While we wait for the finale of season 9 in Milan, the games are getting warmer and the results are as close as ever in almost all the matches. Seven games of the eleven played in NA, EU and LATAM reached the full limit of twelve rounds, which means that even with the sixth selection function disabled, we saw some of the longest playing days of this week.
North America – A new face on the scene
The key clash this week saw DarkZero Esports play Team Reciprocity in an appropriate opening for the middle season, as we saw the player returning from Brandon. "BC"Carr shows exactly why he is so famous in the North America region.
However, despite achieving a 1.83KD, this was not enough for DarkZero to tip the balance in their favor as it was clear that none of the teams was going to let this match away from them. In the end, with 3-3 divisions in both halves, the game ended in a draw, a result that definitely helps DarkZero's title hopes, but it could have been much better.
While they were sitting in third place as they did at the beginning of the week, a draw against the classified team of DarkZero Esports now means that Team Reciprocity has lagged behind DZ in the "head-to-head round difference", which It's 13- 11. If DZ and Reciprocity end the season taking advantage of the points, as is a real possibility, DarkZero will reach the Milan Finals due to their only extra round won in the first half of the season.
After this came a very interesting showdown between Rise Nation and Spacestation Gaming; Two teams are debuting new changes in their rosters, with both teams probably confident to get a win. The confidence of Spacestation arose from its recent appearance in Six Invitational, in which they reached the playoffs and were the only team that took a map to the eventual champions, G2 Esports, while Rise Nation must have hoped to repeat their victory by 7-1 on SSG six weeks ago.
Despite a close confrontation, SSG emerged victorious, and by some margin. With more than two KD, Rampy can be greatly appreciated for this result; however, the most important story is probably on the other team. The new Rise pads by Giuliano "Krazy" Solon and Tomasz "Acid" Adamczyk are firmly located at the bottom of the team player statistics with a rating of 0.71 and 0.84 between operator operators such as Jager and Nomad, which demonstrates that new entries for the team are possibly struggling to fit the list so far.
While the first day of play yielded a series of new stories, probably the biggest change we saw was the introduction of the new voice of the Pro League: Rob "Flynn" Flynn, who intervened to replace Devin "mzo" Becker is of medical leave for this half of season 9. This is the first real change in the alignment of the English language cast in over a year since Mzo came aboard to replace Sean "BloodBath" Rosenbaum for the Six Invitational 2018, and it seems that if Flynn has fitted well with the team with a seemingly positive reception at all times. The SiegeGG staff wants the best and hopes that it will recover soon.
Latin America – Do the black dragons return to form?
Then came the LATAM region with two key clashes between traditional "big four" teams. FaZe Clan faced Ninjas in pajamas, while Team Liquid confronted the Immortals. Continuing the trend observed in North America, came more than twelve round games, with these two games at a distance and only one round separating the teams from each game.
In the first confrontation between FaZe and NiP, a rematch of the Six Invitational opening game that FaZe had won in the dominant fashion, NiP took a real bite in their game, showing that their new signing of Arthur "Ar7hur" Schubert as coach would certainly help them. I was fine
In the end, the reliable fragmentation of Leonardo "Astro" Luis, as well as the new signing of FaZe by Ronaldo "ion" Osawa, led them to a much-needed victory. While they are still four points behind the leaders of the league, this victory has kept them in contention for a place in the Pro League Finals for what would be their eighth largest consecutive tournament.
The second featured game was between the only LATAM team that managed to exit the group stage in the Six Invitational, Team Liquid, and a list that seems to be a team "only online" in Immortals. Although the Immortals made no real changes during the middle of the season and the team remains the only one in Latin America without a coach, Liquid recently left his Guilherme leader in the game. "gohan"Alf for his own former player Paulo"psk1"Augusto, making this top-two clash an even more important game for the list.
In a situation very similar to that of Reciprocity vs. DarkZero, the final draw of this game is essentially a net victory for the Immortals after they won in their first match, 7-5, which means they keep head to head. Head to round advantage and stay in the first position. This result was almost without help thanks to the former Liquid player of José "Bullet1"Victor, who certainly took revenge on his old team by accumulating a huge 3.0 KD in the otherwise tight game.
While those were the big name games, there was also an interesting result between the new list of revitalized Black Dragons and the list of ReD DevilS in fourth place. Black dragons, who had recently won two new players in Pedro "pzd"Dutra and João"muringa"Deam, and a new coach in Henrique"sSeiiya"Sanchez, took this game by assault when they knocked down the RDS in one of the most dominant games in the recent history of the Pro League.
While ReD DevilS has had a mixed So far, in the Pro League, statistics like these are simply unknown in the high levels of competitive play, when even the main Montagne is achieving a 3.0 KD, it is clear that they are playing at another level compared to their opponents
While we have to wait until his game next week against Team Liquid to see if he can maintain this performance, this shows the immediate and drastic impact that his new additions have made to the team, which could possibly turn them into LAN contenders if it is repeated next week.
Europe – Is the secret at the top?
The first half of season 9 was marked by a complete turmoil in the European region: the G2 Esports closer to the drop zone than at a LAN point, the Team Secret at the bottom and the Team Empire shooting from the League Challenger undefeated in the professional league. Now, when we enter the second half of season 9, and with surprisingly few changes on the list, almost every team was challenged to return to their "usual" positions or keep their first half standing.
This dynamic showed very clearly in the first game where the world champions back to back tried to return to the top of the European Union League, while LeStream was willing to preserve its access point to the LAN. Although many people predicted a G2 victory for obvious reasons, LeStream took an early lead and was incredibly close to taking the match and, despite Alphama's valiant attempts at the end, they were forced into a draw at Villa.
While it is clear that both teams had wanted more of this game, LeStream will be happy enough with this result, as it took two points off the G2, severely hampering their way to the top. LeStream could now lose a game and move on. G2 no matter how well you play G2.
Elsewhere in Europe, we saw sure wins from the Secret Team and the Empire Team, as well as a seemingly accidental selection of Karzheka's Tachanka, which went as well as anyone could expect.
In general, this week only set the race in Europe, with the league becoming a four-way fight for second place, and a three-way fight to escape the relegation zone. This is perhaps the biggest competition that Europe has seen for years, however, as always, there is an almost invincible list in the first place, except in a surprising change of pace, it is not G2 Esports but Team Team.
Asia-Pacific – Giants toppled
During the whole of Year 3, each sub-region had a very clear leader: Fnatic in ANZ, NORA-Rengo in Japan, Aerowolf in SEA and mantisFPS in South Korea. However, that could be about to change. While mantisFPS still stand firm, and even were crowned national champions of Korea this week, the other three teams failed to get a victory this week, which puts their regional leadership in doubt.
First came Fnatic in his debut game with his new selection of Ryan "EspecaAusden, who was playing instead of Acez. This game started horribly, however, they managed to recover both maps to tie 6-6 against Oddity Esports. This puts Fnatic behind 0RGL3SS within the region, although they are still in an excellent place to qualify for the APAC LAN of season 9 with a seven-point advantage over the team ranked third.
Then came NORA-Rengo in his first Pro League game without his star player Yudai "Wokka"Ichise, who retired from the competitive game after the Six Invitational 2019. This was even worse for NORA than for Fnatic, as they lost both maps against the CYCLOPS athletes game in crushing 2-7 losses.
While they remain in the first position in the region, with CAG, FAV Gaming and Sengoku Gaming Extasy within two points of them, it is now possible to think that the team that finished third in the Six Invitational may not be able to achieve it. The LAN of APAC, and much less to the End of Season 9.
Finally, we had Aerowolf that has been in constant decline over the last year, and now with their 2-7 and 3-7 losses against Scrypt E-Sports this week, it is very likely that they will not do the APAC LAN at all. Both Scrypt and Xavier Esports have been better than Aerowolf recently in a major upheaval in the region, a pattern we have been seeing throughout the APAC region.
And so is my summary of the first week in the second half of season 9, as we saw that competition increased and adjusted in all four regions. Watch SiegeGG for more updates and results from the Pro League as we approach the Finals of season 9 in Milan.