Following a few server issues which were quickly fixed, the LetsPlayLive (LPL) Counter Strike: Global Offensive Alpha Invitational Open Qualifiers found three teams to compete against Oceania’s best for $NZD10K.

Held on Saturday, the Open Qualifiers saw Australian and New Zealand teams compete online to qualify for a spot against Oceania’s top three esports teams ORDER, Tainted Minds and Grayhounds Gaming.

Coming out on top included Knights, lol123 and Corvidae after beating nine other teams, with the qualifiers now set to compete in a round robin-style event over the next seven weeks, with it beginning on Thursday at 8pm NZT.

LPL Tournament director Matt ‘Smite’ Ross, spoke to esportbet.com and said the cream had risen to the top in the qualifiers.

“I think we definitely found the best three teams [at the qualifiers],” he said.

But he added that the professional teams have a “pretty big advantage” when versing the three teams that made it to the tournament via the online qualifiers.

“But I think there’s definite potential for upsets,” he said.

The Qualifiers were held up by technical issues which caused connectivity problems, but Ross explained they were fixed quickly.

“It was just a small patch that went out for the game itself, which made our servers slightly unviable, so we had to change servers on the day,” he said.

“But once that was sorted it was fine.”

Turnout for the online qualifying event, which aims to find the best players in Oceania, resulted in mainly Australian esports teams competing.

“Most of the teams are majority Australian players with one or two Kiwi players,” Ross said.

“I think there were one or two teams that were majority Kiwi, if not entirely kiwi, but it’s still majority players and teams that are Australian.”

“Instead of focusing on country competitions, it’s usually just the best in Oceania.

“The team will find the best players and because of the population distribution usually it’s majority Australian and they pick up a few Kiwis along the way.”

When asked about the importance of open qualifiers, Ross emphasised it was important to give budding esports players opportunity and the chance to experience professional tournaments.

“Now they can go onto the next one with even more experience,” he said.

“Every player in both New Zealand and Australia, whether they’re learning to compete or haven’t competed in a while, they always have the opportunity to compete and qualify at a highly competitive level.”

The six teams will now compete in round-robin matches, plus two weeks of intense finals action, the first evening of play being on February 15.

Ross said every team plays its opening match on the first night of the event, and then round-robin matches will take place over the next five weeks.

The three remaining teams from the round-robin matches will then go on to compete in the finals, for a share of $10k. The team in first place at the conclusion of the knock-out tournament will automatically make the grand finals giving them a week break to prepare.

Meanwhile, the remaining two teams will battle it out in week six in the semifinals, with the winner going on to verse the first place team in the grand final.

The overall winner will receive $5000, while the team in second place will score $3000 and $2000 for third place.

The finals will be broadcast live, with teams competing in the studio in Auckland. Fans can tune in at twitch.tv/letsplaylive.

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