At the OGN Overwatch APEX quarterfinals draw this morning, Europe's top team issued a direct challenge to long-time North American powerhouse Team EnVyUs.
Rogue, who trounced their group last month with three 3-0 sweeps, were randomly given third pick in the quarterfinals draw. When it came their turn to choose an opponent, Dylan "aKm" Bignet fingered EnVyUs rather than the other remaining team in the pool, Afreeca Freecs Blue — even though Rogue 3-0'd AF.Blue the group stage. When aKm was asked afterward why he would pick a team that many consider the best in the world, he responded that nV "were only number one in NA."
The last time the two teams met was at the ESL Atlantic Showdown, where Rogue were able to break EnVyUs' epic 57-game win streak. The European giants ended up taking that series 3-2 to eliminate nV in 3rd-4th place, and went on to win the entire tournament. Though nV have been hailed as one of the West's strongest and most consistent rosters, they have so far fallen short of taking a premier title — a fact that likely chafes at Taimou and his teammates.
At APEX, Rogue and EnVyUs are two of only three Western teams remaining, along with REUNITED, who picked last and will face AF.Blue. Rogue's choice guarantees that at most, only two Western teams will make it to the next round.
Despite the dwindling presence of Western teams at the event, aKm seemed confident Rogue could win the whole thing. OGN interviewers asked him whether he thought Rogue was the best team in the world, and he replied, "I think we're number one, but very close with other teams, like Lunatic-Hai." His bravado was likely bolstered by Rogue's record against Korean teams; in October, Rogue beat Lunatic-Hai 4-1 to take the APAC Premier.
Lunatic-Hai, seen by many as Korea's top roster, also won their group, and was represented at the quarterfinals draw by Kim "EscA" In-jae. EscA was first to choose an opponent, and after a brief fakeout where he pretended to pick nV, he settled on Team KongDoo Uncia. Lunatic-Hai chose to play the last match of the quarterfinals, which should give them plenty of time to analyze how other teams play on the new Sombra patch.
BK Stars' Lim "TwinkI" Young Bin decided to play the second match and opted to face LW Blue, noting that he felt the new patch meta favored his team's playstyle.
The games will start on Nov. 18, with REUNITED versus AF Blue and then BK Stars versus LW Blue, and continue on Nov. 21 with Rogue versus EnVyUs and then Lunatic-Hai versus KongDoo Uncia. At stake is a prize pool of $90,000, and perhaps more importantly, a hotly contested premier title and the international bragging rights that go with it.
Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find him on Twitter.