Asian Cup of Nations off to a roaring start
After a month of buildup and preparation the time finally arrived for the nations that make up the Asian Rocket League scene to show case what they can do. 11 Nations entered 16 teams and Sunday saw the group stages to determine the top 8 teams for the Playoff stage that is taking place on the 26th of November.
Summary: All signs pointed to a group set to be dominated by tournament favourites Japan A and a battle for 2nd place between Hong Kong, India B and Singapore B. Singapore B had to change their entire roster the day of the tournament due to unforseen circumstances and as such it was a great surprise to see them running Hong Kong close in a 2-1 Series. India B faced the favourites and were dispatched 2-0. They faced a similar fate against a Hong Kong team although the matches were much closer.
This left the last 2 matches to determine who would top the group and who would finish 3rd/4th. India B gathered themselves from the 2 losses and managed to take down Singapore 2-0 in what was surely a good experience for both teams in the competitive scene.
What happened next will surely be counted as one of the biggest upsets in Asian RL history. Hong Kong were expected to be well beaten by Japan, what actually happened though still baffles most that follow the scene. In a display of desperate defence against waves and waves of attack Hong Kong not only managed to take a game of Japan but beat them 2-0 in the series. With Hong Kong topping the group it means that Japan A's road to the finals got much more complicated as they now have to face a determined Japan B team if they win their quarter final. Hong Kong meanwhile established themselves as the top seed for the Playoffs and it will be interesting to see if they can continue their unbeaten run next week.
Summary: Always strange to see players like Realize and Dorex52 in a ''B'' team which just showcases the amazing depth in JPNRL. Featuring 2 of the top 3 Seeds group B was always going to be difficult to predict. Vietnam and Philippines knew what a task was ahead of them and it proved to much as both teams got swept by Indonesia A and Japan B. This left Vietnam and Philippines B playing on stream to finalize who finishes 3rd and who gets the wooden spoon for the group. Both teams showed nerves in the first match and Vietnam came out on top in a very tense match 1. Match 2 saw Vietnam coming on strong to close the series out 2-0.
We were left with Indonesia A taking on Japan B in what was touted to be the streamed match of the day. From the kickoff there was a speed and accuracy that had not been seen all day as both teams went toe to toe. Match 1 saw JPN B take a comfortable lead only for Indo A getting their attack together and taking the lead in the home stretch. Unfortunately for Indonesia they just lacked the composure to close the game off and JPN B came out on top in what was to that point the best match on stream. That title was short lived however as game 2 turned into a real display of speed and finishing. Indo A going into a 2 goal lead only to let it slip and again lose by 1 goal to lose the series 2-0. Both teams showed some amazing attacking play and must have the other teams in the tournament taking note of the speed of play.
Summary: Group C was the most difficult group to call in the tournament. With China having to play with VPN it was expected that they would struggle on ASCM servers and the expectation was that Singapore and Indonesia would make it through. Singapore A beat Indonesia B in a close fought 2-1 series which seemed to suggest initial expectations were correct. What no one expected though was that China was here to play, and China took down Indonesia B 2-0 in close matches relegating Indo B to 3rd place. Singapore closed off the group by beating China and Philippines 2-0. Despite putting up a great fight unfortunately the Philippines failed to win a series but have surely taken positives from the tournament.
China impressed with their aerial play and showed that they will be no pushovers come playoff time, but the standout team is Singapore A with impressive victories securing them the top position in Group C
Summary: Dissapointingly both team Thailand and Taiwan failed to show up for the tournament resulting in Malaysia A and India A making it to playoffs without having played a match. There was still the matter of who would top the group though and we saw the 2 teams slug it out on stream. India A being the underdogs against a star studded Malay team put up a spirited performance and will need to work on their finishing as they hit the post time after time in both matches going down in close matches 2-0.
Not much was learned by only the 1 match and it is difficult to take much in way of form from this week, however both teams showed that they are no pushovers and will be looking to make a good run through the playoffs.
The Final Say:
What a start to the 1st ever Asian Nations Cup. We saw upsets, great team plays and communities coming together to support their teams. With their loss Japan A has now made it impossible for Japan to have two teams in the final which means it is everything to play for the other 6 teams in the play offs.
Tasty's play of the day: