Dire Wolves today secured qualification to the Six Invitational 2023 through an impressive set of wins in the APAC Closed Qualifier.
The team, which had debuted internationally at the Six Charlotte Major in May 2022 had also appeared at the Jönköping Major in Nov. 2022, but will play at the Six Invitational for the first time next month.
Their achievement is made even more impressive given the fact that they went through a heavy rebuild in the past few weeks, having benched their IGL Hou "Ed" Tsung-cheng and having unexpectedly and suddenly been faced with a wantaway Wu "Reeps96" Weichen. Ed subsequently retired from competitive play.
Dire Wolves only unveiled their replacements for the two outgoing players today, hours before the start of the second day of the SI 2023 Closed Qualifier in APAC. In came their former player Chen "Ray" Rui-wei, who had spent five months away from this level of play, and Huang "HARAM3E" Chih-hang returned from the bench to a core position.
HARAM3E, too, had been somewhat out of practice after having been benched for Reeps96 before the start of Stage 3. However, he had temporarily filled for Ed during scrimmages in the lead-up to the Jönköping Major due to his IGL's National Service obligations.
Nevertheless, HARAM3E and Ray dusted off any cobwebs and helped their team to a 2-1 comeback against Oceanic Nationals challengers Team Bliss. This drew them up against SANDBOX Gaming, who had also attended the Major in Nov. 2022.
Dire Wolves had finished in 19th place in the Global SI Points standings, while SANDBOX had finished in 18th. Both had thus narrowly missed out on becoming one of the top 16 teams directly invited to the Invitational.
Despite lengthy delays to the start of their match, owing partly due to a bug within the map veto system, Dire Wolves kicked off the series with a bang and took Border 7-4.
Villa was a much closer fight, though, despite it being Dire Wolves' pick. While the Taiwanese team started well on attack with two wins, SANDBOX pegged them back to take the first half 4-2. But Dire Wolves refused to roll over and mounted a comeback, forcing overtime.
In overtime, SANDBOX looked spent and capitulated. Starting on the attack, the pressure fell on them to defend SI-point and they could not live up to it on their own defence. As such, Dire Wolves took the map 8-6 and the series 2-0, booking their place at the Six Invitational 2023.
Catch the Six Invitational 2023 from Feb. 7 to 19, with crowds allowed from Feb. 17 to 19 for the first time in three years.
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