The first of three stages of the Telkom VS Gaming Masters Season 5 finished this week. The group stage took place over three weeks and saw the 18-team event reduced to sixteen teams. The remaining sixteen teams have been seeded into the second stage, the championship elimination stage, based on their placement in the group stage.
Due to the global landscape, everything has had to adapt to the current way of living, as a result, Telkom VS Gaming decided to combine the Telkom VS Gaming Masters and the Telkom VS Gaming Championship into one giant event to be played out online. It has presented an opportunity for some of the teams in lower divisions to compete with the best in South Africa.
The group stage consisted of the 18 teams which were split into two groups of nine, where each team played a best of two against each other. One point was awarded per map win so if the best of two was won 2-0 then the team would pick up two points. The teams that placed in the top four have been seeded into the upper bracket for the second stage while the teams that placed 5th-8th were seeded into the lower bracket. The team that placed ninth in the group was eliminated from the tournament altogether.
Group One was looked at as the slightly more stable and predictable of the two groups, and that turned out to be the case. The tournament favourites, ATK topped the group without even dropping a map in the process while the late replacements Ladon were eliminated in the 9th spot after a challenging run.
Along with ATK in the top four is Sinister5 who placed second, Online Kingdom who snagged third and lastly Royalty Esports who picked up the fourth spot. The teams that will be competing in the lower bracket in the second stage from Group One are NiBBLE Conspire who placed fifth, Team Mist who placed sixth, Critical5 who placed seventh and Clutch Kings who managed eighth.
ATK Arena dominated the opposition in their group. They won all eight of their matches with relative ease with their closest map coming against Online Kingdom where they won 16-12, outside of that the only other team to surpass double digits against them was Sinister5 who managed 11 rounds. ATK Arena has proven themselves as the team to beat in South African Counter-Strike this year, and there aren’t any signs of them slowing down anytime soon.
Sinister5 placed second in the group after they won five of their matches, drew one and lost two. Their first loss was against Royalty Esports which was quite the upset and probably gave them a bit of a reality check heading into the rest of the group stage. The match afterwards they then managed to scrape a draw against NiBBLE, leaving them in the middle of the group. After that, they won their next three games fairly comfortably with their only further loss coming in their last match which was against ATK which cemented their position towards the top of the table.
Online Kingdom (OK) had a solid turn around in the group after a less than ideal start to the event. They lost their first three matches, however, they did come up against formidable opponents in ATK and Sinister5 early on so they’d always have been mentally prepared to do the bulk of their winning later on in the group stage. Their 2-0 win against Royalty was a defining result as it set them apart from NiBBLE and Royalty, the two other teams they were competing with for a spot in the top four. Courtesy of their draw against NiBBLE and win against Team Mist, OK placed an impressive third in the group.
Royalty Esports rounded out the top four in group 1 after they placed fourth. They kicked off their campaign with a draw against Critical5 but then went on a winning spree with three consecutive wins, with the most impressive coming against Sinister5. They did drop the series against OK which set them back slightly but they did enough in their last couple of games to confirm their spot in the top four. Royalty had a group defining game against NiBBLE in which they lost the first map in overtime 22-19 and won the second map 16-5. What makes it group defining is that the two of them ended up with 10 points each in the group but because Royalty Esports had a better overall round difference in the group they secured the fourth and final upper-bracket spot.
NiBBLE Conspire had to settle for the fifth spot which is probably one spot outside of what their goal was heading into the group stage. This means they are going to have to fight their way through the lower bracket in the second stage of the competition. NiBBLE had a fairly solid run throughout the group stage where they won three games, drew four and only lost the one game, which was against ATK so that’s nothing to scoff at. They were literally one point away from securing a spot in the top four so it’s unfortunate that they have to play in the lower bracket but I think they can be proud of their performance in the group stage.
Coming in sixth place in Group One is Team Mist after a decent showing in the group. They won one of their matches, drew three and lost four. What was impressive about Team Mist is that they managed to take points away from each of the games that mattered the most to them. When you’re in their position it’s vital to identify where in the group your potential points are, as in which teams do you stand the best chance of competing with. Their competition was always going to be the likes of Clutch Kings, Ladon and Critical5, and they managed to take points from each of them.
Critical 5 were the first to play their matches in the group so they had to play a bit of a waiting game to see exactly where their destiny lay. In the end they had done enough to reach the next stage after they were locked in the seventh position. Critical 5 won one match, drew three and lost four throughout their group stage campaign which meant they finished with five points. Much like Team Mist, Critical 5 picked up points in the games that mattered the most to them, including an impressive 16-6 map win on Vertigo against Royalty Esports. That map win is potentially what propelled them above Clutch Kings, on whom they had a one-point lead.
Clutch Kings rounded out the teams that reached the next stage from Group One. They picked up a forfeit win against Ladon, drew two of their matches and lost the other five. They got off to a horrid start after they lost their first five matches, however, they were able to turn the tide, picking up at least one point in each of their remaining matches thereafter. It was a solid turn around from Clutch Kings, they’d have known that their first five games were going to be the most challenging in the group and wouldn’t have been too disparaged by the results. They picked up the points when it mattered the most and will be in the lower bracket in the next stage.
Ladon was a replacement team after GAC was removed from the tournament. It’s never easy receiving a late invitation to an event, however, they weren’t going to let that stop them. Although they didn’t win a map throughout the group stage, they did have quite a few close maps. They lost 16-11, 16-11 against Critical 5 and also narrowly lost 16-14 against Team Mist. Those results prove that they weren’t far off potentially securing some points and avoiding elimination.
The Championship Elimination Stage will commence on the 7th of September with the remaining 16 teams battling it out in the double-elimination bracket. Only four teams will progress from there to the 3rd and final stage which is the Telkom VS Gaming Masters Finals which will be a part of Online Con, held from the 24th of September to the 27th of September. With R210 000 on the line, it’s all to play for!
This is the first of two articles wrapping up the first group, a second piece will be released soon covering group two.
More information about the Telkom VS Gaming Masters can be found here: https://bit.ly/3jpJI0i