With the Season 9 APAC LAN in Sydney looming around the corner, and the Pro League Finals in Milan just after that, each point -- while still valued the same -- means a lot more to every player and every team in the Pro League. If you happened to miss the action, read on to find out what happened in every region during the previous week!
North America - Trouble at the Top
In a continuation of their climb back to the top, Rogue kicked things off in North America with a draw against Evil Geniuses. Their loss to DarkZero the week prior was undoubtedly a significant roadblock in achieving their goal, but Rogue showed exactly why they have always been one of the most consistent NA teams against Evil Geniuses.
VertcL continued his dominating performances to shut his critics down, achieving a 1.36 rating, and was joined by Ecl9pse who was the highest rated player of the match at 1.45. Despite these two strong performances, though, Evil Geniuses stood firm to stave off a loss, and it is probable that Rogue are in fact ruing missed chances to take home all three points.
Next up, it was Rise Nation’s attempt to pull off an upset -- and upset they did. With only BLU predicting a win for Rise -- a prediction he admitted he fat-fingered -- Rise stunned BLU, their opponents, and other spectators alike as they pulled off a brilliant win over Team Reciprocity to get only their second win of the season.
Team Reciprocity, for their part, never seemed to be in the game, with only LaXInG appearing to be fighting for the win. He was the lone player to score a rating above 0.63 on his side, and was so impressive that he was even the top-rated player of the entire match at 1.50. Rise, on the other hand, were helped by strong contributions from Hyper and Krazy, with the rest of the team also chipping in well.
Finally, Spacestation Gaming added their names to the list who wanted to spoil the party at the top as they defeated DarkZero Esports by a score of 7 to 4. Clearly, the chemistry with Bryan was well and present, and Rampy and Bosco got to unlock their potentials with match-winning performances from the duo. On DarkZero’s side, Jarvis had a particularly tough game, and although Mint tried his best, he was unable to stave off defeat for his team.
Despite the top three all failing to win, DarkZero, Evil Geniuses, and Team Reciprocity all maintained their positions from first to third, but SSG leapt ahead of Rogue to get to fourth, and Rise Nation edged closer to escaping the relegation zone but remained seventh.
Latin America - Top Four Closer Than Ever
As per last week, it is still impossible to confidently predict the two teams that will be representing Latin America at the Season 9 Finals in Milan. With the top four all taking each other on, the results were nothing short of spectacular in how close they have pushed the teams together.
As was in North America, the first LATAM game had the two teams take home equal points. At one point, though, it was almost certain that Immortals were about to lose three points -- and the top spot in the table -- to Ninjas in Pyjamas. Finally hitting their groove on defence, though, they were lead by MKing to a superb comeback victory.
NiP, on the other hand, must surely regret countless missed chances to close the game out as they lost two valuable points in this tight race to Milan, despite Psycho and Wag finishing the game with ratings of 1.46 and 1.27, respectively.
The next game was undoubtedly going to have a large impact on the LATAM table, and it did not disappoint. FaZe Clan, fighting to get back to the top two, secured three huge points against Team Liquid. Had Astro not been on the top of his game again, as he has been so consistently in recent weeks, it is likely that FaZe would have found themselves significantly adrift of the metaphorical boat to Milan.
Team Liquid, on the other hand, missed a golden opportunity to go to the very top of the table, but are unlikely to be panicking just yet. With only the game against Ninjas in Pyjamas on the final play day a genuine threat to them, they will be sure to dust themselves off as they are still in with a good chance of qualification to the Pro League Finals.
Over in the bottom half of the table, Black Dragons almost certainly rubber stamped another season in the Pro League in a dominant 7-2 win against paiN Gaming. They will no doubt be breathing a little easier at this stage, and they are still in with an outside chance of qualifying for the Milan Finals. On the other hand, paiN Gaming’s woes continued as they are almost guaranteed to be left behind in the relegation zone at this stage.
To round things out, INTZ eSports got only their second win of the season as they put ReD DevilS e-Sports to the sword. Drunkzz and Intact were standout performers for the struggling team, with the latter securing over one kill per round. Red DevilS’ loss means that they’re ever so much in danger of falling into the relegation zone, and will need to work hard to avoid it in the coming matches.
As far as the top four are concerned, there is nothing separating the four teams, but it is Immortals who eke out a one-point lead at the top, with Liquid staying in second place. FaZe Clan drew level on points with Ninjas in Pyjamas, but are still in fourth due to an inferior head-to-head record. The bottom four saw no change either, except for INTZ e-Sports moving three points clear of relegation rivals paiN Gaming.
Europe - LeStream Maintains Edge Over G2 Esports
Finally, in Europe, LeStream Esports’ match against Natus Vincere (Na’Vi) was undoubtedly the biggest talking point for the region for a multitude of reasons. Not only did Na’Vi fail to secure at least a point once again, G2 Esports, too, has a harder path to qualification for the Pro League Finals.
Once again, Team Secret kicked things off with their match, and once again Team Secret lost. This time, though, there were no individual heroics that were particularly bright spots, but it was Team Empire that they were playing against after all. The Eastern Europeans gave no quarter, and Secret were only able to secure three rounds before succumbing.
Next, Na’Vi would have surely fancied their chances against LeStream Esports (LSE) -- and for good reason. LSE had very nearly lost against Team Secret the week prior, and nearly did once again. Once again, though, Na’Vi narrowly missed out on a win, and once again LSE edged out their opponents to keep themselves firmly in the top two spots for at least two weeks more thanks to consistent performances all across the board.
G2 Esports, though, made absolutely no mistake as they continued to make amends for their poor first half of the season with yet another win, this time against PENTA. Going to their stronghold of Consulate, the world champions made few mistakes and kept the pressure on LSE ahead of them.
To end the week, Chaos took on mousesports (mouz), and once again surprised almost everyone watching. With the Swedes having had a tough first half of the season, many had been writing them off as relegation candidates. They have now, however, turned on the style, and got a second victory in as many weeks. This time there was no need for as dramatic a comeback as there had been last week, though mouz gave them a much closer fight than statistics suggested -- all but one of Chaos’ players were rated above 1.00 at the end of the game.
Asia-Pacific - Aerowolf Blessed by the Gods
Over in APAC, everything seemed to come to an absolute boil on the final day. Things were most explosive in Southeast Asia, where Aerowolf -- against almost every obstacle imaginable -- once again made it to yet another APAC LAN.
On equal points with Scrypt E-Sports, and behind thanks to an inferior head-to-head record, Aerowolf had to play the top-seeded Xavier Esports who themselves had yet to drop a point. Even if they beat Xavier 2-0 -- a feat they had only accomplished the very first time they had met -- they were not guaranteed to go through, as all Scrypt had to do was beat the lowest-placed Generic eSports 2-0 to guarantee themselves a spot.
Aerowolf, for their part, were very lucky to draw against Xavier Esports on the first map after securing what amounted to a free round when two of Xavier’s plays disconnected mid-round. A subsequent heavy loss on Consulate meant that all Scrypt needed was one point to go through to Sydney, but it was not to be.
Generic eSports put on a show to be remembered as they collected only their second and third map wins of the season, and did so in style. Scrypt mustered a decent challenge, but were blown away by a marauding Generic to leave them one agonising point adrift of only their second-ever LAN appearance.
In other APAC subregions, Japan debuted a fresh face at LAN, with Cyclops Athlete Gaming making it through ahead of Father’s Back, FAV Gaming, and Sengoku Gaming Extasy, but behind Japanese leaders NORA-Rengo. Korea, too, will have second-seeded Ageless joining mantisFPS at the APAC LAN, while in Australia-New Zealand, Fnatic went undefeated and took the first seed from 0RGL3SS.
And so that’s the roundup of the third week after the mid-season break in Season 9 of the Pro League as we saw competition heat up and tighten in all four regions. Keep an eye out on SiegeGG for more Pro League updates and results as we get closer to the Season 9 Finals in Milan.