While this happened, SCARZ and FAV played a very tight series. SCARZ made the additions of LOB and Go “C1nder” Jae-hyuk coming into VCT Stage 2, signings that have paid off big-time. They’d take a 2-1 victory, though they lost Icebox 13-2 in a dominant performance by FAV.
Nth and CR were next up in the bracket, in what was a great match. At 13-7, Haven was the only map that didn’t go to overtime. Throughout the series, Meiy proved himself as a star for NORTHEPTION right alongside Seoldam.
Ultimately, though, CR were too clutch, and Nth just couldn’t get things done. 15-13, a heartbreaker on Bind, put CR through to upper finals and sent Nth down. On the other side of the bracket, JUPITER vs SCARZ would be a one-sided affair, going in favour of the region’s top team since beta 2-0.
This lined up a JUPITER-Crazy Raccoon upper final. These two teams had met in the Stage 1 Masters finals, which went in favour of Crazy Raccoon, but had more recently played in Stage 2 Challengers 1, where JUPITER came out ahead. The whole tournament had been a continuation of role swaps for JUPITER that they’d been running all throughout Stage 2, with Ryo “barce” Takebayashi taking up more and more duelists while Shogo “takej” Takemori took supports, and Kouji “Laz” Ushida and Oshiro “Reita” Ryu flexed everywhere. While it had worked for them last time, though, it wasn’t going to happen again. Crazy Raccoon are such a solid team – zepher is one of the most clutch players you’ll ever see and Byeon “Munchkin” Sang-beom always brings the heat as the other duelist. At a 2-1 scoreline, CR headed to the grand finals.
After Lag and FENNEL were eliminated early, we got some interesting matches. NORTHEPTION would end up falling out unexpectedly early, to FAV, in a disappointing result for the team. That didn’t stop Seoldam from collecting some sick clips for his montages, though.
Nth weren’t the only upper bracket team eliminated in this stage, though, as REJECT took down SCARZ 2-0 in another surprising result. REJECT were only just beginning to turn the heat on, though, as they’d follow that up with another big win over FAV. This one was very one-sided, with scorelines of 13-4 and 13-8. Heading into the final day of play, we had 3 teams – CR and JUPITER as favourites, and a red-hot REJECT looking to challenge.
In a 2-1 lower bracket series, JUPITER would eliminate REJECT by some pretty big scorelines, 13-7 on Bind and 13-5 on Haven. This set them up for the grand finals, yet another rematch with Crazy Raccoon.
The first few maps were very one-sided. On their two map picks of Ascent and Icebox, Crazy Raccoon dominated, dropping only 8 rounds between those two.
The next few maps were JUPITER’s picks, and they began, interestingly, to play Laz on Yoru. While the agent’s impact perhaps wasn’t quite what it could have been, he was certainly hitting his shots, top fragging for quite some time to lead JUP to a 7-2 lead on Bind. Here, though, Crazy Raccoon would begin their comeback. They outplayed JUP on their own attacking half. At the last second, with the score at 12-10, Reita helped pull it back for JUPITER. They’d win four straight rounds to keep their Iceland dreams alive for one more map.
Haven would be just as exciting. JUPITER grabbed an early lead, but it wouldn’t stay that way for long, as Crazy Raccoon made another great mid-game comeback. Ultimately, CR clutched up and things went to OT. Through four intense rounds, it was an amazing 4k by zepher that sealed the deal. Crazy Raccoon will be Japan’s representative in Iceland.
Final Standings for Stage 2 Challengers Finals Japan:
1. Crazy Raccoon – ¥1,000,000 + qualification to Masters Reykjavik
2. Absolute JUPITER – ¥500,000
3. REJECT – ¥200,000
4. FAV gaming – ¥100,000
5-6. SCARZ – ¥50,000
5-6. NORTHEPTION – ¥50,000
7-8. Lag Gaming – ¥50,000
7-8. FENNEL – ¥50,000