The South Asia sub-region's format saw a very minor change compared to the last year, as Stage 1 leaders of KIRA and MercenarieZ were automatically invited to the Stage 2 Playoffs.
That meant Stage 2 saw just three open qualifiers take place over the last month to determine the other six teams which will play in this coming weekend's South Asian Playoffs.
The top two teams at these playoffs will compete with the 2nd-4th placed teams in APAC North and South in the APAC Playoffs a few weeks later.
Now, with these qualifiers over, here's what's been going on in South Asia and what to watch out for this weekend.
Firstly, MercenarieZ and KIRA both automatically qualified for the South Asian Playoffs, leaving just six more teams to be found. This was done via three separate open qualifiers, each of which is a simple open bracket, where the two grand-finalists progress to the main tournament.
The first qualifier which took place at the end of June saw Monkey Business (then playing as LFO) storm out of the gate with just 4ft2.Bhi -- a roster that includes the ex-MRCZ player of TaHa -- challenging in a 5-7 result.
Other than this game, it was pretty much clear sailing to reach the final which they then won in an impressive 7-1, 7-3 scoreline.
Also making it to the playoffs and the grand final was Valhalla eSports. While it did lose somewhat badly in the grand-final, Valhalla did take down two notable lineups in Dropshot and Extraordinaire Esports in the semi and quarter-finals, both in 7-1 scorelines.
- 1st - Monkey Hunters
- 2nd - Valhalla eSports
- 3-4th - 4ft2.Bhi
- 3-4th - Extraordinaire Esports
The following week, Extraordinaire came back and made it one game further to qualify for the playoffs alongside Gamer's Syndicate, which features the lone Maldivian player in the qualifiers, Spideytime.
Alongside Bhutan, the Republic of Maldives is the newest addition to the now seven-nation South Asian sub-region, with this being the first time either of these additions has been represented in the Nationals.
On the way to the grand-final, Gamer's Syndicate took down both Dropshot in the semi-finals and the ex-Deimos Force roster in the quarter-finals before defeating Extraordinaire 2-1 in the grand-final to win the fifth seed.
- 1st - Gamer's Syndicate
- 2nd - Extraordinaire Esports
- 3-4th - Dropshot
- 3-4th - Red ViperZ
Finally, last weekend Red ViperZ became the team to take down Dropshot in the quarter-finals and, thanks to a protest in the semi-finals, progressed one step further into the grand-final.
Here, the ViperZ were taken down in a 2-1 scoreline against a Sri Lankan lineup of ClickBait, which becomes just the second-ever Sri Lankan team to qualify for the South Asia National Playoffs.
- 1st - ClickBait
- 2nd - Red ViperZ
- 3-4th - HawX Lite
- 3-4th - Valiants
And so, with these results, the following eight teams will play in next weekend's playoffs:
- MercenarieZ -- FATAR, Hasib, M4KER, Mii7, and SnoowW
- KIRA E-Sports -- Invi, RhymesWithBuck, Slayer, Death_Amar, Atharv, and leoxard (analyst)
- Monkey Hunters -- Sparko, Jittery, Beat, Sandy, r4ttl3r, and Echo (coach)
- Valhalla eSports -- AviM, Avidwi, Pxycho, Vort3X, and ZePanda
- Gamer's Syndicate -- Adiat, Hecko, KillSteal, Muhtasim, and Spideytime
- Extraordinaire Esports -- Dhanu, FaTaLz, Jayv, Nos, and Raxan
- ClickBait -- Cheezecake, DedNsyd, KingSlayer, Luxiaaa, Teddy, and EAGLEYE
- Red ViperZ -- AMST, Ashrithebaniya, Coffee, Cxyph3r, EAGLEYE, and Aalpal (coach)
While the Union Gaming organisation is missing, its team remains under the orgless 'Monkey Hunters' name and comes in as the top-seeded roster from the first qualifier.
This team previously won the August Regional Major last year before spending the rest of 2020 as the second-best team in South Asia behind MercenarieZ. Recently, the team hit a patch of poor form and failed to even qualify for Stage 1's SA Playoffs but has seemingly stabilised in Stage 2.
MercenarieZ itself have has won five out of six of the Pro-Circuit tournaments in the sub-region, including all three prior South Asian Playoffs, making its team without a doubt the favourite here.
The one thing that may create doubts, however, is that the team has not been in action for three whole months after its auto-invite to the playoffs.
Similarly, the last KIRA had played was off the back of its historic first-ever win for a South Asian team during the APAC Playoffs three months ago.
Since then, the team has seen a pretty big change, as r4ttl3r left to join Monkey Hunters as its new IGL, meaning the KIRA we see this weekend has made a significant change from Stage 1.
The only other returning organisation from Stage 1 is Extraordinaire Esports who, after finishing in third place last playoff, will be hoping to go one step further and ensure there are Sri Lankan representatives at a cross-APAC tournament for the first time.
As well as this, the rosters of Valhalla eSports and Red ViperZ also return after finishing Stage 1 in fourth and fifth under the organisations of Mischief Gaming and Equinox Heat
Finally, this leaves two new rosters, ClickBait and Gamer's Syndicate, who both managed to beat Dropshot (ex-Virtual 5 e-sports) on their way to earning their playoff spots.
These eight teams will play in a double-elimination Best-of-Three bracket from July 16-18th, with a Bo5-map grand-final for seeding purposes and to see who gets the most of the $6,000 prize pool.
It is, however, currently unknown how much of the tournament will be streamed, with it being completely reliant on community streamers.
Follow the southasiar6community Twitch channel for notifications on the streamed games.
The top two teams from these playoffs progress to the APAC Playoffs on the 26-28th, where they'll fight for the two Six Major spots, the $12,000 in prize money, and 1,110 SI Points on offer.
During Stage 1's Playoffs, South Asia won its very first APAC-wide matchup as KIRA beat CYCLOPS, while MRCZ took a map from Seventh Heaven before eventually losing.
This continues what has been a slow climb for the teams over the last year as, despite its complete lack of tournaments, organisations, or attention from Ubisoft, they've started to actually challenge select North and South rosters.
Check back here for further updates on the tournament here at SiegeGG as it continues in the following weeks.