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Why EnVyUs Lost to Lunatic-Hai in the Overwatch Apex Quarter-Finals

For the better part of the last year, EnVyUs has been one of the best Western teams in Overwatch eSports. With specialists like Taimou, Harryhook and Mickie leading the charge, they’ve taken down talent from around the world, and have several major tournament victories under their belt including Apex Season 1 and MLG Las Vegas.

If we were still in 2016, we’d say they were virtually unstoppable. But we’re in March of 2017, and things are changing for EnVyUs.

EnVyUs lost their second straight set at Apex Season 2 last week, as they had absolutely no answers for Lunatic-Hai. Before that, Meat Athena took them down in similar fashion. So, what gives?

It seems to come down to one simple-yet-complicated factor: inability to stay flexible within the new meta. Since the big January patch that opened the door for dive compositions and flanking plays, most teams have graduated to a more mobile mindset. Tracer and Genji have been having field days while teams stuck in the old tanking meta have not been sharing the same success.

It seems like an easy fix. Simply go with the flow of the meta, and develop compositions that work for you. For teams like Faze, this meta shift couldn’t have come fast enough. ShaDowBurn was able to switch off of D.Va and go back to Genji almost full time. But with EnVyUs, their character picks are almost specialist in nature.

Taimou has absurd aim and is almost always on McCree, Roadhog or Widowmaker. Harryhook takes to the hitscan heroes like Soldier:76. Mickie and Cocco are tanks. As you can see, their current roster is very rigid, and they only have so many options available to them. Up to this point, their superstar-caliber play on an individual level was enough to destroy everyone. They even did well against less coordinated teams in the new meta. Unfortunately, that isn’t working against top-shelf teams.

Anecdotally, EnVyUs could be going through some communication issues of their own as they struggle to find something that works at the absolute highest levels of play. Taimou tweeted this out after their loss against Lunatic-Hai, which answered a few questions some people might have had for their questionable moves on the field. Did Taimou’s decision to stick with Widowmaker on Hanamura contribute to their loss? He did seem very preoccupied with a Torb turret. Was it wise to have Mickie switch off of D.Va on Nepal?

Everyone knows that’s his bread-and-butter, and she’s not exactly a bad pick on any of Nepal’s three maps. Their defense on Numbani also seemed odd, not going for an optimal solo-healer composition, and then switching Taimou off of Widow halfway through the streets phase and onto Tracer instead of McCree. None of these decisions were necessarily “bad”, but they didn’t feel as solid as they could have been.

There is, of course, another factor at work that fans of EnVyUs are well aware of. Korean teams have obviously been much more prepared coming into Apex Season 2. Lunatic-Hai has always had the individual talent and coordination, so it should go as no surprise that they’re still arguably the best team in Korea. But now we’re starting to see teams like Meta Athena and both Kongdoo squads absolutely wreck Western teams. Indeed, Cloud9, Misfits and Fnatic have all been eliminated from Apex, leaving defending champions EnVyUs as the sole representatives of Western Overwatch eSports at the Korean tournament.

As much as everyone is rooting for EnVyUs to finish strong, the odds don’t seem to be in their favor. Individually, they’re potentially the best picks per slot. The problem is that they don’t have an obvious Tracer, Genji or Pharah, and they aren’t utilising Orb of Discord because they’re not built for dive compositions. If the team can get to a point where they play competitively outside of their comfort level, meta shifts shouldn’t be a problem for them. Until that time comes, their classic 3/2/1 and 4/2 setups just won’t be as effective as they once were. The age of the dive composition is upon us, and unless Orisa brings the tank meta back with her, EnVyUs is going to have to develop a new plan of attack.

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I've been writing for esports blogs here and there since the Wings of Liberty days of Starcraft II. It started mostly as a way of documenting my own matches, which I quickly learned doesn't really work unless you're streaming. Finally, after much research and deliberation, I decided to adopt a more guided and informed style of writing in the summer of 2016. Overwatch and Street Fighter were my main focuses, but esports as an industry became absolutely fascinating to me. Seeing the scene blow up has been awesome, but there's so much more to be done. I simply want to do my part in providing quality content for esports consumers around the world.