The APAC North season comes to an end today, with the two teams heading to the Jönköping Major already decided.
- 6:30PM JST -- CYCLOPS athlete gaming vs Fnatic
- 7:45PM JST -- Spear Gaming vs REJECT
- 9:00PM JST -- FAV gaming vs Talon Esports
- 10:15PM JST -- DWG KIA vs SANDBOX Gaming
Few fireworks are expected today across all matches. There is no chance of CAG or SANDBOX falling out of the top two and no real reason for any other team to push for SI Points, given that none will be finishing in the top 16 of the SI Points standings.
Spear Gaming taking on REJECT could offer some interest to viewers, as REJECT may be looking to consolidate third place in the league after having missed out on the Major last week. Spear themselves have little to play for, with no relegation threat any more.
FAV gaming, meanwhile, will be looking to close their season out with a bang. They play Talon Esports, but come in after taking down both DWG KIA and REJECT 8-7 in consecutive games and may have found a formula that can prove useful in the eventual SI 2023 qualifiers.
The day will end with the high-profile DWG KIA vs SANDBOX Gaming matchup, which was dubbed as a Major-decider match before the stage started. But a shockingly poor stage from DWG has seen this matchup fizzle out into a one-sided matchup in favour of the already-qualified SANDBOX.
The match of the day, then, might be the first match -- Fnatic taking on league leaders CAG.
Fnatic can challenge anyone... if they can attack
The Fnatic team is very much new, having undergone three changes just weeks before the start of Stage 3. Only one of those changes had been planned outright, but Fnatic have still managed to come away with good results.
They had a brief three-game win streak, where they took down REJECT, FAV, and Spear Gaming. SANDBOX put that streak to an end and showed that they had some work to do before they could challenge them, or even DWG KIA, who beat Fnatic 7-3.
Talon's 7-3 drubbing also raises questions regarding Fnatic's chances against CAG -- particularly their attacking ability.
So far, they have only won 13 out of 30 attacking rounds played in APAC North overall. The number falls to 1 out of 13 when looking at their attacking rounds against SANDBOX, DWG, and Talon combined.
Conversely, they were successful in 12 out of 17 attacking rounds in the three games they won.
Fnatic have the capability to beat CAG, but that will only happen if they have improved their attacks. Should they manage that, it will be proof that they have the potential to build upon and perhaps challenge for the final APAC berth at SI 2023.
CAG used to be much better, but Fnatic are close
Both teams have clashed five times in 2022:
- APAC North Stage 1 -- 7-2 to CAG on Bank
- Japan League Season 1 -- 7-2 to CAG on Skyscraper
- APAC North Stage 2 -- 8-6 to Fnatic on Border
- Japan League Season 2 -- 8-7 to CAG on Kafe
- Japan League Season 3 -- 8-7 to Fnatic on Oregon
Fnatic seem to be a solid match for CAG, perhaps somewhat surprisingly given their seven-point gap in APAC North. However, they lead CAG by four places and two points in the Japan League Season 3 and also led them by a whopping 11 points and five positions in Season 2.
Both of Fnatic's victories have come in overtime, but only the most recent one has seen their new roster clash against CAG's three-year unchanged roster.
Somehow, Fnatic are not a poor team against CAG and could certainly deny their opponents top spot in APAC North.
CAG do not have much but pride to play for
CAG can consolidate their position at the top of the APAC North table if they beat Fnatic in regulation time today.
They do not have much else to play for, however, as they qualified for the Major last week despite their overtime loss against SANDBOX.
Going top of the table will certainly be a statement from CAG after they missed out on the Berlin Major in Stage 2. It could also give them with a slight advantage in the group stage at the Major, as they might find themselves against more beatable opposition.
Of course, CAG may finish top of the table anyway if DWG KIA take SANDBOX down by a margin of one point more than the points CAG get against Fnatic.
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