Some things are always for certain. Seemingly in recent times, one of those certainties is Wildcard first in ANZ Siege. That trend doesn’t look like stopping in Oceanic Nationals, with Kyle “Diesel” Renton and the rest of the squad gearing up to take their third-straight title.
It’s seemingly inevitable. Eight teams will fight in ANZ Siege, and through one way or another, Wildcard will appear on top. They did so in Six Masters in convincing fashion, but in Oceanic Nationals, things were a little murkier.
The team fell to an early loss in Week 1 to Noble. Then, in the following weeks, they were taken to overtime by Rhythm and Ferox, the two teams that missed out on playoffs entirely. However, behind them back in the pack, games were going either which way, and Wildcard eventually came out on top.
In their games against their title-contending contemporaries, they looked cleancut. They took down the Knights and Elevate 7-2 in a show of dominance reminiscent of Fnatic’s time in ANZ. However, they lost composure against some of the weaker opposition.
That doesn’t invalidate Wildcard’s achievements though. In fact, many were doubting they’d hold on to the top position in ANZ after losing Ethan “Ethan” Picard. However, according to Kyle “Diesel” Renton, the team was expecting the move to come one day or another, and braced for impact.
“We lost Ethan, and he was such a key player regardless of his fragging. His knowledge and his calling capabilities are priceless,” he told Snowball.
“We all kind of expected it to come one day. If it was the old roster, that would have been a massive blow. But with Pat and Gio, we’re definitely much more well-rounded and we have a better mindset, so we were accepting that was going to be the case. I had to call a bit more without Ethan, and Pat has also stepped up. As long as we are calling, it’ll be okay.”
They settled on SiNister’s (now Noble) Vincent “Vincere” Daniele as a replacement. It seemed like the obvious option — he was second in Snowball’s MVP last season, was an outstanding entry player, and seemingly fit all of Ethan’s roles perfectly. However, Diesel admitted that “nothing is ever that easy.”
“He did really well on SiNister last season individually and his biggest strength is his mechanical ability, so we put him on entry. He had never roamed before and was keen to give it a go — Ethan was our roamer, and he was very good at it.
“Those two roles are very different — one goes with the team, one is isolated — but he’s a really good teammate, and hungry to learn, so he’s easy to be on a team with.”
The team also stepped up to match the loss of Ethan. The most outstanding of those has been Jonathan “Gio” Luciana. He’s been the crux of a lot of Wildcard’s wins, not just because of his outstanding fragging ability, but his brain for perfect supportive play to help enable the rest of the mechanically-gifted roster.
“When I first played with Gio [before Wildcard], I knew he was really good. His mechanics are really sharp and I know that he was going to get better if he could be on a team he could learn from.
“Six Masters was his first full season, and he’s just constantly getting better. These officials recently have just been Gio popping off — he’s always been a good player, but now everyone is seeing it for themselves.”
Looking ahead at the Oceanic Nationals playoffs, Wildcard are obviously in the prime seat to win it all again, and that’s the only expectation that they set themselves. However, this season has proven to be tighter than any other before it.
This leaves the door open to chance that they could be taken down. No matter the result though, Diesel believes that it’ll always be on Wildcard’s accord. They’ll win because they are simply the better team, and they’ll lose because of being their “own worst enemy.”
“The biggest threat is ourselves. If we don’t play the way we need to, we will be our own worst enemy. We had some games where it was a lot closer than it should have been, and we had a lot of lost rounds that were self-inflicted. We know we really need to be on the ball from the first round. It wasn’t a clear-cut first for us this season,” he admitted.
Regardless of what happens from here though, barring a major capitulation, Wildcard are all but locked for the November Major. This will give them another chance to rack up SI points to return to Montreal — travel permitting — in February.
The Wildcard roster that got decimated at SI 2020 is no more though. Getting another chance to have a crack at the world’s best is the ultimate goal for this squad. Win or lose on the international stage, racking up that experience — especially for the likes of Pat, Gio, and Vincere — would help them drastically in 2021.
“It would be completely different if we went to the Six Invitational this year. It’s a completely different team. All I’ve ever wanted to do is compete well at an international level, so if we got there and we did well against whoever we played, I’d be happy. Winning would be a bonus,” Diesel said.
“I want Pat, Gio, and Vinnie to scrim NA and EU teams too, because we were constantly learning in those scrims [ahead of SI2020]. The amount of things we learned in that time period — you don’t get that in APAC.”
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.