RunAway seemed shaky after set 4, but the victory was theirs to take. After a series of nail-biting fights that pulled all five rounds of tight matchup. RunAway won 3-2 against LW Blue and secured their spot in the grand finals of Season 2 APEX. Runner, instead of smacking the booth’s ceiling open like he did last time, burst into tears and hugged KAISER that went through emotional struggle despite his unmatched Reinhardt performance today. The match was also joined by Blizzard’s president and cofounder Michael Morhaime, who sat to watch the game along with other Korean Overwatch fans and smiled to the camera when it put him on the screen.
Two players joined with us for the interview this time. Daehoon “Runner” Yoon and Choonghui “Stitch” Lee sat with us to discuss how the team was able to overcome hardship and stand among other top-tier Overwatch teams in Korea despite being an amateur team.
Below is the post-match press interview with Runner and Stitch.
Please first tell us how you feel, after winning such a tight game against LW Blue and advancing to finals.
Stitch: I honestly did not expect to come this far. I am so happy and proud of myself. I’m also thankful for my teammates, and… I’m just so happy. I think this is one of the happiest moments of my entire life.
Runner: I think we really stepped up our game starting from our matchup against KongDoo Uncia. Before then we just said that we would try hard. [instead of really doing it] We did practice hard, but realized that we were not doing it the right way. I got ten hours of sleep throughout the entire week when we were preparing for our matchup against KongDoo Uncia and Lunatic-Hai. We didn’t have anyone that could do it for us, so I had to do it myself. The effort paid off. That’s when I realized that good things happen if we try really hard.
Stitch had his wrist injured and BUMPER overstretched his ligament playing basketball while we were preparing for the tournament. I have a daughter, and I had to rush to emergency multiple times because she had fever for 4 days. I felt guilty about not being able to take care of my family when they needed me. They still believed in me and supported me, and I felt so thankful for that. My teammates also came with me all the way although we were not in as good condition as other teams, and I feel so thankful for them that I burst into tears after the match ended. We could do it.
Did you expect to win today?
Stitch: We thought we could win as long as we stay calm and not get too stressed out. There were many situations in the game when we could easily stress out, but Runner took care of it really well.
Runner: I looked at the winner predictions before coming to the match, and it was about 7:3 in favor of LW Blue. It was even worse in our matchup against Lunatic-Hai. I still thought we could win. Fl0w3R barely won against us ever since the offline qualifiers in Season 1. Well, LW Blue did defeat us in the past, but he was not in the team when that happened. His wrist was also injured, which I think prevented him from showing what he was really capable of. I think these are also partial reasons of how we could win today.
LW Blue never lost in control maps, and RunAway broke that record today. What do you think was the crucial element in your victory?
Runner: We knew what team comp LW was going to come up with. We predicted two team comps; Winston, D.Va, and Tracer with either Genji or Pharah. So we came up with the same comp. There are many teams that are good at playing dive comps, but I didn’t think we were so bad at it either. We trusted each other, and that paid off as a good result. I think it’s Haksal when it comes to Genji, Stitch for Tracer, and BUMPER for D.Va. I was actually surprised to see that we have won rather easily.
Stitch’s Tracer play was quite impressive. There were dramatic moments when you flanked around to kill enemy Ana with Pulse Bomb, thus making great contribution in the teamfight. What was your actual plan?
Stitch: I was pretty sure that I could shut down enemy Ana no matter what, so I kept my focus on Ana. I thought the entire team could win once I could get enemy Ana, so I kept going for Ana even when the circumstances didn’t allow me. It would normally be our Haksal’s Genji that would focus on enemy Ana, but I was in a good condition today. I told Runner that I was feeling good today, and he told me to get enemy Ana.
RunAway doesn’t have a bootcamp or practice together, which could mean that the team would have to put even more effort to prepare for the finals. Is there anything planned out yet?
Runner: I do agree that it is important to practice a lot, but "how" you practice is also what really matters. When I see other teams that have coaches and bootcamps fall off the ladder, I think it has to do with how the team is practicing. We have our coach Nomi, who thinks that the same six hours of team practice doesn’t necessarily mean that each teammate is taking away the same amount of experience. I think this is how we cover up for our drawback that we don’t practice together in bootcamps like other teams do.
We actually tried to set up a bootcamp in places like hotel prior to the semifinals. Then we had the issue of our players having to go to schools. I also thought Overwatch was yet to fully establish itself as a stable eSport. I think we would set up a bootcamp in the future when we feel certain that we can be successful with Overwatch. Also, I didn’t want to jinx it. I thought there could be issues due to everyone coming from different background.
You were a streamer when you founded RunAway, and a lot of people put question marks on that. What did you have in your mind?
Runner: I streamed LoL for 4 years, but what I really liked were FPS games. I played Sudden Attack, but stopped at a semi-pro level. I still had a dream there that didn’t have a chance to see the light. I played Overwatch ever since closed beta, and quit LoL right away because it was so much fun. I had to face much criticism, such as that I am not Runner if I don’t play LoL. At first I thought of holding a tournament on my own, but the next day OGN announced that they were opening a major Overwatch event.
I already won once in a livestreamers’ tournament, so I participated in APEX after inviting Haksal to the team. We had a good start and tried to reach the top, but had to suffer a heavy loss. We had a successful rebuild this season. I was actually not going to play this season, but instead support our teammates outside of the game. Well, it sounds a little absurd if I think about it now.
Our income dropped to 20% once I started playing with my teammates. The fans were furious, so I apologized and announced that I would not play in Season 2. Then someone suggested that we practice together with me in the team, and it turned out that although CoMa was better than me, the team had more energy when I was part of it. My teammates suggested that I play together, and I decided to do so after thinking it through for quite long.
We won our first match, but lost greatly in the matchup against KongDoo Panthera. That’s when I had to face heavy criticism put upon me. I struggled a lot emotionally. So I decided not to play in the matchup against KongDoo Uncia, but then again my teammates asked me to play together. Even coach Nomi suggested doing so. I practiced super hard to not lose again like we did against KongDoo Panthera, and we began to improve.
You let LW score two points in the Overtime in Route 66, and almost lost the third point in Eichenwalde. They were some tough moments. How did it go?
Stitch: We really stressed out at first, then Runner took great care of our mindset saying things like “let’s do this.” I think that’s how we could carry on.
Runner: Actually, telling your teammates not to stress out doesn’t really do anything. I realized that I was not actually doing a lot to take care of my teammates’ mentality in our matchup against KongDoo Panthera. That’s when I started to act out instead of just talking. I would keep watching their back to cheer them up, and also tell them that they can do well. I also reminded them of our past successes that we could relate with the present moment. In set 5 Eichenwalde today, I reminded my teammates that it was the map where we won against Lunatic-Hai and never gave up.
I kept telling my teammates that we should go to Korea University at least through Overwatch because our high school GPA can’t make it there anyway. [laughs] When Saebyeolbe’s Tracer shook us and took our point, a small fight almost broke out. I stopped everyone there and said that we can win if we just defend the last point and forget about what happened. We were able to focus on the game after that.
BUMPER’s Zarya was already shut down when we were closing in to get the last point. I thought LW would try to save up on their ults because it was a 5v6 situation, so I told everyone to use everything we had and fight. KAISER’s Earthshatter resulted in a huge success, allowing us to take the lead. We were so hyped that we almost shouted out curse words, although we know we shouldn’t do that.
Tell us how you are planning to fight in the finals, and also your last words for the interview.
Stitch: I personally want to fight against Meta Athena in the finals. There are a lot of skilled players there, and I want to grab a chance to fight against them and win. We already won against Lunatic-Hai once. We will practice super hard to win the tournament.
Runner: I also want to see Meta Athena in the finals. I think Lunatic-Hai is still too strong although we won once already. I don’t want to suffer from Miro’s Winston ever again. It’s too hard for Lucio to survive that. I think we are standing on a higher ground than Meta Athena, and the reason for that should be kept as a secret because they might analyze what I’ve said and come up with countermeasures. We were scrimming once, and Meta Athena told us, “let’s not scrim, because we might just meet each other in the finals.” [laughs]
It’s too scary to see Lunatic-Hai again. They’re really good. I am already satisfied that we won against them once, and don't want to take this any further. [laughs] I do want to play against Meta Athena because we never got a chance to see them in the tournament. I am already happy that we made it to the finals, and it wouldn’t matter so much even if we lose in the finals. However, I want to show that amateurs can also win in tournaments. We will try our best.