Boasting the biggest prize pool of any national tournament at 500 million yen (US$46,000), the Japan Nationals 2020 Season 1 Finals were played last weekend, from the 6th to the 7th of June.
Day 1 Roundup
Day 1 consisted of all matches up until the round-of-16 bracket. Not much had been expected from the amateur teams aplenty, while the professional teams were expected to dominate. With GUTS Gaming, NORA-Rengo (APAC North), FAV Gaming, and Cyclops Athlete Gaming all participating in the APAC North Division, much was expected of the four.
However, when the tournament began, what would unfold is something no one had predicted. In their round-of-32 match, the APAC North NORA-Rengo team would narrowly fall by a 6-8 scoreline to a mainstay of the amateur competitive scene, YOBAs. However, NORA-Rengo had recently swapped Yuta "YUTA INOUE" Inoue for Tomohisa "Simotuki" Imoto, likely a reason for their lack of chemistry.
Continuing on, in the round-of-16 matches, upsets went on to become a regular occurrence. APAC North side FAV Gaming would end up losing to ODDEYE KOBE, and the Japanese favorites of NORTHEPTION, SIRIUS GAMING, and Father’s Back had would also fall to Faisaru, YOBAs, and Elite Zakkio respectively.
In the quarter-finals, NORA-Rengo’s domestic team, NORA-Rengo NRG, would take down the third APAC North team, GUTS Gaming, 8-7, while top contenders Cyclops Athlete Gaming (CAG) would be defeated by former Pro League team YOSHIMOTO Gaming Lamy in a surprise 6-8 upset. By the end of day one, all four Japanese representatives from APAC North had fallen, while other favorites had burnt out halfway through.
Day 2 Roundup
In this unpredictable series of events, with fans left gobsmacked, Day 2 would begin with the semi-final match between NORA-Rengo NRG and Yoshimoto Gaming Lamy (YGL). With YGL choosing the first map to be Theme Park, few could have expected the strategies on employ. NRG, though, had an extremely strong showing, with Salty using Kali liberally, leading them to take the map 7-3 before going on to win on Coastline as well and move onto the grand final.
Faisaru, who would obliterate Elite Zakkio-kun 2-0, would go on to confront NRG in the grand final. Starting off on Faisaru’s pick, Kafe. With Thatcher, Thermite, Echo, and Jager banned, Faisaru pushed NORA-Rengo NRG hard at the beginning of the match. However, slowly but surely adapting, taking some rounds here-and-there, NRG was able to squeeze out a 7-5 victory.
Then, going to NRG's map pick of Theme Park, Faisaru would ban Kali after having seen Salty's prowess against YGL on that. Through the use of drones, NRG was able to secure a 4-2 lead at the end of the first half while XX's bold plays and subtle roams netted him 17 kills on Theme Park alone. As such, NRG would take Theme Park 7-3 in a controlling fashion, and be crowned the Japan Nationals Season 1 Champions.
— 野良連合(Nora-rengo) (@norarengou) June 7, 2020
While the beginning half of the tournament was full of surprising upsets, while the later half was effectively the NRG show. Despite being the runners up at last year's R6 Festival, NRG went through two roster changes and continued to improve eventually, culminating in this weekend's strong performance.
Season 2 Schedule
Though the Season has 1 Finals just ended, the schedule for Season 2 has already been announced. The format will be very similar, while, the top two teams from both seasons will face off in another set of Online Finals.
Qualifier Day 1: June 27th
Qualifier Day 2: July 4th (Day 1 winners may not participate)
Qualifier Day 3: July 11th (Day 1 or Day 2 winners may not participate)
Season 2 Finals Day 1: July 25th (Online)
Season 2 Finals Day 2: July 26th (Online)
Online Finals: August 23th
The upcoming Japan Nationals 2020 Season 2 will also be aired on the following three websites, as well as through the official Twitter, cast in Japanese.
For more information on the japan nationals, check back here at SiegeGG.