Chasing The Hat-Trick

I always knew that I would eventually get my hands on the RLCS World Championship trophy.

The first time I made it to the RLCS World Championship, Paschy, Deevo and I weren’t expecting to do as well as we did.

We had some incredible matches in that tournament, including a reverse sweep against Orbit that I’ll always remember. But ultimately – despite the overperformance – falling to FlipSid3 Tactics in the grand final was a disappointing finish to the season.

Chausette was a natural choice for us when Deevo left the team, and that choice was validated with our strong start to League Play in Season 3. Unfortunately, that soon came tumbling down shortly after we partnered up with Gale Force.

A loss in the playoffs, and all of a sudden we were out of contention for RLCS World Championships. Six months after reaching the grand final.

The organization decided to rebuild the roster for the following season around me – which is a pretty big responsibility. Initally, I was pretty hesitant, to be honest.

Through a trial process, I ended up adding both Kaydop and Turbopolsa to the lineup.

Then came the Summer of 2nd place. Every major tournament, 2nd place. It’s strange because we realized that we were one of the most consistent teams in the world, but we weren’t actually winning things.

Still, it gave us confidence ahead of Season 4. Despite the poor start to League Play – with defeats to PSG and Method – we knew results would turn. Before long, I was back on that Worlds stage.

That upper bracket final against Method is something I’ll never forget. Although we barely scraped the win in game seven, it became clear to us that if we met them again in the final, it would be our game.

Sure enough, they fought their way back, and just ran out of steam. I was a World Champion, but the lackluster final kind of dulled the celebrations a little, if I’m honest. Maybe I expected too much, having seen some of the amazing finals in the past. When it comes down to it, a win is a win, and that win was the the culmination of a brilliant season.

That roster continued to dominate over the course of the following year. We were on a level that was almost unreachable, only dropping one series throughout the regular season. Reaching Worlds again was a formality, and the only target was to retain the title – not an easy task.

There were some early shakes, but when Kaydop turns it on, he really turns it on. On that final day he became basically unplayable. With the crowd behind us, we were calm and collected until the very end. Even when NRG clawed their way back with the famous “0-second goal”, it was nothing but confidence on our end that we would close it out in the end.

After the slightly underwhelming victory of season 4, lifting the Season 5 trophy with a game seven victory felt a lot more intense.

But the goal didn’t change. And getting the back-to-back-to-back was something that had never been done before. Even after another fantastic regular season, and a fairly easy run to the grand final, it didn’t feel the same as the year before.

Cloud9 rolled over us.

There were a few issues leading up to the final that had us playing with the wrong mindset, but all that mattered was that we had been dethroned. It was the end of an era, really.

The disappointment was compounded with a really poor performance at ELEAGUE, and shortly after, Kaydop informed us that he would accept an offer from Renault Vitality. I don’t blame him for it, he always wanted to sign for a French organization eventually.

Initially, Turbo and I had a tough time making the decision on who would replace him. Kaydop is a great player, and we needed someone strong to fill that gap. We narrowed it down to Mognus and Yukeo, and in the end, made the call to go with Yukeo.

Although we started off poorly at WSOE, the team had faith that this lineup would pull through eventually.

At Dreamhack Leipzig – our next event – it all fell into place. We even managed to defeat Kaydop in the grand final to lift the trophy, and while that felt nice, to us it was all about winning a trophy again. The slump was over, at least temporarily.

In order to try and capitalize on the success, Dignitas decided to bring in Snaski as our coach. One of the first coaches in the RLCS. At the time, I thought it was pretty pointless, but Snaski definitely proved that coaches can be very valuable.

Unfortunately, even Snaski couldn’t help us out enough to make us competitive at the level we desired in Season 7. A poor regular season followed by a poor playoffs performance meant that once again, Worlds was off the table.

At that point, the roster was essentially dead. The team and Turbopolsa agreed to part ways, but we stayed to grab a top-four finish at Dreamhack Dallas. A final goodbye for the roster. Snaski also departed for Complexity shortly after, and it was rebuild time once again.

AztraL came in to replace Turbo, and Virge to cover for Snaski. AztraL had a bit of a reputation as a player with a poor mentality, but we fully believed he had a lot of potential as a great 3v3 player.

Our first full event with Virge was the final DreamHack tournament of the year in Montreal, where we finished top eight. We were happy with how it went, especially since we took down eventual winners The Peeps.

Once RLCS started, things very nearly fell apart again.

In our first series, Yukeo had a tough time and as a team, we were pretty nervous. Although we lost to Veloce, we got back on track with a win over Complexity. It wasn’t fantastic, but after that series, we began to build up some steam. We finished top six in a similar way to Season 7, but this time we were more confident heading into the playoffs.

We got off to another bad start in the playoffs as we went 3-0 down against Barcelona.  After those three games, Virge told us what changes we need to make, and we knew that we were capable of bringing it back. Once we won the fourth game, there was no stopping us.

Our momentum carried on throughout that series, which we won in a reverse sweep. Our final opponents were mousesports, who had already lost one series on the day. They were struggling and we could tell, which led to us taking the series 4-2. It felt incredible to make LAN once again and I’m so happy to have made it back to the world championship.

Who knows how it will go this time around. It’s been quite the ride, and I’d love to win my third title. But it’s been a long time since I could call myself a World champion.

I’ve always been motivated by competition and my determination to be the best. I’ve been at the top before and I know I can get there again.

Image Credit: Dreamhack/Jennika Ojala/Stephanie Lindgren & ItsZeebo

Ben Hurst assisted with the creation of this article

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