The Pacific Championship is back after a month long off-season. Eight teams from the Asia-Pacific region have once again made their way to Blizzard's eStadium in Taipei, Taiwan, for the event, six returning from the inaugural season and two joining the tournament through the Season 2 qualifier.
The lengthy regular season is made up of two round robins played out in best-of-five matches. The top four teams from the regular season qualify for the single elimination playoffs, while the bottom two teams risk losing their place in the next season of the Pacific Championship, as they will have to play in a promotion and relegation tournament. The grind of the regular season is not without its reward, as playoffs teams earn the bulk of the 8,300,000 TWD ($275,000~ USD) prize-pool.
The home and away format returns, with home teams benefiting from a map pick advantage, selecting maps one, three and five as well as who attacks or defends first on their selected maps.
Roster Changes and New Teams
Reigning champions Flash Wolves and fifth place team Machi Esports have returned to the tournament without making any roster changes. Althought they are just back from a disappointing venture to Santa Monica to compete in the World Cup qualifiers, Flash Wolves still enter the tournament as favourites; the defending champions with a 25-3 record last season, only dropping two maps in the playoffs. Fellow Taiwanese team Machi enter the tournament with fewer expectations, finishing last season with an even 14-14 record. The roster changes made by MEGA Thunder, as well as Ardeont and Libalent Supreme replacing the bottom two teams from last season, could well result in Machi dropping to the lower levels of the Pacific Championship. However, the team did have flashes of brilliance last season, defeating the Wolves in a close 3-2 bout.
Blank Esports and ahq eSports Club, the second and third seeds from last season respectively, have both made roster changes to their starting line-ups ahead of Season 2. Twin brothers c0wman and EDIBOSS have both departed from ahq's roster due to the need to attend military services, with the latter announcing his retirement. The loss of c0wman is particularly worrying for the team who already looked to be a step behind Blank and Flash Wolves last season, as ahq greatly benefited from his flexibility. His replacement, Rapid, has little experience in high level official play but is known for his prowess on Tracer. Blank Esports changes will not be seen in action until week 2. Whilst the Australians sat fairly comfortably in the second seed last season, they will be hoping that a roster mix-up will propel them back into the top spot.
Hong Kong Attitude have replaced their DPS player K4 with Moowee, a member of the 2017 Hong Kong World Cup squad and a former member of the now disbanded Talon Esports. Despite being only a single seed away from playoffs last season, Hong Kong Attitude failed to ever significantly challenge the top three teams. K4 was arguably the team's best player last season, leaving a difficult void for Moowee and HKA to fill.
MEGA Thunder round out the teams returning from last season. Previously playing under Fireball, the Thai team struggled to utilise their talent, falling to the sixth seed with a 10-18 record. However, the roster has undergone significant changes since being acquired by MEGA Esport, bringing in Graceful, Elkiea and Moffitt from the west to round out an eight man roster. With their new players in tow, under the watchful eye of coach PYYYOUR, the Thunder look to be a potential playoff team this season.
New teams Ardeont and Libalent Supreme have replaced DeToNator.Gold and SunSister this season after finishing in the top two of the Season 2 qualifiers. Ardeont boast a Korean roster with APEX experience, retaining three players from Mighty AOD, while Libalent have a talented Japanese squad that includes two players from the countries' World Cup team. Together the newcomers will provide the Pacific Championship with a significant boost of talent.
Week 1 Schedule
The match-up between ahq and Libalent this week should be a particularly interesting to watch as it will act as a measure of the new Japanese team's skill level. Ardeont vs MEGA Thunder and Flash Wolves vs ahq eSports Club are also some of this week's best matches.
Friday - August 18th
- 01:00 PDT /10:00 CEST / 16:00 CST - Mega Thunder vs. Machi Esports
- 03:00 PDT /12:00 CEST / 18:00 CST - Hong Kong Attitude vs. Ardeont
- 05:00 PDT /14:00 CEST / 20:00 CST - ahq eSports Club vs. Libalent Supreme
Saturday - August 19th
- 01:00 PDT /10:00 CEST / 16:00 CST - Machi Esports vs. ahq eSports Club
- 03:00 PDT /12:00 CEST / 18:00 CST - Hong Kong Attitidue vs. Mega Thunder
- 05:00 PDT /14:00 CEST / 20:00 CST - Libalent Supreme vs. Ardeont
Sunday - August 20th
- 01:00 PDT /10:00 CEST / 16:00 CST - Hong Kong Attitude vs. Libalent Supreme
- 03:00 PDT /12:00 CEST / 18:00 CST - Ardeont vs. MEGA Thunder
- 05:00 PDT /14:00 CEST / 20:00 CST - Flash Wolves vs. ahq eSports Club