After conquering Asia in the biggest event of the regions history, ReaLize tells GGRecon where his future lies.
The Kickoff, hosted by the APL and Psyonix, was a resounding success. Teams from Asia and the Middle East went head to head, for a split $45,000, the largest prize pool ever for a competition in said regions. Whilst Sandrock Gaming cruised to victory in the ME region, Team iXA were pushed all the way by the competition, before Shogo ‘ReaLize’ Ikeyama, Yukito ‘Kanra’ Nishikawa and Shun ‘Mikan’ Yokota were crowned champions of Asia.
En route to victory they defeated 1NE eSports and HANAGUMI in the groups, Oryx Esports in the Semifinals and HANGUMI again in the finals. In one of the most impressive displays of Asian Rocket League history, Team iXA etched themselves in the books as the champions of the biggest event in their short history.
Team iXA found themselves 5-1 down in the second game of the final, seemingly destined to crash and burn after their dominant display so far. With just one minute and two seconds left on the clock, their star man, ReaLize, stepped up to the wheel, pulling off an incredible double touch off the wall to scrape themselves back into the game. Some sloppy defending from HANAGUMI off the restart saw Kanra bundle in a third with 57 seconds left. Two goals down, ReaLize and co. put their foot to peddle and asserted waves of aggressive plays, and with 12 seconds remaining, Kanra squared the ball to ReaLize who executed the finish, bringing the deficit to just one. It looked like that was it, after the ball was cleared from kickoff, and as time hit zero seconds, the ball was still inside Team iXA’s half. However, the star of the show had different ideas. Catching it on top of his Fennec’s bonnet, ReaLize dribbled into the opponents box, flicking it over the defenders car and sending the game to overtime. From there ReaLize grabbed his fifth of the game and drawn the series back to 1-1. From being four goals down and seemingly 2-0 down in the best of seven, Team iXA had levelled the scores, and ReaLize shown why he’s regarded as the best player in Asia.
Going on to win the series 4-2, Team iXA were crowned champions of The Kickoff.
GGRecon caught up with Shogo ‘ReaLize’ Ikeyama after the event, where he explained the thought processes behind the comeback, the current state of Rocket League in Asia after the exclusion from RLCS X, and his intentions for the future after conquering his region.
That comeback in game 2 of the final was crazy. What was going through your head when you were 5-1 down? How did you manage to pull off that comeback?
We were talking in the team about how to play the next game, and we were trying to test what attack method was effective against the opponent. However, when we reached 3-5, we thought that we still had a chance to win, so we focused on attack. And we guessed that the opponent would be negative, so we decided to play aggressively.
This was your first event as part of Team iXA, how did you feel representing them? Did you enjoy playing with Kanra and Mikan?
I was very honoured, this was the first time I played for Team iXA, only during the kickoff period, so I miss it now it's over. But I would like to play as Team iXA again when I have the opportunity. It was really fun and they played very well. Kanra was fine because Kanra had played with myself for a long time, but the pressure on Mikan was so big. I am No.1 and Kanra is No.2 players in Asia in my opinion, so we felt like we had to win The Kickoff. I'm so proud of Mikan that he played really well in that situation.
This was ME/Asia's biggest ever tournament, how did it feel to win? And what was it like playing in a tournament with such high stakes?
It's a great honour to be the first champion. I thought that if it's a huge prize, the pressure will be different compared to the usual Asian tourney. I think we need more experience to play consistently in this situation.
Do you feel that more tournaments like this will make you and the region better?
Of course. I think that if these tourneys are held regularly, Asia will catch up with the world in time.
What are your next steps? With the recent announcement of RLCS X, will you be looking at what Psyonix will do for Asia, or is there a possibility of you moving to EU or OCE to compete?
Become a top team at OCE and play RLCS LAN, these are my next steps. I've already decided to move to OCE. For now, the timing to move depends on coronavirus though. I won the Asian tournament, but honestly, I'm never satisfied with myself so I'm really looking forward to playing a world-class tournament in order to go further.
ReaLize has his heart set on RLCS X, competing over in Oceania, which means the same could be said for Kanra. The Team iXA pair also play under Gaming Gamers alongside Aidan 'ZeN' Hui (zenulous), who has recently been released from Arora Esports, of whom he was playing under for the RLO Grand Slam. ReaLize confirmed to us that he is planning to team up with ZeN and Fiberr again in OCE, and look to progress through the ranks there and earn one of two places in the World Championships designated to the region. What this means for Asia, is yet to be understood, seeing their star player move abroad to access a better standard of competition, however, any inclusion of the RLCS there could sway them to return.
ReaLize's performances in The Kickoff were nothing but spectacular, and he definitely possesses the skillset to advance within Rocket League esports. If only he can find a stable platform.
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Image via ReaLize's Twitter