Six Invitational 2019 APAC Qualifier LAN Roundup

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If you happened to miss yesterday’s action from the APAC Qualifier LAN for next month’s Six Invitational, read on to get caught right up.

Four teams headed to Sydney, one hailing from each Asia-Pacific (APAC) sub-region to fight it out in a one-day, single-elimination, Best-of-Three bracket and join NORA-Rengo and Fnatic in Canada for the Six Invitational. There were just three matches to be played, but each one would be hard-fought.

Semi-Final 1: FAV Gaming 2-1 Aerowolf

Maps: Clubhouse (7-3), Oregon (7-4), Bank (5-7)

FAV Gaming: ShiN, OdeNMiso, K-Raiser, Taipon, Afro

Aerowolf: Lunarmetal, Ysaera, HysteRiX, Array, MentalistC

With some exciting matchups on offer, the day started off early with a rematch from the Season 6 APAC LAN Quarter-Finals. Back then, FAV Gaming had been known as eiNs and, in an absolute nailbiter, had secured victory over Team CryptiK in the last twenty seconds of the last round of the last map. Team CryptiK is, of course, now known as Aerowolf and like eiNs has undergone significant roster changes.

From each team’s roster then, only two players remain -- ShiN and OdeNMiso from FAV Gaming, and Lunarmetal and Ysaera from Aerowolf. The remaining three Japanese players were making their LAN debut, with Aerowolf’s MentalistC actually making his competitive debut straight at a LAN event having turned 18 just four days prior.

Clubhouse and Bank had been maps both teams had played in the domestic, online qualifiers a week ago, both teams had enough to read the other. However, FAV had only won on Clubhouse, while Aerowolf had won only on their second attempt against Xavier Esports. Not only that, the Southeast Asians had lost to Xavier on Bank and had to show off their Oregon strategies as well -- surely giving FAV excellent fodder for counter-strategies.

Clubhouse was, as expected, a tough map for Aerowolf to get a foothold on -- though they didn't make things easier for themselves with a litany of mistakes. FAV Gaming took their opponents apart with consummate ease on a map that Aerowolf was nigh-impregnable on before its rework. With Oregon having been a map Aerowolf had shown and lost on, one might have been forgiven for assuming that FAV would complete a 2-0 sweep. However, as if suddenly invigorated and full of confidence, Aerowolf came out swinging to establish a lead (which would vanish briefly) and eventually take the map.

MentalistC’s debut would then end, however, despite valiant efforts from himself and the game’s most potent player, HysteRiX. Bank would be a fairly close game but a constant inability to hold onto a vault-side push into the bottom floor would eventually sink Aerowolf and send the Japanese closer to a second appearance at the Six Invitational.

Semi-Final 2: mantisFPS 2-1 0RGL3SS

Maps: Border (8-6), Villa (6-8), Clubhouse (7-0)

mantisFPS: EnvyTaylor, SweetBlack, h3dy, Neilyo, Nova

0RGL3SS: EmoRin, Derpeh, syliX, Ethan, JoeyG

While the next semi-final did not have the same history as the first one did, its stakes were anything but lower. Both teams had a lot to prove -- mantisFPS needed to show that their Season 8 APAC LAN loss against Xavier Esports was not due to an inherent weakness, and 0RGL3SS had to show that they still had what it took to go up against the best in APAC despite swapping Todd for JoeyG.

Moreover, mantisFPS had only recently lost their captain, OniChan, to military service which had forced him to move to a coaching role. 0RGL3SS, on the other hand, also chose to play with syliX instead of ex-Dark Sided player Fletch whom they had trialled during the domestic, online qualifiers.

Immediately, though, 0RGL3SS were on the back foot. While mantisFPS had seen their Australian opponents play Bank once, and Clubhouse, Coastline, and Border twice against Dark Sided, there was no such recent homework to be done on the Koreans due to their online qualifiers not being streamed. Of those maps, Border and Clubhouse had been selected -- with Border being a map that mantisFPS had actually got practice on against Ageless in Korea.

With predictions hard to make, 0RGL3SS and mantisFPS both were matching each other blow for blow, but mistakes were aplenty. Eventually pushed to overtime, the map was taken by mantisFPS, and the pattern continued on Villa. With Villa being a map that neither had played recently, it could have been anyone’s map, and at 6-4 it seemed the Koreans would secure a 2-0 victory. However, in a 4v2 man-advantage, a moment of madness saw Neilyo throw it all away with a double-teamkill, sparking life in 0RGL3SS who took the next four rounds on the trot.

Unfortunately, the comeback would be limited to those four rounds. In an incredible show of force, which included a ridiculous 1v4 clutch by SweetBlack, mantisFPS did not let even a single round slip from their grasp and joined FAV Gaming in the Grand Final.

Grand Final: mantisFPS 2-0 FAV Gaming

Maps: Clubhouse (7-5), Bank (7-5), Coastline (Not Played)

mantisFPS: EnvyTaylor, SweetBlack, h3dy, Neilyo, Nova

FAV Gaming: ShiN, OdeNMiso, K-Raiser, Taipon, Afro

In a surprising twist, the last game would be the shortest of the day. While FAV Gaming had probably been the favourites coming into the event, and had arguably shown a cleaner performance against Aerowolf than mantisFPS had against 0RGL3SS, they would seem to lose that strength against the Koreans.

Once again, Clubhouse and Bank would make an appearance, with Coastline teased as well. However, mantisFPS would not even need a third map as all their mistakes from their previous game seemed to vanish into thin air as a much sharper and clinical side appeared.

Defeating the Japanese was never going to be an easy task, but their opponents did not shy from the challenge. While it was not quite the 7-0 drubbing as had been handed out to 0RGL3SS, mantisFPS firmly establishing themselves as one of the top APAC teams on Clubhouse with a 7-5 victory against FAV Gaming.

FAV Gaming then tried to stage a comeback, starting from Bank. Utilising the same vault-side push as they had against Aerowolf, they tried to take the basement multiple times but were thwarted each time by a near-perfect counter-strategy from mantisFPS. Clearly, the Koreans’ coach had noted and planned for that tactic. Unfortunately, Bank would not go FAV’s way -- despite h3dy very nearly throwing things away and conceding overtime -- and would consign them to a 0-2 defeat.

With the 7-5 win on Bank too, mantisFPS now mark a return to a Major tournament -- their previous international appearances having included the Six Major Paris and Season 6 Pro League Finals. After some high praise from G2 Esports failed to materialise into a significant achievement in Paris, they will now look to build on from that event and put on a strong showing in Montréal.