TSM FTX have a tall task entering the final two weeks of the NAL Stage 3. Can they maintain their spot in the top four despite a poor recent showing?
The North American League has only three play days left in Stage 3, and the most recent match day saw the standings solidify. Soniqs, Spacestation, and and Oxygen have all cemented their spot at the top of the NAL, each with a 4-1 record. The fourth and final spot at the next Major is seemingly the final point of contention left in the NAL. Five teams appear in striking distance of the cutoff, though the margin of error for each team is growing thinner.
After North America’s failure at the Mexico Major, the pressure will be on for the four qualifiers.
Hotancold brings the heat to TSM
Spacestation Gaming seized the opportunity to safeguard their spot in the top three. With their 7-3 victory over TSM FTX, SSG saved themselves from the possibility of relegation and are all but guaranteed a spot at the next Major.
TSM on the other hand have only continued their downward trend. In Stage 3 of the NAL, TSM have yet to win against fellow top five teams. This is certainly worrying as TSM still have yet to face Soniqs before entering the ‘easier’ part of their season.
SSG opened up nearly every round with the first pick, finding a combined 90% ESR. Though SSG created opportunities, TSM managed to keep pace on Oregon and kept the game tied up until round 6, largely thanks to the efforts of Bryen “Merc” Wrzek.
A 3K by Matthew “Hotancold” Stevens seemingly put the game out of reach for TSM FTX. Hotancold had an impeccable performance on the day, finding 21 total kills and book-ending the series with another 3K.
After his impressive showing, Hotancold has jumped to the best statistically performing player in the NAL. Hotancold now leads the NAL in overall rating (1.45), K-D (+29), and ESR (+12). While it is difficult for any player to keep up this level of performance, Hotancold is clearly a cut above the rest.
The only silver lining for TSM FTX is that the immediate threat to the spot, DarkZero, also fell. In a league where the difference between relegation and a Major spot can be one game, simply maintaining a fourth place spot is not nearly enough.
Soniqs make a claim for the top of the NAL
The Soniqs turned the top half of the NAL into a three-horse race between themselves, Oxygen Esports, Spacestation. Soniqs 7-3 victory over Beastcost put them in the middle of a three-way tie at the top of the NAL, all with 12 points each. Alexander “Yeti” Lawson, Richie “Rexen” Coronado, and Pablo “Gryxr” Rebeil all found +10 kills and above 1.30 ratings.
In stage 3, Soniqs have consistently proven to have some of the strongest individual players in the most cohesive roster. Also a team now out of relegation distance, Soniqs can look toward the top for the remainder of their season. With a game against Mirage next week, Soniqs should be carrying plenty of momentum going into their final hurdle against Oxygen.