Rhythm were down and out in Oceanic Nationals after Stage 2. However, a Stage 3 glowup brought on by a new recruit inspired Kaelebb “Lebbbbb” Gordon-Smith and his squad to rally together and punch a ticket to their first playoffs appearance.
It was safe to say that Rhythm, at the end of OCN Stage 2, was dejected. Questions were raised about whether they’d even be competitive in OCL as the squad had lost their spark in the server.
Their only saving grace from the season was pushing Wildcard to overtime — getting seven of their 23 round wins for the entire season in just one game.
For the 25-year-old captain Lebb, it was hard to find the motivation to play. Stage 3 certainly looked much the same after they lost their first two games.
“We had given up the whole stage [in Stage 2], we stopped scrimming and just showed up on game day,” Lebb admitted to Snowball.
And then, from the heavens, their saviour arrived: Ivo “Dragoes” Lovric.
Okay, that maybe dismisses the hard work of the rest of the Rhythm squad to finally get their groove on, but one roster change turned them from OCN laughing stock into playoffs contenders.
“We’ve trialled him three or four times in the past, he just kept coming up. He used to play on Skyfire in OCL, and he just hung around. When we were trialling Supremisis we tried Dragoes at the same time, and we went with Supremisis because he’s a very energetic person and seems like he’s committed and dedicated, but clashing personalities didn’t line up well,” Lebb said.
“When Novaix didn’t want to play, we decided to let Dragoes play, and the dude’s just slaughtering people. I know he plays a fair bit and practicing a lot — it was like ‘keep getting kills man, you do you’.”
“When Novaix made that announcement, most of us were like ‘oh shit’. We panicked like it was going to be Stage 2 again. But we played against ROFLCOPTER, and we started playing well.”
Dragoes has led Rhythm to their first playoffs, bringing some flair to a squad that had all the makings of a could-be contender, but lacked an explosive spark in the server.
He dropped 45 kills in five games — and no matter if he was Dragoes or Fragoes, headshots were dished out in spades. His ability to entry unlocked Rhythm to show off their strategic depth, instead of just having to turtle every game.
“We’ve never really had a full-on entry player. Supremisis was a good entry player, but he didn’t have that team experience which Dragoes had. That’s assisted us a lot. He does that for us, he gets those kills for us where you go ‘okay, how has he just killed two people’,” Lebb said.
It all came to a head when Rhythm demolished the Chiefs 7-4 on Villa, all but locking their spot in the playoffs. The realization that they finally made the post-season was part-surreal, part-relieving, and a totally “good feeling.”
“Going against the Chiefs, we were all worried about it because we thought it would be our hardest game. Wood [Rhythm’s coach] put in a massive amount of prep for it,” he said.
“Obviously it’s OCN, and I can speak for them in saying that OCN is on the backburner for them — I don’t want to put too many words in their mouth because they still want to win, but they’re not showing everything.
“At least beating them for us showed that this stage wasn’t a fluke.”
Now, Rhythm are almost safe from Relegation — a win against Overt will secure it in playoffs. However, their eyes lay a bit higher in the dream of making APAC South Relegations.
While Stage 2 is a writeoff, with Lebb saying giving up “was a horrible mistake” in hindsight, there’s still one path to promotion: Win it all. It’s unlikely, but fairytales exist for a reason.
“We’re not going to sit there and say ‘we’re not going to make it guys’, we’re going to give it our best shot. People are going to say ‘oh sure Rhythm’s definitely going to do that’ — none of us give a shit, that’s not what we’re here for,” he said.
“I’ve been playing in the top flight for two years now and I’ve lost more than I’ve won, and I don’t really care what people think.”
That mentality is what’s going to fire Rhythm up as they stare down the barrel of a deep Gauntlet run.
First they face off against the newly-promoted Overt, who also have one path to stave off Relegation in winning it all.
Then it’s the big three of OCN: Chiefs, Bliss, and Knights. Terrifying is one way of putting it, but it’s great experience for Rhythm who are now angling to end their season on a high and run into 2022 with a head full of steam.
“I wouldn’t say they’re our hardest match, but going up against Overt we’ve been doing a lot of prep. It’s going to be rough, but we want to win and run it all the way and really test our stamina,” he said.
“Overt are tricky in our eyes because they seem pretty good on most maps and they play the game differently, so it’s trying to see what we can make from what they’re doing in terms of map and operator bans. I know we can beat them, but we can’t underestimate them.
“Getting wins was the biggest thing for us this Stage, just to remind ourselves that we could still do this. I think coming into 2022 though we can be more prepared, and now there’s a road to South so there’s a clear goal there that we can give our all to.”
Rhythm face off against Overt to kick off the Oceanic Nationals Stage 3 Playoffs today, Saturday October 9, at 4pm AEDT. You can catch the action live on the Rainbow Six Bravo Twitch channel.
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