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Spacestation Gaming Signs Hotancold: "He was instantly one of our main contenders [for the spot]"

After having played Stage 1 of the NAL with its analyst Luke standing in, SSG has signed its permanent fifth player to replace Canadian.

With legendary player Troy "Canadian" Jaroslawski now having left Spacestation Gaming (SSG) for good after his brief return for the Six Invitational 2021, the team has finally signed a permanent fifth player.

The Six Invitational 2020 champions had played in Stage 1 of the 2021 North American League (NAL) with analyst Luke "Luke" Slota as a stand-in due to the transfer window having closed before Canadian had retired. As a result, they had only finished seventh in the league.

Furthermore, while Canadian had come back for the Six Invitational 2021, SSG had been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

However, the team has now signed former DarkZero Esports player Matthew "Hotancold" Stevens from Mirage after he had a scintillating Stage 1 performance.

Hotancold had been ranked second in the entire league with his 1.23 rating and had helped Mirage to a greatly impressive third place.

The statistic leaderboards for Stage 1 of the 2021 North American League.

Head coach Justin "Lycan" Woods spoke to SiegeGG about the move.

I imagine this move has been a long time coming, given that Canadian retired at the start of Stage 1. How did your team settle on Hotancold? Was there already an agreement to sign him before Stage 1 ended?

Matt has been an active part of the Top 4 of NA since the end of Year 1 and he was instantly one of our main contenders for what we considered our ‘Top 5’.

I know there were a lot of players that were looking for a tryout. But, honestly, we just didn’t have time between arriving back from the Six Invitational and preparing to actually play Week 1 of Split 2 in any competitive way.

Hotancold at the Pro League Season 10 Finals.

We also believed that Matt getting dropped from DarkZero was a huge mistake on their part, so we didn’t really have any major questions when it came to if he would fit or not, and a lot of the other people we were considering had at least one or two question marks.

We didn’t actually decide on Hotancold until about the playoffs of SI. Even though he was an excellent candidate, we didn’t want to rush anything and we wanted to make sure we were making the best decision for the team.

Will there be any role changes with Hotancold in the team?

Yes! We are excited to show you guys all the role changes that will be coming with the arrival of Hotancold.SSG, but I want you to see them for yourselves. Make sure you watch the North American League to find out! 

How much can your team take away from that SI run, given how Canadian was integral to the team, left, and came back temporarily?

We are taking away a lot. We did go in with little practice, but it was a lot deeper than that and after the split starts, I think I will be talking about that a lot more.

Do you anticipate it being rough for Hotancold to switch two teams in the span of three months, especially when it comes to learning each team's play style, call outs, and gelling with them?

Call outs are something that will take time to learn, especially because ours are known to be different than most.

Play style I don’t think will be a huge issue because he played on DZ for a long time and they were also a structured team, so he’s used to running similar attacks.

Gelling and play style or just chemistry is something that does come with time and I don’t really believe it’s a matter of if, but instead when, with him. It would be amazing to just click right away, but I just think we would be living in a dream world if we assumed that would happen.

How will your staffing now look like?

We recently announced that we were letting go of Drewspark as Luke will return to our full time analyst role.

We are also slightly changing the hierarchy of our coaching staff to better reflect time and effort that is put into the team.

Luke is now my official number two and I am so proud of his growth since he has been on the team. Sov still remains an important piece of our staff, but his impact is more involved with the team's overall mental health.

Hotancold had debuted in August 2016 with Got em Gaming, later joining Flipsid3 Tactics -- the team that would go onto be signed by DarkZero Esports.

Attending many events with the team, it was at the Season 10 Finals that he and DarkZero would finally prove their worth interntationally.

There, Hotancold had the joint-highest rating on his team as he helped DarkZero to a Grand Final appearance, all while playing Hibana and Maestro. His 1.14 rating was also the joint-fifth highest across all the players at the event.

A joint-fifth at the Six Invitational 2020, a Six August 2020 Major win, and second at the US Division 2020 Finals were not enough for DarkZero, however, and Hotancold was dropped from his longtime team in February this year.

He had then joined Mirage for Stage 1 of the NAL, but has jumped at the opportunity of signing with the former world champions for at least the remainder of the 2021 season.

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Catch Spacestation Gaming in action next on June 15 at 6:40 PM ET (UTC-4), when they take on the Susquehanna Soniqs.

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