Order are running into the Oceanic Nationals Stage 1 2021 playoffs as a bit of a wildcard. They’re going to be without Jayden “ItBeStyle” Franken, with Erik “Nikoh” Ahrenfeld making his debut for 2021. However, Ryan “Speca” Ausden is confident they can prove they are the best team in ANZ — when they want to be.
The big news heading into OCN playoffs is the huge shuffle from Order. ItBeStyle is out, Nikoh is in.
The former Okami roster has almost nothing to lose. They’re not in the APAC South playoffs. They’re a long way from first in OCN, having finished the regular season in fifth. However, they’re going to experiment a new style of play for the finals to try and rebound for Stage 2.
“I really want to start inspiring my players to practice like you play and play like you practice in regards to every scrim and every game. When we end up losing, if we took it seriously, this wouldn’t happen. I don’t want this thing of ‘oh it doesn’t really matter.’ I want to get this hungry appetite for winning back in my team and myself,” he said.
That’s the philosophy Speca broke down when I asked him about this period of transition for Order, which comes after the core managed to make it through 2020 mostly unscathed.
It’s something the always-achieved Speca has strived for. It was what he had in mind when he joined Fnatic, even if things didn’t end up playing out that way. He brought that back to Okami, and took a backseat role from fragging to try and elevate his teammates.
“I definitely have fallen off in regards to a fragging role, but I’m focusing so much on winning rounds that a round win is a win,” he said.
“I’m not really on that primary entry anymore so to speak though. I might not be getting a lot of kills, but I’m doing a lot more behind the scenes.”
Well, that was as of Tuesday, when I spoke to Speca ahead of their game against Chiefs in APAC South. Since then, he’s found himself back in those entry fragger shoes, and is ready to drop “15 kills on Zofia like the old Speca.”
“We have a big anime redemption arc now,” he said.
“I’m a big believer in that we don’t lose to teams. We lose to ourselves. This team has such good potential, and then it goes away, and it usually starts with someone doing a dumb solo play.”
ItBeStyle, while a “phenomenal” player in Speca’s words, just didn’t have the time or energy left to dedicate to Siege. His full-time job forces him to wake up at 4:30am, and he’s playing officials to as late as 1am some nights.
“Jayden [IteBeStyle] is a f**king phenomenal fragger, but his actual teamwork could always be better. He tunnel visions a bit sometimes, which is unfortunate.”
With Nikoh, Speca feels like he doesn’t have to micro as much. Plus, he will have someone droning for him; a nice change he felt needed to be pointed out when I asked after the change was revealed.
However, there’s still concerns within the Order camp about the workload and burnout from the huge OCN and APAC South campaigns they’ve just finished. While they don’t have to play APAC South playoffs, having to play three games a week nearly pushed Speca to retirement.
“Heart’s alright to be honest. I’m numb to it. It’s more the mental toll. I don’t know if it’s anxiety or whatever, but I think it’s because I’ve had the burden of trying to develop the whole team. I’m playing the game too much instead of enjoying life.
“I wouldn’t say that I’m burned out. It’s an interesting question that one. I don’t think I’m burned out, I don’t feel burned out, but then there are moments…” he trailed off.
“I’m going to say no. But playing this much does take a toll on your endurance and desire to play. There’s less time to do sh*t because you’re focusing on the next game.”
Speca is looking to prove that this new-look Order roster can make up for their devastating 7-2 loss to Roflcopter on the final playday. The “uncharacteristic” game saw Order tumble from a potential first place to fifth.
“There was a lot of anger and blaming, and that’s never really good. It was internal issues that led to people not actually playing the game,” he admitted.
“I wouldn’t take [the game versus Roflcopter] as a reference point. I’m not concerned about playing them again — I’m actually looking forward to it.”
As for the rest of OCN playoffs, Speca is taking it as it comes. He wants to use OCN as a chance for Order to build competitive experience for APAC South, but that doesn’t mean they’re taking it lightly. They still see themselves as the best, and they’re going to show why.
“I’m not going to say it’s a loser mindset, but it’s a conservative mindset: Making it to the Grand Final is what I expect,” he said.
“We’re easily the best team in Australia when we want to be, we’ve just had such an unfortunate season. We have some of the sharpest and smartest players.”
Order will take on Roflcopter in the first game of the Oceanic Nationals Stage 1 2021 playoffs gauntlet on Saturday, April 17 at 3pm AEST.