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DarkZero vs TSM preview: TSM seek to beat DZ for the first time in over a year as DZ near SI 2023 qualification

Both teams will want to bounce back from a loss on the previous play day.

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Image: Ubisoft/Joao F.

Day seven of the North American League will take place tonight, as five more games will bring us two matches away from the end of the region's Stage 3.

Tuesday:

  • 2PM EDT -- Mirage vs Parabellum Esports
  • 3:30PM EDT -- Spacestation Gaming vs beastcoast
  • 5PM EDT -- XSET vs Astralis
  • 6:30PM EDT -- Oxygen Esports vs Soniqs
  • 8PM EDT -- DarkZero Esports vs TSM FTX

Wednesday:

  • 2PM EDT -- XSET vs Spacestation Gaming
  • 3:30PM EDT -- Oxygen Esports vs DarkZero Esports
  • 5PM EDT -- Soniqs vs Astralis
  • 6:30PM EDT -- TSM FTX vs Parabellum Esports
  • 8PM EDT -- beastcoast vs Mirage

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The first play day this week in the NAL will largely see match ups between teams fairly distant from each other in the standings. The largest disparity will be between league leaders Soniqs taking on a struggling Oxygen Esports, with a gap of 11 points between the two.

Things will stay largely the same on the second day, save for the XSET vs. Spacestation Gaming matchup, with both teams split by a mere point. By the time this match rolls around, though, XSET could have already qualified for the Six Invitational 2023 by beating Astralis and guaranteeing themselves at least eight place in the standings.

Despite the disparities, though, second to eighth place are only separated by five points and things could look a lot more different come Wednesday night. Mirage, for one, will be hoping to pass through a relatively easier week (on paper) with six points and effectively lock in a place at the upcoming Six Major -- an unbelievable thought at the end of Stage 2.

The match to watch this week, however, will be the clash between DarkZero Esports and TSM FTX.

Head-to-head

Both teams have met regularly since Season 10 of the Pro League, right after the arrival of TSM to the Rainbow Six Siege esports scene. Since then, DarkZero Esports have won 10 of the matches played, while TSM have won 7.

Although TSM are currently in second with one more point than their opposition, it’s worth noting that DarkZero have won every game against the current world champions since Jun. 2021. Here’s a look at their clashes since 2021:

  • NAL 2021 Stage 1: 7-4 to TSM on Kafe
  • NAL 2021 Stage 2: 7-0 to TSM on Kafe
  • NAL 2021 Stage 3: 8-6 to DZ on Oregon
  • Six Invitational 2022: 8-6, 5-7, 7-2 to DarkZero on Villa, Coastline, and Bank
  • NAL 2022 Stage 1: 7-4 to DZ on Theme Park
  • NAL 2022 Stage 2: 7-3 to DZ on Chalet

Despite TSM currently having a four-loss streak against DarkZero Esports, their last two losses have come admist TSM’s worst form since Oct. 2019. With the additions of Nick "Snake" Janis and Keegan "Gasher" Slovensky, TSM may well stop the trend today.

SI 2023 and Nov. Major qualification at play

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DarkZero Esports were looking set to secure Six Invitational qualification last week itself, on play day six, but were stunned as they lost 3-7 to Mirage.

This week, they can make it even if they lose to TSM, as Oxygen Esports will need to take at least one point against Soniqs in the directly preceding game. Should Oxygen do that, however, it is still fairly easy for DarkZero to qualify to SI 2023.

All they would need to do is ensure they match Oxygen's result against Soniqs when playing against TSM FTX -- or the next day against Oxygen themselves. With this, they will finish no lower than eighth place in NAL Stage 3, out of reach of ninth-placed Oyxgen.

By ensuring a minimum of eighth place, DZ will get an additional 115 SI Points on top of the 600 they have from winning the Charlotte Major and 225 from their fifth-place Stage 2 NAL finish. At 940 SI Points, a maximum of only 15 teams can overtake them in the SI Points standings.

While the qualification seems to be an inevitability, current world champions TSM will be eager to not let this happen on their watch -- if they can have a say in it.

A win will also be hugely important for TSM's chances at avoiding the NA qualifier for the SI 2023, as they effectively will need to win the November Major to do so. But to win the Major, they need to get to the Major. With just one point separating them and DZ, TSM will be eager to push for three points in this matchup to stay on track.

The situation is hardly different for DarkZero -- the NAL is extremely closely contested from top to bottom, so any points dropped could see them or TSM fail to qualify to the Major. It is a situation DarkZero will be very familiar with, having missed out on the Berlin Major by round difference, and they will be particularly eager to avoid suffering a second time.

New versus old-new

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Photo: Ubisoft/Kirill B.

Both DarkZero and TSM have made changes to their rosters for Stage 3. DarkZero's change was mentioned above, with Skys stepping in for Hyper after the first week of NAL play. Their situation differed significantly from TSM's, which is why they opted for an experienced player, even one that played for them before.

Conversely, TSM made massive changes in Stage 3 due to a massive slump in performance -- one that saw them fail to get any SI Points at all in Stage 1. To replace Emilio "Geometrics" Leynez and Brady "Chala" Davenport, the reigning world champions put their faith in the second-tier, signing Snake and Gasher.

Snake and TSM have been having a good time since the changes -- TSM find themselves in second place, while Snake is fourth-best in the NAL by SiegeGG Rating, third-best in Entry K-D, fifth-best in terms of KOST percentage, and with the joint-second most number of clutches.

As a result, he is by far the best player on TSM right now, even better than Jason "Beaulo" Doty.

His teammate Gasher does not have as exciting numbers owing to his supporting roles, as he has primarily played Thermite and Smoke so far in Stage 3. Despite that, he has taken four entry engagements and won three of them, even clutching once.

TSM are thus deservedly happy with their signings, but DarkZero will also be happy -- and relieved -- that they have hardly skipped a beat with Skys. Since his re-introduction to the team, they won three matches in a row and lost just one (though it was a 3-7 drubbing by Mirage).

Skys has also posted strong numbers and has been the second-best player by SiegeGG Rating for his team. While he does not feature in the top five for any of the leaderboards, like Snake, his role sees him take more of a back seat compared to the TSM player.

Both teams are happy with their signings, both teams are in good form after poor performances in Stage 2, and both teams will be pushing to overturn a poor play day six to draw closer to Major qualification. This has all the makings of a great match.

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