The promotion tournament was… heartbreaking. The less I talk about that the better.
It’s kind of hard because there are two seasons a year and we completely wrote off where we were going to be, where we should have been, where we were aiming to be for the next six months. Now, the soonest we can play in RLCS is February 2019, and that hurts.
Tigreee, being great friends with Alex161 having played with him in the past, and Servette/Mousesports having their issues with MummiSnow, we knew quite quickly that he would leave and join them.
You know what? Good for him. I’m happy for him, it’s nice that one of us made it there.
The sign-ups came around and we realised we needed to get a new third. With the other roster moves coming along from both RLCS and RLRS teams, we had to evaluate our options and think about who we were playing with.
We played some games with Neqzo, ex-Zebra Nose player in RLRS. He was a solid player and a cool guy but we then learnt that FreaKii was available from Vitality, the team that made the World Championship last season.
He was happy to try out with us because there are only so many RLCS squads and he very much understands that we are of that calibre.
Some players moving from a big team to a smaller one might look down on you, if anything it’s been the other way round – he’s got such a good work ethic. We played a number of scrims against other teams and they went very positively; FreaKii showed a lot of quality.
We’re expected to walk the league. But that’s what was expected last season and it didn’t work out that way – it was actually quite stressful.
We still came first, as expected, which is what matters I suppose, but we will be expected to walk it and be promoted, just like we were last season. That’s quite a lot to sit on your shoulders.
From a biased standpoint, I’d like to say that playing in RLRS is a lot harder than playing in RLCS, at least from a team perspective.
I feel like if we were in RLCS, we’d perform better due to lower expectations, whereas in RLRS we’re dealing with the fact we’ve got a target on our back. Everyone wants to beat us and nobody has anything to lose against our team because they’re not expected to win.
It makes a lot of teams very frustrating and unpredictable to play against when you’re dealing with the weight of expectation.
It takes a lot of discipline and a lot of practice and that’s what we’re doing. That’s why work-rate and mentality are very important for us. For someone who’s been booted off a top team you’d think that might be a problem but actually, FreaKii is bouncing back too so it’s really nice to have him motivated and wanting to play.
In RLCS league play, the pressure is very low in comparison to RLRS where your career is on the line.
The way things currently are in the RLCS, if you’ve got a double game week and you have a good day with two wins, that’s it. You’re basically safe.
In RLRS though, half the league gets cleared out at the end. It’s like you go into every game knowing that you can’t really be happy with the result. At best, you can only be satisfied. It’s frustrating, but it’s what you’ve got to do.
Next season, the team I’m most worried about is exceL, since they got relegated from RLCS. Their results in weeklies are so random and their playstyle similarly feels very random. They’re three very good players and that’s what makes them so scary – all three of them are fantastic shooters of the ball but it’s so difficult to understand what they’re going to do.
When you play them it’s a roll of the dice and it’s very hard to control the game. It doesn’t feel like the game is in your hands, but it’s not in their hands either.
You’re not really choosing what happens in the game so it feels like you can lose because of something beyond your control, which isn’t exactly true, but it’s very frustrating.
That’s where mentality and discipline come into it, and next season, we know what we need to do.
I think our current roster is the best it’s ever been. We were a very dangerous team with Tigreee because we could perform and we would have our days where any team would be scared of us, but it also made us inconsistent.
We dropped a series we shouldn’t have – in terms of compared quality – to Placebo, although they played very well on that day. We cracked and the pressure got to us.
Tigreee is a very dangerous player but during the promotion tournament, Tigreee will hold his hands up and say he had a very nervy day. We all did – that’s the risk that you run with less experienced players.
FreaKii has played at a world championship before and we feel like there’s less risk with him when it comes to that. I think his average level is higher, even if Tigreee is a very dangerous player that, on our best day, could make us incredible. With FreaKii, I think we’ll be at our best more often.
We’re practicing just as much as we were with Tigreee, I don’t know if we could practice together any more. We would be playing together as a team for at least two hours every single day during last season – if anything you could argue we played too much.
Going into the promotion tournament I had logged about 126 hours in the previous two weeks which was three times the amount of one of the other teams in the tournament combined. I didn’t feel burnt out, but it was about the limit of how much we could do.
FreaKii is a really great guy outside the game. I think I’ve always been one to say that the person is just as, if not more important, than the player because at times, under pressure, it’s mentality that wins, not just quality.
Top-tier players are very good at adapting straight away to the point where if you throw together three RLCS-tier players, they’re not going to play badly together.
We’ve been improving slowly together and I don’t know yet when we’ll reach our ceiling. I’m excited to see the level we end up at.
Image Credit: Dreamhack & RLRS