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Stage 2 of the NAL Is the Soniqs' Time to Shine

The flamboyant and talented Soniqs should have enough amongst them to challenge North America's "top-four", and here is why.

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There’s a stereotype about Rainbow Six: Siege teams. You’re either a dumb team with lots of firepower, lurching shambolically towards planting the defuser, or you’re a smart team who wins off brain power but with comparatively little raw strength, or the Lex Luthor of the FPS genre. 

This stereotype is almost never true. While some teams lean more towards one extreme than the other, most professional squads are closer to the center than the community at large gives them credit for. 

There’s one team that seemingly sits at the dead center of these stereotypes, aggressive but carefully calculated, smart but not without raw talent. That team, from where I sit, is the Susquehanna Soniqs, and combined with their “Darren Sharper, hold my d***”-esque attitude, they’re my breakout team for Stage 2 of the NAL.

Team captain supr at the US Nationals 2019 Finals.

From the start, this has been a roster that works their fundamentals, as are most teams with Seth "supr" Hoffman. Social media antics, accusations, and sometimes downright hostility aside, supr has a great mind for the game, and everything the Soniqs do flows from that center area. Veteran Kevin "Easilyy" Skokowski can’t go unmentioned either, as he has a mind for the game as well as mechanical skill. 

Speaking of mechanical skill, having a regimented, disciplined team isn’t enough. At the end of the day, Rainbow Six is a first-person shooter. If you don’t have the mechanics to follow through on the game knowledge, it doesn’t matter. In the words of Anton Chigurh, “If the rule you were following brought you to this, of what use was the rule?”

In the vein of Chigurh’s role in No Country For Old Men, the Soniqs have some shooters on their roster. David "iconic" Ifidon is a budding star in this league, and the combination of Alex "SlebbeN" Nordlund and Santino "Gomfi" de Meulenaere are formidable.

The Soniqs were that close to making it into the August Mini-Major over eventual champions DarkZero Esports. While the qualifiers were some time away from the main event, and DarkZero drastically improved, there can be some victories taken from bringing the eventual major champions to the brink of elimination. In the regular season, the Soniqs struggled, but not without reason -- visa issues held up SlebbeN and Gomfi.

SlebbeN at the US Nationals 2019 Finals.

Beyond this, I have a hunch that the Soniqs have a bone to pick, and will come out of this offseason with a vengeance. Their schedule through the Qualifier was far less than ideal, and they came extremely close on a number of occasions. Now, they get their full strength throughout the entirety of the league. 

This also means that there are no more asterisks for this roster. There aren’t any more understandable excuses or logical reasonings for underperformance, such as, “two of our strongest shooters are held up by visa issues” or “we’re playing three best-of-threes back to back to back.”

This is the Soniqs at full strength, and it’s past time for it to happen. For once, the things within their control align with that of other teams’ in the NAL. Whether this becomes a point of pressure or a rallying cry for the team remains to be seen. 

The road ahead won’t be easy for the Soniqs. In their group lies DarkZero and their first match of the season will be a rematch of the qualifier and their two matches in Stage 1. Spacestation, another great team, is in there are well, and eUnited brings up the rear of the projected results.

A new-look eU will likely struggle a tad bit out of the gate as its roster gels, but given Soniqs’ success in the qualifier and how they looked against teams later in the regular season, it’s not insane to think they could best SSG or DZ in initial groups. 

The expectation for the Soniqs is simple -- I think they’ll peel away the NAL top four gridlock. Someone is going to get upset, somewhere. They may catch Spacestation napping, they might work what seems to be a favorable matchup with DarkZero based on the times they’ve played in the new-look NAL. Should Oxygen Esports or TSM falter in the other group, Soniqs are more than capable of shooting their way out of fierce competitions with them as well. 

All in all, this is simply a team that you can’t overlook in NAL. There will be no relaxation when you see them on the schedule, you can’t hide strats or have an off day. One of the biggest question marks heading into the opening days of the NAL will be “who can break into the top four teams,” and my money’s on the Soniqs.