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 fourth week below!
On the fifth day of APAC North, exciting games abounded once more -- though only three went on for longer than 10 rounds.
The first very nearly went the full distance, played between Cyclops Athlete Gaming (CAG) and Talon Esports on Clubhouse. Starting off on defense, the Pro League Season 11 Japanese champions were certainly favoured on paper, but recent records had seen both teams win two games and lose two. Talon drew first blood, however, taking the first round, but CAG struck back with two of their own. A back-and-forth then followed, with Talon able to equalise the score at 3-3, giving the Koreans hope at taking the game.
Two rounds on defence certainly gave them hope, but despite being down 4-6 after the 10th round, CAG was certainly not out of the fight. Two rounds saw the Japanese roar back to force overtime and with both halves having been a 3-3, the starting side hardly seemed to matter. Certainly, it did not, as CAG took the first round on attack then followed it up with a defensive round win to win four on the trot and take the game 8-6.
The other highly anticipated and exciting game of the night was between Giants Gaming and Cloud9, with the former looking the strongest it had been -- including, perhaps, the Pro League Season 10 Finals -- while the latter was regaining its vintage form lost since the Six Invitational 2019. Wins against Talon, Qconfirm, and FAV Gaming had codified Cloud9 as a force to be reckoned with. Playing on Kafe, a favoured map for both teams, Giants drew first blood and made it a 3-0 on defence, but the second and third rounds were far from decisive, requiring monumental clutches. The first round Cloud9 got, though, was in fact a denial after a Giants 2v5 had been reduced to a 1v1, with the half finishing 4-2.
Two attacking round wins on attack settled the nerves of the players, it seemed, as they were carried out with the now-expected precision from the Singaporean roster. However, the match-winning round victory would take a further two rounds to arrive. As had been seen multiple times in the past, Giants began to let rounds slip, but finally arrested the slide on the 11th round with an absolutely frenetic and downright confusing round.
Elsewhere, Electrify Esports ran NORA-Rengo somewhat close despite a 4-7 loss, Fnatic finally added a second win with a 7-3 victory over Qconfirm, while FAV Gaming and Xavier Esports surprised all by defeating their opponents of GUTS Gaming and SCARZ by the same margin.
With the first phase of Stage 1 now over in APAC, it was time for the second phase to start, with the win-loss records reset. This phase would be weighted more than the first as well, in the event that tiebreakers were needed to determine the end-of-stage rankings. Much to everyone's surprise, though, only two games were even remotely close.
The first involved Fnatic, to no one's surprise, playing against Talon Esports. The Koreans had only just come off a tough overtime loss to CAG, while the Australians had managed a strong win over Qconfirm. Things seemed to be looking up for the latter despite their ping issues. Playing on Villa, Fnatic drew first blood with an attacking win, but Talon struck back to take the lead 2-1. Winning the Kitchen/Dining site seemed to be Fnatic's fore, though, as the first half ended 4-2 in Talon's favour.
However, match point followed quickly after when Talon stretched the two-round win streak to four with two attacking round wins. Suddenly, Fnatic was in trouble. However, bringing all its experience to bear, the Australian side ground out three round wins in a row to threaten overtime. However, Talon hung on, pulling off a win after a repeat of the Kitchen/Dining attack, and consigned Fnatic to yet another defeat.
Closing out the night was Cloud9, eager to better its performance against Giants from the previous play day by taking the fight to Xavier Esports. Playing on Coastline, a map perhaps more favoured by the Thai team, Cloud9 kicked things off with an attacking win on what is often described as an attack-friendly map. Xavier roared back with three defensive wins of their own, though, before Cloud9 forced a momentum shift back in its favour with two further attacks to end the first half 3-3.
Xavier must have felt the wind in its sails, though, now able to only need to win four attacking rounds to take the win. Cloud9, though, seemed to have other ideas. Taking two defensive wins, the Koreans swept to a 5-3 lead and were luxuriating in the momentum. However, that luxury would be short-lived as Xavier seemingly woke up, taking round after round with no quarter given to Cloud9. The 5-3 became a 5-5 and then 5-6, before the Thai finally closed out the game with a third consecutively successful attack onto the Hookah/Billiards bomb sites, punishing the Cloud9 players for their inflexibility.
Elsewhere, CAG and GUTS crushed their opponents of Electrify and NORA-Rengo with 7-2 margins, FAV Gaming was slapped aside by Qconfirm in a 7-0, and Giants Gaming kept on going undefeated with a 7-3 win over SCARZ.
This week, keep your eyes peeled for more APAC action, with special attention warranted to the game between Cloud9 and Fnatic. Both teams will be eager to shake off their recent losses and set the stage for a strong second phase, making this game not one to miss. Don't miss the repeat matchup between CAG and Giants Gaming as well, with Giants having won by a 7-5 margin the previous time on Clubhouse.
Keep an eye out here on SiegeGG for further updates from each region as the games continue for the next two weeks, and be sure to follow us on Twitter for instant updates.