The ESL ANZ Champs is kicking off its 12th season this week with changes to the overall format and scheduling. The new swiss style format for the group stage should be a breath of fresh air to past seasons.
The ESL ANZ Championships is due to start tonight, beginning with the 16-team swiss format where the top 8 squads will progress.
New format: What you need to know
Invited teams — Order, Dire Wolves, Chiefs and Paradox — will join 12 qualified teams in the first stage.
All matches will be played as best-of-one and the top 8 will advance into a double elimination bracket where matches will become best-of-three, fighting for the four available spots in the Season Finals.
The goal of the format change was to get “more teams in ANZ Champs playing better matches and getting more exposure,” admin Nick “Turtl” Eastick said.
Teams will now play on either Monday or Thursday, and have their games capped to one per week. Additionally, the introduction of set start times will mean games will start no matter the duration of the game prior.
A top place finish in the ANZ Champs will reward a slot in the ESL National Championships Global Playoffs: Spring, which further offers qualification into ESL One Cologne and an unannounced IEM event.
For teams such as Order, Chiefs and Dire Wolves the stakes have increased with this opportunity on the line, and further incentivises the lower ranked teams to shoot for a chance at an international event.
Previewing the Swiss Stage
Coming into the event, the first round match-ups have been drawn with the invited teams playing those who qualified in the third week of open qualifiers.
The teams who qualified in the first week of open qualifiers have been drawn against those who did the same in the second week.
Opening the season, it would be unexpected for one of the underdog teams to take a series from the invited four squads:
- Order v Eetswa
- Dire Wolves v Chupapi Munyanyo
- Paradox v Ninja
- The Chiefs v Power Rangers
On Thursday, the rest of the first round matches will be played:
- Dynasty v Animal Squad
- Bizarre v Over Performers (FKA Memento)
- Caught off Guard v Riot Gaming
- Simplicity v Vertex ESC
The Thursday set of matches are anyone’s game, seeing as all eight teams are qualified squads.
Despite this, there is perceived strength and expectations for teams like Vertex, Riot and Dynasty who based on other results go into ANZ Champs with a better chance to make it out of the swiss stage.
Of the 16 teams in the field, only four are not present in this current season of ESEA Premier, thus giving an idea of form and how these teams match up into each other.
For Bizarre, Overperformers, Power Rangers and Eetswa — who don’t feature in Oceania’s other top comp — this is a chance to prove themselves.