As competitions in Overwatch begin to introduce Asian teams to the reigning Westerners, there’s one that has already distinguished itself from the pack.
While you can debate the relative strengths of different regions, there’s little doubt that Lunatic-Hai is among the world’s elite.
Though they’ve yet to win an international tournament, this is a team that has taken series against the very best the west has to offer. They beat Atlantic Showdown champions Rogue, arguably the best team in the world, in the group stage of APAC Premier, and they took down EnVyUs in the group stage of OGN APEX.
In some ways Lunatic-Hai might be limited, particularly in terms of flexibility and adaptability, but where they really shine is in the strengths of three key players, a deadly trinity that also helped lead South Korea to a dominant World Cup victory.
The most obvious star on the team, Kim ‘EscA’ In-jae plays a McCree to rival the likes of EnVy’s Timo ‘Taimou’ Kettunen.
In terms of aim, EscA has it all. As well as being able to flick onto enemies with incredible precision, his ability to track moving targets and hit shot after shot allows him to deal consistent damage. A high headshot rate in combination with these two skills only amplifies the danger he poses to enemy teams, both forcing healers to work overtime to keep their tanks alive and assassinating squishier heroes.
The amount of damage EscA puts up also means he charges his ultimate incredibly quickly. While the Deadeye isn’t often a high damage dealer, as teams tend to be adept at recognising and avoiding it, the frequent threat of the McCree ultimate adds another weapon for opponents to worry about. When timed well however it is one of the most dangerous abilities in the game, and enemies having to respect that grants Lunatic-Hai a powerful zoning tool, available more frequently than most.
Where many teams look to the likes of Reaper and Genji for Nano-boost targets, increasing the effectiveness of already powerful ultimates, it’s not uncommon for EscA’s McCree to be the recipient on Lunatic-Hai. For many teams, this might be a risky move – McCree’s ultimate, even sped up by the Nano-boost, is often avoidable, meaning maximising the value of the boost falls to the accuracy of McCree’s normal shots. Typically, there are far safer targets for such a valuable ultimate ability.
In EscA’s case, however, the consistency of his aim is so great that his team will put their faith in him to hit the shots they need. With the nano-boost, EscA becomes an even greater threat. Where a Reaper or Genji is limited to varying degrees by the range of their abilities, EscA’s McCree is near-inescapable, able to take down almost anything in his line of sight. When Lunatic-Hai find themselves hard pressed, it’s often EscA they trust to bail them out.
Gong ‘Miro’ Jin-hyuk is the best Winston player in the world.
On a hero whose potential might seem limited in the hands of lesser players, Miro can at times be almost a hard carry for his team. While the extent to which mechanical prowess can be displayed on Winston is limited, what really distinguishes Miro is his understanding of not just his hero, but those of his opponents.
It’s a characteristic reminiscent of legendary League of Legends player Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok. An intimate understanding of his hero’s limits allows Miro to engage, maximise his damage output and then escape, making him a rare combination of a high impact player who seemingly takes more risks and pushes his limits further, but still dies far less often than his counterparts on other teams.
Part of the key to this is that he also understands what his opponents are capable of, enabling him to push the hero past what may seem possible. He knows how far he can go without being focused down, when he can use his Jump Pack to dive enemy supports and when he needs to save it as a getaway in case the DPS turn on him. In this he often displays a phenomenal awareness of where each of his opponents is, able to identify areas of vulnerability and capitalise on them.
His positioning on a micro level is also superb, moving around and amongst enemy players to minimise the damage he takes, while maximising his own damage output. Along with his excellent use of the Barrier Projector, this makes Miro’s Winston a far more proficient duelist than might be expected, often capable of even going toe-to-toe with supposed hard counters like Reaper and coming out on top.
Winston is another less conventional target for Ana’s ultimate that Lunatic-Hai will opt into. Far from simply being turned to for lack of a better alternative, Miro will at times be given the Nano-boost to initiate, amplifying his impact even further.
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Across various esports it can be hard at times to quantify exactly how much impact a supportive player has on his team. Often subtler than hitting headshots or dealing large amounts of damage, the difficulty in pin-pointing the precise effect their actions have on the outcome of a game can leave support players by turns under-appreciated or over-hyped, often depending on the success of their teams.
Though he plays on an elite team alongside two incredible talents, Ryu ‘Ryujehong’ Je-hong is not a player for whom praise is misplaced. As the team’s primary Ana, he’s the player that facilitates the incredible performances from EscA and Miro.
Ryujehong’s ability to build his ultimate would almost be enough in itself to make him invaluable. As one of the most powerful and relied upon tools in the game, a player who can unleash more nano-boosts than their opponent is an incredible asset, and Ryujehong does it faster than almost anyone else.
Often it’s impeccable positioning that gives him this edge. While ensuring he can keep his team in line-of-sight to maximise Ana’s high potential healing output, Ryujehong is also adept at keeping himself out of danger. As well as positioning himself out of reach of the enemy, his hitscan accuracy means he is rarely forced to use the scope, so he can minimise the more obvious tracer shots that might give away his position.
RyuJehong is also one of the highest damage supports in Overwatch. As well as adding significant poke damage amidst healing in team fights, he’ll also look to take out his opposite number at any opportunity. This isn’t a player in a supportive role because he lacks the mechanical skill to play DPS, Ryujehong has the aim to make him extremely dangerous with the sniper rifle when given an opening. There are few Ana players who will make so frequent appearances in the kill feed as Ryujehong.
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While each is fantastic individually, it’s the combination of these three players that makes them so deadly. When Miro dives into the enemy back line, not only does he pose a significant threat but the attention he draws gives EscA freedom to pick off opponents as they scatter away from the Tesla Cannon. On the flip side, teams focused too much on protecting their back line from the sharpshooter may well leave an opening for Miro to take advantage of.
All the while, Ryujehong is free to support his star players. When Miro engages the pair work in synergy, Ryujehong’s healing providing a safety net, which in turn builds Ana’s ultimate. Often he will position himself meanwhile near EscA, ready to drop a biotic grenade or fire off a sleep dart should the enemy try themselves to dive onto Lunatic-Hai’s heavy hitter. Though Ana’s role is usually to keep the entire team healthy from a safe vantage point, Ryujehong will at times roam with EscA, allowing the pair of them to attack the weak points in an enemy team while keeping each other alive.
Overwatch by its nature isn’t a game in which teams can be beholden to a single composition or strategy, and Lunatic-Hai aren’t totally reliant on this style of play. Give the trinity their signature heroes, however, and that’s when this team is at its most dangerous. That’s when Lunatic-Hai get the most out of three of the best players in the world.