Just over a week ago, the discussion was whether LFO could even get a win in Oceanic Nationals. Playoffs wasn’t even on the cards. However, two gutsy victories allowed them to snag the final spot in playoffs in the most unlikely fashion.
The community’s faith in the open qualifier team that clawed their way from nothing to the top flight had all but dwindled after they lost to Rhythm on September 29. There was no hope of them qualifying — at least in the eyes of many — with Elevate and Ferox still on the table.
However, by October 7, they had seemingly done the impossible. LFO managed to pull together two outstanding performances against the top four squad in Elevate, as well as the gatekeepers Ferox to somehow make it to playoffs.
Without getting too personal, some would call my support of this squad a bit of blind faith. But there’s somewhat of a method to the madness with LFO. They’ve always managed to contest the top teams in ANZ despite not having the experience of other squads at the top flight.
In the off-season between Six Masters and Oceanic Nationals, they managed to take down the new-look Wildcard with Vincere 2-0 in the XP Esports Spring Sweep. They looked like they had just come off the back of a Six Invitational berth.
Despite not having the time at the top flight, this team has been together for quite some time. It goes back to near the start of Siege, and three mates: Daniel “Angmoh” Muller, Savas “Soggz” Hiras, and coach Jose “Enigma” Izurieta.
“Some of us used to play with each other on PS4 — Angmoh, Soggz, me — and we started playing as a team with Mimz. We had several teammates in the past, but we picked up Nasty and then Hills after Soggz kept pushing me. Nasty started work and wanted to chill, so we picked up Nate, but as a core, we’ve been together for two years. We’ve been grinding from the bottom to the top — from LPL Open, to Amateur, to Pro League,” Enigma told Snowball.
After their Six Masters success — being one map off playoffs in their debut season — the team had high hopes for Oceanic Nationals. However, they ended up being far from meeting their expectations. Instead of fighting for a top four spot, they were fighting to stave off relegation.
“We shouldn’t have had to fight off relegation. We weren’t out of our depth, but we weren’t as driven as we were in Six Masters. After Wildcard, when we had the assumption that we were going to do well, we really got into our own heads,” Enigma admitted.
“The expectation was top three, and we didn’t meet that which is a shame. However, it’s more on our lack of good preparation. It wouldn’t have happened if we prepped better — it’s that simple.”Jose “Enigma” Izurieta
However, despite being set back consistently throughout the season, they never really felt out of the battle. The Rhythm loss on Gameday 5 certainly took it out of them. It was an all-time low for the roster being 0-5 in a season they expected to top four. But, they battled on, and it paid off.
“We were down but not out, that was the attitude that we had. After losing to Rhythm, we just looked over and said we need to win the next one. If we had won against Rhythm, we still would have had to beat Elevate and Ferox. The pressure wasn’t there, but the expectation was.”
Two things really started to click when they took on Elevate and Ferox. One: They brought back Narran “Nasty” Ping, replacing Angmoh. Often credited as being the most mechanically gifted player on the LFO roster, he was able to frag out and give LFO some much needed confidence.
The second thing was getting Nathaniel “Naate” Williams more accustomed to the LFO style of play. “Nate was a fantastic addition to the team, but this is also his first season playing officials outside of the Spring Sweep. Oceanic Nationals is a completely different kettle of fish, and it’s just a case of getting him accustomed to top-level play,” Enigma said.
It’s also testament to LFO’s gutsy spirit. Enigma has managed to curate this rag-tag team into one of Oceania’s best. It’s only by pure fortune that they’re in the top-flight right now, but they’re not letting the opportunity slip.
“It’s all about the grind — that’s all people talk about. We just really hard grinded from the bottom to where we are now, so to be here is a really nice sense of satisfaction. I don’t really get much credit, but I do get it when we win, so it’s good to sit back and watch our progress.
“At the start of the year, we never even thought there’d be the chance to get into Six Masters, but when that spot opened up with Fnatic, we just took it.”
Now that they’ve taken it, LFO are looking to run with it. They are still expecting to see themselves in the top three come Oceanic Nationals’ end, and making it to the November Major. While it seemed like a long shot just over a week ago, now it doesn’t feel so farfetched.
“The expectation is to still make it into the top three. With our current form, we can definitely do that. Looking at the Ferox game, we could have won that game 7-4, but we threw a few rounds and that wasn’t good enough. We went 1-3 on Basement defense on Oregon after a 4-2 attack half.
“Elevate is a very strong team, and they beat Noble, and so if they can beat Noble, it shows that we can have that opportunity to run it deep. We’ve upped all our preparation, so hopefully the grind will pay off.”
The Oceanic Nationals playoffs kicks off on Friday, October 16. You can catch all the action on the Rainbow Six Twitch channel.
You can follow Enigma on Twitter.
Be sure to follow Snowball Esports on Twitter for everything Oceanic Nationals throughout the season, including tips, analysis, and interviews.