The Big Dogz are most certainly underdogs heading into OCN 2021 Relegations. The OCL side, who briefly disbanded at the end of Stage 3, have a renewed sense of confidence and are ready to take it to the big leagues.
Many pundits are looking at the OCN 2021 Relegations battle as a three-horse race between Wildcard, Overt, and FURY.
However, don’t discount Big Dogz, who are looking at continuing their rapid rise after forming at the end of 2019 by going from Open Quals to OCL to OCN without even taking a look back.
Speaking to Snowball, former starter turned coach Kaz “Boff” Tanner claimed Big Dogz’ rise has been full of nothing but surprises around every corner.
“I was playing with PacmanDownUnder [a streamer for Knights] and we felt like we were half okay players, and we were like ‘why don’t we get into the comp scene?’ We messaged around finding players, and then we started winning Open Quals and getting hyped,” he explained.
“Then Challenger League came back for 2021 and we started really playing actively, trying to improve. We ended up getting that OCL spot, and we thought about giving up the spot but we decided to wing it and play the year out.
“Every game we won, the team’s mentality got hungrier and hungrier and we knew we could compete with these guys. We started putting in work and beating better teams, and we made something of it. We’re pretty happy all things considered.”
Some would call Big Dogz’ appearance in OCN 2021 Relegations a fluke. After all, they somewhat lucked into the spot thanks to Overt’s surprise promotion to OCN after LFO’s disbanding.
However, the team always felt competitive against the best in OCL, taking pride in their consistent performances.
“When LFO disbanded, we thought there could be a qualifier between the top teams to fight it out, but Overt took it. However, it moved us up a spot in OCL, and we wanted to use that to our advantage as it pushed up the ladder and closer to Relegations.
“We’ve made third every Stage, we’re the most consistent team in Challenger League.”
However, as Stage 3 ended, the walls almost came crashing down on Big Dogz’ dream of OCN glory. After a roster swap saw the team bring in young gunners to add more firepower, it didn’t all go to plan. The team suddenly disbanded after yet another third-place finish — a placement that was disappointing after heading into the final push with high hopes.
Boff managed to pull things back together though, and the team is approaching their Relegations battle with a fresh mindset.
“Our two newest players [Havok and Logiik] are fresh to the comp scene and their expectations got crushed after OCL Stage 3, and they didn’t know how to take that,” he explained on the team’s disbanding.
“At the start of Stage 3 we were going really good in scrims and we set the bar high. The downside of setting the bar high is if you don’t achieve that goal, you feel like a failure. When that happened — we were aiming for first — all their motivation and goals crushed around them. It was just inexperience and a lack of emotional maturity.
“We had a chat afterwards, and we spoke about the top teams like Chiefs and Knights getting to where they are because they just don’t give up. They have a meeting and figure out their mistakes and the solution to it. That’s where we’re at now.”
The team has taken a step back somewhat in their practice, focusing on keeping the game enjoyable rather than constantly pushing to find new strategies. The team’s obsession with constant improvement set them back mentally as the stress piled on.
“For us, if we lose, that’s fine, we go back to OCL. For Wildcard, if they lose, that is a huge weight on their shoulders to be knocked out of OCN. Their pride would be shattered.”
Now with everyone on the same page, Boff is confident Big Dogz can surprise everyone who has written them off after the perceived drama.
“We want to prove that we can compete with these other teams. We want to show the people who write us off without watching any games. There’s nothing to lose — even if we get eliminated we walk away with a ton of experience and exposure.”
Big Dogz’ first task is pushing past Oceanic titans Wildcard, who have had a rocky 2021. While it may seem daunting for a team who are coming in with very little experience, they believe they have what it takes to send Wildcard packing.
“I don’t know how to say this without coming across as cocky, but we’re not worried about Wildcard. They aren’t bad, but they’re trying to play an old meta. They love structure, and they love going by a step-by-step plan, so if we can break that, we can beat them,” Boff stated.
“I think they’re in a very nervous position due to their pride. Wildcard were the top dog for so long until Diesel left, and their performance this year is dwelling on them. Being in Relegations, there’s that fear for them.
“They’re good players, they’re really experienced, but it could work against them on the day. They might have finally figured out their mistakes though and we might get pumped, but we feel like we can dismantle the way they play.”
OCN 2021 Relegations kicks off on Saturday, November 27 with Big Dogz facing off against Wildcard in their first match. You can catch the action live on the Rainbow Six ANZ Twitch channel.