43 teams signed up for the open qualifier this week, slightly up on numbers from IEM Rio;s qualifier last year.
Invites Grayhound, Vertex and Encore will be joined in tomorrow’s closed qualifier by Antic Esports, Dead Weight, Majestic Foghorns and Killzone Gaming.
Finalising the eight-team qualifier is eLEMONators, who have replaced original invite Rooster. The ESL Pro League representatives were unable to attend the closed qualifier due to international commitments, and ran out of time to register for the European equivalent.
eLEMONators will be contesting the closed qualifier with Tom “apocdud” Henry, Eddie “viridian” Azzi, Jayden “foggers” Graham, Cody “nauh” Huang & Will “yourwombat” Allchin.
It will be a qualifier of firsts for the bulk of the invited squads — most of which have made changes over the off-season.
Coach David “Kingfisher” Kingsford departed Grayhound just last week and has reportedly linked up with Vertex.
Former Encore frontman James “SaVage” Savage made a move across to Vertex but his tenure at the Wolfpack was short-lived, with Vertex acquiring Encore’s Jared “HaZR” O’Bree ahead of their road to Paris.
Eventual top seed Antic were pushed into overtime in their first match of the bracket by experienced mix team “guag’s party”, but were otherwise untroubled on their way through to the closed qualifier with wins over Kraken Esports and Shadow Wizard Money Gang.
Dead Weight, featuring a number of the defunct 8Ballers squad, were less troubled in their route to tomorrow’s qualifier, only pushed to the brink in their best-of-three opener against Toxic.
Tyler “tucks” Reilly’s newest project “Majestic Foghorns” took down Hello Kitten in the round of 16 yesterday, with the squad finding themselves in the closed qualifier following a solid 2-0 (16-8, 16-8) victory against SwankyG’s God’s Work.
Finally, Killzone Gaming rounded out the list with a close 2-0 (16-14, 16-14) victory over Problematic Kings.
The closed qualifier begins Friday, February 17, with the two-day double elimination event whittling the eight attendees down to two representatives.
Both reps will fly to Ulaanbaatar in early April for the BLAST.tv Paris APAC RMR, from which two teams from across the wider Asia-Pacific region will qualify for the Paris Major Challenger Stage.