Everyone should be on their toes. Ryan “Speca” Ausden is back. After his stint with Fnatic was cut short after just eight months, he went on a sabbatical to find himself again. Now back with Okami, he’s ready to reclaim his throne at the top of ANZ Siege.
It may have appeared to most that Speca was a flash in the pan. He was a fragger that popped off at the tail end of 2018 on Dark Sided, enough to get noticed by Fnatic after their tightly fought Six Masters bout at PAX 2018. He was on their roster five months later.
However, as soon as he joined Fnatic, he disappeared. He was part of their six-man roster experiment. Speca didn’t make many outings for the veteran lineup though. He fell by the wayside, like how Daniel “NeophyteR” An did a few months earlier after the signing of Jake “Virtue” Grannan.
He played a couple of games in Pro League Seasons 9 and 10, and was on stage at MEO 2019 lifting the Six Masters trophy he almost won in 2018. However after the team’s disappointing APAC LAN performance in Season 10, he was well and truly gone.
For a player that was at the top of his game — looking like one of the hottest prospects to come out of Oceania — it was a painful few months riding the bench.
“I did not get a single scrim in over four months [on Fnatic]. Not once, it was ridiculous,” he told Snowball Esports.
“Overall on Fnatic, I did learn, so I have no issues with that. My time with them was good, aside from the obvious of being on the bench. That sucked and made me lose motivation for the game, I’d say.
“I felt like my peak was wasted on the bench because I couldn’t practice. I was literally at the point of T-Hunting and killing AI and making callouts because I didn’t get to actually practice with the team. Comms were an issue for me, and I needed to work on that, but couldn’t. I didn’t play a competitive match for a four-month period except for a few scrims I played at a bootcamp.”
At the end of his time on Fnatic, he felt like a guinea pig injected with one too many ‘ground-breaking’ drugs. The six-man experiment, to Speca, was a total failure. After all, he didn’t get the shared time in-game like it was made out to be publicly.
“The rotating roster, as a concept, works. If you have a competitive six-man roster that’s always fighting for a spot, then you can rotate the best people in and out. If you can have everyone involved with strats, everyone always contributing, and everyone getting an active amount of playtime, it’s good. It pressures people to perform, but it’s not an effective method,” he said.
“Dark Sided Speca was better than Fnatic Speca. I learned a lot of restraint in Fnatic, which I still take in to this day, but I lost that aggression — that confidence — because I was questioning what I’d be doing. [Back on Dark Sided] I felt on top of the world with how the game was playing.”
Speca went from a dedicated grinder, honing his skills with copious amounts of VOD review and analysis, to a deserted nobody with no home. However, there was one thing that stood out to him — Japan. After touring there with Fnatic, he decided to take time off gaming all together and hit the slopes. Get a fresh start, cut some powder, and give it up for good.
“The bench did a number on me in regards to my own self worth. I was in my own head for a fair bit, so I just wanted to change up my life rapidly and I thought I’d develop some life skills. I’ve never been overseas for an extended period of time, and in the period of two weeks I got a job, got a Japanese visa, and went to go work the ski season in Niseko.”
“Getting off the computer and getting a good mental health reset was amazing. I think there’s a lot to be said about an actual work environment. I have my desk in my room — and all I knew how to do was watch VODs and play ranked. It all kind of piles up, a lot of negative emotions. Breaking that up was great.”
However, all good things have to come to an end. The ski slopes closed, and without a chance of getting another job in Japan due to the pandemic, he was forced to come home early. Being locked away in Perth brought him back to his passion of Siege, but this time, he was going to approach it a bit differently.
He’s joined Okami in the place of Mangoz, and he’s ready to lead the core he was once on back to glory. Sure, there might be a few missing pieces of the puzzle, but Speca is looking forward to just enjoying Siege again.
“Put simply, it’s the lads. We’re just waiting for Jake [Virtue] to retire — you know, he’s 25, he’s a senile man, feeling like a father and slowing down a bit, he will come back and we will have the Holy Trinity,” he joked.
“It’s a comfortable environment, and it’s an environment I’m in charge of. I would say I’m a leader, through and through. I need to be more compassionate if anything, I’m very stern. Once I readjust to the game again, which I feel like I’m rapidly doing, that’s when I’m going to pick up my momentum.”
“I f**king hardly play, and I still sh*t on people. I’m not being cocky — it genuinely surprises me. I’m nowhere near happy with where I want to be, but I don’t want to take this game super seriously. I just want to scrim, play with mates — that’s why I’m back on Okami. It’s a liberating feeling that I can put some effort in and have some fun.”
He also had a lot of kind words for his former teammates — and new ones that weren’t there when he left — who have developed a lot in his 18 months absence from the roster.
“ItBeStyle has improved drastically, and he has a long way to go too. Jack is very consistent, he’s a very smart man, but he just needs to play the game more. I have a plethora of things to work on too — I’ll critique everyone here, but I’ll be the harshest on myself. As a leader, I need to be as strong as I can.”
- Read more: Rainbow Six Oceanic Nationals 2020 revealed
“One of the players that has surprised me the most is Cutie. He’s improved drastically, it’s insane. He’s genuinely a teammate I can rely on that I know will win and I know will communicate with me. I want to get everyone on the same level of play.
“JKR has got a lot of potential. He’s a hot ranked player, but he needs to learn that he’s actually good enough to be here. He needs to be confident. I’ve been in a situation where you lack a serious bit of self-worth, and I just kind of wish somebody was there to extend a hand a bit further, so I hope I can help him with that.”
There are some people with their doubts though — namely his parents. Since being back home, the last thing the Ausden’s wanted was to lose Speca to Siege again. But, after Japan, he’s a changed man. He’s more mature, and he’s finding that work-life balance.
“Prior to rejoining, I had Mum and Dad say to me ‘we just got you back, please don’t go back into grinding Siege’ because I was not socializing and I was playing 10 hours a day — I wanted to be the best, and I can only do so much. Imagine being a tennis player and all they can do is hit a ball against a brick wall — that’s quite literally what I did.”
Speca is only coming to Oceanic Nationals with one thing in his mind though: getting some silverware for Okami.
“We’re coming first this season. We’re not here to f**k around. When I’m playing, I’m playing serious. I’m putting as much effort into it as I can, but outside of the game, that’s where it stops. I don’t want it to affect my personal life, and I hope the rest of the team has a similar mindset and a similar grind.
“When I get back to a point where I’m confident with IGLing on every map, I do not doubt that we will be the number one team in Australia. This is our season.”
Okami will kick off their Oceanic Nationals season on September 16 when they face off against Kanga Esports. You can catch the action live on the Rainbow Six Twitch channel.