While SonicFox is guaranteed a seat at the Season 3 Finals, he was once again eliminated before the Top 8 this week by Season 1 Finalist Bread. With Pro League legends like SonicFox and BeyondToxin eliminated early and other high-ranked players falling out of the Top 8 in the quarterfinals, tensions continue to rise as competitors scrap for the remaining qualifying points.
Aura made his second appearance in the Top 8 this season by eliminating Bread, thus having to fight Noble Gaming’s Gunshow in the first match of the night. Aura made his presence known by taking a quick 2-0 lead against Gunshow’s Shaolin Kung Jin. After some contemplation at the character selection screen, Gunshow decided to fight on with Kung Jin, ultimately leading to a 3-0 sweep by Aura.
Returning Top 8 qualifier Vendetta made a reappearance this week as well. Although we have not seen him in the Top 8 since Week 1, he has been dangerously close all season. His first opponent was none other than upcoming goliath, newly-christened Noble Raptor. Raptor quickly enforced his will against Vendetta using overwhelming pressure to take two quick games. After Vendetta displayed signs of life in Game 5 by taking the first round, Raptor immediately put it to rest and took a clean 3-0 victory.
While Scar is no stranger to Top 8 appearances, Orbit Gaming’s Hayatei made his Season 3 Top 8 debut this week. Hayatei has been extremely close to qualifying for the Top 8 for the past three weeks, falling to SonicFox in Week 3, Dragon in Week 4, and Scar in Week 5. With Scar taking a 3-0 sweep over Hayatei in Week 5, he was determined to exact his revenge. The set started off with a bang as Hayatei got the blood flowing and took the first game against Scar. The Pro League veteran answered back by taking Game 2 to tie the series 1-1. Hayatei refused to let his first Top 8 appearance be short lived and took the next two games without losing a single round, advancing to the semifinals and earning precious ranking points.
Even though this was Aura’s second appearance in the Top 8, he knew the fight was far from over if he wanted to make it to the Season 3 Finals. Despite his impressive performance using Reptile, he opted to use Smoke to best Raptor’s Shirai Ryu Takeda. Although Aura lost the first game, he stayed true to his decision and tied the set 1-1. A familiar display of composure and adjustment by Raptor led to him advancing over Aura 3-1.
After Dragon’s decisive win over ForeverKing in the quarterfinals, he was faced against the rising underdog, Hayatei. This was not the first time these two have battled it out. In Week 4, Dragon took a deciding set over Hayatei to eliminate him in round 64. With ranking points on the line, Hayatei refused to let history repeat itself and took the first game. After Game 1, Dragon realized he had his work cut out for him and took a different approach to win two games back to back. On the brink of elimination, Hayatei slowed down the pace and attempted to zone Dragon out. The plan worked and Hayatei tied the set 2-2. Despite Hayatei’s valiant effort, Dragon adjusted to the new change of pace, beating Hayatei and advancing to fight Raptor in the grand finals.
This week’s grand finals consisted of what quickly has become a classic rivalry: Raptor against Dragon. These two have been consistently matched against each other, with Dragon always edging out the win. However, Raptor gets ever closer to defeating Dragon with each set that they fight. The first game went down to slivers of health, with Dragon barely taking the victory. With such a close first game, it was apparent that Raptor had improved in this matchup. Winning against Dragon would guarantee Raptor a spot in the Season 3 Finals. Using that knowledge as fuel, he eventually tied the set 2-2, marking the first time these two have ever reached a fifth game in the Pro League.
Any and every mistake could mean elimination for one of these too MKX titans and the tension only rose as their life bars depleted. The two competitors traded blow for blow, eventually leading to slivers of health for each of them. A breathtaking scramble resulted in a wrong read by Raptor, which led to Dragon capitalizing to take the victory 3-2 and continuing his dominating win streak!
The intensity continues to rise as each competitor fights their heart out to claim as many ranking points as they can before the end of the season. With the top North American contenders being so close in points, it is unclear who will qualify for the real test at the Season 3 Finals. Who will be next to fight their way to the top? Tune in next Wednesday, May 18 at 5PM PDT and see for yourself, and be sure to grab your spot at the Season 3 Finals in Burbank, California while seats are still available!