Asian Cup of Nations Playoffs
The first ever Asian Nations Cup headed into its first Playoff stage with 8 teams competing to be crowned Champions of Asia. Expectation was high from the respective countries and the teams did not dissapoint.
Considering for most of these players it was their first time playing in front of a audience of 500+ viewers the playoffs were all about who would calm their nerves first and settle into their 'normal' playing style first.
Malaysia vs Japan A
After an easy route through the qualifiers Malaysia would face their first true test in facing Japan A. Japan A were looking to recover from a shock loss to Hong Kong last week. Things looked bleak for Malaysia when Azri could not get his controller working until 5 mins before kickoff meaning he went in totally cold. To be fair Malaysia put up a good fight, but there was never a feeling that Japan A would let this match slip. Despite getting close in terms of scoreline it ended as a 2-0 Sweep for Japan A and left Malaysia probably dissapointed in their performance. Nemoto looked like he was going to be the standout for Japan A from the start.
Japan B vs China
The only question heading into this week was if anyone had the firepower to beat Japan B. China were the true underdogs having suprised Indonesia B in the group stages. They put up a very good performance and showcased that despite firewall's and higher ping, they are getting better and better each passing week. Even swapping out Realize after the first game did not harm the Japanese and they secured an comfortable 2-0 sweep.
Hong Kong vs Indonesia
Having already swept a strong Japan A squad Hong Kong were on a high yet still underdogs against a stacked Indonesia A team. In a messy match 1 Hong Kong came out on top as Squirrel/Gonfreecs and Sycho13 struggled to mount any considerable offence. This was sure to change in match 2 when Revoir was subbed in for Psycho. Revoirs entrance certainly made the match a lot more hectic with the casters describing it as ''Chaos''. Despite this it was team Hong Kong that handled the scrappy game the best to complete a sweep over the highly rated Indonesia team.
Singapore A vs India A
Singapore A changed their team to include Jarelnaden, Cronix and Lumi, 3 Top 1v1 players and the question remained on how they would gel as a team. India A on the other hand had a point to prove as they were decidely the underdogs going in. Singapore started strong only for India to pull the games back and take game 1 to Overtime with Singapore's slow style of play seemingly playing right into the hands of the Indians. Perhaps just missing the accuracy required India lost the first overtime in a match more about missed opportunities rather than amazing plays. Game 2 saw another very close battle with India A just falling short and Singapore A completing the sweep.
Japan A vs Japan B:
In the match that was suppose to be the final according to most we saw the might of Japan fight the might of Japan. Realize, Kanra, Dorex taking on Nemoto, Shaolon, Nunki. With Flamebstrd calling it the highest level series he has casted it was a clear display of the difference in playstyles between Japan and the rest of Asia. The pace was fantastic with Nemoto showcasing his amazing mechanics with some out of this world shots. The main story though was that Realize was back, after a lacklustre APL and talks of retirement the man put on a show to remind us all just how dangerous he is. With Kanra taking a more defensive role the combonation of Dorex52 and Realize was just to potent for Japan A to handle.
It may have been a 3-0 sweep but this series showcased what Asian RL is capable off, despite these players not being from the same club teams they slotted in beautifully to put on a show for the 800 viewers that tuned into that match.
Hong Kong vs Singapore A:
Having been underdogs against Japan A and Indonesia ,Hong Kong were finally the favourites for a match and this may have been their un-doing. Singapore A came out strong taking the first games comfortably only for Cronix to have to go to a movie, subbing in Dumbways to die seemed like a killer blow to Singapore A as he came in cold and Hong Kong took game 3. Game 4 saw Hong Kong fold under the pressure unable to contain Lumi and Jarelnaden with especially Lumi impressing with his 3's skills.
Hong Kong had a great run but have to be dissapointed in their Semi performance, Singapore moving into the final to take on the might of Japan B.
3rd Place Match:
Hong Kong vs Japan A:
With Hong Kong Visually tilted by their loss in the Semi Final and Japan A looking to avenge their Group stage loss it is perhaps no surprise that they swept Hong Kong Comfortable to take the 3rd place medal and place in the money.
Japan B vs Singapore A:
Japan B looked unstoppable thus far in the tournament not having dropped a game, however Singapore A was also going in unbeaten and the fear was that with the late switch to Dumbwaystodie that Singapore would simply be destroyed. Those fears were quickly dismissed as Singapore A kept the favourites honest with an shoutout to Dumbways showcasing that he is no 2nd rate player.
Facing a red hot Realize though is no small matter, and with the pin point passing of Dorex and Kanra Realize was in his element. 3 Man passing plays: Check, Backboard double touches: Check, Triple Barrel Roll Aerial into a double touch: Ermm Check.
Despite looking like they would comeback Singapore A just did not have the firepower to overcome Japan B. They did a masterful job of slowing the play down to control the boost and showed other ASC countries how to go about beating Japan. In the end though the pure quality on display meant that Japan B took the final 3-0 and the Crown of Champions of Asia.
What started out as an idea for a fun tournament for the community turned into a fully fledged high level tournament. The support the individual communities gave their respective teams were really amazing to see and the excitement was matched by the quality of play.
Japan were always going to be the favourites to take the whole tournament, and they did not dissapoint taking 1st and 3rd place.
Surprise of the tournament:
China making it to the quarters is a close second to Hong Kong Sweeping Japan A.
Dissapointment of the tournament:
Unfortunately my dissapointment of the tournament goes to Indonesia, their problems seemingly magnified by the amount of internet issues their teams are experiencing, one cannot help but feel that they are due a big win in coming tournaments.
Stand out Performers:
In a tournament stacked with quality players we saw great performances from a number of players, my 5 honourable mentions go to:
Lumi: We know what he can do in 1's but for me he overshadowed his much more well knows captain in the playoffs with solid rotations and one great finish coming from his opponent's net.
Starmelon: For me the standout player in the Indian lineup with good rotations, solid defence and a real surprise package in the quarters.
Nemoto: The standout for Japan A and his one angled ceiling shot showcasing amazing mechanics and skill.
Dorex52: With the play of the day in week 1 Dorex took the role of supplier rather than finisher in the playoffs. Is there ever a tournament where he does not perform?
Kanra08: Showing his willingness to sit back and play the waiting game really impressed.
Player of the day and play of the day:
He's back, and as much as I hate being a fanboy as he doesnt play for one of my teams even a real grumpy old man like me can concede that a on form Realize is one of the best sites to see in Rocket League. He may not be as dominating as he once was, but make no mistake as a player with X-factor few can compare. He also takes the play of the day with the wonderful shot below to seal the tournament win for Japan B:
1NE would like to thank everyone that tuned in to watch the tournament and say a special thanks to the communities for showing that Asia can actually come together for a common goal.
If you keep supporting we will keep bringing these tournaments.