Just like in APAC North, there were many changes from 2020 in Stage 1 of the APAC South Division.
The biggest was that the Southeast Asian (SEA) teams had been moved down to APAC South to combine with four Oceanic teams.
Many were excited to see these SEA teams stack up to their Oceanic counterparts, with Elevate flying the Thai flag high in APAC South. The former Xavier Esports squad only lost one game, going top by a wide margin of five points.
However, Giants Gaming (now Invictus Gaming) were perhaps the most disappointing. Sporting a roster unchanged from the 2020 season, where they had topped both stages in APAC North, won the November Major, and finished second in the August Major and APAC Finals, hopes had been high.
Disappointingly, the Singaporeans slid to sixth place after just three victories from seven games.
Their close rivals Wildcard Gaming, too, were disappointing in eighth, but that was after team captain Kyle "Diesel" Renton had stepped down due to a personal emergency just days before the season started. As such, team manager and former player Vinnie "syliX" Tam had to step in.
Let's see how the teams line up now for the start of Stage 2 and who exactly you should watch out for.
Teams & Changes
Seven of the nine organisations which competed in Stage 1 are back, with Giants Gaming and Xavier Esports the two that were replaced.
- Elevate -- Sapper, DCH, Nay..Pew, sprOnigiri, AngryX, Kanomtuay (Substitute), Dr.Bestsiaer (Coach)
- Knights -- Dino, Hayward, Jsh, Juicy, Sageon, Pikniq (Coach), Sketchy (Analyst)
- Chiefs ESC -- Dgtl, Vast, GodLegion, Worthy, Fishoguy, WarTurtle (Coach), Hell (Analyst)
- 7th Heaven -- Ed, Ray, Pikan, Souffle, SPirited, S1no, Cyan, Odin (Coach), Ratio (Analyst)
- Qconfirm -- Lycolis, Producerboom, Hajime, HealthcareOG, Darkk, Roldinii, DomeDominic (Coach)
- Invictus Gaming -- Lunarmetal, HysteRiX, SpeakEasy, jrdn, Jo, Ultima (Substitute), GiG (Coach)
- ORDER -- JackDaddy, Bailey (formerly Cutie), JKR, Speca, Nikoh, Naate, ItBeStyle (Coach)
- Wildcard Gaming -- EmoRin, Gio, Pat, Vincere, Milostka, r0usty (Coach), Fluxx (Analyst)
The biggest changes between the stages is undoubtedly with the Giants Gaming roster, which was dropped almost three weeks prior to the start of Stage 2 today.
The Singaporeans had then decided to bench longtime player Adrian "Ysaera" Wui, who had then left the team, before moving Jose "Jo" Iman to the playing roster, adding Muhammad "Ultima" Ariffin Bin Mohamed Shah as a substitute, and signing with Invictus Gaming.
Over down South, Wildcard Gaming also made significant changes after their Stage 1 troubles, signing Joseph "Milostka" Kaleske as a player and former Team Secret and Rogue performance coach Wille "r0usty" Turunen.
The move should prove revitalising to the Australian squad that was dominant in Oceania last year, finally able to play with a full roster.
Finally, ORDER was the only other team to make a change, announced before the final play day of Stage 1. Jayden "ItBeStyle" Franken stepped back from his playing role after the end of Stage 1, swapping roles with then-coach Erik "Nikoh" Ahrenfeld.
Format and Schedule
The league will be a simple round-robin Best-of-One (Bo1) map tournament, in which every team plays each other once.
Just like Stage 1 and in every other region, there will be overtime, where an overtime win grants two points and an overtime defeat grants just one.
At the end of the league, the first placed team in the league will head to the Six Major while also collecting SI Points.
The second, third, and fourth placed teams will then head to the APAC Playoffs, where two teams will join the aforementioned league topper at the Major. In addition, the top six teams at the APAC Playoffs will also earn SI Points.
- 1st -- $15,000, a Six Major spot, and 225 SI Points
- 2nd -- $7,000 and an APAC Playoffs spot
- 3rd -- $5,000 and an APAC Playoffs spot
- 4th -- $4,500 and an APAC Playoffs spot
- 5th -- $3,000
- 6th -- $3,000
- 7th -- $2,000
- 8th -- $1,500
The schedule, meanwhile, will see play days every Thursday, except for one additional game on Tuesday on July 6.
The games will be cast live in English by the Oceanic talent pool, but restrictions on inter-state travel in Australia mean that the games will be cast from home and not the Sydney studio.
Casting and hosting the games will be James "Devmarta" Stewart, Robert "Manic" Munday, Brandon "Raven" Langiano, Michael "Guzz" Gurrie, and Jake "Zenox" Brander. Meanwhile, Michael "Marshall" Wong and Alexander "Skye" McCallum will be observing the games.
Operation League & Oceanic Nationals
Meanwhile, APAC South will also see the Tier 2 national competitions of the Operation League and Oceanic Nationals run concurrently.
The Operation League in SEA will see three separate sub-regional leagues; namely the MY/SG/PH/ID, Taiwan, and Thailand leagues.
If the format mirrors 2020, the top-placing non-APAC North team(s) in each Operation League will eventually get to play against any team(s) from the same country that placed in the bottom three of the APAC South Division at the Relegations after the end of Stage 3.
Meanwhile, the Oceanic Nationals will have four teams competiting for the APAC South Relegations spot(s). And if the format mirrors 2020, these team(s) will then play against any Oceanic team(s) in the bottom three of the APAC South Division at the Relegations after the end of Stage 3.
Catch the start of Stage 2 of the APAC South Division later today, as Elevate takes on Knights at 3:30 PM SGT (UTC+8).