Noble have a lot to prove in the Oceanic Nationals playoffs. After looking unstoppable in Week 1, they seemingly choked their way to a fifth-placed finish. With their expectations yet to be met, the squad is hungry to prove doubters wrong and make it to the final.
Noble has been in this position before. In fact, it was quite recently they found themselves on the cusp of breaking into the discussion for the best Siege team in ANZ. However, they crumbled at the final hurdle, bowing out in catastrophic fashion.
That was at Six Masters just a few short months ago. Instead of making a deep run, they were forced to watch from the sidelines as Wildcard, Okami, and the Knights made the August Major off the back of their demise.
It was a disappointing setback for a team that showed so much promise and class. Then they lost their star player in Vincent “Vincere” Daniele. Things weren’t looking great from the outside looking in, but then Oceanic Nationals started, and they silenced all doubters.
They managed to take down Wildcard in the first week, with the conversation shifting to whether Noble could actually be stopped. It took less than a week for that question to be answered, as the former SiNister lineup went 2-3 in their remaining five Oceanic Nationals games.
The doubters came to the forefront again. Were Noble just going to crumble like they did in Six Masters? Will the curse strike again? According to Erik “Nikoh” Ahrenfeld, the team is much better prepared than they were in the past.
“The way I look at it is that with a new roster, it doesn’t matter what happened last season. Things will change this season. We’re taking things very seriously this time — way more than we did last season. We also have way more support to help us prepare for playoffs, so we’re feeling more ready than ever,” he told Snowball.
It comes after Noble failed to live up to their own lofty expectations. Not withstanding taking out Wildcard, they already had their eyes on the throne. However, silly errors in their own gameplay, and potentially letting down their guard, jeopardized their spot even in the top four.
“Our expectations definitely weren’t met. We were always gunning for that first place, but we would have been satisfied with top two,” he admitted.
“It was clear that we could contest the first seed, but it was a case of whether we could continue playing at that level throughout the rest of the season. We just made a lot of mistakes — quite small mistakes that just ended up costing us important rounds and games.”Erik “Nikoh” Ahrenfeld
They did manage to maintain some composure though. The roster didn’t crumble just because Vincere left. In fact, one could argue the rest of the roster rose up in the star entry’s absence. Bringing on a solid role player in Jacob “Presidnt” Kirton certainly helped that.
“Presidnt has fit into the roster pretty seamlessly. It’s just going through the ropes of getting a new player in — scratch up on callouts, strats. There’s only been minor hiccups with him in, so we’re pretty happy with it.
“Losing Vincere, personally, wasn’t a bad thing. If you rely on a player too much, the second they leave, it can crumble. Everyone else has to do their part and pick up the slack, and everyone has done that just fine.”
Now with playoffs in their sights, Noble have stopped the comparison with other teams. Instead, they are focusing solely on themselves. While they still hope for a top two finish, they aren’t necessarily using that as the hard-and-fast rule of success. They want solid progression as a team to really be the hallmark of their playoffs run.
“All we can hope for is to just be happy with our own personal and team performances. There’s no actual place that we are gunning for, we just want to play as well as we can.”
Nikoh admitted the November Major is “definitely in the view” despite all appearances. Plus, they’re putting in the work to make sure it’s still the most likely outcome.
“Sketchy [Noble’s analyst] — the amount of work he’s been doing for us has made our preparation for game day a lot better. It’s just down to us to put it into action,” he said.
“We are infinitely more comfortable playing against teams in a BO3 format than BO1. Our game against Okami in the regular season; something was very wrong with everyone. We’re ready to win this time around though.”
There’s no one team they’ve got their sights on either. Nikoh believes that really, this Oceanic Nationals title is anyone’s for the taking. It’s the closest season in ANZ Siege history, and at the end of it all, he hopes he can be the one with his name etched in history.
“You never really know who the biggest threat is. You’d be lying to yourself if you threw a name out. We just put the same level of preparation into every team, because in this season with everyone being so close to one another performance-wise, anyone can win.
“This is the closest season. I’m not sure the exact reason, but all the recent roster changes have seemingly shaken everyone up, so it’s a case of who can clean up the best.”
The Oceanic Nationals playoffs kicks off on Friday, October 16. You can catch all the action on the Rainbow Six Twitch channel.
Be sure to follow Snowball Esports on Twitter for everything Oceanic Nationals throughout the season, including tips, analysis, and interviews.