On January 17, one of the most anticipated tournaments in 2017 shifts the competition back to the Seoul OGN e-Stadium in South Korea for a fresh new year of Overwatch. The format is similar to Season 1 of APEX: over seven weeks, sixteen teams will be divided into groups of four to play a round robin. Each of the four groups will evenly divide the four invited western teams and three random South Korean teams. The top two teams from each group will advance for the quarterfinals, which now feature a double elimination format. The semifinals and onwards will be played via the standard single elimination format.
Western teams invited to compete:
Team EnVyUs (Season 1 Champions)
South Korean teams qualified by finishing top 12 in Season 1:
Afreeca Freecs Blue
Team Kongdoo Panthera
Team Kongdoo Uncia
Teams Qualified Through APEX Challengers:
Meta Athena (Formerly known as The Meta)
Afreeca Freecs Red
OGN APEX Season 1 introduced several new South Korean teams such as BK Stars, RunAway, and Flash Lux who had impressive first showings for newly formed teams, while also showcasing established orgs like Afreeca and Lunatic-Hai. A great feature of APEX is that they also invite western teams to compete, keeping viewers up to date on how the west matches up with South Korean teams and their meta. Last season they invited America's NRG eSports and EnVyUs, and Europe's REUNITED and Rogue. This season will see EnVyUs return to defend their title, along with three different western teams invited to OGN APEX. Newly Miami Heat-backed Misfits from Europe will now try its hand, while North America's Cloud9 and Fnatic will also journey to South Korea after withdrawing from NGE's Overwatch Winter Premiere tournament.
Eight of the twelve South Korean participants for Season 2 will return having kept their spots for placing in the top 12 of Season 1: Afreeca Freecs Blue, BK Stars, CONBOX Spirit (formerly named CONBOX T6), Flash Lux, Lunatic-Hai, LW Purple (Formerly LW Blue), Kongdoo Panthera, and Kongdoo Uncia. The remaining four Korean teams advanced from the promotion tournament comprising of the challenger scene as well as four bottom teams from Season 1 of APEX. The four who qualified are Afreeca Freecs Red, MVP Infinity, Meta Athena, and RunAway.
EnVyUs, after their roster swap, dominated APEX as well as MLG Vegas, setting a target on their back for the rest of the world to overthrow them. The squad is undefeated since adding Pongphop "Mickie" Rattanasangohod to the roster, lending presedence that APEX Season 2 could be the continuance of their dominance. But where there's a king, there are usurpers to the throne. First and foremost is Afreeca Freecs Blue who lost in the finals to EnVyUs 0-4 in a best of seven. They recently picked up both Kim "AMON" Kyungjae and Bae "DongHyuN" Donghyun as their new support players, and they'll be looking to exact revenge on EnVyUs for their embarrassing defeat in the finals.
Another team looking to redeem themselves is Lunatic-Hai. They started off in Season 1 known as the strongest South Korean Team, but were knocked out KongDoo Uncia in the quarterfinals. Since then, they placed second at IEM Gyeonggi after losing to LW Red, a new team to OGN APEX, looking to make a name for themselves. Lunatic-Hai has added Kim "zunba" Joonhyuk, formerly of CONBOX Spirit. He became famous for his Zarya play throughout APEX S1, as well as the World Cup that took place at BlizzCon last year. Adding him to the roster should bolster the strengths of Lunatic-Hai as they look to reclaim the title of the strongest South Korean team.
Losing zunba is big for CONBOX but former League of Legends Dignitas Pro Noh "Gamsu" Yeong-jin will keep spirits high heading into APEX Season 2. Maybe one of the more underrated teams going into APEX will be the band of high schools who form up BK Stars, who blitzed their way to the semifinals of Season 1. They lost Lee "Twilight" Jooseok to CONBOX Spirit, but they have no shortage of energy with Chae "Bunny" Joonhyuk zooming throughout the map on his fabled Tracer causing havoc, allowing the rest of them to shine as bright as the stars above.