Back in early December the NGE Winter Premiere marathon began. Qualifiers were played over four nights, with large open brackets being played each day. The winner of each day qualified for the main event, while the remaining four spots were determined by a points system based on final placing. The resulting eight teams were invited to the main event which started with a single round robin group played over two weeks, known as Group Play Phase 1.
Originally Fnatic and Cloud9 had qualified but both dropped reportedly in favour of an invitation to APEX Season 2. The two highest placing teams outside the top eight were offered the vacant spots. FaZe Clan claimed the first spot, while Citizen7 took the second spot after NRG declined.
The Detroit Renegades started the first round of group matches off with a bang, dismissing FaZe in two straight maps. A great debut for the newly acquired team that took full advantage of FaZe’s continuous struggle to find consistent form online.
Citizen 7 got their chance after Fnatic and Cloud9 dropped out, but were swept aside 2-0 in what looked like a mismatch against Luminsoity, even without the newly signed Kryw.
compLexity and Kungarna then gave us the game of the day with the much awaited Roadhog rematch of harbleu versus ConnorJ. It was an absolute slugfest that went all the way to the final map… twice! In a game that had gone right down to the wire on the final map, Hollywood, the server crashed just as Kungarna were on the verge of potentially winning the series. The map was replayed and compLexity were able to get the better of it.
In the final fixture of the opening day Immortals took on Team Liquid in another game that would require all three maps. After a hard-fought series, the final King’s Row attack phase from Immortals saw Lucio main Verbo opening up on Junkrat to set a blistering time. This gave his team a large time lead going into their defence. Immortals converted this advantage to take the series and continue their solid run in the tournament.
Citizen7 once again struggled to keep up with the competition in a performance characterised by miscoordination and several overextensions from Sypeh. It was another loss for the newest kids on the block. The Detroit Renegades claimed their second victory of the Group Play Phase 1 comfortably.
A much closer match followed as two of the best performing teams from MLG Vegas faced off with compLexity taking on FaZe. The first two maps were back and forth with Nepal requiring all five rounds and Watchpoint: Gibraltar requiring two attacks each. It all came down to King’s Row. FaZe pulled off some clever early Sombra mind games and followed with consistent ult combos that delivered a comfortable victory on the final map.
Still using Ube instead of Kryw Luminosity took on Immortals. It was a scrappy game throughout but it made for an entertaining watch. Again this game went all the way, only to be decided by the cruel mistress that is the Temple of Anubis. A clutch second point capture courtesy of GrimReality followed by some oddly successful teleporter play from Verbo on defence allowed Immortals to claim their second victory in groups.
To close off Day 2 we saw Team Liquid continue to struggle through this tank filled tournament falling 2-0 against Kungarna. Miscommunications and several blunt attacks made it easy for the up and coming Kungarna, who claimed their first victory in Group Play Phase 1. Thankfully the servers withstood the full three maps this time.
The final day of the first half of Group Play Phase 1 kicked off with the Detroit Renegades taking a swift victory over compLexity. Two rounds of poor attacks left compLexity struggling in this series with notably quiet performances from their star player harbleu. This allowed the Detroit Renegades to edge past them on Watchpoint: Gibraltar before storming ahead on King’s Row to take the map and the series with time to spare.
Citizen 7 took on Immortals next. Despite some heroic play from Protoges, Immortals had too much quality. Taking Nepal in three straight rounds followed by another clinical display on King’s Row. Citizen 7 have seemed unable to recreate their Open Play form in these latter stages of the tournament so far and have looked outclassed on all fronts.
When FaZe took on Team Liquid it was to open with a stomp on Nepal; Team Liquid firing on all cylinders as they took a comfortable 3-0 map win. With his teammates struggling to provide the level of support he is used to, ShaDowBurn got no value out of his Nano-blades throughout. Team Liquid took full advantage of this disconnect, focusing down the Russian Genji to claim a crucial 2-0 victory.
Luminosity were to play twice back to back tonight and started well, taking Hollywood convincingly thanks to some Sombra play from EISSFELDT. Watchpoint: Gibraltar proved much more fruitful for Kungarna who were able to tie the series. King’s Row was a one-sided affair however, with Kungarna looking overly reliant on ConnorJ who struggled to find the openings he so often had in the past.
Luminosity’s success was restricted to one fixture though, as they found themselves up against a prolific Detroit Renegades side next. The games were close, but despite some questionable play from juv3nile at times Renegades would take another 2-0 victory. Leaving them not just unbeaten in this first half of the Group Play but yet to drop a map.
After the third day of fixtures the standings currently look like this:
- Detroit Renegades (4-0) - (8-0)
- Immortals (3-0) - (6-2)
- Luminosity (2-2) - (5-5)
- Kungarna (1-2) - (4-4)
- Team Liquid(1-2) - (3-4)
- compLexity (1-2) - (3-5)
- FaZe (1-2) - (2-5)
- Citizen7 (0-3) - (0-6)
The more established teams have struggled in this opening round of group play with compLexity, FaZe Clan and Luminosity off to a tough start. These teams all lost to the recently sponsored Detroit Renegades who have raced to the top of the leader board, winning every map they have played and already securing themselves a place in the next phase Group Play.
Immortals have all but achieved the same, also going unbeaten. While on the flipside Citizen7 have failed to make an impact and will most likely be eliminated next week. For all the teams in between the competition is wide open. Only the worst team out of the current third to seventh place teams will be eliminated but the games have provided inconsistent results making it hard to foresee who will be knocked out.
With places in Group Play Phase 2 at stake and a $100,000 prize pool at the end, we are sure for a nail baiting climax to Group Play Phase 1. On the 10th – 12th January the final rounds of fixtures will be played and the two bottom teams will be eliminated. The remaining six will enter the snappily name named Group Play Phase 2 where another round robin will commence on the 17th – 19th January after which the final four teams will emerge to battle it out at the live finals at the end of the month.