Image: Ubisoft/Michal Konkol
We’re now halfway through Stage 3 of the APAC North Division. Here’s a rundown on what to expect this week:
- 6:30PM JST -- REJECT vs DWG KIA
- 7:45PM JST -- Talon Esports vs SANDBOX Gaming
- 9:00PM JST -- Fnatic vs Spear Gaming
- 10:15PM JST -- FAV gaming vs CYCLOPS athlete gaming
This week, in the APAC League’s lone play day (APAC South is on a break), there will be two notable national derbies as CAG face FAV and SANDBOX play Talon.
The former game should be a blowout -- while CAG lead the league, FAV have just a single point to their name in last place.
SBXG vs Talon, meanwhile, could be a good game as Talon upset their Korean brethren last stage to net one of only two regulation time wins. While SANDBOX are ahead of Talon in the table, they have only played Spear Gaming, REJECT, and FAV, while Talon faced CAG, DWG KIA, and Spear, a much harder lineup of teams.
As for Spear, they face Fnatic this week as Etienne "Mag" Rousseau's team looks to take second place in the league. Even if that does not last until the end of the season, that would be the organization’s best placement in years.
Finally, the match of the week will be the very first game of the day between DWG and REJECT. DWG sit in third place at the moment and look set to be in a race against SANDBOX for a Major qualification position while REJECT has already beaten SANDBOX and are the only team to have taken a point from CYCLOPS meaning they could be a surprise in the making.
With this being REJECT’s first year in the APAC League and with both teams from different countries and different national leagues, REJECT and DWG have only ever met twice before:
- Stage 1 - 7-4 to DWG on Skyscraper
- Stage 2 - 7-3 on DWG on Chalet
Both of these wins saw two standout individual performances from the Koreans -- on Skyscraper, Heo "CATsang" Se-woong hit a 1.93 SiegeGG Rating with 17 kills to four deaths, while Yoo "yass" Sang-hoon got 13 kills to six deaths to reach a 1.51 Rating on Chalet.
While these head-to-heads don’t look great, REJECT have recent form on their side. Not only did they start their Stage 3 with a 7-5 win over SANDBOX, they also nabbed a point off CAG last week and outright beat them in the Japan League.
The main talking point for this match -- and every DWG match leading up to the final play day game against SANDBOX -- will be how little room DWG have for mistakes.
This comes as a result of their regulation-time loss to CAG two weeks ago, which effectively marked a six-point swing against them and in favour of a direct Major qualification rival. With a game against SANDBOX to come on that final APAC North play day, a team DWG have lost to in Stage 1 and Stage 2, the situation is particularly precarious for them now.
REJECT are not going to be pushovers, even if they are not one of the three main candidates for the two November Major berths. As mentioned, they have already secured four points out of a possible six against two of these favourite teams and DWG are not guaranteed to have an easy time, even with yass having returned last week.
While APAC North is viewed as a league with a "big three" -- DWG, SANDBOX, and CAG -- the chance of an upset run is always on the cards. They only trail both SANDBOX and DWG by two points, despite being in fifth place, and have already taken a win against the former.
On paper, their individual player statistics so far in Stage 3 have not been much worse than DWG KIA's player statistics. Their main task in today's match will be to keep Jang "RIN" Byeong-uk under wraps, with the Korean enjoying a good time on the recently-buffed Ash R4C. They will also have to keep an eye out for yass, however, as his strength is also well known.
Perhaps REJECT do not make it to the Major, but a win against DWG is certainly very possible. They still have three play day after today to pick up further form and race off to the November Major, though, and beating DWG will be the first step towards that.
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