And the Winners of the NAL Stage 1 are…

ESPORTSREPORTER.COM / BENJAMIN LITVACK – STAFF WRITER / MAY 17TH, 2021 /

(Written 5/3/21)

Psyche! Sorry, but we have to save the best part for last. Welcome back everybody! Before I get into covering the final results from the first stage in the NAL, there needs to be two important disclaimers. The first is forget everything you thought you knew about the teams. The second is if anybody says they predicted the final outcome of this stage, you can safely call them a big fat liar, because NOBODY could’ve predicted this ending. If you haven’t watched the games yet, go do it now, you won’t be disappointed. Let me just remind everybody why the top four is such a big deal really quick. Fifth place will walk away with $5,000 and 225 Six Invitational points. Fourth place gets $18,500 and 275 Six Invitational points, and only goes up so much more from there. All Six Invitational points will be counted towards NEXT year’s Invitational, not the one coming up in one week’s time. That’s enough stalling though. Let’s get started!

9th Place/5 Points: XSET 

Look no one is really surprised to see XSET here. They’ve had a bad stage. It’s hard to say what went wrong and where because of the results they’ve had this stage. There is potential though. XSET were able to upset DZ and then bring the red hot Soniqs team to max overtime. If XSET can tap into whatever that potential is, they will assuredly find themselves out of last place. But for now, that is where they end this stage, and with no Six Invitational points either. 

8th Place/8 Points: beastcoast 

From red hot start, to fizzling out. It has not gone well for the new pro teams this stage. BC have proven that they can win. They beat TSM and Disrupt Gaming for crying out loud. It’s hard to say whether this is what was expected from the new guys to pro league, but they do have experienced players on their team so that argument doesn’t hold much weight. 

7th Place/12 Points: SSG 

You know for all the turmoil that has rocked SpaceStation Gaming this season, a three-way tie in points and a 7th place finish isn’t so bad for the reigning world champions, I guess. Even more good news: Canadian, their former all-time great and IGL will be coming out of retirement to help his team compete at the upcoming Six Invitational in May. That’s the good news of their story. The bad news is still quite numerous. SSG need a replacement for Canadian. Luke has done his best, and he has received way too much hate and not enough credit for the really bad situation he was put in. He still isn’t a pro level player and SSG need to sign somebody to fill their roster. Once that’s done, my god do they need to pick up the pace. They leave every attacking round to the dying seconds and leave themselves with no time for anything other than a flawless execution onto site. It hasn’t been pretty this stage and SSG need to get Canadian caught back up to speed when he returns with the Invitational on the horizon, otherwise there’s going to be a new world champion this year. They end the stage walking away with 2000$ and 115 Six Invitational points. 

6th Place/12 Points: DZ 

I think it’s safe to say that DarkZero’s gamble on going heavy on the fragging department hasn’t worked out too well for them this stage. In their defense, any team is going to need time with roster adjustments, especially when they give up their long term support player in exchange for another fragger. DarkZero has also suffered from the same problem in terms of their points. They lost to teams that had no business beating them, notably XSET. Even if they had one extra point from an OT loss somewhere, Disrupt had them beat in the head to head and DarkZero would still be locked out of the top 4. It’s not all doom and gloom though. With some more time the roles should be settled come next stage, but they need to stop the bleeding, and fast. They end the stage walking away with 3000$ and 180 Six Invitational points. 

5th Place/12 Points: TSM 

Now this is a surprise, especially for all of the TSM fans out there. This team was number 1 in NA at the end of last year, and it wasn’t even close. I think TSM’s stage can be surmised like this: they lost to teams who on paper, they’re better than. Their first game of the stage and their last game of the stage were both regulation time losses to beastcoast and Disrupt respectively.  Disrupt there’s an argument to be made about how good they turned out to be, but a loss to beastcoast just isn’t acceptable for these guys. Just like DZ though, even if they did have an additional point from an overtime loss in their season, they still would have lost the head-to-head against Disrupt. This is a talented team, and the excuse that they’re saving strats for Six Invitational doesn’t really fly when you’ve dropped the ball this consistently. For now though, they better get used to being in the middle of the pack. They end the stage walking away with 5000$ and 225 Six Invitational points. 

4th Place/13 Points: Disrupt Gaming 

Top four is top four baby, and Disrupt certainly are not complaining. DG also show the importance of winning in regulation. DG won their very last game against TSM, 7-5. That gave Disrupt 3 points and leaving TSM with 0, allowing Disrupt to leapfrog two whole places and end the stage in the top 4. Like I said above, that’s 13 thousand more dollars going into your pocket, along with a nice little bonus of SI points for good measure. Again, Disrupt won games against historically much better competition in the likes of OXG, DarkZero, and TSM, but lost against beastcoast and the very much struggling SSG. They also can’t get complacent. Their current standing came down to the very last game of the season, and they’re only ahead of THREE teams by ONE point. Disrupt need to lessen the load they’re placing on Shuttle, but like I said, top four is top four, and that’s where they are right now. They end the stage walking away with 18,500$ and 275 Six Invitational points. 

3rd Place/14 Points: Mirage

Ok what just happened? WHAT. JUST. HAPPENED? Last time I checked and heck even wrote one of these articles, Mirage was in 7th. SEVENTH. Now they’re in third! They had one of the lowest ranked players in NotLoading on their team too. He’s had one of heck of a resurgence in the second half of this stage. HotanCold has been nothing but hot as his rampage through the league has continued, determined to upstage his entire former team singlehandedly. Mirage are looking really good right now. They had a shaky start, that won’t be denied. But ever since, it has been up and up. The sky’s the limit for this squad, with many people wondering how high they can go. They end the stage walking away with 24,750$ and 330 Six Invitational points. 

2nd Place/15 Points: Soniqs

Well they finally did it. They finally did it folks. The Soniqs broke their way into the top 4. This hybrid fusion of EUnited players and Soniqs playbook has worked wonders. They have the statistically best player in the entire league on their roster in Gryxr and end this stage with only two total losses on this stage. It’s been an incredible debut for this brand new super team. It’s not all sunshine though, XSET the worst team in the league brought them to max overtime, and then they lost to Mirage on their final two playdays respectively. The loss to Mirage also was not even close as they lost 7-2. The Soniqs need to work on closing out their season, but for now they can sit nice and easy in second place, with a whopping 390 SI points coming their way.

1st Place/17 points: OXG

The only surviving team from the original top four. OXG have cemented themselves as the top team in NA for now. Look, this team is the complete package right now. You have all five players on this team playing out of their minds right now, two of them are rookies on top of that! OXG are just hot right now, and since they’re not competing in the upcoming Invitational, they didn’t have to hold anything back this stage. So everything we’re seeing is a full force OXG, and many teams should be rightfully afraid of that. As the current kings of the NAL, OXG end this stage with 77,500$ and a staggering 510 Six Invitational points. It’s good to be the king. 

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