OGN APEX Season 4 Final Preview – GC Busan.

Founded in 2017 and qualifying second in the APEX Contenders for season 4, nobody expected GC Busan to go as far as they have. Their first match on the main stage against first place qualifiers LW Red was solid if messy, showing only glimpses of the skill and coordination that would take them to the season 4 final.

It’s impossible to talk about GC Busan without mentioning their star DPS player Park “Profit” Joon-Yeong. “The best Tracer player in the world” is a category with fierce competition, and after his recent performance Profit has to be in contention. Given space to work he carved through the backline of Cloud 9 KongDoo (formerly KongDoo Panthera), cutting off their healing and swinging the momentum of team fights.

Though he can play other heroes, Profit is effectively a dedicated Tracer player. His DPS companion Lee “Hooreg” Dong-Eun on the other hand has shown a flexibility that many professional DPS players lack. Flexibility that has been vital to GC Busan’s success. From Pharah, to Widowmaker, to McCree, there are few heroes Hooreg isn’t competent with. After his prevalence in the early stages, the hotfix adjustment to Doomfist’s Rocket Punch hitbox has seen him used less as the tournament has progressed. A rare selection, it’s one that Hooreg can still pull out when required. Where DPS players usually focus on either projectile or hitscan heroes, Hooreg can make the most of both giving GC Busan a tactical depth that even some of the more established teams lack; Lunatic-Hai we can all see you.

If their DPS duo have a weakness to exploit it’s Profit’s tendency to be overly autonomous. Hooreg’s flexible hero pool and willingness to switch things up steer GC Busan toward a style that sees them attempt to catch their opponents between Hooreg’s long range damage and Profit’s backline harassment. Unable to directly protect each other, this formation can be punished if either of the two DPS players can be isolated and targeted.

Trying to ensure that doesn’t happen is the tank line of Hong “Gesture” Jae-Hee and Sung “WOOHYAL” Seung-Hyun. Where once it was common to see Gesture’s Winston leap in first and be punished for it, over the course of the tournament he’s calmed down, developing a more measured approach that has seen his first encounter survivability increase dramatically.

On paper the GC Busan sub-tank player is Moon “Ariel” Ji-Seok, though for their recent matches against Lunatic-Hai and Cloud 9 KongDoo it has been nominal flex player WOOHYAL stepping up to fulfil D.Va duties. The always smiling WOOHYAL has shown an ability to time his Boosters perfectly, knocking more than one opposing player to their death mid-ultimate; saving his team through an aggressive in your face play style combined with well targeted Defence Matrix use.

Up there with WOOHYAL for environmental kills is Jung “Closer” won sik on Lucio. Able to deal with more powerful opponents through smart positioning and use of the map, his Sound Barrier timing has also been lifesaving. Alongside Closer is Jo “HaGoPeun” Hyeon-Woo on Zenyatta. The support duo of GC Busan has shown a steadily increasing sense of coordination and timing. Smartly staggering their ultimates to give their team the sustainability to stay in fights longer, and win out against opponents with a clear numbers advantage.

Unrelentingly aggressive in attack, GC Busan are still able to maintain that momentum should matches go into overtime. Combining this “all in” approach with surprisingly conservative ultimate usage, and top tier support play, has allowed them to draw their opposition into using ultimates in team fights that GC Busan go on to win. Setting them up to enter subsequent engagements with an ultimate advantage that regularly snowballs into a map win.

Growth. Of their confident. Of their teamwork. Of their fanbase. This is the defining characteristic of GC Busan over the course of APEX season 4. They have grown steadily as a team while others have fallen back into too familiar, too predictable patterns.

It would be easy to make excuses for GC Busan’s season 4 performance: “Lunatic-Hai haven’t been playing well”, “Cloud 9 KongDoo underestimated their opponents”; however, excuses don’t explain their ability to defeat the two-time APEX champions Lunatic-Hai 3-0, not once but twice. A best of seven semi-final match was always going to be challenging for a new team, especially against season 3 runners up Cloud 9 KongDoo. Yet GC Busan made it look easy, taking the match without dropping a single map.

Since losing their first match, GC Busan’s only defeat this season has been a close 3-2 loss against fellow finalists RunAway; a team as skilled as there are unpredictable. The GC Busan that are gearing up for the final on October 21st look subtly different to the one that lost in September; more consistent, with a better sense of their own strengths and weaknesses.

Coming into the final having defeated two of the best teams in Korea, and without dropping a single map out of the last seven, GC Busan are the underdogs only because RunAway have been here before. As incredible a sight as it would be to see Runner lifting the trophy in tears, I have to admit that this is probably GC Busan’s year.