Wildcard Gaming has truly been one of the bigger wildcards in the competitive scene in recent times. Hardly given a chance in the past, the former Athletico Esports and 0RGL3SS roster has been slowly climbing up the ranks -- not only in Australia and New Zealand, but also APAC as a whole. Much of this is thanks to the fact that the team has not had a roster change since May 2019, and also due to the two coaches on employ.
In Season 10 of the Pro League, Wildcard Gaming very nearly did not make it to the APAC Finals after being signed by the organisation following nine months without one. However, missteps by Onyxian 2.0 (then Oddity Esports) meant that Wildcard finished second and proceeded to Sydney. Facing Xavier Esports first, the Australians took revenge before a game crash gave the team a second chance against Cyclops Athlete Gaming. Pulling off a comeback, Wildcard completed the 2-0 win afterwards and had qualified for the Pro League Finals.
Despite losing the seeding game to eventual champions Giants Gaming, and seeming like the weakest team at the Finals in Tokoname, Wildcard gave the strongest fight to the eventual champions of Natus Vincere. Taking the first map 7-4, the team was on the brink of victory on the third map with a 6-5 lead, but could not complete the victory. Nevertheless, the team had announced itself on the international stage.
Unfortunately, Season 11 of the Pro League has not been going well for Wildcard. Despite not having yet faced the expected top-two challengers of Fnatic, Onxyian 2.0, and TBD (formerly Mindfreak), the second-APAC seed has only managed three wins out of eight maps played, drawing three and losing two. While Onyxian is firmly poised to beat Wildcard to the second APAC Finals this time, Wildcard’s players still hold many of the cards in their hands -- though it will not be easy for them to close the nine-point gap.
To know more about his team’s preparation for the event, SiegeGG spoke to one of two Wildcard Gaming coaches, Bharath “Fluxx” Sukesh:
The going has not been exactly smooth for your team in the Pro League so far. Is this just saving strategies, or is something else the issue?
Saving strats ✔.
What kind of support has your team been enjoying with Wildcard since your signing?
We’ve had our second-ever bootcamp as a team -- both of ours were provided by Wildcard -- and both of them have really helped us as a team. We want to give back to our fans and Wildcard by playing our best next week.
Your group is arguably one of the easier ones. Do you agree with that assessment, and how do you fancy your chances to make it to the playoffs?
We have the world’s 16 best teams at this event, so no group is easy. We have two very strong EU teams, one of them being the defending champions. Along with them is Team Reciprocity, which is a strong team, especially on LAN. That being said, we have a lot of experience on the stage ourselves, so we’re preparing to put on a strong performance and get out of groups.
The Season 10 Finals was the first international event for your team. How have you learnt from it, especially after having been one round away from beating the eventual champions?
It’s a good feeling knowing that we came so close for our first international match, but we want to show stronger performances and become more consistent. The boys are focused.
With the progress being made in ANZ and APAC as a whole, how bright do you see the future for the subregion and the region as a whole?
ANZ has shown up this season, multiple teams having signed coaches and analysts that are giving teams a lot of direction, so I’m proud of our scene for the improvement it has shown since last season. APAC is getting stronger, however I personally think that a few teams in APAC need to change their perspective on how the game is played at a high level and adapt more to the meta, whilst still playing to their strengths as much as possible. I’m also really happy to see more organisations stepping into our scene and backing our teams.
Much has been said about the seeding process for the groups. Does your team have any gripes with it?
It seems okay, I would have liked to see the invite team be placed with Empire, but every opponent is strong at this event, you have to beat the best to be the best, especially with double-elimination playoffs.
How do you think that the double-elimination playoffs will change the dynamic of the event, and what is your opinion of the one-map advantage in the grand final?
Double-elimination is a much welcomed change for Majors in Siege and it’s something I would like to see more of in the future. It’s only going to further ensure that the best two teams meet in the grand final and it gives teams less pressure knowing that they don’t fly halfway across the world to get knocked out by one bad game.
As far as the one-map advantage, I don’t really have an opinion of it. It makes sense, but from a viewer’s perspective, I don’t think it's the best experience as we saw in the OGA PIT Final. It makes it difficult for the grand final to be the best match of the tournament.
Do you have anything else to say to your fans?
I’d like to thank all our fans for sticking with us during our ups and downs. Every bit of support makes a huge difference and we hope to make you guys proud. Come say hi if you see us at the event!
Wildcard Gaming plays BDS Esports as the opening match, with matches against either G2 Esports or Team Reciprocity scheduled afterwards. Check back here at SiegeGG for more Invitational Insights and full coverage of the event as it comes.