Looking back at The Grid Week 8 and 9, and previewing the third Regional Event.
Here we are again, as North America reach the climax of the Fall Split. With just one final week of action before the major, the competition has never been more spread. The previous two weeks saw a topsyturvy spread of performances, with eyebrow raisers left, right, and centre.
Looking back at The Grid Week 8 and 9, and analysing what could come in Regional 3, here are the key storylines that are unfolding.
REVIEW - THE GRID WEEK 8 AND 9
The first spot in the Fall Split Regional Championship was up for grabs in the final two weeks, with a number of teams able to finish on top. After weeks of side tournaments, it was all about to boil down to a final set of fixtures. Elsewhere, six sides needed some huge results to propel themselves into automatic qualification for the Winter Split, and a chance at $10,000 week-in-week-out.
Here's how the last two The Grid events panned out.
COULD VERSION1 GET THEMSELVES OUT OF THEIR RUT?
WHAT DID VERSION1 NEED TO DO TO HAVE A LATE SURGE UP THE TABLE?
By the scruff of the neck, Version1 stepped up to secure tenth place and the final automatic qualification spot. With some huge results in week eight versus NRG and Rogue, Version1 looked to have found their rhythm. Despite omewhat choking in the quarterfinals versus The Peeps, AxB, Gimmick, and Torment could be pleased with their efforts, beating two of the regions best teams. Heading into Week 9, they were faced with familiar foes in Rogue, of whom they dismantled again, before clipping the heels of the galloping Kansas City Pioneers. Reverse sweeping KC, Version1 booked back-to-back Playoff appearances for the first time this year. Going the distance against an improved eUnited side, they came out victorious to set up a date with The Peeps. Again, they faltered here in an immensely close series, showing that they do, in fact, have what it takes to compete at the top.
COULD G2 SECURE THE WILDCARD?
IN THE PENULTIMATE EVENT, G2 ESPORTS COULD SECURE THE TOP PLACE IN THE GRID
By the skin of their teeth, G2 became the first team to qualify for the Fall Split Regional Championship. Although they won't be happy. After coming in as reigning champions, G2 was a shadow of the side that had seen themselves be regarded by most as the best team in the region. Just as they unseated Spacestation Gaming in most peoples mind, their arch-nemeses got the better of them in the group stages in Week 8. Here, they would only reach the quarter-finals, their joint-worse finish of the year. With the stakes higher than ever now for G2, mortgages would have been placed on G2 racking up some much-needed points and bouncing back. Unfortunately, G2 fans' homeless rates shot up as they crashed out in the group stages with two 3-0 defeats to XSET Gaming and Kansas City Pioneers. Their worst performance of the season wasn't too detrimental though, as Spacestation Gaming faltered too and even consecutive wins for NRG wasn't good enough to catch up in The Grid rankings. They will have to improve quickly though to stand a chance at the major.
ARE SONIQS PLUMMETING?
HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO WRITE THIS WITHOUT MAKING A SHOCK PUN?
The benching of Shock was surprising, stupefying, and astonishing. The unforeseen event has left Soniqs fans scratching their heads. The start of the season looked bright, with Shock being one of the more consistent players, whilst JRuss blew hot and cold. Despite his wow-factor, many thought JRuss should have made way to freshen up the roster. With Shock's sudden benching, Soniqs had another dismal week in The Grid and Regional, and are stuck in a downwards spiral. Roll Dizz has some big boots to fill if they want to start contending again.
A CRUCIAL WEEK FOR ALPINE ESPORTS
COULD THEY CONJOUR UP SOME MAJIC TO FEND OFF EUNITED FOR AUTOMATIC WINTER SPLIT QUALIFICATION?
I think someone cast expelliarmus on Alpine, as they couldn't spark an ounce of magic. Majicbear himself was sidelined due to illness, with creamz coming in as a sub, and over the two events, Alpine didn't win a single game. percy. and Jordan couldn't find enough momentum without their superstar rookie, and Alpine were food for the hunters who were stalking their tenth place spot. Alpine will have to qualify for the Winter Split through the Play-ins.
HOUSTON DO WE HAVE A PROBLEM?
SPACESTATION GAMING HAVE MADE A CRASH LANDING, BUT COULD THEY WIN THE ARMS RACE THIS WEEK?
What has happened to Spacestation? They're by no means bad, but they look ordinary, which isn't a word normally associated with them. Week 8 saw them forfeit from the competition due to the team moving house, which has yet to be effective. Come Week 9 their cylinders were roaring from the same engine, but this still couldn't ignite their lift-off, and NRG dumped them from the competition in the semifinals with a clean and convincing 4-0 sweep. Previously regarded as the best team in the world, they have failed to be consistent and will need a lot of fuel to rekindle their form.
THE GRID WEEK 8 RESULTS
NRG was able to fend off Kansas City Pioneers in the final to be crowned Week 8 winners. KC themselves had performed admirably, but couldn't get over the final hurdle.
THE GRID WEEK 9 RESULTS
NRG are back-to-back champions of The Grid, as Squishy, Jstn, and GarrettG have found stupendous form. Only dropping five matches over the course of the event, NRG are in complete control in North America.
PREVIEW - REGIONAL 3
The final event of the Fall Split is here, as teams look to secure places at the Regional Major. The top 15 teams will qualify, which releases a lot of pressure this time around, although in future splits it will be just five teams. Teams will look to secure huge prize money winnings though, and find form before the regional.
Here's what could unfold at Regional 3.
Same Old Top Four Back On Top?
NOW IT'S CRUNCH TIME WILL WE SEE THE USUAL TOP FOUR BACK WHERE THEY BELONG?
I can't see anything different, with the regionals around the corner. Form is temporary but class is permanent, and they will bring their A-games. I wouldn't expect anything else that NRG, Spacestation, G2 Esports, and Team Envy to be in the final four in Regional 3.
As for the teams on the brim, the likes of Kansas City Pioneers and The Peeps are already qualified, and could use this as a confidence builder or a well-earned break.
Will Charlotte Phoenix Burst into flames or take flight?
CURRENTLY SAT OUTSIDE OF THE TOP 15, CHARLOTTE PHOENIX NEED SOME BIG RESULTS.
Having dropped six places in Regional 2, due to failing to qualify for Stage 2, Charlotte Phoenix will need to bounce back. They undoubtedly have the talent in Dappur, Karma, and Shadow, they just need to step into the light and use their flair to win crucial 1v1's. Dappur could hold the key, but if they don't make it out of Stage 1 then they will be grabbing popcorn next week, rather than competing in the biggest event of the season.
WILL VERSION1'S RECENT FORM MAKE UP FOR PREVIOUS MISTAKES?
VERISON1 WILL NEED BETTER RESULTS THAN 72PC, PLOT TWIST, AND DOWN TWO EARTH (CONTINUUM) TO QUALIFY
Currently, Version1 sit outside of the qualification placements, on alphabetical order. Although there would undoubtedly be a playoff if results stayed like this, there is one more event for them to kick on from their recent impressive form. If they bring the talent that saw them reach The Grid semifinals last week, they will have no problems. Anything less than that and they could be the biggest casualties of the season so far.
CAN THE UNDEAD REVIVE THE SCRAMBLED EGGS?
GHOST GAMING ARE BACK, WILL THEY BE ABLE TO BECOME ETERNAL VICTORS?
We've missed you Ghost Gaming. Six months after releasing their roster that was later acquired by Team Envy, Ghost Gaming has now picked up Omelette. Luke, Freshness and LionBlaze have found a home and a solid one at that. The Ghosts will look to make their debut in RLCS X in Regional 3, and after a quarter-final appearance in Week 8 of The Grid, they will look to challenge a solid placement and valuable points. They will, of course, have to fend off a huge amount of talent that fall into a similar bracket to themselves, so the confidence could be key.
Regional 3 Predictions
NRG look to hot to handle at the moment, and I wouldn't be surprised if they continue to reign over NA. A better performance from Spacestation Gaming is also inevitable, as they need to use this week as a building block for the major. Version1 should kick on and be in the discussion for the top eight too, securing their major place.