With the new-look APAC North Division underway once more 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 the fourth week below!
The fifth day of play in Stage 2 saw the exciting action continue on and featured three games that went the full distance in regular time. Of the three, the two of note were the first and last games of the day, starting with the game between Talon Esports and Nora-Rengo. The latter, however, had former player Ryuki "Ramu" Matsuoka as a stand-in, with Tsukasa "Merieux" Asano out of commission with a collapsed lung.
Playing on Theme Park, a map slowly increasing in pick rate, Nora-Rengo got off to a good start on defence. While Talon struck back in the second round thanks to a Soldier quad-kill, the Japanese team was fearsome on defense and took the next three rounds running, with the stand-in of Ramu getting a triple-kill in the fifth round. Talon kept themselves in the game however, thanks to two kills apiece from Soldier and BD to take the final attacking round.
The second half started similarly, with Talon and Nora-Rengo trading rounds to tease impending overtime. However, it was all the Talon show from there on out. Soldier, in particular, stood out with two more triple-kills, with LabyRinth also chiming in with a quad-kill on the 12th and final round. Despite having given a good account of themselves and Ramu having had been the second-best player, Nora-Rengo fell 5-7.
Closing out the day's play was then the two squads of Qconfirm and GUTS Gaming, playing on Consulate. Of the two, GUTS was certainly favoured, but Thai fans had been hoping for a resurgence from the four-time SEA Pro League champions. And in the first half, that certainly looked to be happening. While GUTS took the first and sixth rounds, four in a row for Qconfirm meant that they had a commanding 4-2 lead for their defense.
However, Consulate seemed to attract an aura of attack here in APAC, with GUTS then racing to wrest the lead back with three rounds in a row, with Shu and Yura combining for 11 kills in those rounds alone. Qconfirm were not out, though, as they locked out the 10th round with a near-flawless defense. Tied at 5-5, the final two rounds were bloody and hard-fought, but it were the Japanese who came out on top and took the 7-5 victory.
Elsewhere, Electrify Esports took down SCARZ 7-5, Xavier Esports crushed Fnatic 7-1, FAV Gaming upset Cloud9 7-3, and Giants Gaming took down Cyclops Athlete Gaming 7-3.
The sixth day of play had its most exciting games right at the end, with the long-running Southeast Asian rivalry between Giants Gaming and Qconfirm the first of the two. Featuring Theme Park, a map not unfamiliar to the Giants but new for Qconfirm, Giants should have been in the driver's seat. Despite that and being on defense, the Singaporeans struggled more than expected, with scores tied at 2-2 at first. However, they eventually managed to get things under control and led 4-2 at the half.
After the role swap, the Giants seemed to be in pole position to take the win. While Qconfirm did take the first round on defense, two more in the favour of the Giants meant that they were on match point. However, in a rare surprise of strength from the Thai in the 2020 season, they came to life, taking three rounds in a row to force overtime.
The Giants were rattled, as they then demonstrated, letting a 4v2 man advantage on the attack slip when Hajime sliced through all four attackers rushing through a choke point in the final 15 seconds. On the backfoot, suddenly, the Singaporeans showed the first signs of their undefeated strength since four rounds. Team captain Lunarmetal got a triple-kill to take their defense, before the next-oldest member on the squad, Ysaera, followed suit on attack and closed out a nervy 8-7 win.
Thai fans did not have a great time that night, with Xavier Esports up next against a Nora-Rengo that had not only seemed weak on its own, but also had to play with Ramu standing in for Merieux. Playing on Clubhouse, Xavier Esports got their defensive half off to a good start, racing to a 3-0 lead. However, Nora-Rengo seemed to just have been warming up, as their attacks suddenly turned on their heads. Three rounds went to the Japanese all of a sudden and things were tied at 3-3.
Oddly enough, attacks seemed to be going well for both teams. Despite Nora-Rengo taking the first round on their own defense, Xavier came back strong with two attacking wins to restore their lead at 5-4 -- helped greatly by a triple-kill by Nay..Pew on Thatcher. However, the Japanese wrested control back, taking the 10th round to tie things up. The 11th then went in favour of them as well, despite redsun getting a three-piece, and finally got another win, a 7-5, after a spate of bad form.
Elsewhere, Fnatic took down Talon Esports 7-4, Cyclops defeated GUTS 7-2, Cloud9 took down Electrify Esports, while FAV had to struggle to win 7-5 over SCARZ.
This week, keep an eye out for a repeat of the Day 1 clash between Cyclops Athlete Gaming and Fnatic -- one that had gone 7-0 in favour of the Australians then. Similarly, FAV Gaming will be taking on Cloud9 again, a game that the Japanese had won 7-3 just last week, but will have to play with their coach OdeNMiso standing in for captain ShiN.
Qconfirm and SCARZ will also take each other on in a desperate bid to get out of the relegation zone, while Nora-Rengo will be hoping to have Merieux back ahead of their game against Giants Gaming.
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.