For the Knights, the Oceanic Nationals 2021 Stage 2 playoffs are just a formality in a sense. They have bigger fish to fry ahead of the Six Mexico Major in August. However, the playoffs are one final chance to prepare themselves for the big dance, and they’re not taking it lightly.
Finally, an Australian team back on the international Rainbow Six stage. A Six Invitational without Fnatic (or Wildcard, who couldn’t go due to visa issues) was a funny feeling after years of participation.
The Knights are going to the Six Major in Mexico thanks to a miraculous final day of APAC South Stage 2 action that saw results fall in their favor, capped off with a huge 7-5 Invictus Gaming win over Elevate (overtime would have pushed Elevate to the Major instead).
It’s the crown on years of hard work for the squad, who have looked to break out of the Asian scene for some time. They’ve looked like the team most deserving of it in 2021 too — and most of 2020 — really kicking into gear across APAC South and OCN.
“It honestly felt amazing, this is one of my biggest achievements and I couldn’t believe it when it happened. The team has worked extremely hard to get to this point and we couldn’t have done it without every single member playing their part,” star fragger Joshua “Jsh” Coombes told Snowball.
Jsh was a standout for Knights across both their OCN and APAC South campaigns, really stepping into his own since making his 2020 competitive debut. In 2021, things have really clicked, and while that didn’t culminate in a OCN Stage 1 title, it has led to bigger success.
He’s evolving as a player too, and can now firmly call himself a veteran in the scene with a year of experience under his belt.
“I think I’m definitely improving in 2021, understanding more about the game each week and getting good experience playing in higher leagues consistently,” he said.
However, it’s time to snap back to Oceanic Nationals.
Stage 2 was a rough one for Knights, playing with subs for most of the season. While they managed to easily make the playoffs, they’ve left themselves a long run to the top, being seeded against Roflcopter in Round 1.
Late losses to Wildcard and Order knocked them down to fourth place in the regular season. They also struggled to string together wins against Bliss and Chiefs, the two key players awaiting them on Sunday if they make it that far.
However, this is the Knights we’re talking about. They can bounce back — especially with APAC South playoffs now wrapped up.
“It’s no secret that our main priority is APAC South,” Jsh admitted.
“With that being said we are also looking to always improve in whichever league we play. We aren’t disappointed with where we finished in the regular season because we know it doesn’t reflect how good the team actually is.
“A lot of teams in OCN have more to gain from winning and only need to practice for OCN games, we need to balance our practice and sometimes that can cause us to lose games that people think we shouldn’t.”
The biggest example of that is Bliss, who await Knights in the Grand Final. They have consistently placed better than the APAC South contingent of Oceanic Nationals, and while they are a threat and “have shown major improvement”, according to Jsh, they have “more to gain” with an Oceanic Nationals title.
“All teams in the finals should be considered a threat so you don’t underestimate anyone,” he added.
The looming question of the Major is a big one though. Will Knights use Oceanic Nationals to prepare their stratbook for the end of August, or will they hide it away from the likes of Spacestation, FURIA, and NAVI in their group?
“We aren’t really worried about anything specific to be honest. At the moment we are just focusing on ourselves. Every team competing in Mexico will do their research so worrying about letting too many strats loose isn’t a concern for us,” he said.
“We will put in hard work after the playoffs to make sure we are prepared to the best of our ability in the time frame we have.”
With a long run ahead of them and a busy August, Jsh and the Knights aren’t going to run into this weekend with big egos. They’re taking every series as it comes, and they’re still going to push to get revenge for their Stage 1 loss against Chiefs.
“Obviously we want to win but we aren’t going into this weekend with a cocky attitude, it’s just another group of games that we need to play at our best to win. The other teams in the finals are there for a reason and we cannot take anyone for granted.”
Regardless of their performance domestically though, the hype around their international appearance is hitting fever pitch, and the world should be watching.
“We don’t really know how we will do in Mexico but we will certainly try our best,” he said.
“We appreciate all the support we have gotten in the last year from both the community and our organisation, and we hope to represent the Australian scene well.”
Oceanic Nationals 2021 Stage 2 playoffs kicks off tonight, Saturday July 31, at 3pm AEST with ROFLCOPTER vs Knights. You can watch the games on the Rainbow Six Bravo Twitch channel.