Bliss have been tantalisingly close to an Oceanic Nationals title before. They failed to convert in Stage 2 after their dominant regular season. However, in Stage 3, Anastasios “Odah” Hatzis is ready to right Bliss’ wrongs with APAC South calling their name.
Bliss are having a statement year in 2021. Rocking the bright pink following their move from Ferox, it feels like everything has finally gone right for a squad that has so commonly been let down at the last second.
They’ve only made one roster swap — and it proved to be a big boon in Jigsaw. They’ve made every single OCN playoffs, and they look more like an APAC South team than some of our APAC South teams.
For Odah, finally finding that spark has lifted a weight off the squad’s shoulders.
“Being consistent in OCN has boosted our confidence,” he told Snowball.
“Having the same roster for the whole year, you build a friendship. Having that in a team environment when you can have fun, joke around a bit but it still being business makes playing that much better.
“You can help each other grow as a team, makes the team better instead of swapping people out and having to change stuff.”
It’s a far cry from just 12 months ago when the then-Ferox roster was staving off elimination, with a fresh-faced Odah trying to make things click.
“[Last year] we found ourselves in Relegations and felt a bit down. We brought in Repix which was what we needed — more frag power. Coming out of Relegations into Stage 1, we had bad prac but still managed to pull a top four for Stage 1.
“Once we got Jigsaw in, that’s when everything turned. Our confidence went through the roof, the way we were able to play with him and play as a team, it’s been showing. The way we play is just good, I guess.”
Their berth in the APAC South Relegations (or Promotions, depending on your lens) has already been cemented. One thing would make Bliss’ prospects of playing internationally in 2022 that much better though, and it’s a local title.
In Stage 2, they were primed to do so. After ending the regular season without dropping a map, Bliss faced off against a fast-finishing Chiefs who slaughtered them in the grand final.
It showed Bliss that while they were good in the best-of-ones, they were exposed as soon as their map pool was tested.
“That Stage 2 grand final was very needed for us,” Odah admitted.
“We did think we could have won but it showed that Chiefs were better at playing a best-of-five and even though our map pool was still weak but we were confident, it showed that we needed to improve on more maps than just our two of Kafe and Consulate.”
This stage they’ll have to try and rewrite that script, and then push further on to topple the Knights in the grand final. While these three teams have firmly pushed the narrative for OCN year-round, Bliss is the black sheep of the family still without a major title to their name.
To really be considered a top team in ANZ, you need to have that shiny APAC South spot. It might not be possible yet, but at least getting the silverware goes a long way to getting a reputation.
“Winning a best-of-three or five against the Chiefs and Knights is just a boost of confidence. That’s what gave us our momentum in Stage 2, being able to constantly win in the regular season. We rode that confidence and it boosted us into playoffs,” Odah said.
Stage 3 has given Bliss at least some adversity. There was no perfect season this time around, having lost to the Knights already. It was something as simple as “playing our strats wrong”, Odah said, but those are the kinds of mistakes that define good from great.
“We let Knights get into execute phase [on Villa] which is really bad because once they get to that phase they just surround you, and we lost all our gunfights.”
Bliss have learned from their Stage 2 mistakes. They’ve broadened their map pool — something which was aided by the fact they could stay together as a core all year. Now, they just need the matchday experience to show it off.
“These OCN playoffs are where we get more experience ahead of Relegations. It’s just more time to learn and work on our stamina and map pools,” Odah said.
“Where our map pool is at right now, we’re confident to take any team to a best-of-three. We have our standard ban of Clubhouse and we have maps we haven’t shown yet, so coming into our first best-of-three [against the Chiefs], we’re confident to take it 2-0 or 2-1.”
Unlike Chiefs and Knights though, there’s more for Bliss to play for in the OCN playoffs. That hunger could be the deciding factor between a Chiefs three-peat, or a hungry rising star finally making their mark at the best possible time.
“It kind of means everything at the moment because all we compete in is OCN, so being able to win it all against the Chiefs and Knights — it shows that we are one of the best in the region and that we deserve an APAC South slot,” Odah said.
Bliss takes on Chiefs to kick off Day 2 of the Oceanic Nationals Stage 3 playoffs today, Sunday October 10, at 1pm AEDT. The winner will play the Knights in the Grand Final. You can watch the action live on the Rainbow Six Bravo Twitch channel.