Bagel: "We are here to prove that we can be one of the best"

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In our twelfth article in the Invitational Insights series, we talk to Team SoloMid coach Bagel about his team’s preparation for the Six Invitational 2020.

Team SoloMid is certainly one of the hottest teams in all of Rainbow Six: Siege now, having been playing so well that some are even beginning to pick it as the team to beat at the upcoming Six Invitational. However, things were not like this during a lot of 2019, when Team SoloMid (TSM) had signed the Excelerate Gaming roster in June and had added Jason “Beaulo” Doty and Bryan “Merc” Wrzek.

Headed into Season 10 with the new organisation, Team SoloMid did not get off to a great start. Across the first four play days, the team only secured one point, and then was knocked out in the quater-finals at DreamHack Valencia 2019. At the halfway mark of the season, only one win could be added to the single draw and it seemed that TSM had signed a disappointing roster, but the rise was yet to happen.

In the Six Major Raleigh qualifiers, TSM ripped apart all its opposition, and suddenly it seemed that the only problem the team had was with Best-of-One games. This belief was further reinforced when TSM became one of two North American teams (from five) to make it to the playoffs, beating NORA-Rengo and MIBR in the process. However, Khalil “b1ologic” Pleas then had to leave the team due to personal reasons. Sam “Jarvis” Jarvis was then brought into the team, with Aaron “Gotcha” Chung also signed as a coach. Owen “Pojoman” Mitura came back to a playing role, while Tommy “Krusher” Samuel left. Despite these changes, the impact was immediate.

The DreamHack Montreal-winning TSM roster.

TSM went to Montreal for the DreamHack and came back as champions, but the Pro League results hardly showed improvement and the team was in danger of relegation. A decision to then drop Jarvis and have Gotcha stand-in then proved pivotal, as the team secured two wins and a draw from the final four matches to stay in the Pro League. The best version of TSM, though, was yet to come. A swap with Evil Geniuses -- Gotcha for Emilio “Geo” Leynez Cuevas -- meant that TSM suddenly looked like an unstoppable force. While Team Reciprocity then defeated the team at the US Nationals 2019 Finals, it was while TSM had the stand-in of Timothy “Timzy” Perez for the Canadian of Pojoman.

The true TSM then showed itself in Season 11 of the Pro League, pointed straight on the warpath. Only Luminosity Gaming and Tempo Storm even troubled TSM, achieving a draw and a narrow 5-7 loss, respectively, and titans like DarkZero Esports and Spacestation Gaming were brushed aside. Headed into the Six Invitational, at this halfway mark in the season, TSM is one of two teams in NA, EU, and LATAM to remain undefeated.

TSM at the US Nationals Finals, with Timzy (second from left) standing-in for Pojoman.

To know more about the team’s preparation, SiegeGG spoke to TSM coach Bagel:

Season 10 was seemingly a time for experimentation for your team, and you have now come out of the blocks swinging. Was it just time your team needed?

I think they needed a sound “structure”, per se. But, with the amount of talent on the team, we found a way to make ends meet with structure and flexibility. Especially now, with the guys having a solid five-man roster has helped highlight our strength as a team.

Who would you consider to be your toughest opponent within your group?

I believe they are all equally strong teams.

Your group has been labeled the “Group of Death” by many. Do you agree with the assessment?

I don’t agree with the ‘Group of Death’ concept, personally. Every team is at the Invitational for a reason. I keep the mindset that every team we face will all be the best in the world. I take no team for granted. We will go into every match with equal attention and dedication.

What is the goal for your team at this event?

The goal is to Win. The guys have put in immense amounts of work since we have been six together. The way we conduct our scrims, the amount of dedication these guys have, they don’t expect anything except the best performance they can give. So, we are wanting to win.

Much has been said about the seeding process for the groups. Does your team have any gripes with it?

We have no complaints. If people want to say “We have the group of death,” it only motivates the guys more. We are here to prove that we can be one of the best. As far as the other teams’ groups; this is the Invitational. The biggest event in Siege. It’s either you come ready or you get beaten. The opponent, the group, the format, it doesn’t matter. 

If your goal is to win, then you’ll have to play against the best at some point anyways. That goes for everyone here, including us. If we get beaten, then we weren’t better. But, as I said, our goal is to win.

Your team is currently one of the most popular teams in North America, loaded with talented and popular players from top to bottom. How did you guys manage to make it all “come together”, particularly with adding Geo in the off-season?

Geo at the US Nationals 2019 Finals.

Geo fit in relatively quickly. He caught onto how we like to play the game and meshed in early. We made it all come together by finding a “base” of structure and sticking to what works for us.

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?

Like I said, every team should come prepared. I don’t want to use a lower bracket as a “safety net”, but since it is there, if we get sent to it, you can expect us not to make the same mistakes again. Looking at it from a format point of view, I think yes, it does create a more competitive and rigorous brackets with a variety of match-ups. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

As far as the “one map advantage” goes, I personally have mixed feelings about it. I feel it takes away the competitive aspect. You want to really know who is the best? Make them play a full bracket. You want a map advantage, then earn the advantage. I don’t feel accomplishment from taking handouts. But, at the same time, hard work pays off. 

Do you have anything else to say to your fans?

To TSM, the fans, and the community, thank you, sincerely. Thank you for the support, the passion, and the faith in us. Thank you for supporting not just us, but every team that will be here!

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Team SoloMid plays Rogue as the opening match, with matches against either Natus Vincere or Spacestation Gaming scheduled afterwards. Check back here at SiegeGG for more Invitational Insights and full coverage of the event as it comes.