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At the end of the day, Nukomaru overcame a field of 256 of the best TFT players in Japan to capture their first ever Japanese championship, meaning they will go on to represent Japan at Worlds.
Despite set 5.5 just coming out less than a week ago, Nukomaru will be punching their ticket to the first ever live in person TFT World Championship in China later this year. Their victory also netted them $5,000 dollars and more importantly, revenge for their second place finish at last seasons TFT Fates Japan Qualifiers.
Nukomaru’s TFT Japan revenge tour
Japan’s regional finals set up was a 256 player open bracket that prioritized rank, meaning the 256 highest ranked players on sign-up got to compete. Over the course of July, the 256 player field was whittled until only eight players remained. The eight player finals were held on Friday July 23. But with the TFT Reckoning: Dawn of Heroes update already being pushed to live servers, to protect competitive integrity, the finals were played on a special server that allowed for the eight players to play on the previous patch with none of the big changes in effect.
— ぬこ丸 (@nukotod) July 16, 2021
Nukomaru, who finished the first half of set five in 28th place on the Japanese server, came into the event wanting to win more than anyone. This was their second straight Japan Regional Finals appearance as they made it to finals at the TFT Fates Japan Qualifiers earlier this year. In that event, Nukomaru went into the final game of the event in first place but after a brutal seventh place finish in the last game, it was “Yastuhashi” that capitalized as they overtook Nukomaru by a single point to win the event, and push themselves to the TFT Fates Championship.
Nukomaru has had four months to think about what could have been, and made good on their promise to get revenge. In the five game finals of this season’s Japan TFT Regional Finals, Nukomaru played well but it was still close until game five. Despite winning the first two games of the lobby back-to-back, Kes kept pace with two straight second place finishes. Nukomaru widened the gap in game three as they secured a fourth place finish and Kes stumbled with a seventh place finish. Heading into game four, Nukomaru had a five point lead. But the past was back to haunt Nukomaru. In game four, Kes took first place while Nukomaru was handed their first bottom four placing in the finals as he settled in fifth. That five point lead was now just a one point lead heading into the final game.
With everything on the line in game five, Nukomaru and Kes squared off. Nukomaru Piloted a reroll Forgotten Cavalier comp which utilizes the powerful combo of Viktor and Hecarim to kill of the enemy board. They managed to get their comp online early and started to dominate. As for Kes, the game was over for them rather quickly. In a failed attempt to get their Aphelios composition online, Kes fell before stage 6-1 and ended in eighth place. With Kes eliminated, Nukomaru finished their victory lap as they three-stared five of their units in route to an easy first place. With a eight point lead over second place, Nukomaru was crowed champion.
Nukomaru will now look towards the set 5.5 expansion as they prepare for the TFT Reckoning Championship. But with the Japan Regional Finals happening so early, it will be interesting see how much practice Nukomaru will get. Their motivation may be at an all time high, but the rest of the region has nothing to play for. For everyone in Japan not named Nukomaru, their season is over.
Nukomaru still has a couple of months to prepare for the TFT Reckoning Championships being held in China. Set 5.5 just came out and will warp the game. With all the new changes and no tournaments for Nukomaru to prove themselves in the new expansion, only time will tell if Nukomaru can keep up their performance and give Japan their third straight TFT World Championship top eight appearance.
ASU alum with a B.A in Sports Journalism, Warren is one of the premier TFT Journalists in the scene and is a decent TFT player as well who has peaked Challenger and has had multiple accounts in Master+ over all sets. Warren also specializes in other esports content including League of Legends, Valorant, Smash Bros, and more.