Team NKT crowned Funspark ULTI 2021 Asian Playoffs #1 champions over Invictus

by Juandi

The “Asian Super Team” were crowned the Funspark ULTI 2021: Asian Playoffs #1 champions after taking down Invictus Gaming in a hard-fought best-of-three series (Inferno 16-7, Dust2 17-19, Nuke 16-14).

Team NKT won the Funspark ULTI 2021: Asian Playoffs #1 after recording a thrilling 2-1 victory over China’s Invictus Gaming. The victory boosted the Erdenetsogt “erkaSt” Gantulga-led side as the current highest-ranked teams in the Funspark circuit standings as of the time of publishing. After a string of lackluster finishes during its early formation, Team NKT were able to put up a world-class performance anticipated of the roster composition this time around.

Funspark ULTI 2021 – Asian Playoffs #1 was held as a series of Funspark’s all-year-long league that will be hosted until the end of the year and includes four Regional Series and two Playoffs. With little to no competition to play other than Funspark ULTI and ESEA League, the former’s circuit standings seem to reflect closely with the current Asian team rankings in the top level.

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TYLOO were one of the contenders, having not appeared in any competitions since the ProHouse Wuxi Villa Cup Season 2 concluded. Renewal and Checkmate were Mongolia’s representatives, while Camel Riders made the cut thanks to their circuit rankings. Additionally, Team NKT, LVG, Wings Up, and Invictus Gaming also participated, making this one of the region’s most stacked competitions this year.

(Image Credit: Liquipedia)

TYLOO’s early defeat to Wings Up Gaming drew headlines, as did their subsequent loss to Invictus Gaming in the lower bracket, which saw them ousted in 5th-6th place. Another unexpected early exit was Renewal, who just won the DreamHack Open June Playoffs and the MESA Pro Series not a long time ago, struggled to finish out the series against Wings Up Gaming and Checkmate. The series against the latter team in the elimination round was the most thrilling of the competition, which they won 25-23 on Ancient after three overtimes.

Team NKT went on to beat Camel Riders, LVG, and Wings Up Gaming en route to the BO3 grand final, while Invictus Gaming were relegated to the lower bracket on the first round but managed to overcome the most difficult road by defeating TYLLO, Checkmate, and Wings Up Gaming to play Team NKT in the grand final.

The Grand Final – Team NKT vs. Invictus Gaming – Funspark ULTI 2021 Asian Playoffs #1

Team NKT got the match off to a flying start on Inferno, Invictus Gaming’s map selection. The Chinese side were able to clinch the first few gun rounds with three equally convincing ones until Erdenetsogt “erkaSt” Gantulga led the charge and emerged looking like a completely different beast while being the team’s captain. There was nothing the JiaMing “DeStRoYeR” Gu and co. could do to stop the onslaught as Team NKT cruised to a 16-7 victory on the opening map.

Kevin “xccurate” Susanto and his men got off to another solid start on their map selection, Dust2, as they dominated the bulk of the first half’s rounds. Invictus Gaming failed to get any impact on the CT side in the first half, falling behind 11-4 at the break. The break assured everyone that NKT will close it out as quickly as possible after their second pistol round victory, extending their lead to 15-4.

However, Invictus Gaming weren’t going to end that fast, though. The Chinese squad was undeterred by the setback, bulldozing their way through the map, winning 11 consecutive rounds to force overtime without dropping a single round on their way. Team NKT seemed stunned as they realized the game was getting away from them, which Invictus Gaming capitalized by securing the map 19-17 and tying the series 1-1.

Peiqi “flying” Song and co. staged two spectacular comebacks throughout the match, the first of which was almost an impossible one
(Photo courtesy of HLTV)

Following an arduous map that both teams have played, Nuke would serve as the decider. The map started with Team NKT winning seven consecutive rounds on the T side, putting Invictus Gaming under high pressure. The second half of the map followed the same trend as the first. With another 11-4 advantage over the Chinese side, the Asian “Super Team” forced the Chinese to play with a very little margin for error, which they did. After moving to the offensive side, Invictus Gaming stepped up their game, capturing a number of games going forward till the closest possible rounds. However, Peiqi “flying” Song and co. were unable to deliver the game-winning hit that would have forced overtime, allowing Team NKT to close out the series 16-14 and seal the deal.

Funspark ULTI 2021 Asian Playoffs #1
(Data patched via 5EPlay)

Funspark ULTI 2021 Asian Playoffs #1 final standings:

🥇 1st🌏 Team NKTUS$12,50040
🥈 2nd🇨🇳 Invictus Gaming US$5,00030
🥉 3rd🇨🇳 Wings Up US$3,50016
🥉 4th🇲🇳 Checkmate US$2,00016
🏅 5th-6th🇨🇳 TYLOOUS$50012
🏅 5th-6th🇨🇳 LVG US$50012
🏅 7th-8th🇦🇪 Camel RidersUS$5008
🏅 7th-8th🇲🇳 Renewal US$5008

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