Image: Ubisoft/Joao Ferreira
Between Jan. 13 and Jan. 15, 11 APAC rosters faced off in what was their final chance to qualify for the Six Invitational 2023. Here is what happened.
On Friday, the Six Jönköping Major participants FURY faced the South Asia Nationals 2022 champions Take Charge Esports, previously known as Monkey Hunters.
After two overtimes, the Thai squad won both maps by 8-6. The result saw FURY advance to the next round, as they would face Team Bliss on Saturday.
Saturday's games determined who would face SANDBOX Gaming and Dire Wolves on Sunday for a chance to compete in the final match of the qualifier.
APAC North's side of the bracket kicked off with a big upset from NORTHEPTION, who defeated the Japan League 2022 champions SCARZ.
SCARZ came to the qualifier after an immaculate year where they earned more than $100,000 in prize money. The Japanese squad had won every match against Six Invitational 2023-bound CYCLOPS athlete gaming during the Japan League 2022. However, it was NORTHEPTION who put SCARZ's reign of terror to an end this weekend, after 7-3, 7-4 victories on Oregon and Kafe.
Meanwhile, Fnatic survived against the South Korean side Beyond Stratos Gaming after an overtime victory on Bank (8-6), a 5-7 loss on Clubhouse, and a 7-2 victory on Villa. Later on, the orange brand defeated NORTHEPTION by 2-0 in a very one-sided series, where Yuuta "Tyopi" Yanagi got a SiegeGG Rating of 1.63.
Saturday was a great day for any OCN fan, as both Knights and Team Bliss advanced to the final phase of the APAC South bracket. While Knights obtained an easy victory against Champion due to the Thai squad forfeiting the game, Team Bliss defeated the Six Jönköping Major participants FURY.
However, in another upset, the APAC South roster Knights fell to their regional opponents Team Bliss in a match that was heavily impacted by Broden "Juicy" Dean's disconnection due to a power outage.
The team's coach and former Invictus Gaming player, Glen "Lunarmetal" Suryasaputra, had to step in for the Australian player. The Singaporean coach was understandably the worst-rated player on Knights with a SiegeGG Rating of 0.57, this being his first appearance as a player since Invictus Gaming's loss against CYCLOPS athlete gaming in Jan. 2022.
Brendan "Brendo" Sage and former Invictus Gaming player Jack "Jigsaw" Gilles were the best players in the game with SiegeGG Ratings of 1.53 and 1.42.
From 11 teams in the qualifier, only four were remaining on the final day. It was the only day of competition for the two invited teams, SANDBOX Gaming and Dire Wolves, who had earned a better place in the bracket after finishing in 18th and 19th place of the Global Standings.
SANDBOX Gaming faced Fnatic in the first game of the day. It was a very hard-fought win for the South Koreans, who were pushed to overtime twice by the Japanese roster who came back from two 5-1 halves. On Kafe, Fnatic tied the series despite Hwang "Arukaze" Hyeon-jin's clutch in the first overtime round.
Later on, on Bank, the Japanese ran out of luck, as Kim "EnvyTaylor" Seong-soo completed a 1v3 ace clutch on round six that put the South Koreans 5-1 ahead. It was a crucial round, as the map eventually ended in an 8-6 victory for SANDBOX Gaming, which awarded them a spot in the qualifier's grand-final.
Down in the APAC South bracket, Dire Wolves defeated Team Bliss despite losing the first map by a 4-7 margin on Bank. The Taiwanese squad competed with their brand-new signing -- returning player Chen "Ray" Rui-wei -- and with their former substitute, Huang "HARAM3E" Chih-hang. These changes were introduced after Wu "Reeps96" Weichen's sudden departure and Hou "Ed" Tsung-cheng's benching and retirement.
Despite the difficult situation, the Taiwanese team completed the comeback after two comfortable victories on Skyscraper and Oregon. Yu-Siang "Pikan" Lin was the best-rated player in the game with a SiegeGG Rating of 1.32 and two clutches.
Finally, Dire Wolves and SANDBOX Gaming met in the first and only match between APAC South and APAC North in the qualifier.
Despite the result, the match was very close with five clutches in just two maps. Two of them came in rounds 12 and 13 of Villa, as Ray forced the overtime after surviving in a 1v1 situation against SANDBOX Gaming's recent signing, Park "Mephi" Ju-wan. The second came a few minutes later ,when Hong-Ting "Souffle" Cai put Dire Wolves ahead with a 1v2 clutch.
Dire Wolves' 2-0 win over SANDBOX Gaming qualified the team for the Six Invitational 2023, where they will join Elevate and CYCLOPS athlete gaming as the only three APAC sides in Montreal, Canada.
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