Afreeca Freecs’s Blue team was always expected to be one of the competing teams, but when the Korean Overwatch scene is so complete with strong competition not many expected it would be the only team with a unbeatable run. That’s not all, though, they’ve been taking names in every match they play, crushing its opposition and not losing a single round. That’s 15 rounds back to back, with every contender being swatted away without much consideration. While it should not be underestimated as anything other than a team effort, it’s worth pointing particular attention to Jeong “ArHaN” Weon-Hyeop, who has been obliterating the enemy teams - typically with some strong play with Genji, but a handful of notable sneak attacks with Sombra. He could well end up as the player of the tournament with this display. But not to overlook the supporting roles, it’s perhaps worth drawing attention to tank player Kim "Mano" Dong-gyu, whose Reinhardt has been exceptional over the group stage. He’s always found himself in the right place, and struck a good many Earthshatters at exactly the moment that they were needed. AF Blue is a team on-fire, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see it in the grand finals - even if it is going up against Lunatic-Hai.
Perhaps the most popular team in the Korean scene, Lunatic-Hai has made a name for itself after winning last season’s Overwatch Apex tournament. It’s consistently played at top-tier for as long as its existence, and for that reason it should never be discounted. Its group stage was mostly uneventful, too. It did place first in the initial group stage, but things have not gone quite so smoothly as they had for AF Blue, who it will be facing in the first semifinal match of the third season. The biggest part of this was KongDoo Panthera, who looked ready to take out the returning champions in the very first game of the group stage. It took the first two games almost effortlessly (2-0 then a tougher 3-2), but Lunatic-Hai wasn’t about to let that end for them. Most of this comes down to the team’s most well-known superstar, Ryujehong. While the player is more commonly known for his unstoppable skills with Ana and Zenyatta - often the single-handed reason his team survives most encounters - he’s been using OGN Overwatch Apex season 3 to prove he’s just as capable with a handful of other characters too, key among them being Mei. Often he does enough to keep his long-term partner Lee "Whoru" Seung Joon - whose skills with Genji are well-known at this point - alive long enough to slice away at the opposition without fear. It’s a well-documented pairing, and could be the defining aspect of Lunatic-Hai. At this point, however, it’s a tough call between the reigning champions or the unstoppable force that is AF Blue. Never count LH out, of course, but it’ll definitely be a match to watch.
On the other side of the semifinals is KongDoo Panthera, and Lunatic-Hai should be thankful for that. KDP has had a stellar set of performances throughout the group stages, giving LH something to think about on more than one occasion but even stomping the boot into the likes of LW Blue and Rogue when it was needed. It’s an erratic team, of course, not often able to come together with the clarity it needs, but there’s no denying some of the quality of its players. Kim "Rascal" Dong Jun, for example, has a number of characters that he really shines with, even more atypical ones like Pharah. And with D.Va so hot in the competitive meta right now, Void has been proven to be a real threat - his self-destructions have been nothing short of a dream to watch. The team has really pulled itself together in the second group phase, too, winning both its games 3-1 with very little to complain about. It’s looking confident, that’s for sure, and it wouldn’t be such a surprise to see this team in the grand finals.
It’s always tough to see a European team make it so far in OGN Overwatch Apex, mostly because the level of competition is so high, so intense that it’s almost cruel to root for a team that doesn’t have to always compete on that level. But nV has been proving itself worthy since the tournament began, and it’s been a thrill to watch. It topped the initial group stage by being the first to ruffle Meta Athena’s feathers and then going on to claim to very impressive sweeps in the matches that followed. The only real upset for the team - and perhaps the more interesting story for nV throughout the group matches - was in the second phase, where it lost to X6 Gaming, of all teams. Considering the calibre it had already marched through, many were surprised by the result of the first group match. But EnVyUs was certainly sure to turn its fortunes around in the final match of the group stages with its rematch against X6, a strong and determined 3-0 sweep that, until the final round, couldn’t have gone much smoother. It’s proven it has the strength to take on the very best of Korea and its single upset is hardly enough to call it flaky, but nV will be facing off against KDP who has similarly been showing an impressive strength. On balance it’d be hard to call, but somehow we’re favouring EnVyUs with this match up. We’ll find out next Tuesday...