The Knights have found some form in Oceanic Nationals to almost run through Stage 3 undefeated. After heartbreak in Stage 2 saw them miss out on the Mexico Major, a Stage 3 win would be a huge confidence boost, says Mitchell “Sageon” Sage.
The Knights had a big carrot on a stick in Stage 2 through APAC South with the allure of the Mexico Major.
It was a huge moment for the players when they finally qualified. It would have been their first international LAN, and a huge moment to show off ANZ’s growth against the world’s best.
Then, just days before they were set to jet off, it was called off.
“To be honest, at first it was completely shattering,” Sageon told Snowball.
“We started preparing for the teams in our group, we were nine days out from leaving and we were putting in a lot of work.
“Playing in international events is everything you work towards, so it was shattering to not be able to go. Long-term though, it’s increased the drive for most of us. We want to make the next event now.”
With that in mind, the Knights came out swinging as hard as they could in OCN and APAC South in Stage 3. While they found more success in the former than the latter — currently sitting in seventh with one gameday to play but within touching distance of playoffs — they’ve expanded their skillset despite a lack of international opportunity.
For Sageon, it’s been a big boon for him. He’s shifted around into an entry fragger role, something he says compliments his playstyle.
“We trialled me on entry and Dino on entry and we thought it worked quite well,” he explained.
“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win, to play any role, to lead if I have to; but my mechanics have always been built around being a conventional entry fragger. I just think even though I’m always putting in the same effort for the role that I’m playing, if I’m entry fragging, the results will always be better.
“It’s not fair for me to say I’m playing better because of the role, but the role that I’m on allows me to unlock a higher level of potential.”
That coupled with a little bit of extra focus on Oceanic Nationals in Stage 3 has pushed Knights into the first seed and grand final.
It’s a hard business trying to juggle the two leagues, but Sageon and his squad found a small pocket of time to really capitalise on the opportunity.
“We did decide to focus a little bit on regular season in Stage 3 simply because the OCN playoffs would happen in the middle of APAC South so we saw it as an advantage having to play one game instead of playing three best of threes in a week, putting us in a better spot,” he said.
“You can’t put in the same prep work for both. Whether or not you do the prep though, you can still show up on the day and play the best that you can. When you show up wanting to play, there’s no reason you can’t perform in OCN even if you haven’t put up the same level of prep work.”
They did somewhat slump in APAC South — after all, they’re not first this stage. However, they have adapted their playstyle to become a lot more competitive not just at home, but where it matters overseas.
Whether it’s Sageon on entry, or other parts of the puzzle like Juicy fragging up a storm while anchoring, the Knights are not a one-dimensional squad. They want everyone to do a bit of everything.
“Our philosophy with roles has always been we want everyone to play everything. There’s a lot of situations where that benefits you,” Sageon said.
“For example when certain operators are banned, instead of switching two roles, you can just have one person flex around. There’s also in-round situations where you need your supports to setup and frag sometimes, so if everyone can do every job well, it allows you to be very flexible.”
Now with the privilege at looking on over the gauntlet, instead of having to grind all the way through like Stage 2, the Knights can take it a bit easier heading into Sunday’s grand final.
It’ll be a rematch against either the Chiefs or Bliss — their two biggest rivals domestically. The former has been their kryptonite somewhat since the OMEN Gauntlet, holding a commanding lead over the head-to-head record.
No matter who they face though, they just want to play their best so they can be best prepared for APAC South.
“Our goal is to win, so it’d be nice to stop the [Chiefs] three-peat and take a Stage for ourselves,” Sageon laughed.
“Winning OCN is great for individual confidence. Just knowing it’s not second or ‘yeah we played pretty well’ — coming first is always a confidence boost. We can take that and translate it into a good South performance.”
The Knights will take on the winner of Chiefs and Bliss in the Oceanic Nationals Stage 3 Grand Final today, Sunday October 10, at 4pm AEDT. You can catch the action live on the Rainbow Six Bravo Twitch channel.