After a hectic ten-day group stage, six teams remain alive in VCL Japan Split 1.
JAPAN – VCL Japan Split 1 has reached its playoff bracket stage following a rigorous ten-day group play phase. It started with eight teams fighting for the JP¥5,000,000 prize pool and two spots in the next VCL Split, but that pool has now been whittled down to six. The six playoff teams will have a week to prepare for the playoffs, kicking off on Sunday with the lower bracket quarter-final matchups.
Two of the most highly anticipated teams, Crazy Raccoon and SCARZ, have emerged as the top seeds after an impressive group stage. As a result, they will bypass the quarter-final and semi-final rounds and proceed directly to the upper bracket final. Regardless of the outcome in the aforementioned round, both teams will compete in person at the INTEX Osaka Arena.
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Crazy Raccoon secured a playoff berth on the back of a strong showing, where Yusuke “neth” Matsuda and co. put up an impressive 7-0 record to finish as the first seed without dropping a single map. CR will be full of confidence heading into the knockout stage, where they will face off against the second-place sides, SCARZ.
All eyes will be on the impressive Japanese-Russian combine in SCARZ. The recent arrivals of “Yoshiii” and coach Daulet “Fadezis” Abilov have seemed to stabilize the roster, while Maksim “Jemkin” Batorov continues to provide for his squad, as he averaged 274.8 during the team’s run in the group stage.
The remaining four teams will start their playoff journey in the lower bracket quarter-finals, with Sengoku Gaming facing off against IGZIST in a rematch of their one-sided group stage encounter. On the other side of the bracket, FENNEL will look to repeat their one-sided group stage victory against NORTHEPTION in the opening match.
Sengoku Gaming, who seemed to run without structured leadership, were able to outclass other high-caliber teams following the return of Russian duo Ilya “something” Petrov and “Vici”, as well as the arrival of former Crazy Raccoon and FAV Gaming player Hideki “Fisker” Sasaki. Throughout their run, something and Vici were heavily relied upon. With the tournament now reaching the playoff stage, where the stakes are much higher, the eyes of many will be fixed on the duo, eagerly awaiting their next moves in the server.
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The match-ups for the single-elimination, best-of-three playoffs, which will kick off on February 19, look as follows:
Sunday, February 19
- 12 PM SGT – Sengoku Gaming vs. IGZIST
- 5 PM – FENNEL vs. NORTHEPTION
Monday, February 20
- 12 PM – Crazy Raccoon vs. SCARZ
- 5 PM – Lower Round 2
Saturday, March 18
- 12 PM – Lower Final
Sunday, March 19
- 12 PM – Grand Final
Cover photo courtesy of Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games