It is looking like a two-horse race in Digital Life's King Of Games' Dragon Nest competition. In the third qualifier last Saturday, Apollo#18 edged out rival Mad.JpL to take the top spot for the second consecutive qualifier. It was the third time that the two teams had met in this competition, including two finals and a semi-final.
Apollo#18 had lost to Mad.JpL in the first qualifier in July, but beat its opponents in the following encounter. With this second win on Saturday, Apollo#18 now holds a two-to-one advantage over its rivals.
However, the team did not get off to a good start as Mad.JpL's Joseph Lo, 23, single-handedly took out all three Apollo#18 members in the first game.
In the Dragon Nest competition, teams of three fought each other in a best-of-three format. The first game is a one-on-one (1v1) battle, where a player battles his opponent in a virtual arena. The winner stays to fight the next player from the other team. The team with the last character standing wins the game.
Playing a magic-wielding class, Mr Lo had entered the arena after his teammate had been defeated. He then proceeded to take out the Apollo#18 members one by one in a stunning display of aggression and power. This was an impressive feat as any damage his character had sustained in any of the prior fights would not be fully recovered.
In the subsequent 3v3 round involving all the players from both teams, Apollo#18 fought off a furious comeback from Mad.JpL to win, which tied the match at 1-1.
For the decider, it was back to the 1v1 format, but there would be no more heroics from Mr Lo. Instead, it came down to a final clash between Apollo#18 captain Wu Xiaodong, 24, and Mad.JpL's Kwan Lik Chin, which was narrowly won by Mr Wu.
"For this week, we went for a more experimental format because the character I chose (Inquisitor) this time is not the best pick for the 1v1 segment," said Apollo#18's Isaac Tan, 24. His other team members, too, were playing with different characters for this qualifier.
The gambit appeared to have paid off this time, but Mr Wu admitted that he did not perform well. Still, he was more upbeat about the team's performance.
"I think we have improved in the team fight. The last time, we lost this segment to Mad.JpL," he said. The selection of a more support-oriented class, such as the Inquisitor, was probably a factor here.
The next King Of Games qualifier - Defence Of The Ancients 2 (Dota 2) round 4 - will take place this Saturday at the Alienware Arena. As this is the penultimate round, it is open only to teams which have participated in at least one previous qualifier. For more information, visit www.kingofgames.sg.
Get a copy of Digital Life, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.