A brief look at all four great finals APEX brought to Overwatch.
As the Overwatch League 2020 season continues online, I’m sure many fans are yearning for the days of matches being played live at the homestands or even at the Blizzard Arena. Nothing beats the hype of a crowd, but as much as we have to make do in times like this, fans can assuredly look back to the past to find some of the best of Overwatch esports. It’s important to remember that Overwatch hasn’t always been just OWL, and even today, some of the best matches and storylines that have been imprinted in the history of the game were there before the League’s first match. In fact, if you’re looking for the joy of watching some incredible Overwatch, the majority of OGN’s four seasons of APEX still hold up to this day.
If you weren’t around while APEX was broadcasting, or never got the chance to check it out, now is a good time to do so. If you’ve heard about it from other fans or casters, APEX really still does live up to the hype. At the very least, each APEX grand final provided some of the best Overwatch moments for its time. Each one is the conclusion of a season worth of stories and memorable moments, and each one is well worth the watch even today. From the production to secondary content, to the arena and crowd, and the games themselves, each grand final brings a great viewing experience for those looking to get a good fix of Overwatch.
Season 1 – The Western Gods are Born
If there’s any match that would not be as exhilarating as the others, it’s the historic Envyus 4-0 stomp against Afreeca Freecs Blue in the Season 1 grand finals. Rewatching it, you’re going to see a lot of… embarrassing moments coming out from Afreeca. But that’s the issue with any esport, the first championship is always going to be host to very questionable and mediocre plays, even if it is coming from the best teams of that time. At the very least, however, this match is a great way to see all the hype for Envyus, and why they were considered the best team in the west pre-Dallas Fuel. Harryhook’s Soldier 76 was considerably scary, Taimou’s performance on the Roadhog was some of the best you’ll ever see on the hero, and Mickie’s D.Va highlighted the incredible impact of the hero at the time, and why his performance pulled Envyus ahead in the tournament.
This is also where APEX cements its production as world-class. The stage design, lighting, supplementary graphics, the Envyus Jenga, everything comes together in this production to really communicate the personalities and stature of the teams and tournament. It’s what separates APEX from any other tournament, including OWL, because it’s just so unique in its presentation and spectacle, that it really is an irreplaceable experience.
Season 2 – The New Kings Are Crowned
If a 4-0 disappoints you in terms of match quality, don’t worry. Every grand final from here on out is a full-on best of 7 nail biter. Every team gives it their all, and no two teams captured that desire to win matched with high caliber gameplay first than Lunatic-Hai vs Runaway.
Of course, everyone knows the legendary Lunatic-Hai, who’s core of Ryujehong, Miro, Zunba, and Tobi became the core behind the Seoul Dynasty. If you’re looking to see a match that shows what these players looked like in their prime, this is it. You can watch Ryujehong solidify his legacy as the GOAT Ana, WhoRU completely pop off on Genji, and the team rally around each other as they secure the title that encapsulated them as the kings of Overwatch.
But Runaway is what really makes this final special. You’ll see some adorable familiar faces in Haksal, Bumper, and Stitch, pre-Vancouver Titans. Haksal plays his heart out on Genji showing flashes of the monster DPS player he grows up to be, and as they play you begin to understand why Runaway were such a fan-favorite throughout APEX. They play with heart, and it feels like you’re watching the scrappiest underdogs take on giants.
Season 3 – A Legacy Secured
With a championship under their belt, Lunatic-Hai are the team to beat. Everyone is wondering if they can keep a hold on their title and the sailor suit clad Kongdoo Panthera certainly made them sweat for it. While, Lunatic-Hai was still the favorite, this was the time for their newest addition Gido, to really pull his weight as the team’s Tracer player. With Esca on Sombra, arguably his all-time best hero, you get to look at a slightly new identity for Lunatic-Hai in this final.
The challengers this year, Kongdoo Panthera, a team who the world did not realize at the time, played host to some future namesake Overwatch League players. Soon-to-be champions Birdring, Rascal, (and coach JFeel), are paired with future OWL players Fissure, Void, and Luffy.
The majority of the meta centers around Tracer/Sombra dive, leading to classic Tracer pop off moments throughout the series. While the series lacks the flashy Genji plays of the last season, the most interesting to watch is the playstyle of the Kongdoo players and appreciating the growth from this series to where they end up in the Overwatch League. All in all, a great showcase of high tempo classic dive comps, where it seems like the fights never stop, and the players are always scratching at plays that can give their teams the edge.
Season 4 – Royal Roaders Extraordinaire
It’s the finale of OGN’s APEX and boy does it serve. APEX Season 4 made sure that nobody will ever be able to top an OGN tournament, and absolutely delivered with the walkout and presentation. The introduction to the match is an absolute spectacle to watch, and it still feels like nothing else matters but the fight between Runaway and G.C Busan.
In this matchup, you have “Punished” Runaway, a team denied their championship in Season 2. They’re keeping all the familiar faces in Stitch, Haksal, Kox, Bumper, and bringing in soon-to-be familiar faces in Tizi and JJanu. Here, Runaway are no longer the unexpected underdogs, but the hard-fought and incredibly strong team that worked hard to make it to the grand finals.
Their opponents, however, are G.C Busan, a team who came out of nowhere and hosts to the absolutely dominant duo in Profit/Gesture. They’re the team that denied Lunatic-Hai their third attempt at the championship. They’re the team that could be the first Royal Roaders in APEX, a huge title and recognition in South Korean esports.
This is a match that above all else, is peak Overwatch during the dive meta. It’s an absolute joy to watch the impact Haksal and Profit have for their teams. Profit himself puts on a legendarily freakish performance, and in this final shows that he has always had the potential to be the best DPS player in the game. It’s the story of the Royal Roaders vs. the long-awaited fan-favorites, and the narrative is such a great story to end the series of tournaments in the APEX lifespan.
Images courtesy of OGN