The ESEA Advanced season 35 is over and what a season it was. Few afterthoughts from the GM Kasurinen and how he saw the season unfold.
Before the season start, we were coming off a dry streak of sorts as bringing in new players always can either have a boosting effect on performance or then you need to adjust to the changes. The team was going through the latter one and was a bit shaky early on.
Starting off the season we had a normal start and the first 3 games seemed to go as planned as we lost to Project X, which at the time was deemed “not fun, but something you would expect” kinda loss. Scrims were going smoothly and everything clicked, but then something happened and during a span of 1 week, we managed to take 3 losses against our own level teams as we dropped to the ball versus Wizards Club, ECLOT, and Vexed Gaming.
Some might have started to wait for a new season with a record of 2-4 from our first six games, but it was at that moment something really interesting happened. As players age, they tend to start developing manners of tightening their game as the odds get stacked against you and it was here that Mikko “xartE” Välimaa and Pasi “VORMISTO” Koskinen took it upon themselves to carry the team over the hard stretch of not being allowed almost any losses in the last 10 matches.
With a two win streak we managed (once again) to drop the ball against our finnish rival Kova Esports and it started to look that a record of 4-5 was not going to cut it to reach the playoffs.
The team though was not keen on letting the end of 2020 slip by their hands and started to dig even deeper into the tactics side of things and managed to pull off a 5 game winning streak with the newly gained vigor from that time. Still lead by the veterans, even the younger players adapted to the new playstyle, and results followed.
It was the game against Tenerife Titans that ensured us the 15th spot that we still barely clinched going into the playoffs. We were down by 3-12 in the first half of the game (Terrorist side) and somehow managed to reverse our CT side with the same results, making it to overtime barely. It took 3 overtimes to get the game under our wings and we ended it with a 25-23 record. Match MVP as earlier was xartE who recorded a whopping 42 kills, 1 ACE, 1 4k, 88 enemies flashed (34% of whole teams flashes), and a promising ADR of 88,15 which by any standard is a good number for such a long game.
It was not just our own goodness that got us to the playoffs, but we managed to pull off a greater later half of the season, with the knife on our throats, which shows good signs of things to come.
As expected, we fell in the first round to Lyngby Vikings and took our spot in the lower bracket where the actual magic started happening. At this point, we knew that going up against The Dice looked easier than it was. A promising french lineup that had almost exactly the same map pool as we did and it could rotate either way. This being the case, we were relieved to come out of it on top with the end score of 2-1.
Making it to the next round, the roster started realizing that we still had more juice to go with and that there was elements of surprise we could use against Project X, a team we had lost to in the earlier rounds of the season, and who had won the whole series. And so it was that on a rainy November evening we beat an opponent we “should have not beaten” with a clear 2-0 and the maps even were not that tight, making the team realize that we can if we set our mindset where it should be.
Making top 8 was an achievement on its own, but one always starts to get more hungry when an opportunity to get to the MDL qualifiers presents itself and the roster started pushing for top 6 and this is where our season ended. With a seemingly more easy team with Budapest 5 compared to Project X we overthought our strategy and fell to an opponent pretty much like The Dice (same map pool as us), but with better individuals to execute them.
All and all the experience of ESEA Advanced 35 was a good one for us, setting the tone for future tournaments and 2021. We now know even better what parts of our game we need to practise and develop more and now that we are showing improvement in international games, the players are hungrier than ever to break into the bigger scene and start climbing the HLTV ladder.