Fragster | 21. September 2021

R6 NAL Week 2: Oxygen Extend Their Lead

After a great start to the NAL stage three tournament for Oxygen Esports last week, the team has further extended their lead as the competition front runners with a total of four victories.

With a clean sheet and double the points in the form of a six point lead over their current main rivals – SSG and Susquehanna Soniqs in joint second – Oxygen seem more than comfortable at the top spot of the tournament rankings.

With two playdays within the second week of the NAL stage three competition, there has been a lot of action. Eight matches, a few upsets, and some of the most crushing defeats of the tournament so far.

The first playday of the week took place on Tuesday the 14th of September and saw DarkZero Esports play their first game of the competition.  There was also a major upset in the game between Susquehanna Soniqs and XSET, as well as the beginning of a bad week for BeastCoast.

On the second playday of the week, and the fourth of the whole tournament, another four games were played on Wednesday the 15th, and saw Oxygen esports solidify themselves as the top dogs in a crushing victory against BeastCoast. Meanwhile, Astralis, SSG, DarkZero, and TSM battled it out to either rise to the top or drop to the bottom of leaderboard rankings from their previously middle-table standings.

Winners & Losers

As the title suggests, the biggest winners were Oxygen Esports, who won against Astralis on Tuesday, and then again against Beastcoast in a staggering 7-1 win on the following Wednesday.

It’s important to keep in mind that Oxygen are still yet to face Susquehanna Soniqs, SSG, or DarkZero, their three main rivals directly below them in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th respectively. The winning spot is still very much within reach of any of the top four teams so far, however Oxygen have certainly given themselves a massive advantage going into the later stages of the tournament.

As mentioned in our article covering the first week of the competition, DarkZero Esports made their debut into the NAL stage three tournament this week with two matches. With two wins in their first two games, it is clear that DarkZero are here to take it all with an impressive display from newcomer to the team, Canadian, who left retirement recently to join DarkZero.

At least judging from their first two games, the veteran Canadian seems to still have more than enough skill to compete. Possibly even more importantly, he seems to have melded well into his new team, with DarkZero esports even tweeting out proudly “Round 13 comms from yesterday” alongside the same gameplay clip shown above.

Where there is victory, there must also inevitably be defeat. There is no doubt that BeastCoast were the biggest losers of week two of the NAL stage three tournament, losing 7-1 on Tuesday to TSM, and 7 – 1 again on the following day Oxygen Esports. Granted, these matches were expected to be challenges for BeastCoast, with TSM and Oxygen being established successful teams in the NAL, but two 7 – 1 losses in a week is just as demoralizing either way.

Also having a bad week is TSM. While winning against BeastCoast, which was a mostly expected result, their loss on Wednesday the 15th to DarkZero Esports sent them into 5th place on the tournament leaderboard, a difficult position to come back from if TSM was looking for a first-place finish.

Easily the most surprising game of the tournament so far occurred on Tuesday the 14th, when team XSET beat Susquehanna Soniqs 7 – 3. XSET were not only in last place on the tournament leaderboard (and still are) but had also not won a game up until that point, managing to secure their first victory against the tournament’s current second-place team. Prior to the game, the community seemed pretty certain that XSET would lose, with a twitter poll voting 66.6% in favor of a Susquehanna Soniqs victory.

Despite their surprise victory over Susquehanna Soniqs, they once again lost to rivals Mirage on the following day, halting what may have been a sudden surge up the leaderboard.

BeastCoast is not the only team to have had an awful time in week two of the NAL stage three tournament. Astralis, who at the start of the week sat solidly in the middle of the tournament table with one win and one loss, lost both of their games this week, first to Oxygen Esports on the Tuesday, and again to SSG the following day.

While losing is never good, these losses were to the top teams in the tournament and the NAL as a whole, so we will likely see Astralis rise back up from their now 8th place in the tournament rankings as the competition goes on.

Nevertheless, their games against SSG and Oxygen were crucial indicators of whether Astralis would be competing for a top spot in stage three of the 2021 NAL, and their losses show that will now be extremely unlikely.

Though they are unlikely to finish in 8th come the competition’s conclusion, this week has made a top three finish for Astralis extremely improbable, and they will now have to claw their way just to be back in the middle of the leaderboard.

What’s Next?

With only one playday in week three of the NAL stage three tournament, there are only four games planned, all of which will be played on Wednesday 22nd next week. For the 5th Playday of the competition, all the matchups seem to be reasonably evenly matched, with teams of relatively equal standing set to play against each other.

Possibly the most anticipated match next week will be Oxygen Esports vs SSG. Almost always amongst the favorites in any NAL competition, SSG have their work cut out for them as they attempt to put a stop to Oxygen’s impressive streak of victories. Even if SSG does pull off a victory against Oxygen, Oxygen will still be in a comfortable first place due to their current unchallenged lead of six points, though a loss now could possibly shake the teams confidence, and allow their competitors SSG, Susquehanna Soniqs, and DarkZero a chance at the top spot.

Gaining their first victory this week against XSET, Mirage could be heading towards a more secure middle-table standing if they can win against BeastCoast next Wednesday, while a loss would send them plummeting back down to the bottom of the scoreboard.

Much like the Oxygen vs SSG game, DarkZero is set to face Susquehanna Soniqs next Wednesday, a game that could create an impressive three match win streak for DarkZero should they beat Susquehanna Soniqs.

The real question is: can Susquehanna Soniqs regain their previously strong performance after losing to what is a lower-tier team in XSET? A loss to DarkZero could see them drop out of the top four rapidly, while a victory may suggest that they still have a chance at first place if they play their cards right

The final match to lookout for next Wednesday is TSM against Astralis. Despite their low standing in 8th, it wasn’t too long ago when Astralis sat in the same position that TSM now sits – 5th place. In reality, Astralis has only lost one more game than TSM, and a win could very well be in their grasp.

TSM certainly seem more likely to secure a victory, but given the XSET vs Susquehanna Soniqs result this week, anything is possible. Either way, both teams desperately need to win in order to be in with a fighting chance of reaching the top four later in the tournament.