The three teams were the survivors of the Southeast Asian regional qualifiers, which were defined by drama both in and out of game.
Fnatic qualifying doesn’t come as any kind of surprise and the team’s journey was fairly smooth. The organization has long been among the region’s finest and the team performed well at the MDL Chengdu Major despite facing stiff competition.
The team went 8-0 in the group stage and defeated TNC Predator 2-0 in the finals. Their prospects for the event remain unclear at this point, but they certainly looked the part of a contender here.
Reality Rift is a bit of a stunner by comparison. The team itself was formed earlier this year for the qualifiers to The International 2019. Though it includes a veteran star in former Orange Esports player Lee “kYxY” Kong Yang, the rest of the lineup consists of either unproven talent or previously middling veterans.
Despite that, the team performed well in the group stage, posting a 6-2 record that includes two wins over MDL Chengdu Major winner TNC Predator. The team then faced Cignal Ultra to decide who was headed to the major in a sloppy series.
Game one saw Cignal Ultra take control of the game and amass a huge lead, but nearly let it slip away. Game two was a slugfest that Cignal Ultra was getting the better of until it stumbled en route to a loss. The decider was the only straightforward game of the bunch, which saw Reality Rift take an early lead and maintain it en route to a spot in the DreamLeague Leipzig Major.
Despite putting on a good show, Reality Rift’s chances are bleak. Wins over TNC aside, the team greatly benefitted from manageable competition. The team could have something special in them, but odds are that their run in the DreamLeague Leipzig Major looks similar to Team Adroit’s trip to Chengdu.
Fnatic enjoyed an easy cruise to the DreamLeague Leipzig Major. TNC’s journey wasn’t nearly as smooth. The team came in second in its group and dropped its match with Fnatic. That placed them in a do-or-die best-of-three against Cignal Ultra to decide the final team to head to Leipzig.
The first game was a mess as TNC jumped out to an early lead thanks to five kills in the first three minutes, but wound up fumbling and giving Cignal the comeback win. Game two was what one would’ve expected from the series as TNC got out ahead early and maintained control throughout.
The decider saw things take a nasty turn.
TNC jumped out to a huge lead but at the 28-minute mark, the entire Cignal Ultra team went offline. The game was paused for an extended period of time, but Cignal Ultra never returned. Though a forfeit victory could’ve been called, the admins instead allowed TNC to unpause, giving them the chance to push an undefended ancient as Cignal’s heroes stood in place on the other end of the map.
It was an awkward scene and TNC was incredibly sporting in offering Cignal extra time to return. Despite that, Fernando “Nando” Mendoza took to social media after the game and blasted TNC for not waiting even longer.
“You’ve already got a lot of achievements and you couldn’t just help us? It was just a few internet issues, why did it have to come to this? Because of that, you got an easy Major, don’t we deserve a shot?” Nando said in a post on Facebook, as translated by a Redditor. “We lost because our net was going haywire? It’s really unfair, and very unprofessional. Makes me cry”.
This prompted a bit of backlash against Park “March” Tae-won, even though the rules were on the side of TNC.
Regardless, TNC seemed well on its way to victory regardless of the internet issues. Whether the team’s struggles in the qualifiers were a one-off affair, or a hint that the team isn’t bulletproof, will be found out over the coming months.