Season 9 APAC Finals Day 2: NORA-Rengo and Fnatic Make It Three in a Row

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Find out what happened on Day 2 of APAC Season 9 Finals, live from Sydney, Australia!

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.

 

Semi-Final 1:

NORA-Rengo 2-0 Xavier Esports

Maps: Border (7-2), Oregon (7-3), Bank (Not Played)

NORA-Rengo: Merieux, ReyCyil, JJ, Ramu, Papilia

Xavier Esports: Lycolis, HealthcareOG, ProducerBoom, Hajime, redsun

 

A tentative recovery of their match against Ageless during yesterday’s quarter finals left NORA-Rengo (NR) with some food for thought ahead of their semi-final berth with Xavier Esports. While they were able to rescue their campaign for a spot at the Milan Season 9 Finals, NR now faced an extremely flexible, unpredictable Thai squad, desperate to make an international LAN appearance for the SEA region.

 

Map One: Border

An even match-up throughout the first few rounds, it was JJ channelling his inner Wokka on the signature Valkyrie in round three that assisted NR in pulling away from Xavier. This looked more like the fearsome Japanese squad everyone had become accustomed to. A largely ineffectual Montagne from Xavier was generally dealt with sufficiently by Kizoku’s men, leaving them ahead by two rounds after the first split.

 

Allowing Xavier to take away just two rounds of their defensive half, Nora firmly slammed the door in the faces of the Thai team, and along with it, any hopes of a comeback. Twice NORA-Rengo appeared to have chosen their point of execution only to rotate seconds later and isolate the other bombsite, clearly confusing their less experienced opponents. With the Lesion of Hajime left in a 1v4 clutch situation on map point, Xavier’s chances seemed to be slipping away by the second. JJ finally put an end to the clutch attempt to give NR a convincing victory.

Map Two: Oregon

Map Two was initially a very tight affair, with both teams trading blows and ending the half at 3 points apiece. Both sides committed errors and allowed each other to capitalise upon mistakes or make unorthodox plays: a brazen push from Xavier’s Lycolis on the Tower/Rear Stage site saw him go undetected, allowing him to collect 3 kills in swift succession. Good adjustments from NR, however, allowed them to reel in the deficit as they adapted to Xavier’s recurring Montagne pushes and stifled the attack.

 

Switching sides to attack proved to be the difference maker for NR, as they won every attack without response from a flustered Xavier side. Ramu broke things wide open with a marvelous clutch against a Jäger and a Clash who both had full health before being cut down, and from there they cruised to a map and match victory, booking their place along with the only other confirmed attendee in Team Empire.

Ramu was particularly impressive for a confident NORA-Rengo side.

 

Semi-Final 2:

Fnatic 2-1 Aerowolf

Maps: Coastline (7-3), Oregon (1-7), Consulate (7-5)

Fnatic: RizRaz, Magnet, Acez, Virtue, Lusty

Aerowolf: SpeakEasy, Lunarmetal, HysteRiX, MentalistC, Ysaera

Disregarded by many to advance past Cloud9, Aerowolf was on the hunt to make it two shock upsets in as many days as they took on Australian side Fnatic. Their lack of proficiency on Consulate was a key issue heading into the match, as it stood as the decider should the two teams be unable to be separated.

If they could win the first two maps however, it wouldn’t be a problem. Given Fnatic’s RizRaz had collected nineteen kills on Coastline against Cyclops, could the Singapore based squad keep him quiet enough to put themselves in prime position to beat the giants of ANZ?

 

Map One: Coastline

Proceedings began on the front foot for Fnatic, who opened the map with a Virtue three-piece, including a bold run out on the Jackal of SpeakEasy. Smart positioning in Office allowed him to claim a second and then a third, as Fnatic cleaved through the Aero attack to take a 4-2 lead.

Aerowolf wouldn’t let Fnatic have it all their way however, showing they had fight left in them as they won Kitchen/Delivery on their second attempt, only to be denied a round win in the next two rounds to hand the map to Fnatic, 7-3.

 

Map Two: Oregon

A brief break from play and a team talk between maps from captain and In Game Leader (IGL) Lunarmetal seemed to sharpen Aerowolf’s focus as they took an early two round lead on their defense of Oregon. Unfazed by a tag team between Lusty and Virtue to overturn a 3v5 situation into Fnatic’s favour, Aero ended the first split up 5-1.

An exceptionally timed flank through the bathrooms and junkyard tower by MentalistC completed their defensive phase rather nicely, catching Fnatic completely unawares as they tunnel visioned on getting a plant down with 5 seconds to go. As they brought scores level at one map each, Aerowolf seemed to have rediscovered the form that had yesterday been such a nightmare for Cloud9.

 

 

Map Three: Consulate

After two maps, neither team could be separated, so the ten athletes found themselves in the Ivory Coast for the decider map of Consulate. A weaker map for Aerowolf on paper gave Fnatic the advantage, but with their 7-1 romping of the Australians on Oregon, could they keep the fire burning hot enough, and long enough to put them closer towards joining NORA-Rengo in Italy?

 

The map began as a back and forth affair, until a perfect nitro cell toss from RizRaz in round three helped rally his teammates to win the round and the one after, going up 4-2 after the first split, only three rounds away from Milan. Aerowolf however, seemed determined to not let Fnatic to pull too far ahead as they dug in hard to bring themselves level at 5-5 on the tenth round, and at this point it was really anybody’s guess as to who would walk away the victor.

 

Defense of Lobby/Press Room in round eleven slowly began to crumble for Aerowolf as they conceded more and more ground to their opponents on the floor above. Virtue’s Sledge play, including a ludicrous flick on Ysaera gave Fnatic map and match point as Aero called a tactical timeout and opted to defend Cafeteria/Garage to try and force the game into overtime. A curious Mira window setup on the Garage wall from Aero proved a thorny problem for the Australian side, but once Mute was flushed out of bathroom Fnatic began to close the net around Aerowolf’s defenders, completing the win and sending the Singaporean team home.

A close match with both teams winning 15 rounds, but it was Fnatic that won the ones that mattered most.

 

Grand Final:

Fnatic 2-0 NORA-Rengo

Maps: Consulate (7-4), Border (7-4), Coastline (Not Played)

Fnatic: RizRaz, Magnet, Acez, Virtue, Lusty

NORA-Rengo: Merieux, ReyCyil, JJ, Ramu, Papilia

 

Having qualified to represent their region together for a third straight time, NORA-Rengo and Fnatic now fought it out to determine their seeding within the brackets at Season 9 Finals on May 18th and 19th.

A curious decision by Fnatic during the ban phase allowed NORA-Rengo to select Border as their map choice, a map they had a perfect record in both domestic and international competitions, dating back to their loss to FaZe Clan at Rio de Janeiro’s Season 8 Finals. Since then, the Japanese had won five times as many rounds on Border as they had conceded (35-7). Soundly defeating Xavier on the same map mere hours beforehand, could the Australian outfit succeed where so many others had failed?

 

Map One: Consulate

Playing the same map they had just defeated Aerowolf on only moments beforehand, Fnatic picked up where they left off, quickly establishing a 3-0 lead through good teamplay. Nora grew wise to a rush of Garage, taking their first round on Consulate without losing a single player. This snowballed over the next two rounds as NR responded with 3 rounds of their own to tie the first split at 3-3.

 

An attempt by Fnatic to catch their rivals off guard on their first defense by going to the newest site in the game proved ineffective, as the Japanese found gaps in the defenses and pressured Acez enough to accidentally blow himself sky high with his own C4, giving NR a brief one round advantage. Fnatic didn’t dwell on it however, successfully defending the next four rounds, including another memorable shotgun Ela highlight (this time from Magnet) to take their map pick 7-4.   

 

Map Two: Border

All the stats pointed towards a NORA-Rengo victory on Border, but win streaks are meant to be broken. Fnatic demonstrated their intelligence and aggressiveness from round one as a C4 from Lusty came sailing into the path of Merieux and ReyCyil, completely vulnerable as the Thermite helped his Ash out of a Frost mat. Both teams began to show signs of fatigue; most notably, Recycil ended up stuck in the same Frost mat under the same window he’d tried to help Merieux out of just two rounds prior.

 

NR started hinting at signs of a comeback - JJ read a 1v2 situation with good game sense to keep the Japanese in the fight… but only for a couple more rounds as Fnatic took advantage of the weaker tertiary bombsite to close out the APAC Finals for Season 9, and give themselves the #1 seed in the region.

Fnatic beat their regional siblings and rivals to take first seed for APAC.

 

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That’s all our coverage from the second day of the APAC LAN Finals! You can catch NORA-Rengo and Fnatic in action on May 18th and 19th when they take on the six best teams of the other three regions, live from Milan, Italy.