Wildcard are entering the Six Masters playoffs as firm favourites. They went to the Six Invitational, and while they had a few hiccups in Pro League, have dominated the region since. However, for star fragger Ethan “Ethan” Picard, winning Six Masters isn’t going to satiate him — he wants to do it flawlessly.
Wildcard had lofty expectations to live up to in Six Masters. They are the only ANZ team to attend the Six Invitational outside of Fnatic. They’ve been to the Pro League finals back in Season 10. All things considered, they are one of not just ANZ’s, but one of APAC’s most successful rosters.
However, things were going awry. Tensions were tearing the squad apart internally, and according to star player Ethan, the environment was “pretty poor.”
“I’m going to be completely honest — our team environment was pretty poor prior to them joining. We had internal issues, I think everyone knows that,” he told Snowball Esports.
This forced Wildcard to adapt. They picked up Patrick “Pat” Wines and Jonathan “Gio” Luciana, who helped liven up the team environment. It helped, especially for Ethan, that Pat and Gio were in his circle for a long time.
“I’ve been friends with Jonno [Gio] ever since Joey was on our team, and I knew Pat from Xbox. I had trust in Pat because I knew how smart he is, and he’s just a great guy. I knew just having them there would improve the team morale.”
That’s not to say Wildcard’s problems were fixed with the flick of a switch. They had been on a slump in recent months. They fell to a disappointing fourth in Pro League Season 11. Had there been an APAC finals, they would have watched on from the sidelines. There was no opportunity for international play until August.
This gave Wildcard a lot of mull over, especially since making drastic changes just after the biggest event of their careers. While it didn’t look pretty from the outside looking in, Ethan had complete faith in the decisions being made behind the scenes to lead to long-term success not only in ANZ, but at an international level for Wildcard.
“I don’t think that there were any doubts. I knew that Pat and Gio were going to make us a stronger team, that is for sure,” he said.
“I was kind of dealing with my own motivational issues, so I think people on the team were worried about me, but that gave me motivation to prove them wrong. Outside of scrims I didn’t really want to play the game, but I knew that I was still confident in my ability.”
- Read more: Fishoguy – “It’s satisfying to place ahead of rivals we’ve struggled with [in Six Masters]”
The change has culminated in not just Six Masters success, but dominance. Wildcard only dropped one map across the regular season — against the open qualifier team in LFO. Against all their major ANZ rivals — outside of Fnatic — they cleaned house. In just a short period of time, they looked like the Wildcard of old.
The one loss has played on their mind though. Ethan, while confident in his own ability, is a competitor after all. The one in the right-hand column is a stain on their season, and a reflection that there’s still a long way to go for this new look Wildcard.
“It’s one thing to be satisfied, but when you are a competitive person, you are never satisfied with how you did. You always think about how you could have done things better. Yeah, we won 13 games and lost one, but you think about the one you lost,” he said.
“It’s small issues that kind of snowball and they just become big issues, like dealing with utility and communication issues — that’s something we have to work together as a team to deal with.”
There was also a certain drive leading into Six Masters that led him to wanting to prove his critics wrong after a mediocre showing in Pro League Season 11. He felt embarrassed that the once-APAC leaders had fallen to fourth in their home region.
“I was really hungry to beat some of the team’s that we struggled and lost against in [Season 11 of Pro League]. It kind of embarrassed me, and I just really wanted to beat them. It’s just the way I am.”
With Fnatic notably absent, Six Masters proves to be a time where Wildcard can assert their dominance as ANZ’s number one team. It might not feel right not having to duke it out with Fnatic, but Ethan is sure he will get his revenge one day. Six Masters is just the stepping stone on the way there.
“I think we are sitting at the top [of the power rankings], but we have definitely had some close games. We still need to improve ourselves. I would have loved to have had Fnatic here this season — I love playing against that team because it’s so competitive. Hopefully we get to play against them down the line.”
The Six Masters title might not mean a lot to someone who has been to the Six Invitational, Pro League finals, and has been at the top of ANZ Siege for years. However, the win will be sweet for one reason above all — it’ll show that Wildcard’s off-season moves were justified, and that there’s a bright future for them not just in ANZ or APAC, but internationally.
“It would be good to shut some people up because I really didn’t like the way people received the roster changes even though we had a really bad season and we needed to make changes. We’ve got Pat and Gio too, and they haven’t really won anything yet, so I’m sure it’ll mean a lot to them.”
The Six Masters playoffs kick off on July 3.