It should be no surprise — Wildcard are your Six Masters 2020 champions. They dominated Okami in the grand final, as they managed to clean sweep their competition to claim the title, only dropping one map across the 20 they played in the tournament.
Wildcard have made a statement to not only Australia, but wider APAC with their dominant Six Masters season. In the final rendition of the regional tournament before the APAC South restructure, the widely-considered best team in ANZ proved they are worth that moniker.
Their playoffs run started out strong with a 7-0 thumping of the Pittsburgh Knights, and they hardly needed to tap the breaks. They swept through Okami in the Winners Final 2-0, before the perennial third-place getters finally broke through to their first grand final to rematch against the champion squad.
Kafe was Wildcard through-and-through. They got out to a quick 4-2 lead on their defense half, before making it 6-2 off their first two attacks — including a rush on Kitchen through the front door.
While Okami managed to claw it back, as Wildcard experimented with some interesting Amaru strats, the table-toppers were ultimately able to round out the map in regulation 7-5.
With three match points heading onto Villa, it looked like it was going to be a done deal after two maps. However, Okami made them bleed. Wildcard went down 1-5 after the first half, but Okami failed to capitalize on their lead.
Wildcard managed to force a draw off the back of great performances from Tien “Emorin” Lam and Jonathan “Gio” Luciana to get into overtime, before trading rounds and closing it with a triple from Emo on Castle.
The win was sweet redemption for Wildcard, who fell painfully short of taking 2019’s Six Masters title. It was also a chance to prove their new roster has what it takes not only locally, but internationally, according to support Kyle “Diesel” Renton.
“[The win] has good meaning for proving our roster is still the best in ANZ, but I think it’s fair to say we all took it in our stride,” he told Snowball Esports. “[It was] more of a relief to close it out in the 2 maps for the 3-0 than anything.”
“When some people saw our roster changes as drastic or unfair they clearly didn’t understand what our actual problems were and properly look at our most recent performances, win or loss, just the type of Siege we were playing.”
“Proving we can still win in the region was important to us, but in saying that we’re never content with where we’re at. We know we need to keep improving our level of play to keep trending upwards and to be ready to compete with international teams again when the time comes. “Kyle “Diesel” Renton
Those new additions, Pat and Gio, have stepped up numerous times during the Six Masters season. Gio himself put in a stellar performance on Mozzie and Zofia across both maps, consistently fragging out in clutch moments.
The fact it was a whole team effort too is a good sign for Wildcard. While in the past they have relied on Ethan “Ethan” Picard to continuously pop off, he was comparatively quiet in the final. However, Diesel said the team didn’t notice Ethan’s lack of fragging, saying the veteran brings more than just raw mechanics.
“You do realise how easy life can be with a player like Ethan on your team, who is very intelligent in-game as well as having the ability to execute mechanics-wise when he’s on song,” he said.
“But what people don’t get to see is if he’s not putting up numbers each round, he’s helping the team with calling and adaptions we can make for the round so his impact on the team is constantly invaluable.”
The roster changes also helped solve some of the mental issues the team was facing, which Diesel has been open about in the past. The old Wildcard might have not been able to get through that tough Villa map, but the new Wildcard is a different beast.
“The really good thing about this edition of our roster right now is our much stronger mentality in terms of getting on with the job and maintaining our composure for the whole game, which is one thing I’ve really been loving when playing this season.
“While obviously misplaying some rounds and going down 5-1, our attitudes never changed round-to-round. We were confident in our Villa, and I was really glad how we held our nerve through our defences to stay solid for the comeback.”
Despite their dominant performance throughout Six Masters, Wildcard aren’t satisfied. The one map loss to LFO on Club House will forever be a black mark on an otherwise perfect season, and until they can clean up their executing, Wildcard will never rest.
“We lost a map to LFO, as well as having very close maps against a number of other teams throughout the season where we could have played a lot better by either being asleep for a few rounds, poor utility usage, relying on last second plays and clutches and things like that.”
Now, Wildcard’s eyes are on the ultimate goal — international success. With the mini Six Major just around the corner, the team won’t have a chance to rematch with the teams they were handily dismissed by during Pro League Season 10 and at the Six Invitational. However, they can’t wait for that day to arrive soon.
“We’ve still got a long way to go to improve our consistency, our depth, and overall experience as a team to compete strongly at future international events.
“[The Six Invitational] and Tokoname were learning experiences to let us know the potential is there, and it’s not an impossible task by any sense. Having that confidence of a fighting chance is definitely something I look into the future with.
“However, on the other hand when practicing these teams while overseas, it reinforces the realisation of the level of play these guys get to scrim constantly against each other, which we really just don’t have in APAC at all. It makes it much tougher to improve to the level we want to be at and must contest ultimately when rocking up at these events.”
The Six August 2020 Major Oceania kicks off on August 3.