Half of the squads to attend ESL Challenger at DreamHack Melbourne have been determined following the conclusion of the regional qualifiers on Friday.
It’s day dot for the new Vertex roster.
But already the Wolfpack has made waves following their successful qualification for ESL Challenger Melbourne.
Declan “Vexite” Portelli picked up right where he left off after departing Order, dominating the stats sheets in Vertex’s qualifier run, which saw them claim wins over Aftershock and Encore.
“The composure was insane,” said Vexite in no uncertain terms after their qualification final victory.
“Clutches from Matt [Valiance], calls from Toby [BRACE], AWP from Jordy [pz], lurks from Liam [malta] — we’re going to Melbourne baby!”
Vertex took down Aftershock 2-0 (16-6, 16-6) with little difficulty in their opening series, but fell in three maps to Encore 1-2 (8-16, 16-12, 14-16) in the upper bracket final.
Encore entered the qualifier with changes of their own. Benson “Liki” Niuila parted ways with the squad in early July, with local lobster Karlo “USTILO” Pivac stepping in temporarily.
But with wins over DGG and Vertex, Encore looked like favourites to claim OCE’s qualifier spot at Melbourne.
Aftershock were set to meet them in the grand final — a 2-0 victory over DGG and a map up on Vertex in the lower bracket final — but Vertex bounced back on Vertigo and Inferno to keep Aftershock at bay.
Encore dominated Vertex on Inferno in the final opener, with a healthy kill spread across all five players.
But Vertex bounced back in a big way on Dust 2, led by Vexite (24-13, 1.66 rating) and Liam “malta” Schembri (18-11, 1.48 rating), setting up a one-map shootout on Nuke.
Vertex started with six straight on their CT side before Encore broke back through James “SaVage” Savage.
The Wolfpack would break the streak at five, and set themselves up for victory with a 10-5 half.
Encore took the pistol round but Vertex immediately broke back, claiming four of the next five rounds with four bomb plants — bolstering Vertex’s T economy.
Encore weren’t going down without a fight, but there would be nothing stopping a standout performance from Vexite (28-21, 1.34 rating), who took Vertex to a 16-12 victory and the spot at DreamHack Melbourne.
Europe will be represented by Entropiq, with the Russian squad coming out on top against Sprout 2-1 (7-16, 16-8, 19-16) in the EU qualifier.
Entropiq did it tough through the event; the Russians fell to French squad HEET early into the upper bracket, and were forced through Formel (W-FF), K23 (2-1) and a HEET rematch (2-1) to reach the final.
From Asia, PGL Major surprises IHC were shocked by Chinese squad Wings Up Gaming 2-0 (16-12, 16-14) to book their tickets for Melbourne.
With TYLOO forced to withdraw from the Asia Qualifier, Mongolian squad IHC were heavily favoured to take out the event, but were tested in their opener by Wings Up.
Wings would go through The MongolZ and YK Gaming on their way to an IHC sweep in the final, led by Yi “gas” Ding (55-36, 1.38 rating).
The North American qualifier wrapped up Friday afternoon, with EG.PA also coming from the lower bracket to defeat ATK 2-0 to claim NA’s spot.
Team captain Ben “Ben1337” Smith was the stand-out player for EG, who took down Gaimin Gladiators on their way to the ATK final, claiming revenge after a 0-2 defeat to the South African/American mix team in the upper bracket.
Three of the remaining squads will be filled from the ESL World Rankings — to be updated at the conclusion of IEM Cologne next week — with Order likely to fill the final slot as the highest-ranked squad from Oceania.
ESL Challenger Melbourne kicks off September 2 at DreamHack — secure your tickets here.