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[OPINION] Pro League Season XI Preview: ANZ

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The Pro League Preview series will be your guide to the upcoming Pro League season. Each article will discuss, by region, the teams participating, the storylines to follow and give our opinions on the final standings, with Australia-New Zealand up next.

The Pro League Preview series will be your guide to the upcoming Pro League season. Each article will discuss, by region, the teams participating, the storylines to follow, and give our opinions on the final standings.

Note that the final standing predictions are the author’s alone, but can serve as your guide to form your own opinions (which you are free to share with us on Twitter or in the comments section below). Today’s preview will cover the Australia-New Zealand (ANZ) subregion in the larger Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.

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Season 10 of the Pro League was one of much uncertainty and excitement for ANZ fans. Old guards Fnatic dominated the domestic Pro League, as had been expected, finishing with 27 points, but failed at the APAC Finals against Aerowolf. Instead, it would be second-placed ANZ team Wildcard Gaming -- only two points behind Fnatic -- who would carry the region’s flag high, making it to the Season 10 Finals in Tokoname and getting within one round of defeating eventual champions Natus Vincere.

Oddity Esports were the ones beaten to the punch, having been in pole position to take Wildcard’s place, but finishing just short with 23 points, while Mindfreak was a further two points behind. The bottom three were much further behind, however, with FURY only securing 10 points, Team SiNister barely avoiding relegation with seven points, and Team CryptiK dropping down by virtue of an inferior head-to-head record despite tying SiNister on points. Power Plays, on the other hand, had disbanded halfway into the season.

This upcoming season will feature eight teams from across Australia and New Zealand:

  • Fnatic
  • Wildcard Gaming
  • Oddity Esports
  • HomeLess
  • Mindfreak
  • Team SiNister
  • Rhythm
  • FURY

In the section below, you will find a collection of each teams’ prediction, roster moves and current roster, and a storyline to watch for the team as the season progresses.

Fnatic

Prediction: 1st

Roster: Magnet, Virtue, Lusty, MentalistC, Tex, Acez (sixth player)

Coach: Dizzle

New Arrivals: MentalistC (Aerowolf), Tex (Team SiNister)

Departures: RizRaz (retired), Speca (FA)

The new Fnatic roster. (Photo: Redenergy)

Change is Afoot

Failing to qualify for a Pro League Finals or Major for the first time since Season 6, Fnatic received a rude shock when coming up against Aerowolf for the fifth time. Despite having slalomed through Season 10 of the Pro League in ANZ -- with only Wildcard and Oddity coming appreciably close -- a quarter-finals exit awaited the team at the APAC Finals.

Having had a shockingly poor Six Major Raleigh as well, Fnatic barely hesitated when it became obvious that they would be able to obtain the services of MentalistC. With the signing of Tex also having been in the works since the APAC Finals, RizRaz and Speca were let go. Now, with a smooth run in the Six Invitational 2020 closed qualifier, it seems like Fnatic will be well on course to repeat their Season 10 feat -- perhaps with an even better record, thanks to their new additions.

Wildcard Gaming

Prediction: 2nd

Roster: Ethan, EmoRin, Derpeh, Diesel, NeophyteR

Coaches: Fluxx, syliX

New Arrivals: N/A

Departures: N/A

Wildcard Gaming at the Season 10 Finals.

Consistency the Name of the Game

Wildcard Gaming, having made no changes, are likely to finish in second place as they did in Season 10. This would thus mark a fourth season running in which Wildcard has made it to the APAC Finals, though Season 10 was the first time they had made it past that stage. While they are still a fearsome squad, and having had made no changes, doing one better than the new Fnatic roster across the entire season may be too tall an order.

Nevertheless, Wildcard still has immense quality and consistency in their roster -- the very same that was a round away from beating Natus Vincere -- and should be able to make it to the APAC Finals again. However, they will need to be wary, having just barely made it in Season 10, and will have many eyes watching their run.

Oddity Esports

Prediction: 3rd

Roster: Vast, Redd, GodLegion, Gio, Dgtl

Coach: Sinnix

New Arrivals: Gio, Dgtl (LFT)

Departures: Todd (FA), Vinnie (Team SiNister)

Oddity Esports at the Six Masters 2019. (Photo: Oddity Esports)

Close but no Cigar

With a particularly smarting failure to make it to the Season 10 APAC Finals, it is very possible that an APAC Finals spot will stay tantalisingly out of reach for Oddity Esports once again. With the departures of Todd and Vinnie, their chemistry will have certainly taken a bit of a hit and could make their job just a bit harder, especially with Fnatic and Wildcard looking stronger than before.

However, the additions of former Extricity players Gio and Dgtl are sure to give a boost to the team, and the roster shakeup should largely ensure that Oddity does not fall beyond third place in Season 11. Both Gio and Dgtl are exciting prospects and are likely to do well with Oddity, though beating Wildcard or Fnatic is likely out of reach.

HomeLess

Prediction: 4th

Roster: Stigs, Dino, Hayward, Stryder, Arlo, Juicy (Substitute)

Coaches: Pikniq, DeWolff

New Arrival: DeWolff (Luminescent)

Departures: N/A

HomeLess at the Six Masters 2019. (Photo: Throwdown Photography)

A Rapid Rise to the Top

Having come from Season 10 of the Challenger League, one may be forgiven for not knowing about HomeLess. After all, a former second-tier team with no organisational support is unlikely to be held in high esteem from those who are unfamiliar with it. However, with the dedication and talent on display from the players -- and the addition of a Europe-based analyst, DeWolff -- it is likely many will stop underestimating HomeLess once the season gets underway.

True enough, a few Pro League teams have already found this out throughout the Six Invitational online qualifiers. Mindfreak was the first team to fall against HomeLess there, and Oddity was one round away from following suit in the upper bracket. FURY was the next Pro League scalp, and HomeLess avoided a rematch against Oddity in the lower bracket final when their opponents had to forfeit. Fourth place is thus likely for HomeLess, although there is work to be done given how easily Fnatic crushed them.

Mindfreak

Prediction: 5th

Roster: JackDaddy, Cutie, Mangoz, ItBeStyle, JKR, Naate (Sub)

Coach: N/A

New Arrivals: Naate (PC419), JKR (LFT), Mangoz (Power Plays)

Departures: Shak (LFT), Kngz (retired)

Mindfreak at the Six Masters 2019. (Photo: Throwdown Photography)

A Slow Slide Backwards

A team that can trace its roots back to Corvidae (later Dark Sided), a strong second-place contender, Mindfreak seems to be slowly sliding further back as the ANZ region gets even more competitive. Every season the team loses a key player, but while they have always been close to the top, this could be the season things change.

Teams like Homeless and Oddity are likely going to have tightened their ships to not give Mindfreak much chance to leapfrog them, while Fnatic and Wildcard are set to become further out of reach. Nevertheless, Mindfreak does have a lot of experience and will be looking to their new additions to provide a spark to their season, though a fifth place finish is likely.

Team SiNister

Prediction: 6th

Roster: Loona, Vinnie, Fishoguy, Milostika, Nikoh

Coach: Shifty

New Arrivals: Vinnie (Oddity Esports), Milostika (Sleeper)

Departures: Vicious (retired), Tex (Fnatic)

Team SiNister at the Six Masters 2019. (Photo: PriesT)

Just Safe Again

After three seasons of fifth and sixth place finishes, barely avoiding relegation, Season 11 is looking to be the fourth where Team SiNister survives by the skin of their teeth. Looking at the team’s most recent results, two wins and a draw in Season 10 was all its players could muster, tying with the seventh placed Team CryptiK on points. What’s more, the loss of star player Tex (formerly known as Copper) to Fnatic is also certain to be a body blow.

One saving grace for Team SiNister this season is that the loss of two players could serve as a much-needed reboot for the team. Having always bounced about the lower league positions, a fresh perspective to the team may just give SiNister the kickstart needed to appreciably improve. What’s more, with Vinnie being a top-tier player and Milostika a strong pickup in his own right, the team could well offset the losses of Tex and Vicious. As with last season, though, the bottom three places are likely to be hotly contested, and SiNister could finish as high as sixth or even as low as eighth.

Rhythm

Prediction: 7th

Roster: Unit, Thumbnail, Wayneman, Lebb, Worthy, Boats (substitute), August (substitute)

Coaches: Yoshie and Afrika

New Arrivals: Boats, August (Downfall)

Departures: N/A

Rhythm at the Six Masters 2019.

A Lot to Prove

Rhythm is a team that perhaps has the greatest uncertainty in this list, having been champions in Season 10 of the Challenger League, but now being amongst opposition at least equally as good as them. While it is likeliest that they will finish in seventh place, not much would need to change for them to climb as high as fourth -- above HomeLess, a team they had secured four points off in the Challenger League.

A lack of a decent run in the Six Invitational qualifiers is the largest indicator that Rhythm may be unable to avoid relegation in the Pro League this season. The team had failed to make it to the closed qualifier after losing a Best-of-One to HomeLess and Read My Aggression in the open qualifier, but with organisational support in the offing -- as teased by Unitdoggy -- things could significantly improve. Nevertheless, the team does have a chance to avoid relegation, but with the bottom three expected to be very tightly bound together, anything can happen.

FURY

Prediction: 8th

Roster: Muesli, Warden, Shade, Golden, Rock

Coach: Yahtzeei

New Arrival: Muesli (Power Plays)

Departure: Flex (retired)

Part of the FURY roster. (Photo: FURY)

Big Game Team

All in all, Season 10 of the Pro League was less than a stellar campaign for FURY. While the team did finish in fifth place, it was only with three wins and one draw to total a mere 10 points -- 11 behind Mindfreak. With such a significant gulf in skill, there was much work to be done for FURY and the team will be hoping the addition of Muesli will be the key.

To that end, FURY will be decently happy with their Six Invitational 2020 qualifier run, beating Mindfreak and Team SiNister, but they will be looking towards their Season 10 victories over Fnatic and Oddity in particular to give them hope. These wins, against the odds, could be the key to FURY’s performance this season, but only time will tell if they can turn those big game victories into consistent success as it currently looks like they will be finishing dead last. However, a few of those victories could be enough to stave off relegation once again, and FURY will need to work hard for it.

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Catch the start of Season 11 of the ANZ Pro League on the main Rainbow6 Twitch channel from the 8th of January at 7 PM AEDT (GMT+11) to see if these predictions -- or your own -- start to come to fruition.