Runback: An Early RunAway Evaluation
From the PC Bangs to the OGN Studios, RunAway — against the odds — triumphantly marched from the relegation tournament and headed towards the Grand Final of APEX Season 2 at Korea University’s prestigious Tiger Dome. While they narrowly missed capturing the first place finish, they now look towards APEX Season 3 as their time to shine. Ultimately RunAway has one goal in mind: redemption.
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After recovering from an illness that plagued them during their opening game in APEX Season 3 against a resurgent Afreeca Freecs Blue, RunAway came sprinting back in their second series of OGN’s Overwatch League against KongDoo Uncia. All rested and prepared to show a better performance, RunAway came off the gun with a slow start but started to catch their stride as the evening progressed.
RunAway’s eight-man roster is something that has been crucial in the success of the team as of late. What's surprising is that RunAway actually has a deep bench — something that can’t really be said for a lot of other teams in Overwatch currently. The team relied on Haksal and Bumper to really step up and have clutch performances in the frontline as KAISER sat on the sidelines. We haven’t even seen what Kalios brings to the table. So, to be fair, the seven-man roster that RunAway has shown thus far is what is noteworthy. RunAway’s runback against KongDoo Uncia looked like a brand new team, fresh off a good night's sleep and completely revitalized.
Someone who is completely overlooked and undersold as nothing more than a “Lucio-bot” is Yoon “Runner” Dae Hoon. While yes, his main hero is Lucio, in this match, in particular, we saw him flex to Torbjorn and Mercy to pair with Mirage on Phara. While he has been critiqued in the past about his questionable ultimate usage, Runner slowly but steadily been improving in that aspect. Not only that, but Runner is the quintessential “team captain”, in every sense of the word. He provides emotional stability, but really keeps his team riding high when they’ve done exceptionally well. Runner also calls the shots, he can not only make adjustments on the fly — but he is in the game with the team and can correct any slight missteps faster than the Head Coach would be able to. With Runner’s steady mechanical improvements and moral bonuses that he grants his team, RunAway could potentially create some surprising matches in the coming months.
Coming back from their crushing loss at the hands of Lunatic-Hai in the Grand Finals of APEX Season 2 and their abysmal showing against Afreeca Freecs Blue, RunAway is here to silence the naysayers. They will not go down as “the 2nd place, pink sweater guys.” They are here to show that they do deserve a sponsor, they deserve their fanatic fanbase, and that they deserve their spot on the APEX stage. Someone who knows that better than anyone else is one of their newest additions to the team, Bae “Mirage” Jung Min .
A bewildered Season 2 RunAway looks on as they claim their second place spoils.
In his pregame interview with OGN, he talks about how the criticism of the community affected him after the Afreeca Freecs Blue match. He came into the series against KongDoo with the pressure to perform and something to prove. Mirage needed to show his worth and prove to everyone that he was the correct choice and that he was no mere streamer. Not only did he prove his worth, he is someone we can look forward to synergize well with the two other DPS stars of RunAway. With the pressure the two other DPS carries provide, Mirage had free reign against KongDoo Uncia, showing great performances on Phara and Soldier 76.
Speaking of the two carries of RunAway, we’ve seen the spotlight shift away from one and transfer to the other. RunAway has given Lee “Stitch” Choong Hui the keys to success and he is flourishing in the freedom. We started to see his potential at the end of APEX Season 2, even before the Grand Finals. Stitch is known for his consistent backline pressure on Tracer. He is RunAway’s calvary — finding the cracks, breaching straight through the tank line of their opponents, and trampling over his unsuspecting enemies. RunAway has so much faith in this young Tracer prodigy that they tout him as one of, if not, the best Tracer in the world. While many people such as Soon, Saebyeolbe, Surefour, and Effect stand either ahead or beside him, Stitch is definitely a contender for the title.
The other half of the DPS duo of RunAway is the Genji all-star from Season 1 and 2, Kim "Haksal" Hyo Jong. What was interesting was the fact that he shared the spotlight with Mirage. The fact that he is such a talent on Genji, that he would willingly take a knee and make the transition to more of a flex-DPS role was at first bizarre and worrisome. With his performance on Winston in the KongDoo set and his, Zarya play back in the APEX Season 2 finale, it’s safe to say that RunAway is in good hands in the absence of KAISER. And when the going gets a bit tough, RunAway can always pull the killswitch and toss Haksal back on his signature Genji to make quick work of any opponents. Haksal has shown that he is no one trick and is perfectly fine letting Stitch and Mirage take the spotlight, at times.
And last but certainly not least, we have the berserker tank himself, Ryu "KAISER" Sang Hoon. With the recent report that KAISER will be leaving RunAway for a foreign team is devastatingly bittersweet . While Reinhardt has been a contentious point in the scene currently, that fact that he is so talented at Reinhardt makes him hard to pass up. His keen on for Earthshatter blocks and his quick trigger finger with his own Earthshatter’s makes him the perfect engage tool. If Stitch was the cavalry, KAISER would've been the battering ram that creates the space needed for Stitch to charge, full speed ahead into the enemy's backline. The loss of KAISER is a deep blow to the team’s front line strength. While in their match against KongDoo Uncia, RunAway did not field KAISER, the team still managed to pull out a win. Hopefully Shin “Kalios” Woo Yeol , after his contract dispute is settled, will be able to fill the shoes of such a key member of the Season 2 RunAway Roster.
RunAway, overjoyed with their performance after they take down KongDoo Uncia.
All of this being said, RunAway has something special. They possess a flare and competitive spirit that not many teams can recreate. Not only do they have a strong and commanding voice within the team, but they have such a strong and flexible roster that anything seems possible for them. Could Kox swap to Genji in place of Haksal? Could Bumper find his way off of D.va duty and onto another pick? And where does Kalios fit into the picture? The flexibility that this iteration of RunAway possess is another driving force that could play a pivotal role in a possible deep run into APEX Season 3.
While most of this is based on one performance, this team definitely has been doing something right for some time now. Whether it’s their drive to win or just how well Runner and Head Coach Kim “NoMi” Min-yong run the team, it shows within their play. RunAway is a lot like a rubber band in this sense. At times, they look a bit shaky and unsteady — but they almost always bounce back at you, twice as hard.
While it is too early to say for sure, they have their pieces lined in place to make a return to the Grand Finals and possibly a championship win. Again, enough can’t be said about Runner and co. and their defiance to stand down in the face of other amazingly skilled teams within their region. A team that was on the brink of relegation, sprinted all the way to the Grand Finals in Season 2 now look to do one better in Season 3.
Written by: @Volamel
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment and OGN.