Majors never cease to amaze people, in terms of shock results. IEM Katowice 2019 Challengers Stage has been no different. The very first matchup saw top seed Fnatic being beaten convincingly by Vici Gaming, that too on Overpass, a map that is said to be highly tactical and not just a case of pure aim.
RIP 0-3 Pickems.
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— VICI Gaming (@VICI) February 13, 2019
If the Fnatic upset wasn’t enough, TYLOO made sure there was double cheer for the Chinese fans, with an emphatic win over Vitality. But, in this case, it was a case of YuLun ‘Summer’ Cai going ham on the server, with a pistol round ace – a 1v4 that set the tone for the game ahead.
Grayhound could have caused a surprise as well against Cloud 9, if not for the lost clutches and some poor mistakes in the second half. Renegades overcame AVANGAR, solidifying the Asian dominance in the Challengers Stage.
It is not worth introspecting too much into what went right for the aforementioned teams. The Asian lineups are not dependent on their raw firepower anymore. Vici’s was a giant team effort against Fnatic. Renegades shut down AVANGAR on a very tactical Train with a brilliant T side.
Even Grayhound put together a calculated T side that shocked Cloud 9 on Mirage. But, the CT side let the Australians down.
If there ever was an example just how predictably unpredictable the Asian region can be in Best of Ones, it was the second round fixtures. Grayhound played out an almost picturesque CT side in Nuke to build up a 13-2 lead against Vitality in the 0-1 matchup, only to fall in Overtime.
TYLOO absolutely wrecked Cloud 9 on Overpass. Renegades rode on the T side wave again, this time on Mirage, to secure an upset result against Ninjas in Pyjamas, who were the outright favourites.
Vici Gaming were the only one to disappoint in the second round fixture and it was mostly due to them facing an extremely confident and strong NRG, who genuinely look like the real deal going into the Third Round.
Vici Gaming will have another crack at showing just how dominant the region can be in Best of Ones as they look to emulate their regional counterparts Tyloo when they face Cloud 9, who have already faced two Asian/Oceanian teams.
TYLOO and Renegades both have a chance at going 3-0 but are up against strong lineups in the form of NRG and ENCE. They don’t even have Best of Ones to give them an unruly edge.
Majority of the playstyle of the Asian teams relies heavily on momentum, which is one of the reasons why they are so good in Best of Ones. Once they get rolling, it becomes very hard to stop their individual stars, who are at par with the rest of the talents, if not better in terms of raw skill.
Grayhound are up against it, facing Fnatic in the 0-2 matchup. But, what is more threatening is the presence of Best of 3s at defining junctures. Fnatic will also heave a sigh of relief, with Best of Ones not really favouring them at Katowice so far.
The real test for Asian teams start now. They have already shown they can beat the best of the best on even the most tactical of maps. But, can they do it in a Best of 3? Nerves and experience comes in along with the Best of 3 format.
Renegades are a fresh lineup, TYLOO are experienced but have never been consistent enough on Best of 3s, Grayhound haven’t really managed Best of 3 upsets at events that have taken place outside of Australia and Vici Gaming haven’t really had many chances of showing what they can do in a Best of 3 setup against teams outside their region.
Long have the Asian region waited for recognition. There were murmurs of people wanting the spots from Asian Minor to be reduced, with TYLOO already booking their place at the Challengers Stage.
But, Renegades and Vici Gaming have already justified their presence in Poland while Grayhound have come close to causing massive upsets.
There were early signs at the Minor Play-in of a potential rise of the Asian scene at the IEM Katowice Major, with Vici gaming overcoming North in a Best of One and a Best of Three Setup.
Is 2019 the year the Asian region gains more respect from their peers? Everything relies on the outcome of the Best of 3s that TYLOO and Renegades will play in the coming day(s).
People love rooting for the underdogs. But, perhaps it’s time to remove the said tag from the Asian region. We stan.