Image: Liiv SANDBOX
The first APAC Qualifiers for 2022 are here to decide the four teams for the first Major of the year, held in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the first event since SI 2020 to feature a live crowd.
There have been quite a few changes with the teams and format starting in 2021, so read on for everything you need to know about the APAC Playoffs for Stage 1 of the 2022 season.
- DWG KIA – Woogiman, RIN, rated, CATsang, yass, HoundBird (trainer), EroSA (assistant trainer)
- Talon Esports – AzzyyyS, Soldier, Kanos, Demic, h3dy, saeyeora (Alternate) zelgadiss (Coach), DongUk (Coach)
- CYCLOPS Athlete Games – Anitun, SuzuC, Gatorada, Ayagator, BlackRay, Fuji3 (Coach), Hybrid (Analyst)
- SANDBOX Gaming – EnvyTaylor, Static, SyAIL, Harp3rXD, GoodBoy, Nova (Trainer)
- Dire Wolves – JackyWu, Pikan, Ed, Breath, HARAM3E, Odin (Trainer)
- Elevation – Onigiri, Sapeur, DCH, MrPuncH, markshortboyz, DrBestsiaer (coach)
- ESC Chiefs – Dgtl, Worthy, Ethan, Boydy, bouncinballz, Todd (coach), Hell (analyst)
- Knights – Jsh, Juicy, Sageon, Stigs, Quiz, Pikniq (coach), Sketchy (analyst)
Notable omissions from the team roster include new-look Invictus Gaming, which finished a disappointing fifth in APAC South. Also missing is Fnatic, who ditched their Australian side for Japan’s former outfit GUTS Gaming but finished a disappointing seventh in APAC North.
Also missing are South Asian teams, who no longer have such a direct path to a Major as in 2021. Instead, they are required to gain promotion to the APAC South division as a whole in APAC relegation. and will then contest the APAC playoffs. and Major Positions as full APAC South teams.
The 2022 APAC playoff format features three significant changes from the 2021 playoffs.
The first change is perhaps the most significant; teams that finish top of the standings in the APAC North and South regions no longer qualify directly for the Major. Instead, they must also compete in the APAC playoffs. However, their first-place finish still gives them a big boost, as both teams earn a first-round bye to the Upper Bracket semi-finals and put them one win away from the Major’s BO3.
Second, the APAC playoffs will now take place over six days – three weeks of two game days each – instead of three days over a weekend. Only the first two weeks will feature teams battling for major qualification, with the final two days reserved for the standings.
Finally, as mentioned above, South Asian teams no longer feature directly in the APAC playoffs and must gain promotion to the APAC South Division first.
The APAC Playoffs begin April 20 and run every Wednesday and Thursday through May 5. Each day will begin at 4:00 PM SGT (UTC+8) and will feature just two BO3 matches, starting with CAG vs. Elevate on day one.
Each team that qualifies for the Charlotte Major will earn 225 SI points. They will also win $10,000, $5,000, $2,000 and $1,000 in the APAC playoffs, ranked from highest to lowest seed. More SI points and prize money can be obtained depending on the placement at the Major itself.
Meanwhile, teams ranked fifth through eighth in the APAC Playoffs will earn 225, 180, 140, and 115 SI points, respectively, with no prize money.
Of the eight teams in attendance, only CAG and DWG KIA made no changes to their 2021 rosters which featured at Sweden Major and SI 2022. Talon is the only other team unchanged from Stage 3 in 2021 , but has yet to make his international debut. .
Dire Wolves and Knights are also looking to make their international debuts. The latter had qualified for the Mexico Major in 2021, but was unable to attend, and now features a returning Riley “Stigs” Mills and rookie Jai “Quiz” Riddle-Browning. Dire Wolves also feature a rookie in their 2022 roster in Chih-Kang “HARAM3E” Huang.
Confidence in rookies is not limited to teams that have yet to make their international debut. SANDBOX introduces exciting new young talent Jiheon “GoodBoy” Lee, who made his debut in the final game of the stage after turning 18, and now has Sihun “Nova” Lee in a coaching position. Meanwhile, the Chiefs introduce Lachlan “Boydy” Boyd and Kelton “bouncinballz” Mclachlan as rookies.
Finally, Elevate brought in Saravut “Markshortboyz” Mandee and Phuriphat “MrPuncH” Kessaneeyabut after benching Sumate “Nay..Pew” Srimabut and losing Siwa “Nerix” Kaewtossapone to retirement in a surprising series of off-season moves.
Which of these new faces will give the desired impetus to his teams and his debut at the Charlotte Major?
Taiwanese side Dire Wolves have come a long way since their faltering debut season in 2020 as Electrify Esports. They barely survived relegation at the time, but had a decent 2021 season, nearly qualified for SI 2022 despite a messy qualifying streak, and are now 7-0-0-0 in the league. stage 1 of the 2022 season.
Their new signing, HARAM3E, performed well in their supporting roles. He is the lowest rated on his team, but that’s with a 1.00. DW is therefore the only team in both APAC leagues to have all players rated 1.00 or higher and is the only team besides Team Liquid in all top flight leagues to achieve this feat. Can they win one of the two possible BO3 matches to qualify for the Charlotte Major?
While GoodBoy put in a stat-leading performance on his top flight debut – a performance that decided whether or not his team would advance to the APAC Playoffs – he only played in one official game. GoodBoy has been touted as one of APAC’s hottest prospects by the Korean community, but he’s still new to competing at this level.
The team also played all but that last game with Nova as coach, further cutting into the time that roster had to gel with GoodBoy. And now, with Nova coaching, they may also have to adjust to his purely coaching role. Luckily for them, being in the Lower Bracket means they have an extra week to compete and work out their issues before playing on April 27.
Korea have been doing extremely well since 2021. DWG KIA started things off with an impressive group stage at the Mexico Major, before becoming the closest APAC team to a big final appearance at any international event. Alongside them, SANDBOX also qualified for the Swedish Major quarter-finals and played at SI 2022.
This leg, the top four in APAC South only featured CAG as a non-Korean team. But the APAC Playoffs could be a different beast with APAC South teams in the mix. Will Talon continue to build on his solid Stage 1 form to make his international debut? Will DWG and SANDBOX both come to another Major? Or will we see two or less Korean teams heading to Charlotte?
Attend the APAC Playoffs from April 20 through May 5, with two days of play and four games per week. Matches will begin at 4:00 PM SGT (UTC+8) each day, so be sure to tune into the Rainbow6 Twitch and YouTube channels.