After the postponement of the Six Invitational 2021 took away their qualification for the May Major, Soniqs will finally play an international LAN.
At a glance, the current makeup of this roster is terribly inexperienced in international events. Seth “supr” Hoffman’s last appearance at a Major-caliber event was at the Pro League Season 8 Finals in Rio.
The only other members of the Soniqs with international LAN experience are Richie “Rexen” Coronado, who played at an OGA PIT Minor with Luminosity, and Alexander “Yeti” Lawson, who played in a pair of Dreamhacks with Noble esports.
Put plainly, compared with the other teams at the Mexico Major, Soniqs aren’t working with a lot of experience.
The lack of international experience isn’t to say that they haven’t experienced pressure, though. The LAN experience comes from the NAL and the pressure comes from two “win-and-you’re-in” matches they’ve already played -- their Stage 1 match vs. Mirage and their Stage 2 match vs. Disrupt.
“We had a good game plan, we had a good idea of what to do, we knew how we needed to play, but we were nervous,” said Soniqs coach Joe “Jobro” Reyes when asked about the Stage 1 Mirage loss in an interview with SiegeGG.
If Soniqs had pulled out the victory, they would’ve finished first on the stage. Instead, Oxygen leapfrogged them on the final play day after defeating beastcoast.
The match vs. Disrupt was straightforward as well. If the Soniqs won, they’d secure third place in Stage 2, and qualify for the Mexico Major. The stakes were exactly the same for Disrupt -- a win was set to send it to Mexico.
“It's going to be stressful, we knew that going in,” said Jobro. “We knew everybody was going to be playing their heart out. So we said, ‘let's just play our game, do our thing and see where it falls’, and everybody handled (it) a lot better [against Disrupt] than they did [against Mirage].
“Any of these kind of big games are always going to be instrumental and a learning process to get to be a contender,” said Supr when asked about how the high-pressure regional games Soniqs have played could help steel the relatively inexperienced roster for the intensity of international play.
One of the common knocks on Soniqs from analysts and fans during the first stage of the season was the lack of a robust map pool. They’ve quelled most of the doubters during the second stage -- Soniqs played exclusively Clubhouse and Oregon during Stage 1, and expanded to Chalet and Consulate in Stage 2.
It’s difficult to show a deep map pool during best-of-ones, and Supr claims his team’s map pool is just fine. In fact, one of Soniqs’ strengths is using analytics to get the exact map they want.
“Jobro and I believe, strongly I think, in following the analytics and the patterns that teams show, which is why I would say we're always pretty accurate in predicting the ban patterns,” said Supr.
In the showdown with Disrupt, Supr claims they knew all week they’d be playing Consulate. Soniqs had shown Villa the previous week against TSM on purpose, and due to their struggles, knew to take it out of the equation. They deduced that they’d either play Villa or Consulate against Disrupt, rolled the dice against TSM, and went into their match with Disrupt knowing they could ban Villa and still get Consulate.
Winning the map bans is something Soniqs take great pride in, and it could mean the difference between advancing past to the playoff stage or falling in groups. Group A, which consists of Team oNe, BDS, CAG, and Soniqs, is arguably the most “even” group in the pool.
Whatever map they play, Soniqs contend that they’ll be ready to play with the best of them, despite the lack of overall experience. They’ve faced down high-stakes best-of-one games before and come out the other side victorious. The ante will be upped at the Mexico Major, and Soniqs are embracing the unknown. “Honestly I think the wildcards are us and DarkZero,” said Supr.
Soniqs will begin the group stage against Team oNe on Aug. 16.