PGL KeSPA Asia Minor concluded; WCA looms ahead – 11.05.16

The PGL KeSPA Asia Minor has recently concluded with TyLoo Gaming taking first place, and a spot at the ESL Cologne Offline Qualifier.

From the first day of arrival, it was shown that PGL and KeSPA had put a lot of effort into the co-ordination of the event. Upon arrival at the airport, players were met by staff who guided them to the hotel located nearby Nexon Arena – home to regular eSports tournaments in the heart of Seoul.

The teams attending had all gone through a qualifier to get to the Asia Minor, our own Team Immunity beating out Legacy eSports, and earning them a spot in Group A alongside VG.CyberZen, TheMongolz, and m0nster.

From the day of arrival, a practice room had been set up in the basement of the hotel, and sessions were allocated for team practice. 5.30PM the day of arrival, the Immunity roster had already begun practice. The event was to demand the most of the teams that had qualified to play – a win here earned a chance to qualify for the ESL One Cologne Major, a huge opportunity for a team from a minor region. Furthermore, the winning team was to take home $30,000, another significant prize for the victor.

A recent change to the active map pool meant all teams would have to put additional preparation into tightening their favored maps, and preparing for a change in the regular pick and ban phase. The following day would follow the same process, after all players attending the event met with press. Each team was introduced, profiled, and answered a series of questions on a live Periscope interview.

The first game of the tournament for Team Immunity was against VG.CyberZen in a best-of-one. The pick ban phase resulted in de_train – comfortable territory for Immunity. Veteran player Chris ‘emagine’ Rowlands played the match in a dominant fashion, leading Immunity to a 16-2 finishing score. An explosive performance out of the gate, the team would have to continue to fire forward going up next against TheMongolz, a team known for creating leads with their sharp aim and aggressive pressure from Enkhtaivan ‘Machinegun’ Lkhagva.

The best-of-three series against TheMongolz would be played in Nexon Arena in a great setup for the players. Each team occupied a soundstage booth on either side of the arena, while the game was broadcast on both local television, and on twitch.tv. While modest compared to Major events, some players attending the PGL KeSPA Asia Minor had never even played on LAN before; the environment on offer would be a great experience.

Moving into the pick and veto stages, the map pool between Team Immunity and TheMongolz was to be dust2, cache, and overpass. Dust2 was the pick of Immunity, but the play went in favour of TheMongolz. The recognized threat of ‘Machinegun’ was present at full force, and TheMongolz took map one with a convincing 16-7 score. Cache was a forceful clash between both teams. With string of round wins traded back and forth between both teams, the game went to overtime, where a concerted Immunity effort was able to grind out the map, Ryan ‘zewsy’ Palmer proving to be the difference when his team needed it.

The third and final map, Overpass, was another nail biting brawl between these two teams. The aggressive play of TheMongolz was trapped and capitalized on by Immunity, who found themselves beating off their opponent’s aggression until they were once again, in an overtime situation. Eager for the win, Immunity shifted into another gear and finished the overtime 6-1 – a bittersweet victory after a very close series to be the 1st seed of the group.

As fate would have it, the next day they would go on to play their homeland rivals, Renegades. A rivalry that had begun before the Renegades had moved to the US was to be re-ignited, and Karlo ‘USTILO’ Pivac would now play under Renegades. The two Australian teams would be playing for a spot in the semi-final match, and would be a step closer to victory.

It was a hard day of CS:GO for the Immunity roster; the series favoring Renegades, defeating Team Immunity 16-8 on Mirage, and 16-13 on Overpass, despite solid performances from ‘zewsy’ and Rick ‘Rickeh’ Mulholland. The team dynamic of the young Team Immunity roster couldn’t find rhythm, and Renegades were able to dismantle both maps and take victory, going on to play TyLoo in the semi-final match.

The double elimination format meant another chance to go through to the semi-final, and results in other matches meant that Team Immunity would once again come up against VG.CyberZen on their path to a finals spot.

VG.CyberZen lost to Immunity in a brutal fashion on day one of the tournament, but had fought their way back. Strong opponents capable of well concerted team efforts to grind out matches, Immunity required solid preparation to be the victor in the series. The team had worked hard to breakdown the inner workings of the resilient CyberZen squad, and the map lineup was fair to both sides.

As the games got underway, it was quickly evident that the Chinese team had prepared well themselves. Mirage was dominated by ZhiHong ‘uki’ Liu, who used fast aggression and precision to bring his team a 16-4 win. The following map, Cache, was to become the playground of WeiJie ‘zhokiNg’ Zhong. Playing the hyper-aggressive style of Counter-Strike that Asian teams were known for, he had found a hole in Team Immunity, and used it to earn VG.CyberZen a 16-5 score, and the series win.

Extremely fast changes of pace and tactic had been the deciding factor of the series. VG.CyberZen dominated the maps, and this meant the end of the tournament for Team Immunity. Their chance to play in the offline ESL Cologne Qualifier had gone with it.

For all teams that attended the event, an elimination from the event was heavy to bear. To make it to a major event can be the propulsion a minor team needs to break into fast growing CS scene, and unfortunately for Team Immunity, this chance had been eliminated. The tournament however, will prove to be a great learning experience for the roster.

The Asian scene continues to grow, and with only a week till the team travel to Beijing for the WCA APAC LAN Final, experience against the meta of play being used by Asian teams will be invaluable. The experience will continue to grow in value too, as the Oceanic scene is dragged upwards with the explosive growth of the Asian scene, long term exposure to their tactics and playstyle will prove to be a valuable asset. It is now vital that the roster work to close weak gaps in their play style – something that quality opponents will exploit whenever given a chance.
The Team Immunity organization would like to thank their sponsors and fans for all support shown, as the players continue their journey in representing our region at international events.

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