With regular season’s end, the Asia-Pacific region needed to separate the top two teams from each sub-region in order to send their two best representatives to Milan’s Season 9 finals. Eight teams arrived to Sydney primed and hungry to prove to their fans and rivals that they deserve to go, but which teams will be on the plane to Italy when all is said and done? We bring you the coverage over both days of the event, live from Sydney, Australia.
Maps: Consulate (8-6), Coastline (7-4), Border (Not Played)
NORA-Rengo: Merieux, Reycyil, JJ, Ramu, Papilia
Ageless: Agent, Shintaz, CATsang, Yass, Fahon
After the implosion of the South Korean sub region, Ageless remained as one of only three teams and with only four games of the regular season, they sat in second behind the newly acquired Cloud9 roster with a 2-0-2 record. Before them faced a difficult opponent en route to the semi-finals: NORA-Rengo.
Nora was a little out of sorts heading into this event. Wokka’s surprise announcement to retire from competitive play in favour of focusing on streaming was a big blow to the Japanese side who frequently found inspiration in a player with a ridiculous amount of skill. Whilst his replacement Takumi “JJ” Iwasaki, is no stranger to the NR roster having played with them previously, their regular season form suffered until they were able to recover and put themselves back in contention to go to Milan.
Map One: Consulate
A rather shaky start from NR saw them in a 4 round deficit after the first split. They appeared unable to properly get a gauge on their opponents, at times getting too aggressive and others playing too passively; a good highlight of this was the round 2 clutch from Fahon after the Rook of Papilia sought to pick up his stranded Doc.
Clearly there was work to be done for Nora after a 5-1 first split in the favour of Ageless, and once they’d switched to their attacking phase, they began to rack up round upon round to complete an exceptional reverse sweep on their Korean opponents, winning 7 of the next 8 rounds to take out the first map in striking fashion.
Map Two: Coastline
Having let Map One slip agonisingly through their fingers and approximating the source of the problem to be Papilia’s influential Jackal play, Ageless immediately banned the Spanish operator on his home soil. It did them little good however, as Nora came out ahead 4-2 after their attacking half despite a noble effort from Shintaz and Agent in round four to try and keep NR quiet.
A two man advantage in favour of Ageless on NR’s second Hookah/Billiards hold looked like their best chance to even the score between themselves and the Japanese, but a spectacular triple C4 from Reycyil took the wind out of the Ageless sails, and NR took the next round, and the match, to progress to the semi-finals.
Maps: Bank (7-2), Oregon (5-7), Villa (8-6)
Xavier Esports: Lycolis, HealthcareOG, ProducerBoom, Hajime, redsun
ORGL3SS: EmoRin, Ethan, JoeyG, Derpeh, Diesel
Undefeated in their home sub region, Xavier Esports came to Sydney hoping to become the second SEA team to make it to an international LAN event since Team Envy (now the Aerowolf roster) attended the Six Invitational 2017. Perhaps unfairly overlooked and lesser known than some of their Asia-Pacific counterparts, Xavier sought to change that state of affairs against Australian outfit ORGL3SS.
The recent addition of Diesel to the roster of ORGL3SS seemed to be a fairly good fit for a team still searching for representation under an org. They come to the APAC Season 9 Finals together with countrymen Fnatic, having drawn with them on points in the standings but due tiebreaker rules, ORGL3SS were given the second seed.
Map One: Bank
ORGL3SS started hot out of the gates as Xavier seemingly allowed the Hibana of Diesel to get a free plant down behind the CEO desk, but the Thai roster shook themselves awake, confidently repelling the ORGL3SS attackers by capitalising upon their opponents' errors to end the half up 5-1.
A commendable hold of Security/Lockers brought things back to 5-2; this was largely thanks to the aggression of Ethan’s Vigil play to eliminate the Maverick of Lycolis, preventing access to default plant and forcing Xavier to try and respond with some aggression of their own. Looking for success elsewhere now that the basement site was locked, ORGL3SS found none as Xavier took a convincing 1-0 lead, on their opponents map pick no less.
Map Two: Oregon
With the game on the line and a large gap between their last visit to Oregon, the Australians looked in trouble, but despite a huge 4k from the Smoke of HealthcareOG, they had a 2 round advantage after the first split.
Extending this lead to a 3 round buffer to play with after their first win on defense, up 5-2. It was certainly needed as Xavier fought back to take the match in 2 maps, only to have ORGL3SS finally shut things out to take the map and push the match to a decider.
Map Three: Villa
Given the benefit of protecting the bombsites first on a map well known for its defender friendliness, ORGL3SS started showing signs of trouble when they only managed to break even with Xavier after 6 rounds.
A masterful 180 degree 4k clutch from EmoRin on Buck looked like the inspiration ORGL3SS needed to bring the match home and dry, but it was their slow attacks that finally did them in as Xavier held off their opponents in a tense overtime to move to the next round, where they face NORA-Rengo.
Maps: Coastline (7-5), Consulate (7-5), Villa (Not Played)
Fnatic: RizRaz, Magnet, Acez, Vir7ue, Lusty
CAG: Tetra, Shokei, BlackRay, Mocho, Anitun
After successive milestones for APAC at the Season 8 Pro League Finals and the 2019 Six Invitational, a lot of buzz was generated about the region that had previously been considered by many as an afterthought. Fnatic return to the APAC Season Finals keen to lock their place in for Milan, looking increasingly dangerous with star fragger Vir7ue on the roster.
Cyclops meanwhile, have quietly gone about their business in the Japanese region to find themselves behind compatriots Nora by a single point after 12 play days. Looking to follow in their countrymen’s footsteps, a clash between themselves and Australian top seed Fnatic was on the cards.
Map One: Coastline
Starting out on defense, Fnatic began to slowly creep away with the match after both a 4 piece and an ace courtesy of RizRaz, who is no doubt set on showing everyone that he can frag just as freely and easily as teammate Virtue.
Cyclops kept them honest however, whittling down Fnatic’s lead twice in their best efforts to put themselves ahead, but it was all over when the lone Echo of BlackRay was stranded inside of Sunrise Bar and saw both his Yokai drones shot with mere seconds left on the clock.
Map Two: Consulate
Valkyrie and Echo bans on Consulate appeared to hurt Cyclops’ defence as they lacked information on key attacker positions, struggling to keep their Pulse and Maestro alive long enough to influence the first three rounds. Nonetheless, the Japanese managed to yet again claw their way back, eating into Fnatic’s lead.
They even went one better than their Coastline performance, bringing scores level off the back of fantastic teamwork over successive attacks on the Cafeteria/Garage site to neutralise the Fnatic defenses. Acez however, decided it was time to put matters into his own hands as he combined with Virtue to rescue a 2v4 situation on his iconic operator of Maestro, pushing the Aussies to match point. Fnatic promptly concluded their match with a counter-defuse, but the win did not come easy against a tough opponent in Cyclops.
Maps: Villa (7-1), Bank (7-1), Border (Not Played)
Aerowolf: SpeakEasy, Lunarmetal, Hysterix, MentalistC, Ysaera
Cloud9: EnvyTaylor, SweetBlack, NeilYo, Nova, H3dy
Last week’s announcement of the former MantisFPS roster being picked up by well-known organisation Cloud9 created a stir of excitement for a team that had been looking for international representation for almost 9 months after parting ways with Element Mystic. Hoping to build upon their group stage exit at the Invitational, Cloud9 was tipped by many to move past Aerowolf with apparent ease; with all eleven caster predictions opting for the South Korean squad to go through to the semis. Hopes were high that with a new org on board, they could maybe even unseat Fnatic or Nora as regional representatives.
Aerowolf on the other hand, barely clinched the second spot in their region, a single point ahead of Team Scrypt thanks to a draw with league leaders Xavier Esports. As the last team to have visited a global LAN event under the former moniker of Team Envy, the South East Asian team look to upset the seemingly established order of APAC delegates, determined to overturn the ANZ/JPN/Korean dominance that has barred their chances of advancing further.
Map One: Villa
A distinctly listless set of attacks from Cloud9 allowed Aerowolf to grasp the advantage with both hands, crushing C9 6-0 in the first split with a robust defense that seemed to turn the Tuscan locale into a veritable fortress, with only 11 kills combined on all of Cloud9’s attacks.
An unorthodox choice from C9 to play their first defense on the least common bombsite of Library/Living Room seemed momentarily to have caught Aero off guard. When the next round came and a more familiar site in Aviator/Games was on offer though, the Singapore based squad closed things out.
Map Two: Bank
This time given the defensive side first instead of attack, C9 were hoping to bring things back all square and take things to a decider but confusingly, decided to stick with their two preferred sites of CEO/Office and CCTV/Lockers without opting to go elsewhere when those site proved unsuccessful against the might of Aerowolf attacks.
Showing marginally more signs of life than their first match-up against Aerowolf on Villa, the Korean squad were unfortunately unable to muster any more round wins than the singular round they had won on the map prior, losing control of a post-plant on round 7 when everything appeared to be in their favour.
An uncharacteristically poor performance from the ex-MantisFPS squad then, probably one due to nerves from their big org pick-up, but one they will no doubt reflect on for a while yet.
This concludes our coverage of Day One’s matches in the Season 9 APAC LAN Finals! Keep an eye out for the stats and wrap up of tomorrow’s semi-final and final matches, with the event resuming from 10AM AEST/8PM EST/11PM UTC