Okami have always been near the top, but have never been able to claim the distinction for themselves. However, heading into the Six Masters playoffs, coach Antoni “Centus” Lagemann believes they’re capable of finally making that title theirs.
The Okami roster is one of the most talented line-ups ever assembled in ANZ Siege. They were once the core of Mindfreak, and while they didn’t have any breakout performances, they always looked to be near the top.
Jack “JackDaddy” Dawber has been in top rosters since his debut in 2017. Jayden “ItBeStyle” Franken made a name for himself as an explosive fragger on the Dark Sided squad. Bailey “Cutie” Murdoch did the same.
However, there’s one thing the Okami core has never been able to do for their entire stint in ANZ Siege — distinguish themselves as the number one team. They fell short as Dark Sided in the 2019 Summer Series. They have missed Pro League APAC Finals three times by the slimmest of margins.
As they’ve grown as a team, they’ve adapted their roster. When Speca left, Kngz was brought in. Shak and Kngz departed, and they had to change it up again, this time with Mangoz and JKR. Heading into Six Masters, they finally had some time with a stable core. However, there was a missing spark to bring a team with such firepower to the top.
Coach Antoni “Centus” Lagemann has in some respects been that spark. Okami’s strat book has expanded with the German coach at the helm, and for as much as he’s helped Okami, Okami has helped him actually become a better coach.
“I’ve joined Okami unofficially two weeks before the end of the Pro League season mainly as a manager helping them find an org which I still do, but quickly also started to coach since I have had experience in T3 in EU and such for multiple years, but never really tried to go any higher due to time limitations,” he told Snowball Esports.
Wow, what a clutch from Jayden! (You know him as ItBeStyle, but we're really close so we call him Jayden) pic.twitter.com/A3VtdnsCTq— 🌸 𝙊𝙆𝘼𝙈𝙄 (@OkamiLFO) June 9, 2020
When Centus joined on with the then-TBD squad, the environment was “very relaxed and lacked a kind of leadership,” which he believes he helped sow into the team. He managed to use some of his experience from his coaching days back home, but coaching a T1 team in ANZ was a different beast.
“I’ve changed the training schedule as well as implemented new ways to develop strategy and match preparation to optimize the teams performance and giving them the best balance between the game and their real lives.
“I’ve also started to work with them on their in game mentality trying to help them stay as calm and collected mid round and help them fix issues on the go better than before.”
It showed almost immediately. A team who was subject to blowing out teams or risking being blown out themselves, looked more composed and orderly when it came down to big clutch moments.
During their final run in Pro League Season 11, with Centus onboard, they managed to take maps off Fnatic, Wildcard, and Elevate — the three teams really making a run for top spot in the region. They managed to carry that over into Six Masters. However, there was one monkey they couldn’t get off their back — their inability to close out games with their leads.
“I think this really showed in the match against Elevate, especially on Coastline, where after the first half we started to struggle a bit but kept it together and finished up the map without overtime as it should be. This is a continuous progress and will only improve over time,” Centus stated.
Okami had a chance to finish the season on top. Heading into their final series against Wildcard, a 2-0 would have secured them first seed. However, they took a different approach to the game, and while Centus didn’t go as far as saying they were “saving strats,” they weren’t going in tunnel visioned on winning.
“We purposefully played Consulate which we just played days before without any changes as well as starting on our obviously weaker defensive side. We obviously weren’t planning on losing 7-0 on Consulate, nor only winning 3 rounds in total, but for us it just made no difference at that point,” he admitted.
That won’t be stunting their momentum heading into the playoffs though. Okami has been here plenty of times before, and stumbled at the final hurdle. However, Centus believes this time, they have what it takes to cement that number one distinction for themselves.
What was once a team of fragging prowess also now has the brains to beat the best of them. It’s now just a case of mashing the two together and reaping the rewards.
“I believe we have one of the most versatile teams in all of APAC with the greatest potential in each individual player. Everyone is able and willing to adapt to a role they usually wouldn’t play and are capable of doing that on the highest level. All of them are incredibly talented and show up when they need to.
“[Winning Six Masters] for me personally would show that my work has paid off and that we’re on the right track. For the team as a whole it would elevate us from that consistent third place finish which would not just show that we’re capable of more but also that we are as I believe the team with the highest potential in Oceania.”
The Six Masters playoffs kick off on July 3.