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While the western side of Call of Duty esports settles from CWL Fort Worth, the east was in full swing. The Southeast Asia (SEA) scene’s biggest annual tournament, the Asia Championship 2019, was held this past weekend. The event saw four of Asia’s best teams duke it out in the CGA Esports Arena in Hong Kong. Aside from earning the title of SEA’s best, the champion wins $12,000 USD as well as travel and accommodation to the CWL Anaheim open major later this season.

Credit: ESL Asia

RamPaGe Gaming’s roster currently consists of:

  • Hakiem “RanGer” Tajudin (Captain)
  • Sean “SeaN” Wong Sui Sheng
  • Izzul “Izzul” Amin
  • Daniel “Rainyz” Ali
  • Jericho “Jericho” Ambulo

With this victory, RamPaGe Gaming maintains their throne as SEA’s top team, despite an uncertain start to 2019. The team finally won their first SEA championship in last year’s tournament and were looking to go back-to-back. However, coming into the qualifiers, a new challenger stepped up.

The team “Love Potion” formed at the start of the Black Ops 4 season and has quickly risen through the SEA ranks. The young squad is comprised of both upcomers and familiar faces from Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines. A dominant team, they held a 36 – 6 map count record from online scrims coming into the tournament. In the online qualifiers as well, they managed to beat RamPaGe Gaming to steal the top seed.

Rising tensions

The stage was set. Will RamPaGe Gaming cement themselves as SEA’s first Call of Duty dynasty? Or will Love Potion be the heartbreakers and topple the old kings? Post-qualifiers, there has been a lot of drama and back and forth between the SEA community. Most of the beef was spearheaded by the Love Potion boys. Brimming with confidence, their smack talk reached a WWE-esque level of entertainment. Love Potion talked the talk but had to back it up.

RamPaGe Gaming faced off the dark horses Fame Apex, a talented squad looking to cause upsets. Unfortunately for the squad, they were sent down to the losers bracket after RamPaGe Gaming wiped the floor with them. While the underdog squad was touted to be talented, the series itself was swiftly concluded. The Arsenal hardpoint was a 100-point club (250 – 92) while the Frequency search and destroy was a dominating 6 – 1.

The event started swimmingly for both teams. Love Potion faced off against South Korean team “Invincible” in their first match. Invincible is comprised of players in their late-20s and mid-30s. Despite that, they had two players that had competed at multiple CWL World Championships. The wealth of experience couldn’t carry the South Korean squad, who were easily smoked by Love Potion. The Gridlock hardpoint was a record-setting 250 – 5 while the Payload search and destroy ended at 6 -3.

The anticipated winners final was also surprisingly quick, despite the build up. RamPaGe Gaming came out with the fire, taking a comfortable Frequency hardpoint 250 – 166. The Hacienda search and destroy was also a 6 – 3 win, sending Love Potion down to the losers bracket. Many questioned whether Love Potion were simply just loudmouth onliners.

Last Stand Pro

Fame Apex faced off Invincible to stay alive in the event. They took a fast Seaside hardpoint 250 – 93, simply outslaying the South Korean squad. The Frequency search and destroy was more competitive, with the South Koreans displaying better tactical prowess than gunskill. The map went to a round 11, with Fame Apex pulling off an incredible late-game comeback. They won the map 6 – 5 and the series, moving on to challenge Love Potion.

Being sent to the losers finals wasn’t as daunting to Love Potion as some would expect. In reality, due to the size of the competition, Love Potion were simply facing a minor setback. Fame Apex faced the explosive squad, looking to fight their way into the grand finals. Unfortunately for them, Love Potion proved to be too much. The Hacienda hardpoint was controlled by an aggressive Love Potion, ending at a 250 – 118 scoreline. Fame Apex had a better showing in the Gridlock search and destroy, displaying better team fundamentals. Sadly, massive plays on the side of Love Potion closed the map in their favor 6 – 4.

Grudge match

Love Potion fought their way back for a rematch against RamPaGe Gaming. But to win it all, they had to take two best-of-fives. The heartbreaker boys were determined and came out with a fire. The first map, Hacienda hardpoint, was a close game, with Love Potion taking it 250 – 204. This gave them the momentum to win the Payload search and destroy in another close 6 – 5 map.

In an attempt to shut down Love Potion’s growing momentum, RamPaGe Gaming brought it back with a 3 – 2 victory on Gridlock control. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough as Love Potion played another close Arsenal hardpoint, taking it 250 – 225. Love Potion played an aggressive, in-your-face style that dictated the pace of the respawns. Small mistakes and crucial lost gunfights on RamPaGe Gaming’s side cost them the series.

With the bracket reset, the title was RamPaGe Gaming’s to lose. Love Potion have just won two straight series and were feeling themselves. The first map was Arsenal hardpoint again, but history wouldn’t repeat itself. RamPaGe Gaming cleaned up their rotations and holds, this time dominating Love Potion with a 250 – 114. Once again, the Payload search and destroy went to a round 11 with RamPaGe Gaming taking it. However, Love Potion were not easily shaken, taking a fast 3 – 1 Seaside control.

The Hacienda hardpoint was close again, with Love Potion edging it out 250 – 230. The heartbreakers were about to complete the reverse sweep to steal the championship away. In a sudden twist, RamPaGe Gaming reached another level, playing an amazing Arsenal search and destroy. They constantly punished Love Potion’s aggression with controlled site holds, winning the trade balance. Just as well, everyone on the squad managed to turn up in their situational plays. The map ended at 6 – 1, securing RamPaGe Gaming as the top SEA team in the world.

The Asian scene still has a ways to go to compete with the top teams in the world. But the drive these teams have proves there is a potential in these budding regions. Western fans will be able to see RamPaGe Gaming appear in the next few CWL open majors, where they will gain more international experience. The rise of teams such as Love Potion shows that there is untapped talent in Asia. With more support and offline events, the region can start to develop more.

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