Week two of the Liquid Galaxy Qualifier event has ended with an unexpected winner with an even more unexpected strategy.
In a field of 55 Challenger players and 151 Grand Masters, Tatsuya “Ayustat” Kawabata, a player currently residing in the Grandmaster rank, overcame the odds and took home $300 and a seat in the LGQ finals. Ayustat joins 15th ranked Challenger player “Simple Plan” as the first two of eight qualifiers for the LGQ finals. That event will determine which two players will join the rest of North America’s best TFT players at the OCENA regional finals later this year.
Ayustat played well the entire event. But the most surprising thing about his run wasn’t just the fact that he was just a GM player. It was the fact that Ayustat played primarily Cybernetics the entire tournament. Ayustat said that he played what he knew and he knew what worked in tournaments.
“I’ve played in the Giant Slayer Series tournaments and was familiar with how tournaments worked.” Ayustat said. “So going into this tournament I was ready to play my favorite Six Cyber comp.”
The Cybenetic composition has been one of the strongest comps in the TFT: Galaxies set. However, Cybers have fallen off of radars in recent patches due to other comps getting buffed while Cybers slowly weaker. Ayustat believes he did well because no one expected Cybernetics.
“I’ve liked playing uncontested comps since set one because they are easier to hit and I don’t like following other people’s playstyle,” Ayustat said. “So many people are playing the game incorrectly and Cybers can punish those people.”
Ayustat actually believes that Cybers are a really bad comp. However, due to this week’s event being on a new patch, it was good enough to win this time around.
“Since this patch has only been out for a couple of days, I think people haven’t entirely understood the meta.” Ayustat said. “When people start playing a S-tier comp optimally where its broken, Cybers just fall off. When people start playing comps optimally towards the end of the patch Cybers become a B-tier comp.”
Another surprising aspect of this tournament was the lack of top players in the finals. Despite 55 Challenger players signed up for the 512 person tournament, only one managed to make it to top eight. Ayustat believes this is due to needing a different playstyle in tournament play vs the ranked ladder.
“I think they were playing for a top-four style but in reality, in this tournament, you have to average 2.5 or higher to keep going,” Ayustat said. “The current meta right now is I think a top-four heavy style whereas my style is 1st or 8th.”
Ki Yoon “Kiyoon” Yoo, was the only challenger who made it into the finals lobby. Kiyoon is also the second-ranked TFT player in North America. He knows Ayustat because they have squared off against each other many times on the ranked ladder. Ayustat used to actually be a Challenger tier player who peaked at ninth place on the ranked ladder back in April. Kiyoon finished in third place but knew going into it that Ayustat had a good shot of winning.
Kiyoon thinks that having open qualifiers is a cool unique way for players to qualify for the North American regional qualifiers but does think there are things that could be improved on. Despite the brutal tournament structure that eliminates players for having a single off game, Kiyoon thinks the LGQ is a net benefit to the competitive scene.
“I actually have no problem with Team Liquid’s tournament structure aside from wanting more games played within the tournament to lower variance,” Kiyoon said.
Like many other players, Kiyoon enjoyed his time playing in the event this week.
“My experience playing in the event this week was overall good as everything ran smoothly this time.”
“This time” is in reference to the issues that have plagued the LGQ over the last couple of weeks. The first week of the LGQ had registration on a first come first serve basis and capped entries at 256. This excluded many high ranked players from participating in a very important tournament. In the second week, LGQ bumped up the cap to 512 and had priority registration for high ranked players. However, the staff failed to fairly seed the tournament. Many challenger players were matched with other challenger players in the opening round. This hiccup eliminated half of the top-ranked players in the first match.
Zach “izPanda” Shaner is the lead tournament organizer for Team Liquid. His team decided to postpone the second week of the event while they fixed the critical errors. To prevent issues going forward, izPanda said his team worked extra hard to make this week run smoothly.
“We spent the entire week testing edge cases and luckily did not run into any issues this weekend.” izPanda said. “We’re really happy with how it went this week.” izPanda said.
izPanda said it was a joy to run this weeks event and supports open qualifiers like the LGQ going forward.
“There can be really great players like Ayustat who now have a shot to qualify whereas they would’ve been left out of the ladder snapshots.” izPanda said.
Week three of the LGQ will be happening this weekend. Signups start on Wednesday. For more details visit liquidtactics.gg
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