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 fifth and final week below!
The seventh day of play in APAC North saw three overtime games -- two in maximum overtime -- two 12-round games, and the final an equally exciting 11-round thriller. Amongst the excitement, the best viewing to be found was between the leaders from each former APAC subregion.
The first was a repeat matchup between Cyclops Athlete Gaming (CAG) from Japan and Giants Gaming from Singapore, with the previous Phase 1 game been decided at 7-5 by the latter on Clubhouse. Starting off on defence this time, having gone 5-1 the previous time in the second half, things were a lot different for the Singaporeans, though. While Giants drew first blood, CAG stunned their opponents by taking three attack wins on the trot. Effectively in damage control, Giants did recover to end the half 3-3, but with Clubhouse being defender-sided, it seemed that the writing was on the wall.
However, two attacking wins gave the Giants players a 5-3 lead and a strong position to close things out, but the Japanese players immediately pegged them back with two defensive wins of their own. Possibly heading towards another 7-5 win, Giants took another attack round but CAG responded in turn on defense to force overtime, not allowing the league leaders to keep their flawless record without a nailbiting fight. With CAG taking match point after getting to defend first in overtime, it seemed the Giants' streak was over. However, after an FMG-9 Smoke hold by Jeremy "HysteRiX" Tan and then a Montagne-led attack, the Giants hung on, surviving possibly their worst scare this season.
Immediately after followed another clash -- this time between the Korean titans of Cloud9, who had been enjoying somewhat of a renaissance, and between the de-facto post-Six Invitational APAC champions of Fnatic. Playing on Coastline, perhaps eager to carry on from their Day 4 7-3 win against Qconfirm, the Australians raced off to a blinding start. Taking three attacking rounds in a row, it seemed that the fourth round win was little more than a consolation for the Koreans. Two more attacking wins after that put Fnatic at a 5-1 lead and in pole position to take only its third win this season.
After a seventh-round win on defense, Fnatic was then up 6-1 and had five match points to play with. However, in a combination of a shocking attacker-sidedness, Fnatic slip-ups, and Cloud9 heroics, each one of those match points would be squandered. Eschewing the need to plant the defuser at all, one round became two, then three, then four, and then a whopping five as -- against all odds -- overtime was at hand. Song "SyAIL" Dongseon had completely switched on on attack, having secured 10 kills in those five rounds, would find two more in the next two rounds. Cloud9 would thus make it a whopping seven rounds in a row, reversing the 1-6 scoreline to win 8-6.
The action on Day 8 was relatively muted after the non-stop pedal-to-the-metal Day 7, with only one game going on for more than 10 rounds.
The game in question was between FAV Gaming and Fnatic, with the latter eager to shake off a humbling seven-round reverse-sweep at the hands of Cloud9. FAV, on the other hand, would have been flying high after a nervy but confidence boosting 7-5 win over regional rivals NORA-Rengo. Playing on Clubhouse, the attackers of Fnatic drew first blood, and took the third and fourth rounds as well despite FAV striking back on the second.
Already in a weaker position given the defender-sided nature of Clubhouse, the Japanese needed their final two defensive wins to be competitive for their own attacks.
However, not only were they competitive, they seemed to excel on attack. One win became two and then three, as all of a sudden, Fnatic was staring down the barrel of match point. Perhaps drawing on Cloud9 for inspiration from two days prior, the Australians began to pull things back, with one defensive win becoming two. Keen to make it a third and force overtime, the Australians could not make it happen following an explosive final 20-seconds push from the Japanese as they closed the game out at a 7-5.
Two games prior, Xavier Esports had also raised eyebrows with a surprisingly strong win against the very same CAG that had troubled Giants Gaming so greatly just two days prior. Playing on the APAC staple of Clubhouse, Xavier seemed dominant despite an initial closeness with their Japanese opponents. Going up 2-0, CAG had pegged the Thai back to 2-2, but those rounds would be the only ones going to the Japanese stalwarts. Xavier woud win five in a row -- including a 2v5 in the final round that included a quad-kill from Thiti "redsun00" Chairoek to shock everyone and take the map 7-2.
Their Thai counterparts of Qconfirm did not fare anywhere as well against Giants Gaming however, with the surprise being the inability of the Thai team to give a close contest to the Singaporeans. For the first time ever, in two years of play, a map between the two teams had ended with fewer than 11 rounds played. In the past, across the nine games and 13 maps, Qconfirm had won seven of those, while Giants had won five, and expectations had been built up that this could be the end of Giants' undefeated run. However, playing on Consulate, Giants got its first win against Qconfirm since the 24th of Septmeber last year -- and in a dominant 7-2 fashion -- to keep the streak alive.
This week, keep your eyes peeled for more APAC action, with special attention warranted to the game between Qconfirm and Cloud9. With the former having crushed FAV 7-0 and defeated GUTS 7-5, the Thai will be keen to put the 2-7 loss to Giants behind them, while the Koreans will be eager to keep their two-game winning momentum going. Also keep your eyes peeled for the game between Xavier Esports and Giants Gaming, with both having a flawless 3-0 record in this second phase so far.
Keep an eye out here on SiegeGG for further updates from each region as the games continue for the final week, and be sure to follow us on Twitter for instant updates.