Dire Wolves have turned to Oceanic Counter-Strike veteran Mike “ap0c” Aliferis as a replacement for the departing Jay “soju_j” Jeong.
The move is a bit of a homecoming for the 33-year old. He previously played with Euan “sterling” Moore and Jared “HaZR” O’Bree at Avant Gaming for almost two years — a stint that included three national titles and numerous successful qualifiers.
Ap0c chose not to re-sign with Dire Wolves following the Avant acquisition in March, instead joining Animal Squad. While results have been lacking for Animal Squad, ap0c individually remains on top of his game; he has a 1.17 rating this year and his +97 kill differential keeps him firmly in the regional top ten.
Individual fragging power aside, ap0c’s fifteen-plus years in Counter-Strike is experience Dire Wolves’ young guns Benson “Liki” Niulia and James “SaVage” Savage can no doubt learn from.
Soju_j’s withdrawal from Dire Wolves comes after a “bumpy but exciting” five months with the squad. A fourth-place finish at ESEA Premier Season 36 just seemed to be growing pains, with the squad bouncing back to finish second at ESL ANZ Champs.
They went one better in the opening season of LPL Pro League, downing rivals Chiefs to claim victory 3-0 and assert themselves as a real challenger for the top three in the region.
But things took a turn for the worse when Dire Wolves were shockingly bundled out of the EPIC Oceanic League — the region’s all-important RMR qualifier — in fourth place behind Rooster.
Dire Wolves continued to struggle with consistency; a flawless ESEA Premier Season 37 regular season, which included a win over the high-flying Renegades, could not be converted as RNG and VERTEX sent them packing in the playoffs.
- Read more: ESEA Season 37 – what we saw and learned
The change will mean Dire Wolves will lose 20% of their RMR points, vital for OCE’s sole representative spot at the Stockholm Major in October. But with subsequent qualifiers awarding more points, it’s no better time for a change up heading into the latter part of 2021.
DW returns to the server tonight for their LPL Pro League Season 8 playoffs run, live at 6pm AEST on Twitch.