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 Hammer 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 continues our week-long coverage of the Six Invitational 2019, live from Montreal, Quebec.
NORA-Rengo 2 - 0 Fnatic
Maps: Bank (8-6), Villa (7-1), Border (Not Played)
NR: Wokka, ReyCyil, Merieux, Ramu, Papilia, kizoku (Coach)
Fnatic: Magnet, Acez, RizRaz, Lusty, Virtue, and Dizzle (Coach)
APAC versus APAC. Brothers against brothers. It was Fnatic versus NORA-Rengo. Four times the two have faced off so far, with a myriad of different rosters -- first in the Season 6 APAC LAN Quarter-Finals, then the Season 7 APAC LAN Grand Final, then at the Season 8 APAC LAN Grand Final, and finally in the Six Masters 2018.
NORA-Rengo were the first to draw blood in Season 6, Fnatic then answered back. NORA-Rengo won again, on home soil, and then so did Fnatic. This time, though, the fight would be on the biggest stage of them all.
Map One: Bank
On Fnatic’s map pick of Bank, the Australians started off well with a strong basement defense, but NORA-Rengo immediately answered back making a strong statement that even if the map pick was not theirs, they would nonetheless bring the fight. Going into the role swap at 3-3, Fnatic would once again establish the lead on their first attacking round, but the basement would be the only site their pushes would be successful.
A second attempt from NORA-Rengo to defend the basement would yield the same result, and put them down 3-5, but switching to the first and second-floor bomb sites got them going once again. Unable to deal with the roam game, Fnatic were almost helpless as their map stretched into overtime. Unfortunately, with NORA-Rengo having recognised Fnatic’s weakness, went to the second floor on defense, and when Wokka broke out the Montagne for the basement attack, it was all over.
Map Two: Villa
Feeling down, the highly emotional Fnatic had almost mentally checked out after suffering the shock loss on their map pick. While they would be able to secure one round after starting on attack, that would be all of the meagre pickings they would be taking home from the Italian map.
Once again utilising their roam game to full effect, NORA-Rengo’s defense tore through Fnatic’s attack time and again with Fnatic curiously forgoing any form of a coherent roam clear. Up 6-1, Wokka once again brought out the Montagne and, in Interro’s words, it was all she wrote as the Japanese cruised to the Semi-Finals after knocking out their regional rivals, Fnatic.
Team Empire 2 - 1 Team Liquid
Maps: Coastline (4-7), Consulate (7-4), Border (7-5)
Empire: karzheka, JoyStiCK, Scyther, ShepparD, Shockwave, and RayzerGM (Coach)
Liquid: ziG, Paluh, gohaN, xS3xyCake, Nesk, and Sensi (Coach)
Determined to make amends for their disappointing performance at the Six Invitational 2018, Team Empire came into this tournament and this Quarter-Final in a position of incredible strength. Leading the European Pro League, and yet to lose since the conclusion of DreamHack Winter, Team Liquid were coming up against a formidable opponent. On their side, though, they were the Season 7 Pro League Champions, and also are tied with Immortals for the Pro League lead in Latin America.
Map One: Coastline
Coastline got off to a dicey but positive start for the Eastern Europeans as Scyther hung on to deny the last-second defuser plant with his Yokai drone. After Team Liquid answered back in the next round it seemed that this map, like it had been against Spacestation Gaming, would be an extremely tightly contested affair. However, Liquid took the map by the scruff of its neck and begun running away with it with no care for Empire.
Team Empire, though, would have something to say about that, however. Down 6-1, they would slowly begin the climb back up with overtime as their short-term goal. However, they would not be able to stave off the loss for more than three rounds and lose the map.
Map Two: Consulate
This time it was Team Liquid who would start off on the front foot with a round one win that was quickly followed up by two more incredible rounds, with the third coming off the back of a brilliantly holdout from Nesk and ziG against four Empire members. Shockwave, though, refused to leave the comeback attempt as late as it was on Coastline and almost single handedly secured the first round for his team. While Empire would win a second round, Liquid would answer back to win the first half 4-2.
Comparatively quiet so far in the tournament, it would then be JoyStiCK’s time to shine as he would deny an Ash-equipped Nesk a clutch once, and then again turn a 1v2 around three rounds later to get his team to match point, before his team would bring things to a close a round later.
Map Three: Border
Now on Border, the Brazilians would once again win the first round to arrest any potential free-fall momentum in their play. After a tight opening three rounds, though, Empire would go on a charge to go up 4-2, but Liquid would not let the lead get any larger as they would strike back after the role swap.
That was all Liquid would be able to get, though, as the Eastern Europeans marshalled their forces and shifted up the gears to collect the next three rounds -- and despite a 1v1 in the final round -- book a spot in the second day of playoffs.
G2 Esports 2 - 1 Spacestation Gaming
Maps: Clubhouse (7-8), Bank (7-3), Villa (7-5)
G2: Fabian, Pengu, Kantoraketti, Goga, Joonas and Shas[O]Udas (Coach)
SSG: Redeemer, Rampy, Bosco, Chala, ThinkingNade, and Lycan (Coach)
After a tough Season 9 of the Pro League so far, G2 Esports would have been feeling good following their performance in the group stages. Pushed hard by mantisFPS, and then cleaning up Mock-it Esports with ease, they became one of three teams in the group stages not to drop a map. Spacestation Gaming, on the other hand, looked to finally be on their way to the stratosphere after a series of ups and downs over the past few months. Their whole team seemed to have come alive at the biggest Siege event in history, and were ready to take the fight to G2.
Map One: Clubhouse
An ill-advised rush attempt from Spacestation Gaming kicked things off, giving G2 Esports the nascent lead. On defense, and feeling confident, the Europeans pressed on and on, only losing the second round, to put themselves in pole position to win the map with a 5-1 lead.
As they have done so many times this season, though, G2 Esports began to let things slip. Two rounds went to SSG, but it seemed that G2 would finally close things out as they moved onto map point in the ninth round. However, the slide simply continued instead, as the North Americans took three rounds in a row to force overtime.
The first round of overtime saw SSG defend first -- the ideal scenario for them -- but uncharacteristic mistakes from Redeemer on Echo saw them concede match point yet again. Never one to be counted out, though, they took the next two rounds against all odds and in stunning fashion dealt G2 a strong kick in the teeth.
Map Two: Bank
Spacestation Gaming's fans were no doubt over the moon about their first map performance, and hopes of a repeat performance were kept well alive in the first four rounds. Soon, though, G2 Esports began to pull away, getting to 4-2 at the half, and 6-2 soon after. A round win from SSG reawakened hopes of a similar comeback as to Clubhouse, but with Bank having no such definitive bias towards the attackers, G2 Esports locked things out in an extremely narrow ace-clutch denial against Bosco to get to Villa.
Map Three: Villa
Villa was where SSG had taken down Immortals by a hair's breadth -- with Bosco, again, clutching out the 1v1 on the final round. G2 Esports started things off with a strong defensive win, but SSG kept pace with them, going to 2-2. However, G2 began to pull away once again, going up 4-2 at the stroke of halftime. Another round won by SSG would then be answered back by G2 Esports as the European titans inched closer to victory.
The pattern would repeat once more, with G2 pulling away from 4-3 to get to 6-4. On the brink of elimination, SSG would claw back a round hut eventually concede the next round, and G2 Esports would progress to the Semi-Finals.
Team Reciprocity 2 - 1 Evil Geniuses
Maps: Bank (2-7), Villa (7-5), Coastline (7-4)
Reciprocity: FoxA, MarkTheShark, LaXInG, Skys, Retro, and HOP3Z (Coach)
EG: Canadian, nvK, Necrox, geoometrics, Yung and Gotcha (Coach)
Evil Geniuses had been looking fantastic coming into this match -- a strong first place in the first half of Season 9 of the Pro League after a narrow defeat with Gotcha instead of Geoo at the US Nationals, and a 4-0 map differential in the groups made certain of that. That was not mentioning their defeats of hyper-aggressive teams like NORA-Rengo and LeStream Esports indicated their issues from the Season 8 Pro League Finals had been fixed.
Many had already begun to lament the fact that G2 vs EG was once again coming far too early in the bracket. After all, who wouldn't want a rematch of last year's Grand Final? What many were forgetting, though, was how good Team Reciprocity can be on LAN. Despite losing to Fnatic on Monday, they're a fearsome offline team -- and Skys had made it clear in his interview with SiegeGG that his confidence soars on LAN. Furthermore, Reciprocity had beaten EG on Clubhouse in the Pro League just under three weeks ago by a score of 7-5.
Map One: Bank
For the first map, those predicting a devastating victory for Evil Geniuses would have been feeling pretty confident. EG burst out of the blocks with a first-round win, and while Reciprocity answered back in the second round, Evil Geniuses went on a blinder. Winning round after round, hardly very many minutes elapsed before they had switched to Attack after going up 5-1. One more round won saw them secure a swift match point, and again Reciprocity would hit back before being silenced on Bank in the ninth round.
Map Two: Villa
With Villa being a defender-sided map, Evil Geniuses would have been very happy to start on Defense. Unfortunately for them, Team Reciprocity would exhibit none of the loss in morale that Fnatic had displayed in the first game and come out swinging, proving to be EG's equal as they tied the first half 3-3.
When it came to Reciprocity's defense, though, they were no longer equals. Instead, Reciprocity were happy to show off how Villa defenses should be done to their more experienced opponents. A 4-2 split on this half of the map meant that while EG would be get decently close to seven round wins, it would be Reciprocity getting that far instead.
Map Three: Coastline
At this point, it was anyone's game. Both Evil Geniuses and Reciprocity had already shown that they had the strength to beat each other, and the only question was who would come out on top on the Ibiza-based map. Once again, almost eerily similarly to Villa, Evil Geniuses got the preferred role to start off with -- Attack on the attacker-sided Coastline. Yet again, though, they were unable to capitalise and finished the first half 3-3.
This time, Reciprocity was even more unforgiving after the role swap. Two round wins later, they were startingly close to series point, and despite an incredibly valiant effort from EG captain Canadian were able to secure it on round 10. It looked all over on round 11 for EG when Reciprocity got the man advantage and defuser planted, but Canadian refused to go out without a fight. Unfortunately for his team, his exhortations were in vain. Retro secured a win over the team that had dropped him after the Season 3 Pro League championship win, and Team Reciprocity laid down the law to become the last North American team left standing.
That was your roundup for the first day of playoffs 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!