While the scorelines were exotic to say the least, it was ultimately Order, rebranded as “Not Grayhound” for this weekend, who walk away winners in the OCE Closed Qualifier for the IEM Rio APAC RMR.
“Not Grayhound” entered as expected favourites to represent the region at the APAC RMR, and while they were forced to three maps twice against a new-look Encore, they remain on track to qualify for back-to-back Majors in 2022.
The 2-1 (8-16, 16-8, 16-7) win over Encore means Not Grayhound will be off to PAX Australia to qualify officially for the Rio Major against the best from the Asia-Pacific region.
The full team list for the RMR will be decided tomorrow.
It was a brave effort from Encore, who saw Aaron “AZR” Ward and Sean “Gratisfaction” Kaiwai join with limited time to practice before the qualifier.
In an almost mirrored series to the Grand Final, Encore carved up on Vertigo in their opening series against Not Grayhound.
But it proved to be Not Grayhound just getting warmed up, with a Jay “Liazz” Tregillgas (60-33, 1.42 rating) & Josh “INS” Potter (62-39, 1.40) masterclass consigning Encore to the lower bracket.
There they defeated Rooster 2-0 (16-3, 16-10) before taking on DGG Esports in an absolute behemoth of a best-of-three.
Encore were all but setting up for the grand final after dusting off DGG on Vertigo 16-1.
But DGG bit back on Inferno with a rock solid CT side; up 14-10, the consensus was preparing for Nuke.
Five straight T rounds from Encore would break DGG’s economy to snatch match point, but DGG held on to retake and force overtime.
It would prove to be one of five such overtimes for the match, with neither team able to close out the series despite numerous turns at match point.
Eventually it was DGG forcing the third map behind a combined 107 (!!) kills from Tom “apocdud” Henry (50-46, 1.39 rating) and Maclane “gump” Cross (57-41, 1.24 rating).
Enter AZR, who took complete control on the decider.
The returning veteran was nigh unstoppable after a six-round T half, posting 25 kills in a 16-11 series close out.
After such a lengthy series, and without a long break before the grand final against Not Grayhound, it wasn’t expected to be a long affair — but Encore had other ideas.
Once again Encore proved their worth on Vertigo, all but dominating a rested Not Grayhound 16-8 behind an 11-round offense behind James “SaVage” Savage (24-11, 1.54 rating).
But just like the opening series, Not Grayhound warmed into the match in maps two and three, with their 8-1 CT Mirage and a 12-3 CT Nuke proving the difference-makers.
Declan “Vexite” Portelli (23-15, 1.58 rating), who had been quiet thus far since joining the squad, turned up in a big way on Mirage.
But the dynamic duo of Liazz (24-10, 1.57 rating) and INS (27-12, 1.90 rating) were too good for Encore on Nuke, booking the core’s next step in their road to Rio.
First up for Not Grayhound will be their ESL Challenger appearance at DreamHack Melbourne, kicking off next Friday.
Tickets for PAX Australia and the IEM Rio APAC RMR in early October are on sale now, with limited entry passes remaining for purchase.