Fighting for a top 26 position, the teams in the ESL Oceanic Championship would compete in a Swiss format to determine who would be joining invited teams, including defending RLCS champions Ground Zero, Fury, Cringe Society, Mindfreak, tournament favorites Renegades, and a returning Canberra Havoc roster.
Notable favourites emerged out of the course of the opening two days. One was the exciting roster Dire Wolves had signed ahead of the competition, the inclusion of Indonesian star LCT on the aptly-named team “LCT,” and frequent tournament grinders No Drama.
Good luck to all of you competing in the @ESLRocketLeague Open Qualifiers tonight! 🎮— ESL Australia (@ESLAustralia) August 15, 2020
Be sure to follow along and see who has what it takes to make it through! #ESLRLOCE
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There was no surprise at stage one’s end, however, to see the ex-Aurora lineup of Zen, Levi, and young star Fiber finish first. The trio played under the iconic Gaming Gamers name.
With the Oceanic pool sliced down from 105 to 32, the competition entered its first double elimination stage. The remaining teams were seed into eight pools of four.
Here, where Mindfreak were supposed to soar through, we saw our first struggles from the top teams. The MF squad, bolstered by new signing Cavemanben, were challenged by the Sneaky Bois, who were spear-headed by ex-Overt player Riv.
Mindfreak were able to show their class though, and bounced back from a 0–2 start to reverse sweep the unsigned team and move on to the next round.
This stage of the tournament also gave RLCS fans a look at Fury, who had picked up Matro ahead of the Fall event. The squad were able to sweep aside their old rival Ferox in the top 16 qualifying match, notching a 3–1 victory.
There were upsets in the qualifying round too, of course. LCT fell to ‘6 Man Battalion,’ Kia, Daisu, and Lerky. Wumbologists also joined the surprise qualifiers, and challenged Gaming Gamers for the best team name in Oceania.
After a week’s break, play resumed on August 22. There were another five rounds of swiss matchups awaiting the final 16 teams, with a top four placement now on the line.
During the first set of games, most matches went as expected. There were some shocks though, including Hazard finding a reverse sweep over Gaming Gamers, and the Dire Wolves were pushed to the limits against a hungry Vox Central in five.
It was Misty’s kick-off goal that proved the difference in that victory for the newly-minted Wolfpack, and doomed Snowy and Vortex to a 0–1 start to the round.
OCE fans were given a special treat in the second round too; Mindfreak and Fury found themselves head to head in the RLCS 9 semi-final rematch. Unlike months prior, however, this showing would see the new MF lineup excel, exposing slow rotations and awkward plays from Fury to keep Mindfreak undefeated. Requiem had a field day in front of goals.
Mindfreak kept that momentum going with a new gear against Renegades, though they were unable to find the win in the 3–2 battle. Elsewhere in the same round, Decka proved he was fully integrated into the Cringe Society lineup as the squad edged Ground Zero in five.
With only two undefeated teams left, it was time for 2020’s El Clásico: Cringe Society taking on Renegades. The winner of this match would secure first place in the final four, so it was sure to be an exciting series.
In true OCE style, it delivered. The match quickly turned into an offensive explosion, with the teams trading blows in the series. The battle quickly turned to an inevitable game five, after Renegades took games one and three, and Cringe Society split the difference.
Renegades came out on top, in the end, with Siki and CJCJ finding the back of the net once each in the dying moments. The loss fired Cringe Society back into a battle with Ground Zero Gaming, who were waiting in another top four-shaping series.
Elsewhere in the round, Vort Central swept through Fury in three, while Mindfreak cleaned up newcomer org Dire Wolves. Gaming Gamers also delivered the shocking result of Round 5, edging 6 Man Battalion in the do-or-die last rounds of the stage.
The final series of Stage 2 saw Mindfreak up against dark horse story Vort Central, in what had become a “win-and-in” clash. Mindfreak, who up until this stage had been dominating opponents, showcased their class again in a strong Game 1.
Snowy, Vortex, and Tango hit back in the second, and looked set to take control of the series in the third as well. Disaster struck for Vort, however, as Mindfreak shot in three goals in the dying moments of the match to force overtime. Then, with momentum behind them, Fever fired in a pass from Cavemanben to clinch the win and put Mindfreak a game up again.
Unfortunately for Vort Central, this would be the killing blow; the squad couldn’t find any more goals as Mindfreak closed out the series in four, and stepped through to the final day.
Unfortunately for Vort Central, this would be the killing blow as in game 4 the side would not find any more goals and Mindfreak would advance to the final day.
Mindfreak were joined in the top four by Cringe Society, who had won their rematch against Ground Zero, and Gaming Gamers, who had fought back from two early losses to book their spot in the last four of the ESL Oceanic Championship Fall event.
Check back tomorrow for “Part 2: The Final Four, as it happened.”