McCree, Ana, and Lucio. Thanks to the combined damage and healing from Ryujehong’s renowned Ana, Lunatic Hai stormed through point A. Sporting 5:30 in their time bank, Ryujehong’s all-star team mounted a steady crusade through the streets phase, and securing their chance at redemption in the finals.