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NAL — Players Making Best of Short Break Before Mini-Major

What some players do in their downtime can affect their performance on game day, and there is a lot of downtime to be had until the North American November Major.

Even for the players that participated in the Qualifier, there's an abundance of downtime before North America's iteration of the November Mini-Major. 

Originally slated to be played in the Netherlands, the Majors will have to remain regional for the time being due to COVID-19. That means there are fewer teams to prep for, there's no travel and flipping of sleep schedules, giving teams quite a bit of downtime. 

As for Dylan "Bosco" Bosco and Spacestation Gaming, they've been taking up golf over the course of the NAL to help pass the time.

Bosco, who says his dad got him into golfing and that he's been golfing for over five years, thinks it helps with team chemistry. "I think golfing with my teammates has only built camaraderie," he said. "Gives us something to enjoy together for fun outside of the game. We've only become better friends as a result of it."

Golf is a game of patience and precision. One swing too hard or too soft, and your entire morning and most of your afternoon can go up in smoke if you're playing to perform.  

Bosco at the Six Invitational 2020.

"It's a combo of patience and will," said Bosco. "Golfing doesn't come easy to many and it takes patience to understand it and excel at it and will to stick with it while it is rough in the beginning. The same thing can be applied to life and esports. Gotta be patient, keep your head down, and grind, and good things will happen. Just like in golf, eventually, you're gonna start sinking birdies."

Spacestation's road to the Mini-Major wasn't easy. They exited the August Mini-Major minus their crown after a 2-1 loss to TSM, and had to fight off an upstart Disrupt Gaming team in the NA Qualifier to even make it here. However, they could easily qualify for the Six Invitational in the November Mini-Major, regardless of regular-season struggles.

Essentially, it all comes down to a matter of perspective, leaving the past in the past and making the next play your best play. Bosco says this is something that going golfing helps him with as well. 

"Golf can teach much more than patience, but it's all a matter of perspective," said Bosco. "Some people play golf and just hit the ball around and tear up the course while others care for the game they're playing and have the proper etiquette and respect to help keep courses in good condition. The same thing can be applied outside of golf. If you don't respect and actively care for the environment around your craft, you won't excel at it."

Golf is something that's relatively new for the Spacestation roster. For other teams, what they do in their down time is more well-documented. For instance, Oxygen Esports' Gabriel "LaXInG" Mirelez says there are two things that help him relax: the gym and shopping. "Weird combo, but I don't know, they both genuinely relax me and make me happy as well," he said. 

LaXInG's exploits in the gym are well-chronicled. "I really just like feeling good and looking good," he said. "Just kind of made life better overall."

What drew LaXing to working out in the first place lies in his youth -- he just got tired of not having a lot of visible muscle. Nowadays, well, the proof is extremely visible

LaXInG at the Season 10 Pro League Finals in Tokoname.

LaXInG's playstyle has been described as unpredictable (or, "rat"-like), but there is something you can predict about his habits: he's going to be at the gym multiple times per week. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he was working out six times a week. He describes his current routine as "here and there," some adjustments are going to have to happen when there's a pandemic on. 

Overall though, LaXInG credits the gym with helping him stay consistent. "It’s all about consistency and pushing yourself further in order to improve and be better and that goes not just for lifting and gaming, that just goes with most things in life."

The time for rest is over, though, and the time for deep Mini-Major preparation has almost assuredly begun. Spacestation is getting less of it than others, they had to fight through the Qualifiers in late October. Oxygen hasn't played a match since October 14, a 1-2 loss to TSM. On November 13, they'll finally be back in action at the November Mini-Major.