Banner image: Ubisoft / @ericananmalay
The Japan League Stage 1 has been full of surprises this season, with the region's former tier-two rosters upsetting the teams from the now-extinct APAC North.
Next week, we will know two of the three Japanese rosters that will compete at the BLAST Major Copenhagen.
Keep on reading to know more about what has happened in Japan so far!
A disappointing stage for Fnatic and FAV
The two former APAC North teams of FAV Gaming and Fnatic finished at the bottom of the standings of Group A and B, respectively. Both teams went winless, falling to the Open Qualifiers Playoffs, where they will fight for the chance of qualifying for the RJL Last Chance Qualifiers.
FAV Gaming's new roster, which includes the former Nora-Rengo player Yuta "ReyCyil" Inoue, could only obtain one point in the team's overtime loss against Crest Gaming Lst. The remaining two matches ended in 2-7 losses, as they lost to NORTHEPTION and SCARZ.
Meanwhile, all of Fnatic's games ended in regulation losses, as they fell to CAG, Varrel, and IGZIST, in what was a very deceiving start for the squad led by Etienne "Mag" Rousseau.
Combining their results with CAG's performance, the former APAC North rosters have only won two maps out of 11 played in the Japan League 2023 Stage 1 -- both of them won by the Cyclops.
Cyclops out of RJL Deciders
With FAV Gaming and Fnatic finishing at the bottom of their groups, the only former APAC North roster in the Japan League Stage 1 final bracket was CYCLOPS athlete gaming.
Following the team's loss against IGZIST in the second game-day of the group stage, the Japanese roster couldn't top the standings of Group B and consequently was pushed to the quarter-finals of the RJL Deciders.
From there, it was do-or-die for the Six Invitational 2023-bound as they faced NORTHEPTION in the first match of the bracket.
A win for CAG would move them to the semi-finals, where they would face Takashi "Arcully" Ono's former teammates in Crest Gaming Lst. Meanwhile, a loss would send the Cyclops to the match for fifth place, pushing the Japanese to the RJL Last Chance Qualifiers.
Against all the odds, NORTHEPTION defeated the former APAC North roster, winning comfortably against CAG by 2-0 -- 7-3 on Bank and 7-1 on Oregon.
Nina was NORTHEPTION's best player, obtaining 25 kills throughout the series. His best performance came on Oregon, where he got 16 kills and averaged a KPR of 2.00.
CAG's next opponent will be Varrel, who lost to SCARZ by 2-1 in the second quarter-final match of the day. The winner will directly move to the RJL Last Chance Qualifiers, while the loser will join Fnatic and FAV Gaming in the Japan Open 2023 Stage 1.
Two new Major debuts for Japan
In Rainbow Six Siege's esports history, only three Japanese teams made it to Major competitions.
In 2018, eiNs made its international debut at the Six Invitational 2018. Six months later, Nora-Rengo, who had previously competed at the PL Season 7 Finals in Atlantic City, became the second Japanese team to feature at a Major event as they qualified for the Six Paris Major.
The last Major debut for a Japanese roster came in 2019, as CYCLOPS athlete gaming made its first international appearance at the Six Raleigh Major.
Despite not being a Major debut, it's worth mentioning Father's Back double international appearance in 2019 at the DreamHack Valencia and the DreamHack Montreal.
Three years and almost eight months later after CAG's international debut in Raleigh, Japan is set to send not one but two Major debutants.
In three days, the top seedings of Group A and Group B, Crest Gaming Lst and IGZIST, will compete against NORTHEPTION and SCARZ, respectively.
The winners will qualify for the BLAST Major Copenhagen and will only play for seeding in the Japan League Stage 1 grand finals. Meanwhile, the losers will drop to the RJL Last Chance Qualifiers.
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