AWC Japan 2015 Review
The A.V.A World Championship was announced early in the year across all A.V.A regions. Two to three teams per region would be graced with a spot to qualify into the four man playoff bracket at the Star Rise Tower in Tokyo, Japan. On the line would be a roughly $100 000 prize pool, with MVP cash rewards, and one of the most prestigious events in Alliance of Valiant Arms history.
Europe was capable of producing two caliber level teams, Global and Celsia through the seven month season. Other regions had varying formats in their seasons but teams like DeToNator, Requish, F4E, clanHeaT White, and more, all emerged onto the international stage. Newcomers and old time veterans were all intrigued by this new found vitality in the competitive A.V.A scene and of course, the largest prize purse yet.
Korea, long time eSports central, offered decorated team clanHeaT White, who had claimed both AAC and AIC this year. White, a team with dozens of sponsors, was one of the most favoured teams heading into the event. Accompanying them was Sensation, and Asurabalbata, who were known little outside of Korea.
DeToNator, the power house of Japan also sought the rewards from AWC Japan 2015. The team housing the most marketed player, Shaka (ays), certainly looked confident in their form. Requish and F4E were the second and third teams sent along with DetoNator to ensure the prize pool remained in Japan.
Sponsored teams, big organizations, newcomers, and the dedicated came to clash through Dec. 17th to the 20th. Four days of both quick and long matches endured. Catch up on what you may have missed in Ink's review of the entire event! You can click on any image to be taken to the corresponding VoD, or find them all here.
Group A and B would play out their games on Day 1. The first placing team in each of the two groups would automatically seed into the Playoff Bracket. The second placing teams would then need to qualify through the Wildcard tournament to secure the last spot in the main event. Group A, known as the group of death, produced some excellent games, while Group B poised many upsets.
Celsia, having one of three chances to draw into a different group, found themselves against clanHeat White, aHQ, and Asurabalbata. Taiwanese team aHQ, the dominant team of 2014, and the Korean team White, the 2015 duplicate. The hardest group to qualify out of for any team at AWC.
Celsia's first game against clanHeat White looked hopeful in the early rounds of Fox Hunting. Considering the map and side choices, it appears Celsia gave White the hardest time of any team. However, Fox Hunting was the map and HeaT took NRF first. The mountain was high enough, and Celsia couldn't muster the strategies, rotations, communications, or frag power to act upon any opportunities on the map. White took Fox 7-4.
Hammer Blow was next up for Celsia and White. This time, Celsia received NRF first, and had a great chance at securing four or five rounds. Unfortunately they only secured two to the four of White on EU. Every player in the first half was negative, especially Celsia players, except for Ast (6-2), and Agp (10-3). Agp found every possible mistake to capitalize on from Celsia. The remaining rounds went to White for 7-2 and Celsia was left 0-2 in maps.
Agp destroyed Celsia with his MK. 20 Proto.
White dispatched of Asurabalbata 7-1 on Cannon, and 7-3 on Dual Sight while Celsia took on aHQ.
aHQ was next for Celsia to test. Again, Fox Hunting was the first map with aHQ receiving the NRF side. At this point, Celsia's entire performance at AWC could have been vastly different with just opposite starting sides. Begrudgingly, Celsia powered on for two rounds on EU, employing their typical play from the European scene. However, by the third round Celsia was already huddling in spawn and hesitant of any action. aHQ had completely cracked Celsia's fortitude. By the time it was 6-0 for aHQ, Celsia had only managed a total of three kills, or 0.5 kills per round. No sign of comeback, and Celsia lost the first 7-0 of the event.
Celsia just could not grab any kills at the 6-0 mark.
Airplane, another map Celsia has yet to show strong performances on, was next. Celsia being 0-3 in map score, had a slim chance of making it out of the group. This map would eliminate Celsia after just two games, or provide false hope for the remaining group stage play.
aHQ took control of mid, double doors, and box room nearly every round, uncontested from Celsia. Too much of the map was given for free, with too few plays for map control coming out from the favoured NRF positions. aHQ worked picks, and rotations at first, but then broke down to a more simple style suited for Celsia's preparedness on Airplane to win 7-2.
aHQ proved their worth once again against Celsia.
Both aHQ and HeaT were 4-0 in their scores for the final round of games in group A. The winner of this series would proceed to the 4-team playoff bracket, while the other would need to qualify through the Wildcard. White, somehow receiving Fox Hunting and NRF for a second time pulled off a nice 5-1 first half, before winning 7-2. aHQ tried their best but first side Fox Hunting NRF endures.
India is a different story, and the first time we saw White relieved to win rounds. The Korean team started EU first, and struggled to find a clear path to victory. aHQ took an early lead 2-0 to superior rotations and positioning from great communication. However, White, they had enough and proceeded to win the next four rounds to secure the first half 4-2. Gyul and Jun had stepped up for their team.
Second half was brutal for aHQ. It seemed if they won one round, HeaT would take two. 6-4 for White, and aHQ tried their hardest to bring the score 6-6. aHQ secured 1 site in the final round, but could not anticipate Agp on the flank. With the two remaining HeaT players each taking a kill, White secured their spot in the playoff bracket, defeating aHQ 7-6 on India.
In less meaningful games, Celsia managed to tie 1-1 to Asurabaltabata and through round score, didn't place last in the group but both teams placed 1-5, behind aHQ's 4-2, and White's dominant 6-0. The first playoff team had been decided, and it was on to group B!
HexaKill was easily 2-0'd by every team in this group, with no insight to their play styles or further analysis.
DeToNator, TPA, and F4E. Two Japanese, and one of the best long-term Taiwanese teams were sure to mix for an exciting group stage clash. These teams would face off against the winner of the Wildcard tournament, and knew they would not need to play White until the Grand Finals at the latest.
F4E's chance to shine was with TPA. Most players predicted an easy win for TPA over the newcomer team from Japan. F4E certainly showed their strength on the first map, Airplane. No team had more than a one round lead throughout all thirteen rounds. This was one of the closest and the best series of the entire group stage. Both team struggled round after round, with no decisive victor. F4E's Rion ended the game 23.5-8, with a performance to match. Somehow, F4E emerged 7-6 with the title to shock everyone.
Hammer Blow was next and despite Rion's attempt at carrying his team, the overall team synergy from TPA took the first half 4-2. A big loss for F4E as they had started on NRF and were unable to secure a lead. TPA on NRF shut down everything F4E tried, and won out 7-4.
Rion attempted a carry but it was in vain.
F4E's next opponent would be DeToNator on Hammer Blow, and Black Scent. F4E, having just lost to TPA on Hammer was not looking too confident. To everyone's surprise F4E was able to secure both maps 7-3, and 7-4. DeToNator lacked scope impact, and was unable to lock down mid on Black Scent. F4E's defense on Hammer, and offense on Black Scent secured the maps. DeToNator seemed almost absent on Hammer, with only a few hopeful attempts on Black.
F4E had now gone 5-1 in the groups. It was between DeToNator and TPA on who would come second. The first map, Cannon, went by quickly as TPA easily 7-3'd DeToNator, even with starting NRF. However, Hammer Blow was up once again, and DeToNator secured the second map. Reagrdless, TPA had qualified for the Wildcard tournament, while DeToNator did not make it out of groups to much surprise.
F4E's upsets were refreshing and great to see the older teams falter to newer more robust and practiced teams. We also began to see a popular trend appear where scopes had a very minor impact in the majority of all games. This group concluded day 1!
Group C's winner would face clanHeaT White in the playoff bracket. A bittersweet reward for doing well in the group stage. The team that came second would have a chance to contend with other second place finishers for a final spot to face F4E. Requish, Sensation, and Global all tried their best to secure wins but only one could prevail!
Requish and Sensation opened the first game of the day. We took to India where Sensation started on EU with Requish to NRF. Requish, the defensive sided team that they are, took an easy 5-1 lead over Sensation. The Korean team lacked the fragging power and communication to capitalize on the few defensive mistakes Requish made. Only through Requish's own misplays did Sensation secure any round wins in the first half. Requish's Nemcy, with his score of 18.5-5, finished off Sensation with a final score of 7-3.
Dual Sight was next, but it went no better for Sensation. Requish smashed through on EU taking the first half 4-2. After the side switch, Sensation once again could not penetrate the NRF strength of Requish, losing 7-2.
Global finally got to play, and Sensation was their initial opponent. India, one of the maps Global had played the most was up first. Although Lamination was 10-4 in score, Global pulled through with a great 4-2 lead on NRF. Three rounds for Global to close out the first map, and have a great chance at making top 4. In the second half we saw the unbelievable occur, Global was 6-3, just one round shy of taking the map. Yet, the European team lost all composure, and coordination four rounds in a row. It is unclear if it was nerves, a break down in communication, or what the reason for this massive comeback was. Certainly Lamination's scoping ability played a role (15-8).
A bitter scoreboard Global will never forget.
After the brutal comeback loss on India, Global needed to reset for Fox Hunting. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case as Sensation ran over Global in a similar fashion to aHQ versus Celsia. Global secured two round wins before losing 7-2. Global tried to employ plays but due to the nature of Fox Hunting, were unable to break out from the control of the winning team.
With a heavy 2-0 loss against Sensation, and new respect for Requish, no one had any hope for Global for the final Japanese team. Requish had 2-0'd the team that 2-0'd Global. We had seen how Global played India, and with it being the first map against Requish, perhaps they had a chance. With Requish being the NRF team that they are, Global needed to get as many rounds as possible on their starting NRF side. Both teams couldn't find any leeway and kept the score close 3-3, with a lot of play around pillar and 2 site. Each team seemed to ignore mid in the first half.
Side switch and Requish is on defense. taZ opens the seventh round strong with a 3k, stepping up for his team. However, Requish took easy kills on Global in the eighth round and slowly broke down Global to tie it 4-4. Global proceeds to lose again, 5-4, despite taZ's best efforts. Great shots and pressure from kRoon enable a 5-5 score, tying it once again. Global, somehow take it 7-5 against Requish, closing the last few rounds out as a team, with Epi leading the charge 16-8. Despite the map win having no bearing on the group stage, it did mean both European teams did not place last, and each beat one Asian team on one map.
Epi and taZ did fantastic work through the map.
aHQ and Sensation would need to play each other, and the winner would then play against TPA for the final slot into the playoff bracket. aHQ took to Dual Sight against the Korean team and proceeded to win 7-2 with little resistance. TPA, a team who has struggled to defeat aHQ in offline matches, once again fell to their curse, and lost Black Scent 2-7. aHQ won through the Wildcard to face off against F4E in the Semi-Final B match!
The top Korean team, White, looked eager as ever to get to the Grand Finals. In their way was Requish, who had performed better than DeToNator, the team we expected to be here. Fox Hunting and Dual Sight would be the first two maps of the best of three series. Fox clearly favoured White, while Dual Sight could swing in any direction.
The odds finally took their toll on White, as they were set to play EU first on Fox. Requish employed traditional defensive layouts but only managed to get two of six rounds on the favoured side. A huge momentum swing for White as they switched to NRF with the map basically in the bag. Requish struggled to pull out one final round win before White took the map 7-3.
Dual Sight was next and Requish's last chance at making it to the Grand Finals. Heat received NRF first but Requish turned their style around and performed well on EU. The first half ended 3-3 after nearly every round came down to a 1on1 or 1on2. No team had any round advantages. With an intense map heating up, it looked like Requish may be able to force a third map. Still, the teams went back and forth all the way to a 6-6 score line. In the final round Heat snuck in to two site, locked down three excellent frags on Requish, and proceeded to win the round with Jun and Agp securing the final kills. Heat moved on to the Grand Finals!
Taiwan veteran team aHQ taking on the fresh Japanese team F4E, who shocked everyone by qualifying for the playoff bracket. Airplane, Aslan, and India were the maps given to these teams to play through. Airplane as anyone's guess, as Aslan and India were assumed to favour aHQ.
One of the craziest maps in all of AWC was definitely Airplane in this series. F4E took to NRF and dismantled aHQ's efforts for the first three rounds. Clutch Fi found every clutch scenario possible going 7-0 after just three rounds, while the rest of his team cleaned up the frags. However, aHQ wasn't pleased and proceeded to win back the last remaining rounds of the first half thanks to AfteR's incredible performance. AfteR was 2-4 in score but by the 11th round was sitting at an astonishing 17 - 5. aHQ secured the map 7-3.
AfteR seemed unstoppable on Airplane on either half.
F4E had looked strong with their individual skill but their communication seemed rustic at times. Heading into Aslan F4E needed to make a change. Initially it seemed F4E was unable to compete on par with aHQ, after barely tying the first half 3-3. aHQ stormed ahead with AfteR and 47 having a huge impact in the rounds leading to a 6-4 scoreline. F4E's Bobobo and Taki had enough, and managed to double their scores to make a huge comeback through sheer frags to win 7-6.
All tied up between F4E and aHQ. At this point we've seen stomps, massive comebacks, and huge disappoints on India. The atmosphere was an incredible exchange of intensity between the crowd, and the teams. F4E pulled to a 4-2 win in the first half thanks to Apina finally landing shots and having impact in the rounds. However, aHQ made their own fortune and took the series to a 6-4 scoreline due to C0wman's and 47's incredible fragging power. Yet somehow F4E still had a fighting spirit and managed to crawl to a 6-6 tie once again. The double comeback was real and F4E finished off aHQ in the final round with a dicey site 1 push that nearly fell apart. However, the remaining members of F4E secured the kills and took the series!
ClanHeat White had taken the AVA Asian Cup, and the AVA International Competition in 2015. A victory in this Grand Final would secure a 3/3 international record in 2015. On the other side F4E was just simply looking for their first international win ever. A huge contrast between these two teams motivations. To top it all off it was Korea versus Japan, a very iconic match-up considering the AVA scenes of past years.
Heading right into Hammer Blow F4E received EU and it was their job to break through White's NRF hold. Clutch_Fi opened up strong with three kills to take the first round, but White was quick to fight back in the second round with Gyul sporting a 4-1 score. However, it would not be another aHQ game, as White proceeded to win the first half 4-2.
Gyul, 0tan, and Jun consistently broke through the NRF strategies of F4E, and no amount of fragging power from Clutch or Rion would suffice. The rest of F4E seemed to be out of the game, with Apina having no impact at all. White took the map 7-2.
0tan won rifleman MVP, with help from Gyul and Agp.
Cannon was up next with White receiving EU first. We had yet to see a strong NRF side from F4E, so it was an interesting scenario for the Japanese team on Cannon. Both teams worked Cannon well to tie the first half 3-3, with stand out performances from Jun and Taki. Yet, it was only Jun who carried this performance into the second half ending his own score 14-5 and winning the map 7-4. F4E seemed all but outclassed even on Cannon EU.
Down 0-2, it was now or never for the now famous F4E comeback. HeaT was just one map away from creating one of the best sprees ever. We went to Dual Sight to find out who could secure the title. Heat White didn't let off as they won four rounds straight, completely dismantling F4E. Ast was shutting down Apina at every turn with a score of 8-1. The second half proceeded no different and Heat took the final map in the most dominating fashion yet, 7-2.
Heat White had shown their supremacy through the year and exemplified it even further during the AWC event. With no question in anyone's mind, clanHeat White were your AWC Japan 2015 Champions!
The AWC Japan 2015 trophy.