Six weeks of regular season play have finally come to an end in the Pacific Championship. As Ardeont, Flash Wolves, Hong Kong Attitude and Blank Esports prepare for the first round of playoffs, starting on the 6th of October, let's take a look at how the season's two round robins concluded.
Ardeont cap off an undefeated run
The Koreans didn't let an intimidating Week 6 schedule faze them, as they took down playoff teams ahq eSports Club, Blank Esports and Flash Wolves in successive fashion. This completed Ardeont's flawless regular season, in which they only lost two maps.
Arguably unlike the rest of the competition, Ardeont features strong players at every position. From their DPS duo of ErsTer and diem to the reliable support play of anamo, the team can depend on having favorable match ups against almost any opponent. Ardeont's efficient use of their abundance of talent has led to some predicting their victory as an inevitability.
However, if it bleeds you can kill it. Despite their impressive map record Ardeont have had rare flashes of vulnerability. Take for example their Week 6 match against Blank Esports. The team from down under managed to take the first map and draw the second before Ardeont recovered and blew them out on the last two maps. It's a long shot, with that perhaps being an understatement, but don't count out a playoffs upset just yet. If there was any time for Flash Wolves, Hong Kong Attitude or Blank to step up to the plate it would be now.
Flash Wolves safely take the second seed despite signs of weakness
Last season Flash Wolves were unstoppable beasts, tearing their opposition to shreds and claiming the championship as their significant fan base cheered them on in the Blizzard eStadium in Taipei. However, after attending the World Cup qualifiers in Santa Monica the team appeared to be revealed as a big fish in a small pond and has not looked quite the same since returning to Taiwan.
Don't get things twisted though, Flash Wolves were still the second best team this season by far, only dropping a single match to non-Korean opposition. Even though they looked shaky in close five map matches against Machi and Hong Kong Attitude in previous weeks, the Wolves were able to enter Week 6 with confidence in keeping the second seed. They will now shift their focus to HKA, their semifinals opponent.
Hong Kong Attitude come close to losing their spot in the playoffs
HKA came close to giving up their favorable position at the start of Week 6, losing to playoffs hopefuls ahq 3-2 and defeating the 7th seed Machi Esports in a reverse sweep.
In fact, HKA were only 6% away from dropping to the 5th seed and missing out on playoffs. The situation was looking dire after Machi ran them over on Lijiang and King's Row. When Temple of Anubis ended in a draw, sending the teams to a best-of-one on Illios, things were looking desperate for HKA. Had they failed to claw their way back to a reverse sweep, after winning their round on Illios 100%-94%, the team would have been knocked out of playoffs by Blank and ahq.
Instead they have ended in the third seed, narrowly avoiding the fourth seed and having to face the undefeated Koreans. Whilst more favorable than playing Ardeont, the team has never managed to defeat Taiwan's best squad, with their closest match against Flash Wolves a 3-2 loss in Week Two of this season.
Blank Esports come up huge in the clutch as ahq miss out on playoffs
After falling to Flash Wolves, despite keeping all three maps close, and Ardeont in their first two matches of Week 6, it was do or die for Blank in their final match. Their opponent, ahq, were in similar circumstances. With the winner securing themselves the last available playoffs spot and the loser just missing out on advancing to the next stage of the tournament, both teams were under considerable amounts of pressure.
The Aussies, plus one Kiwi, didn't let this faze them however, pulling out a clutch 3-1 victory. In fact, outside of being steam rolled on Hanamura, which is known as ahq's home ground, Blank took the match in comfortable fashion. The team even pulled out their Bastion and Orisa composition on King's Row after utilizing it earlier in the season.
As the fourth seed Blank have the monumental task of defeating Ardeont if they wish to advance to the grand final, although their recent showing against the team may give them some degree of confidence.
MEGA round into form during the second half of the season
MEGA's slow start in the tournament ultimately doomed their chances of making playoffs, as the team had a disappointing 2-5 record at the end of the first round robin. However, after the departure of North American player Moffitt and the addition of Korean off-tank White, as well as the return of DPS player NzNr to the starting lineup, the team's performance noticeably improved.
This ended up having a crucial effect on the teams that made playoffs. MEGA fell to HKA and Blank in close 3-2 battles but managed to turn things around by defeating ahq 3-2 in Week 5. This proved to be a fatal blow for ahq in the end, as they missed out on the fourth seed by only a single victory.
After a mixed performance in the Pacific Championship, MEGA's focus will now likely shift to building around their promising roster.
Machi ado about nothing
Machi Esports have to be disappointed with their performance this season, falling to the seventh seed after previously placing fifth. Despite bringing back the same roster they played with in Season One, M17 failed to take the next step and will now face the risk of relegation if the rules remain the same this season.
Whilst it may be easy to label Machi as simply a bad team, this would discredit the talent the roster possesses. On their best day Machi look like a legitimate contender, providing quality support for Kant to dominate. Unfortunately, this is far too rare of an occasion. The team also struggles to consistently perform across all five maps in a match, falling to HKA and Flash Wolves in winnable 3-2 games this season.
Libalent continue the Japanese curse
Japan's representatives in the Pacific Championship have now occupied the bottom of the standings in successive seasons. In the spirit of SunSister and DeToNator.Gold's poor peformances, Libalent Supreme ended the regular season without a single victory. Even more concerning was the team's map record, as they were only able to pick up a single map across their fourteen games.
Libalent were one of the stronger Japanese teams at the start of the season but they were arguably not the best in the country, with USG Iridata failing to apply for the Season 2 qualifier. Whilst Japanese teams have performed poorly in the event so far, the Japanese scene does have the talent it takes to be competitive. Until this talent is concentrated on a single team Japan will likely continue to occupy the bottom of the standings when competing in the tournament.
Final Regular Season Standings
The standings at the conclusion of the Regular Season can be found below:
- 1 Ardeont 14W-0L (42-2-2)
- 2 Flash Wolves 11W-3L (36-18-2)
- 3 Hong Kong Attitude 8W-6L (29-25-3)
- 4 Blank Esports 8W-6L (27-25-3)
- 5 ahq eSports 7W-7L (28-27-1)
- 6 MEGA Thunder 5W-9L (21-30-0)
- 7 Machi Esports 3W-11L (16-33-4)
- 8 Libalent Supreme 0W-14L (1-42-0)
Playoffs kick off on the 6th of October with Ardeont vs. Blank Esports. Stay tuned for a viewer's guide and predictions for the playoffs.