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APAC North Stage 1 Week 2: Fnatic Gets First Win, NORA-Rengo in Trouble

With Stage 1 of the APAC North Division 2020 Season underway, SiegeGG has a look at what happened in the previous week and what to expect in the upcoming play days.

With the new-look APAC North Division finally underway and the top 12 teams from Asia pit against each other, there was just as much new to see as there was the old. Find out what happened and what to expect from this third week below!

Day 3

The third day of play did not disappoint with its high-octane action, featuring the titanic battles between a variety of teams, though the two closest ones were perhaps the two to watch.

The first was the game between the resurgent Cloud9 and the comparatively inexperienced but fiesty GUTS Gaming. Playing on Consulate, hopes were already high for it to be a tantalising game after Cloud9 had surprised all by taking down four-times Southeast Asian champions Qconfirm the previous week.

Starting off, the Japanese upstarts got the ball rolling with two quick round wins that seemed to cleave through the Korean defense. However, Cloud9 did get itself on the board in the third round, but little would they know that their struggles in the first two rounds would be a herald of things to come. As it moved away from the basement, the pattern repeated, which meant Cloud9 was staring down the barrel of a 1-4, but a hopeful attempt at going back to the basement was quickly torn apart by GUTS.

Down 1-5 now, it seemed that GUTS would complete a quick and devastating win, perhaps a 7-1 or 7-2, especially after Cloud9 took the seventh round but GUTS responded by going onto matchpoint in the next. Few could have expected things to have been so attacker-sided even when noting the defensive bans of Pulse and Valkyrie. Determined not to let his team down, Cloud9 captain Sung-su "EnvyTaylor" Kim began dragging his teammates over the line each round, reeling off kill after kill in one of the strongest one-man performances in APAC in recent times.

Having forced overtime, Cloud9 would very nearly take the first round, but the struggling Chan-yong "SweetBlack" Han, having only got his first kill that round, would get the first in a 1v2 but narrowly miss out on the third after a shotgun whiff. GUTS would then hang on on defense on the next round, thus completing a nervy 8-6 victory and denying the Koreans the comeback.

Immediately after, Cyclops Athlete Gaming (CAG) and Giants Gaming would keep the adrenaline pumping, with the Japanese opting to bring their Singaporean opponents to Clubhouse once again -- the third in as many play days.

In an encouraging start, Giants Gaming would take the first round after CAG had opted to go for the oft-secondary or tertiary bomb site of Gym and Master Bedroom, but a defuser plant in the next round would still not be enough to help Giants take the round. After winning another defensive round, CAG's return to the Gym and Master Bedroom bomb site would go poorly once more, and so the cycle continued to give a 4-2 lead at the half to the Japanese.

Now on the far more preferred defensive side, though, the Singaporeans were not too worried. After a shockingly poor game on his birthday the previous week, Jordan "jrdn" Cheng would combine with Jeremy "HysteRiX" Tan to start the comeback their team needed. A full defensive rotation would be completed to give the Giants their first lead in eight rounds, but CAG would equalise the score at 5-5 after a last-second clutch by Sho "BlackRay" Hasegawa.

Aside from that defensive misstep, though, the Giants did not put a foot wrong and took the wins on the final two rounds of regulation time to take the map 7-5 and keep their winning streak going.

Elsewhere, Talon Esports crushed the Season 11 Korean champions of SCARZ 7-1, while Fnatic made waves by securing its first win of the season with a 7-2 match against NORA-Rengo. FAV Gaming also took down Xavier Esports 7-4, while Electrify gave Qconfirm perhaps more trouble than expected despite the Taiwanese losing 4-7.

Day 4

The fourth day kept the fireworks going, though, with a total of three electrifying matchups that all went the full distance.

The first was in fact the first game of the evening itself, played between NORA-Rengo and Talon Esports. While NORA-Rengo was certainly favoured to win, there were fears of an upset after Talon's 7-1 takedown of SCARZ two days prior. Playing on Kafe this time, Talon had put itself in prime position to win the game after having gone up 4-2 on its attacking half. However, NORA-Rengo would return the favour in its own attacking half, going up 6-5 but unable to stave off overtime after Talon won the 12th round.

In overtime, it seemed that NORA-Rengo would be able to take the win after getting to attack first. Sure enough, the Japanese would secure matchpoint once again, winning their attack onto the first floor, but Talon responded in kind. Now, on the final round, Talon's decision to go to the Reading Room/Dining Room bomb sites would prove to be the key, as the Koreans would take the win in a surprising upset. The result would thus mean NORA-Rengo would be left searching for a second win still, with trouble on the horizon for the Japanese.

Right after would be the equally exciting game between Fnatic and SCARZ. While SCARZ had been struggling on its own, having conceded a devastating comeback to Electrify on the opening day to start off a string of three defeats, Fnatic had also only secured its first win the previous play day. Now playing on Consulate -- a first this season for both teams -- neither could shake each other off.

Fnatic started things off strongly, taking the win on its first attacking round, but SCARZ replied immediately -- and so began the pattern. Come the end of the first half, both teams were in lockstep, with neither having even been able to eke out a two-round advantage at any point. However, Fnatic would do just that when on defense, positioning itself for a potential win. While SCARZ responded again, a riposte from the Australians meant that the score was 6-4 in their favour. 

However, the Koreans refused to back down, securing the two rounds to force overtime and then securing match point for themselves. Determined not to lose, though, the Australians fought back, but critical mistakes -- alongside the ping disadvantage -- meant that they would fall once more, as SCARZ would get its first win of the season.

The third and final match would be the closing one for the night, featuring the exciting Xavier Esports and electrifying Electrify Esports. With the Taiwanese already having commanded a healthy dose of respect for themselves, the match was made even spicier when it was revealed it would be played on Theme Park.

Electrify would draw first blood, but after a brief two-round burst from Thai champions Xavier, the Taiwanese champions would reel off three defensive round wins in a row to go up 4-2 into the second half. Much like the first half, though, the defenders -- now Xavier -- would then take the first round, lose two attacks, then reel off three defensive wins. As such, overtime was at hand once again for the night.

Here, Xavier was once again favoured to take the win, especially after winning its first and then having Electrify win its own defense to fuel the defensive-advantage fire. However, Electrify would shock the watching viewers after taking only the fifth attacking win across the 15 rounds, to once again pull off the upset.

Elsewhere, Giants Gaming demolished GUTS Gaming 7-1 despite expectations of a close game in perhaps the strongest performance from the Singaporeans this season. Meanwhile, CAG similarly crushed Qconfirm 7-2 and Cloud9 once again showed its vintage form with a 7-3 victory over FAV Gaming.

Keep an eye out here on SiegeGG for further updates from each region as the games continue for the next three weeks, and be sure to follow us on Twitter for instant updates.

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