It’s all come down to this -- the biggest event of the year. A whole year of waiting with bated breaths since PENTA Sports (now G2 Esports) lifted the Caber in front of Montreal. With a new year comes a new installment of the Six Invitational. Not some but the best have gone through Pro League struggles, DreamHack competitions, and a week’s worth of online qualifiers to get where they are today. This begins our week-long coverage of the Six Invitational 2019, live from Montreal, Quebec.
Match 1: FaZe Clan 2 - 0 Ninjas In Pyjamas
Maps: Villa (7-3), Coastline (7-0), Clubhouse (Not played)
FaZe: Muringa, Astro, Yoona, mav, cameram4n, and twisterm4n (Analyst)
NiP: Psycho, wag, pino, Kamikaze, julio, and Absurdo (Manager)
The Six Invitational 2019 kicked off with the matchup of FaZe versus Ninjas In Pyjamas (NiP). Since FaZe’s run at the Season 8 Finals to a grand finals loss against G2 Esports on home soil, the LATAM torchbearers have significantly fallen off in performance during Season 9 of the Pro League. Their first loss would happen on the first playday, at the hands of NiP. The release of pzd by NiP followed by the pick up of paiN Gaming’s Pino has seemed to benefit the squad as of late, putting NiP amongst the top teams currently in Latin America.
Map One: Villa
While starting off fairly even early into the game, FaZe quickly picked up the pace and began countering NiP. The overall performance looked like nothing of what we had seen out from FaZe so far in Season 9, and got them a substantial 7-3 victory on NiP’s map pick.
Map Two: Coastline
To sum it in short, FaZe carried on with this momentum to take a 7-0 victory against NiP. A completely dominant defense that shut everything NiP threw at them with ease was then followed by a single round on defense where Yoona’s access to a Montagne dictated the swift executing blow to their LATAM rivals.
Match 2: Fnatic 2 - 1 Team Reciprocity
Maps: Consulate (6-8), Clubhouse (7-5), Villa (7-5)
Reciprocity: FoxA, MarkTheShark, LaXInG, Skys, Retro, Robn (Analyst) and HOP3Z (Coach)
Fnatic: Magnet, Acez, RizRaz, Lusty, Virtue, and Dizzle (Coach)
Stream number two was broadcasting the other match of Group A; Team Reciprocity versus Fnatic. Since qualifying at DreamHack Montreal under the organization Cloud9, the roster was sold to the new organization of Reciprocity, and Goddess was dropped for North American star fragger Skys, who was enticed out of a very temporary retirement. The lineup that was famously known as Mindfreak at last year’s Invitational made its return to Montreal after finishing second out of APAC in Season 8, under the wing of Fnatic. However, since their massive upset victory over Evil Geniuses while missing Magnet, the team has picked up Virtue and opted to use him in a rotating lineup, swapping him for NeophyteR when need be (although NeophyteR is yet to play a single game since Virtue’s pickup and was not flown to Canada with the rest of the team)
Map One: Consulate
Coming into Reciprocity’s map pick, Fnatic put up a very valiant fight. The early stages were very back-and-forth until the North Americans pushed it to match point. Virtue’s impact frags led Fnatic to a comeback, pushing the matchup into overtime. In the overtime, though, the Australians were unable to maintain their momentum and a number of misplays out of Fnatic gave Reciprocity the victory on their map pick.
Map Two: Clubhouse
In Fnatic’s own map, Reciprocity once again started off with an early lead, going up 4-3 before Fnatic would emerge resurgent and capitalize on the deficiencies in Reciprocity’s play, closing out the second map with a 7-5 victory and sending the match to the decider.
Map Three: Villa
Hot off the first couple of rounds, Magnet burst onto the map with his picks onto Caveira, managing even to get an interrogation on round two. Fnatic’s aggression, on the whole, overpowered Team Reciprocity’s wild playstyle and sent the final map in favor of Fnatic.
Match 1: Spacestation Gaming 2 - 0 Rogue
Maps: Villa (7-4), Oregon (7-2), Border (Not Played)
Spacestation: Redeemer, Rampy, Chala, Bosco, ThinkingNade, and Lycan (Coach)
Rogue: Slashug, easilyy, Shuttle,VertcL, Ecl9pse, and Ranger (Coach)
In a rematch from the United States Nationals’ (USN) Semi-Finals, the formidable force of Rogue once again take on one of North America’s dark horses -- Spacestation Gaming. Since picking up Bosco, the team has seen noteworthy performances at both USN and DreamHack Winter. However, since the start of Season 9, they have suffered four ties in the regular Pro League, winning just once and losing twice. With both teams being in the publicly-acclaimed ‘Group of death’, a win here would give either team some room to breathe.
Map One: Villa
In Rogue’s map pick, Rogue’s Jackal ban had little effect on SSG’s start on attack as, by round five, they were able to establish a 3-round buffer, leading 4-1. Rogue attemped to scrape some sort of a comeback in the late game, but to little avail as SSG took the first map with a 7-4 scoreline.
Map Two: Oregon
On the map where ‘good teams go to die’, it was clear to see that Rogue would be the one dying, though SSG was far from bad here. SSG pulled off a perfect defense, going up to match point before the role swap, and looked well on course for a 7-0 win to close things out . Rogue would, once again, mount what could have coalesced into a proper comeback after two round wins, but SSG shut them down to take the second map by a 7-2 score, finally giving them the definitive victory that eluded them at the USN Semi-Finals.
Match 2: Team Empire 2 - 0 Immortals
Maps: Clubhouse (8-6), Consulate (8-6), Oregon (Not played)
Empire: karzheka, JoyStiCK, Scyther, Shockwave, ShepparD and RayzerGM (Coach)
Immortals: pX, Novys, Bullet1, MKing, cyb3r and Mohamed (Manager)
Since moving up into the Pro League, Team Empire has been a force to be reckoned with. The four Russians and lone Estonian have been on a tear, taking down traditionally ‘stronger’ teams like PENTA and LeStream, and tieing the world champions of G2. Facing them were the rebuilt Immortals. After their early Season 8 Finals departure at the hands of G2, the swap of D1OGO and yuuk for Bullet1 and MKing has clearly sent the team in an upward trajectory, as the team are currently sitting pretty in first place in LATAM. Each team is respectively at the top of their region, and looked to continue their dominance at the Six Invitational 2019.
Map One: Clubhouse
In the first half, Empire found a very early and strong footing with a substantial 5-0 lead. However, Immortals would be quick to counter the European aggressors by clawing back rounds and understanding their ‘hot droning’ patterns. As Empire hit match point, Immortals came back and denied their opportunity to take the early advantage right there and then by forcing the game into overtime. Starting on attack, and with defense seeming to be winning everything, Empire were on the backfoot. However, an attack win would be followed up with a defensive one to take the map in overtime, establishing some much-needed momentum heading into the second map.
Map Two: Consulate
While Consulate was Empire’s map pick, it was worth noting that both teams have performed well on this map in Season 9 of the Pro League so far. Immortals had won this map in the first match of the LATAM Season 9 against Team Liquid, whereas Empire won against LeStream and ENCE in Europe. Immortals started off strong, winning the first two rounds to disrupt any latent momentum from map one. Both teams looked equally matched, though with Empire once again going up 5-4 as the map headed into the second half. Immortals head back up, drawing this series once again.
Match 1: G2 Esports 2 - 0 mantisFPS
Maps: Clubhouse (8-6), Coastline (7-4), Oregon (Not played)
G2: Fabian, Kantoraketti, Pengu, Joonas, Goga and Shas[O]Udas (Coach)
Mantis: Neilyo, EnvyTaylor, SweetBlack, h3dy, Nova and SummerRain (Manager)
On one side, there were the tournament underdogs -- the lowest rated team, mantisFPS. On the other, there were the reigning Invitational champions and three times Pro League champions -- arguably world number one side G2 Esports. The Koreans of mantisFPS entered this tournament after somewhat of an upset victory over FAV Gaming in the APAC Invitational Qualifier LAN, and are the only team in the Invitationals that have no organizational representation.
MantisFPS previously competed at the Six Major Paris under Element Mystic, but have had no org since being released. In fact, their players spend up to 10 hours a day working in McDonald’s to pay the bills, yet what they showed today was nothing short of extraordinary. G2, on the other hand, need no introduction. Now with the addition of ENCE’s former coach, Sua, G2 are poised to reign supreme over the world once again.
Map One: Clubhouse
Defying all expectations, the match started off with both teams fairly equally matched, as each team traded blows to see a 3-3 scoreline by the end of the first half -- something completely expected given the gaps in experience, and with the fact that G2 had lost three rounds while defending on a defender-sided map.
Mantis would be in the lead well into the second half, nearing a match point with a 5-3 scoreline as they seeked to convert their surprising even split on attack into a victory as they proceeded defend. G2 were undeterred, however, and keep chipping away at mantisFPS’ lead and eventually forced the map into overtime Now seeming much more in control, both overtime rounds went to G2 as they took home the first map 8-6.
Map Two: Coastline
Many had expressed concern that mantisFPS had picked Coastline, one of G2’s srongest maps, even before the first action phase had got underway. Sure enough, while it was G2’s first time on Coastline since DreamHack Winter, they quickly swept into a 5-1 lead by the end of the first half. That lead would be challenged as while the Koreans would attempt a comeback, it would eventually snowball into yet another decisive victory on Coastline for G2 with a 7-4 scoreline.
Match 2: Mock-It Esports 2 - 1 Team Liquid
Maps: Border (2-7), Coastline (7-4), Oregon (8-6)
Liquid: Nesk, ziG, xS3xyCake, gohaN, Paluh, Sensi (Coach)
Mock-It: KS, Korey, ripz, Vale, Cry1NNN, Lazzo (Coach)
Team Liquid, the first-ever Latin American Pro League champions came into this tournament looking for redemption. Since their group stage exit at the Paris Major, the team have also tasted defeat in not being able to qualify for the Season 8 Finals. In the off-season, Liquid acquired gohaN, who was benched by FaZe, and Paluh from what used to be known as BootKamp Gaming (now INTZ eSports). Since their rebuild, Liquid has been performing exceptionally in LANs like DreamHack Winter or the BR6 circuit. Mock-it, on the other hand, have been on the other side of the spectrum, qualifying for the Season 8 Finals and performing decent across both Season 8 and DreamHack Winter. Since then, the team has benched Bryan ‘BakaBryan’ Tester in favor of Cry1NNN. While Mock-it haven’t had the best numbers in the early half of Season 9, they found their footing yesterday at the Invitational.
Map One: Border
Liquid’s formidable map pick of Border played directly into Mock-it’s hands, and there was really not much to say as Mock-It blew through their Brazilian rivals in an incredible first map, winning by a 7-2 scoreline. Season 8 second-half debutant Korey and Season 9 signing Cry1NNN would be some of the notable performers, with Korey achieving 12 kills himself.
Map Two: Clubhouse
On Mock-it’s comfort pick of Clubhouse, Liquid found their footing against the German squad with an early 3-1 lead. The duo of ziG and Nesk were easily pulling their weight in frags during the map, but Cry1NNN on the other side was more than happy to prove his addition to the team was not a fluke. In the end, Liquid would trade Mock-It’s victory on their map pick for a win on Clubhouse, defeating Mock-it 7-4.
Map Three: Oregon
Being the second match to head to a decider match, it would only be fitting for the location to be Oregon. With Mock-it known to perform well here, and Team Liquid’s true strength unknown after their only match on Oregon having ended in their favor due to FaZe Clan’s continuous disconnections, audiences were guaranteed a stunner. In the first half, Mock-It established a quick and strong lead after starting on attack. After a rehost, though, both teams ended up in a close overtime, and the map eventually went in the favor of Mock-It for an 8-6 victory.
Match 1: Evil Geniuses 2 - 0 LeStream Esport
Maps: Villa (8-7), Oregon (7-2), Coastline (Not played)
EG: Canadian, geoometrics, nvK, Yung, Necrox, Gotcha (Coach)
LSE: Hicks, AceeZ, risze, UUNO, Alphama, Crapelle (Coach)
For Evil Geniuses, 2019 is an opportunity for change. After their continuous losses in tournaments, continuously falling short of championships, 2018 is a year they will no doubt want to put behind them. Since acquiring their new coach, Gotcha, and the pickup of Geoo from Rogue, EG suffered elimination at the hands of Fnatic at the Season 8 Finals and narrowly lost at the United States Nationals’ in the Grand Finals against Rogue. For LeStream, their new organization offers redemption. The roster once known as Millenium made some surprising changes by dropping Liven and Renshiro in favor of ENCE’s UUNO and Supremacy’s Alphama. LSE fell short at DreamHack Winter against PACT, but since qualifying to the Invitational by beating the rebuilt Team Vitality, they now look to cement their legacy.
Map One: Villa
LSE quickly staked their claim on EG’s map pick, hitting match point on the eighth round with a 6-2 scoreline. However, they failed to consider the power of their opponents’ captain. Powered solely by heart, mind, and the power of Canadian’s hype alone, EG climbed back up from their four-round deficit to hit overtime to keep the North American titans in the game. EG would proceed to win in overtime 8-7 and take their map to head into LSE’s pick in a stunning turnaround.
Map Two: Oregon
Evil Geniuses’ home, Oregon, would be the staging grounds for the second map -- the same map that others had advised against taking EG to. By the end of the first half, Evil Geniuses stood tall with a 4-2 lead, with Canadian showing off Blitz on the attack. To follow up with the dominant first half, Canadian once again stole the show with a 3k on Bandit on their first defense hold. There would be no respite from the North Americans, and they kept LSE limited to a meager two rounds out of the first six and continued marching on with the remaining two to take the map 7-2.
Match 2: NORA-Rengo 2 - 1 PENTA
Maps: Oregon (4-7), Bank (7-2), Border (7-3)
PENTA: Hungry, RevaN, ENEMY, blas, SirBoss, Jess (Coach)
NORA: Wokka, ReyCyil, Merieux, Ramu, Papilia, kizoku (Coach)
Coming out of the Season 8 Finals, NORA-Rengo had proven, alongside Fnatic, that APAC still owns a place amongst the highest tier of competitive Siege. After getting a definitive victory over their Season 7 rivals, Rogue, NORA gained a ton of momentum and legitimacy as APAC’s torchbearers. On the other side of the world, PENTA have gone through a lot of changes to get to where they are now. After losing their star lineup to G2 Esports, they picked up Mock-it’s roster of Hungry, Panix, ENEMY, RevaN, and SirBoss. After a second-place finish at DreamHack Winter gave them the spot at the Invitational, PENTA dropped Panix in favor of the former ENCE eSports player blas.
Map One: Oregon
In the first map, PENTA’s pick, NORA-Rengo struggled to maintain a hold on the map lead with PENTA gaining a 4-0 lead in the first half. Even on the first round, within seconds of the match starting, Hungry would find a very early entry kill on a basement hold. While NR managed to climb back and neutralize the Europeans’ lead at 4-4, PENTA still took the map victory with a 7-4 scoreline.
Map Two: Bank
On NR’s pick, they would turn the tables quickly as they led swept into a 3-0 lead early in the map. Even heading into the second half, 5-1 up, NRcontinued their march by taking PENTA’s first round on attack, putting the Japanese representatives on match point. PENTA manage to take one round, but NORA-Rengo would clean up to send the series to the third map with a 7-2 victory on Bank.
Map Three: Border
While being graced by NR’s display of funny faces and wacky hand gestures outside the game, in the game the Japanese were feeling good thanks to Wokka and Ramu paving the way to round win after round win. Despite letting Hungry have access to Ying, a decision typically frowned upon by most humanitarian societies, NR manage to gain a three round lead. However, to further reinforce my statement, Hungry managed to get an ace in six seconds on the fourth round -- making this the fastest ace ever in any Pro League match. NR would forge on, though, and eventually take the series, once again demonstrating that APAC was not to be trifled with following the Season 8 Finals.
That was your roundup for the first day of group stage action at the Six Invitational 2019, stay tuned as we bring you more comprehensive news and stats coverage throughout the week, leading up to the Grand Finals on Sunday!