Getting the chance to play in front of the Aussie crowd this year at IEM Sydney was awesome. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.

We were underdogs coming into the event, and we knew we had to go through the group stage in the studio to get the opportunity to play in front of the home crowd.

Everyone on the team was feeling really good about the event as it was coming up. We were all pretty hyped about playing in Australia, but our preparation was solid as well. We were pulling 12 hour days during the week before. When I say we were prepped, I mean we were really prepped.

To be honest, the group stages were probably the most stressful part of the event because you have to get through that before you can play on the stage. It was even worse for us because we had a shocker at IEM Syndey 2017, so coming into this one we felt like we had to make it right.

Last year we faced an Australian team, Chiefs, and got absolutely trashed by them. We’ve always been considered one of the best teams from that region, so losing to them on home turf was pretty bad. This year we faced another Aussie team, Legacy, and put the record straight thankfully.

The FaZe game was the one that most people remember though.

I remember we started pretty slow against them on Train, we were down like 0-7 or something, but we managed to rescue it a little but before half-time. It was our CT side that saved us. We pulled it together somehow and FaZe just couldn’t get through us. That gave us the boost we needed really, and we ended up taking the series 2-1 to get through to the playoffs.

It’s hard to explain how relieved and happy we were after the win against FaZe. We knew there was still work to do and so we actually just went straight from the game back into practice, because we had TyLoo the next day, but the atmosphere was great in the team knowing we’d made it through the group.

When we won against FaZe we were confirmed for the quarters, but we had to face TyLoo to determine whether or not we got a bye to the semi-final. We were definitely a little overconfident heading into that game.

Perhaps it was the win over FaZe and knowing we’d made it through, or perhaps it was because we have a good record against TyLoo, or maybe a bit of both. Whatever it was, it showed in that game because they beat us pretty easily. I think we were a little too relaxed.

We definitely didn’t want to get in our own heads before the quarter-final against Mousesports. To make sure of that we tried to treat it as just another game in our prep for them. We’ve had games in the past where we’ve thought too much about what we were going to do and it’s just gone to shit, so for this, we made sure to not overdo it.

That match against Mousesports did not start well. At the time they were one of the best Mirage teams in the world, in my opinion, so when they got Mirage first map it wasn’t a surprise to anyone that they absolutely smashed us. It was a rough one.

Inferno was a much closer game and one that we knew we could win. I think Nifty ended up dropping like 50 kills in that game. In the end, it came down to Overtime and we managed to pull through. It was a little closer than we would have liked obviously, but I’m glad that we were able to respond with a win on Inferno after getting destroyed on Mirage.

In the decider, Train, we were actually quite confident. It was one of our better maps at the time.

If I remember correctly we ended up losing both pistol rounds despite having a player advantage in both of them, which is extra disappointing because we ended up losing in overtime, so if we’d been able to secure those pistols, I think we would have won the game before OT.

There’s one particular round that sticks out to me in that game.

We’re up 15-14, and in a 2v1 situation. I had died at this point so I’m just watching the round happen. It felt like we were on the brink of getting the win, but unfortunately, there was a miscommunication and it all fell apart.

It had been a 2v4 but JKS went off and got a quick 3K to pull it back. He peeked Sunny when maybe he shouldn’t have, and in that nervous moment didn’t communicate quickly enough to Jkaem that Sunny wasn’t defusing the bomb. It was tough to hear anything, to be honest, since the crowd was going nuts after that 3K, but it ended up breaking down there.

That was the moment where I thought we’d won the game. I barely even remember the overtime, because that’s the only round that sticks out to me. I think we were all a little deflated after that, which might have contributed to our eventual loss. But Mousesports was just the better team.

Despite that disappointment, the thing that I’ll remember most is the crowd. Perhaps I’m a little biased but the Aussie fans are the best fans in the world.

During the games, I never really notice the crowd because I’m so focused on playing the best I can. It’s the moment afterwards when you take off the headset that you realize how crazy it is. The adrenaline just rushes through you.

This year we got playoffs, but at IEM Syndey 2019 I want us to go the event balls out and do everything we can to try and win it. I know that if we avoid the small mistakes we can do a lot better, and it would mean a lot to take the trophy in front of the Aussie fans.

Images: ESL and Faceit

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