Of all the names that have been around the APAC Rainbow Six scene, Yudai "Wokka" Ichise may be the most well-known, but Glen "Lunarmetal" Suryasaputra is one of the oldest, if not the oldest outright. Having captained his team throughout the seasons, a new-look Aerowolf were within two rounds of consigning Fnatic to defeat and making it to Milan (and Raleigh) in their place instead at the Season 9 APAC Finals.
Fate, however, had it differently. A bug at the top of the visa stairs on Consulate saw the defuser become irrecoverable from the vice of the floorboards, and Aerowolf conceded match point before conceding the game. They wouldn't make it to Milan, and they would have to qualify through the SEA open qualifier and the qualifier LAN to make it to Raleigh.
Before that, though, they had to play through most of Season 10 of the Pro League, which did not get off to the best of starts for the Singaporean team. Only collecting four points against recently promoted NEX Esports meant that they were behind close rivals Xavier Esports from the onset. Scrypt E-sports, having almost beat Aerowolf to the APAC Finals in Season 9, were keeping pace, but fell behind once Aerowolf won one map and drew the other in their matchup together.
Scrypt would, of course, be disqualified later on, and Aerowolf and Xavier Esports would be the first two teams to qualify to the APAC Finals -- by some margin as well -- but Aerowolf's Season 9 APAC Finals magic would not reappear in the Six Major Raleigh Qualifier LAN. This was especially a surprise, as Aerowolf had begun to look nigh-dominant once more, having defeated Xavier Esports 2-0 twice in two Best-of-Threes in the online qualifier -- a feat they had never accomplished before, having only won once prior by a 2-1 score exactly a year ago.
It had seemed that Aerowolf's spate of constant playing lineup changes in Season 9 had finally settled, with Martin "SpeakEasy" Yunos and Patrick "MentalistC" Fan added then and Lunarmetal in and out due to other real-world commitments. However, Cyclops Athlete Gaming shattered that belief, taking down Aerowolf 2-0 and going on to win the event and qualify for the Raleigh Major.
Coming back to Singapore, Aerowolf then added Jordan "jrdn" Cheng as a substitute to replace the outgoing Ni "SPirited" Tung Ming, and geared up to try and wrest the first seed away from Xavier Esports. A first map loss was later somewhat salvaged with a second map win for Aerowolf, but the damage was done -- Aerowolf were the second seeds, and would later be matched up against Fnatic at the APAC Finals in the opening match for the fifth time.
SiegeGG spoke to Lunarmetal about this incredible occurrence, his team's Season 10 campaign, and their approach to these Finals:
Would you agree that this season was, to put it simply, a bit of a cakewalk for your side?
I think that the season was definitely a lot harder than it seemed. Teams in general are improving by figuring out their own methods of playing, and the format of 2x Bo1s actually put a lot of pressure on us. However, I think that the skill differential is still evident in SEA and any draw/loss is detrimental because Xavier will probably continue to go without any losses (until they face us).
In retrospect, our single draw against NEX (at the time, I wasn’t playing because of school commitments) cost us dearly for that first seed and we pay the price by getting Fnatic for our first game. There’s definitely a lot of problems with the format in APAC in my honest opinion, and rectification of the problems is long overdue.
You have talked about how hard it is to compete in Singapore in Rainbow Six. How do you keep going?
Pushing forward with passion but stopping just before obsession. There’s a very, very thin line in the middle that you don’t cross until the time is right.
Unfortunately, MentalistC is going to have to stop playing Rainbow Six. If your team qualifies, however, will he play at the Six Invitational 2020 at least?
That’s up to him and how much he can cope. That slot will be his if he wants it, but if he decides against it, Jordan will probably play.
This is some ways away, but how does your team plan to adjust in the wake of his departure? Is Jrdn going to be drafted into the main lineup?
Jordan will most likely play, yes. At the same time, we will probably proceed to find a sixth as we’ve always done. That position is detrimental because (as you’ve seen before) our team is plagued with roster changes. It’s only natural when players come and go because there’s simply too many external commitments and/or not enough incentive to pursue Siege full time.
Let’s come to the present now, with the APAC Finals. You face Fnatic for an incredible fifth time, how are you preparing for them this time?
We are so familiar with each other that I can probably tell you the 3 maps we’re gonna play right now. Every time we play I think: “Worst case scenario they’ll ban ___ and pick ____”, and that usually tends to happen.
It’s a shame that we have to play each other because Fnatic was probably the one team that we wanted to avoid because they know us so well. That said, I also think that we’re the team with the best shot against Fnatic for that same reason.
How do you fancy your chances at the APAC Finals? Your side of the bracket is incredibly difficult, featuring Cloud9, Fnatic, and NORA-Rengo.
Pretty good, I would say. We’re at a slight disadvantage when it comes to commitment and support, but I think we’re all at the level where the team with the best form that weekend takes the LAN spot.
Do you think the APAC Finals deserve a change in format, perhaps using double-elimination, or perhaps Korea combining with Japan, with that combined region and ANZ getting three spots at the APAC Finals?
Of course. I think that a lot of things needed to have changed a year ago but it’s hard for me to say what the ‘right’ format is. There are a lot of considerations to be made before you make plans. Things like budget allocations and the different markets within APAC make it quite complicated because even though APAC is a huge region, it’s not feasible nor sustainable to make every region equally important.
Things need to progress somehow, though, and seeing how this APAC format hasn’t changed since 2017 (when we had our first APAC LAN exactly two years ago) it’s definitely overdue. Double-elimination would be a good start.
Do you have anything to say to your fans at home and internationally?
Everyone on our side of the bracket is an APAC giant so please give us all your support. We might be outnumbered but every single bit of support will mean a lot to us.
Also, watch Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer). You’re missing out on life if you haven’t. Thank me later.
Catch Aerowolf in action next weekend, as the Season 10 APAC Finals run from the 19th to 20th of October, with games starting at 10 AM AEDT (GMT+11) each day. In what is to be as exciting a game as the ones before, Aerowolf first plays Fnatic, and then could move on to face either Cloud9 or NORA-Rengo.