<
>

Lunatic-Hai defends the throne at APEX Season 3 finals

Kim "ESCA" In-jae, leader of the Lunatic-Hai, shouts out commands to the team during a match. Provided by Helena Kristiansson/ESL

At the site of the Lotte World Tower in Seoul, Kongdoo Panthera and Lunatic-Hai met for the third and final time. The OGN Overwatch APEX Season 3 finals had finally arrived. In one of the best-played, as well as closest series in the history of competitive Overwatch, Lunatic-Hai became the first back-to-back champions in APEX.

Map 1: Nepal (Control)
Map 2: Eichenwald (Assault/Escort)
Map 3: Temple of Anubis (Assault)
Tiebreaker: Lijiang Tower
Map 4: Watchpoint: Gibraltar (Escort)
Map 5: Volskaya Industries (Assault)
Tiebreaker: Lijiang Tower
Map 6: Dorado (Escort)
Map 7: Numbani: (Assault/Escort)

A more back-and forth-match couldn't have been delivered between two teams of world-class caliber. Nepal was a decisive win for Kongdoo Panthera. An "wakawaka" Jee Ho helped secure the flow for Nepal with Lucio's Sound Barrier that allowed him to to gain control of the point for KDP. Both teams still looked a bit shaky, with Lunatic-Hai's Ryu "ryujehong" Je-hong wasting a Transcendence before an important push and Kongdoo Panthera's Kim "Rascal" Dong Jun firing off ineffective Barrages on Pharah.

Needless to say, Nepal and the following map, Eichenwald, were warm-ups for both teams. Kongdoo took the lead with a win on Nepal, while Lunatic-Hai fired back, tieing the series up 1-1 on Eichenwald.

The series heated up, ready for both teams to unleash their full arsenal against each other, when Kongdoo Panthera picked Temple of Anubis. Thus began some of the best and closest Overwatch ever played. Both teams finished the map to proceed to the timebank stage. They tied 3-3. And then they tied again with one minute on the clock for a 4-4 score on Temple of Anubis.

Seeing these two teams tie constantly on the same map with so little time in the timebank was surreal, but they would have to go to Lijiang Tower for the tiebreaker. A one control point winner-take-all style match was in the favor of Kongdoo Panthera, as the DPS combo between both Rascal and Kim "birdring" Ji Hyuk led KDP to victory on the tiebreaker, earning them the win for Temple of Anubis.

Alas, LH would not be broken. Despite the efforts of birdring's incredible Tracer play, LH tied the series up again to 2:2 after a decisive victory on Watchpoint: Gibraltar. Lunatic-Hai's ability to dominate escort type maps shined and kept KDP's lead at bay, as both teams would face off again on another assault map. This time, on Volskaya Industries where the exact same situation would play out as it did on Temple of Anubis. Both teams finished the map, tied in the timebank stage, and tied again in the one minute follow-up timebank stage. With another 4-4 tie on an assault map, KDP reached match point by winning the Lijiang Tower tiebreaker for a second time this set. But as KDP's strengths clearly lay in its ability to defeat LH in both Control and Assault maps, LH would win the finals by exerting its dominance on payload maps. That is, LH tied the series to 3-3 on Dorado, and ended KDP's dreams of becoming APEX champions on the seventh and final map, Numbani.

In the end, the LH supports, ryujehong and Yang "tobi" Jin-mo outperformed their counterparts on KDP, and Kim "zunba" Joon Hyuk's D.Va gave KDP all sorts of problems that allowed them to have a better fighting chance on these escort maps. At the end of one of the longest best-of-7 matches, Lunatic-Hai's 4-3 victory over Kongdoo Panthera at the Lotte World Tower would officially begin its dynasty as the continuous champions of OGN APEX.