The conclusion of the Jönköping Major two weeks ago effectively marked the end of the 2022 season for 16 of the teams, but the qualifiers for the Six Invitational 2023 soon began to keep the action going.
APAC North kicked things off in APAC last week, while APAC South joined in this weekend starting from Dec. 10. Two of 22 teams from the all-BO1 Phase One moved onto join six teams that had already qualified directly to Phase Two thanks to their Operation League, Oceanic Nationals, and South Asia Nationals results.
This second phase, played on Dec. 11, started with four BO1 quarter-finals. The format switched to a BO3 from the semi-finals onwards, with the semi-finals themselves deciding the two teams that will proceed to the combined APAC Closed Qualifier on Jan. 14 and 15.
Here's how things played out.
The first phase featured FURY as the biggest name present, with the Thai team recently having attended the Jönköping Major. Their closest rivals were SEAS Demons, the former Tyde roster that had replaced Nathaniel "naate" Williams, Tex "Tex" Thompson, and Jeremy "HysteRiX" Tan with former Dire Wolves player Chen "Ray" Rui-wei, Pakistani player "Vexiion", and Champion player "KritJ". HysteRiX, however, was coaching the team.
Also competing were Taiwanese hotshots Team Bruh, Operation League team VARIANX, and experienced South Asian side KIRA E-Sports.
Disappointingly, KIRA were eliminated in the very first round they encountered opposition, while Team Bruh ended VARIANX's run in the third round. However, despite a strong challenge posted to SEAS Demons, they could not stop the far more experienced mixed-Asian team from securing a place in Phase Two with an 8-6 win.
Joining them in Phase Two were FURY, who only played two actual games after receiving a first-round bye and a second-round forfeit victory. While South Asian side Never Diamonds pushed them to Round 12, the APAC South team eventually joined their counterparts in Phase Two.
These two teams then joined Knights and Ludavica from Oceania, Shaheens and MercenarieZ from South Asia, and Gaimin Gladiators and Obsession from SEA.
The all-BO1 quarter-finals sprang no surprises, with each of the four favourites moving onto the BO3 semi-finals.
The first semi-final, too, was not too surprising. A far more practiced and experienced Knights took SEAS Demons down in 7-4 and 7-2 scorelines on Border and Kafe, securing their place in the APAC Closed Qualifier next week.
Meanwhile, the other semi-final Gaimin Gladiators and FURY saw a far closer and more drawn-out match, even though FURY had Chayapat "HealthcareOG" Boonyamanop playing in Pasatron "Darkk" Boonrubasb's place after the latter had a school examination.
The Gladiators, the Berlin Major attendees, took the early lead with a dominant 7-3 win on Oregon against FURY, the Jönköping Major attendees, and looked to continue their momentum onto the second map of Clubhouse.
Clubhouse featured a liberal use of the newly-released operator, Solis, though defenses proved tough for both teams. The Gladiators took a 3-3 attacking half, but failed to convert it to match point, stalling out after winning their first two defenses and going up 5-3. FURY responded with four attacking wins in a row, pushing things to Skyscraper.
However, the game was about to come to a short end after a 5-0 defensive lead gave FURY massive amounts of room to maneuver. The subsequent five match points were too much for the Gladiators to overcome and their SI 2023 hopes ended with a 2-7 loss.
Knights proved the superior APAC South team in the grand-final match, though, securing top seed from APAC South for the combined APAC Closed Qualifier.
Knights and FURY will join Fnatic and Team Northeption in the combined APAC Closed Qualifier on Jan. 14 and 15.
SANDBOX Gaming and Dire Wolves await these four Open Qualifier teams there, with Dire Wolves undoubtedly the favourites after signing Wu "Reeps96" Weichen in Stage 3 and also having a decent showing at the recent Jönköping Major.
This Closed Qualifier will feature a double-elimination format, with all matches BO3 until the grand-final, which will be a BO5.
Only one team will qualify for SI 2023 from the Closed Qualifier, joining CYCLOPS athlete gaming and Elevate as the third and final APAC team there.
SiegeGG is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more about how readers support SiegeGG.