There were some question marks above the Knights after their tragic first week in OCN Stage 1 2021. Now they’re in full flight, and are firmly the favorites for playoffs. For Broden “Juicy” Dean, the result was never in question, and total domination in 2021 is the goal, starting with today’s final.
Heading into OCN 2021, Knights were the overwhelming favorites. However, things didn’t start out that way.
A sluggish Week 1 that saw them drop games to Roflcopter and Chiefs (then Elevate). It was sloppy, and the Knights saw that within themselves. According to Juicy, the team was just evaluating the balance they needed to strike in their busy schedule.
“I think the slow start to the season for us was just trying to work out how much we were willing to put into the OCN season being on at the same time as South. It’s not that we didn’t care, but with so many play days it gives very limited time for prep for all the teams,” he told Snowball.
“We were still very confident that we were going to make playoffs. That was never a concern, It was just going to be where we placed.”
It’s an interesting point to make — one that has resonated with all the APAC South teams in OCN. The Knights were still undeniably good; they were thumping APAC South while struggling in OCN at the start.
Instead of just putting all the eggs into the South basket, the Knights were trying to finesse their own strategy to find that perfect balance. That took time, but it ended up paying off.
“Juggling [the two] was a bit overwhelming, but as the playdays went on we just knew that we had to go out each day and play as well as we could and that’s all you can really do. Sometimes you don’t have the time to prep so you just focus on your own game.”
After the first week, the Knights won four of their next five OCN games — all in regulation for the maximum three points.
They didn’t miss a beat mid-week either. They decimated the APAC South competition, only dropping maps to Xavier (now Elevate) and Wildcard to fall to second right at the end of the season. The experience overseas has been a dream come true for Juicy, who can now start to sense the chance to make Six Invitational 2022.
“APAC South this season has been so much fun. Finally getting a chance to go up against teams that in the past you couldn’t play against unless you made LAN is a massive thing,” he said.
“The chance to get SI points out of this is awesome. Knowing that it could end up getting us to SI 2022 is such a dream. Something like that can only help grow the team and just allows us to get better overall.”
The Knights managed to find that perfect adaptation, but others have struggled. Wildcard’s circumstances withstanding, both Chiefs and Order found uncharacteristic losses throughout the season.
This has made the competition just that bit tighter, but Juicy believes it’s only a temporary symptom.
“The multiple play days just mean the teams that can’t prep as well will suffer in their OCN games. This season being closer than ever I think comes back to some teams having more prep time for games than others,” he said.
“There still is a gap between the bottom four and top four teams. It’s just getting closer because of the situations some teams are in.”
The Knights are going to look to expand that ‘gap’ in OCN playoffs. They aren’t scared of anyone — why would they be? They’re the best team in Oceania right now.
Mark “Dino” Abboud has been very vocal in post-game interviews about securing quick wins: 7-0, 7-1, 7-2. With the new Gauntlet format placing them right in the Grand Final, they’re expecting a quick sweep of the competition, no matter who they face.
“Being first is a massive thing. It just gives us another day of practice to make sure we are ready for our game. However, I honestly have no idea who we are going to be playing against,” Juicy admitted.
“With the new gauntlet playoffs system it just depends how good of a run you can get. Realistically, any team could make it to the Grand Final.”
If the Knights manage to take home the OCN Stage 1 2021 title, we could be seeing the start of a dynasty like the Wildcard and Fnatic of old.
Overcoming that first hurdle in 2021 is going to be the most difficult task, but there’s not much stopping them from being the best team not just in ANZ, but APAC South.
The Knights will face off against the Chiefs or Roflcopter in the OCN Stage 1 2021 Grand Final, scheduled to kick off today at 4pm AEST.