TSM’s Emilio “Geo” Cuevas fought hard to get back into the United States for Stage 2 of the NAL. As a citizen of Mexico, he has to renew his work visa every few years -- a painfully long process that’s been made more painful by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Normally [obtaining a visa] is already kind of a hassle, but now with COVID, the US has certain restrictions,” said Geo in an interview with SiegeGG. “For example, I have to be in Mexico, a week, like before I can even apply for an appointment. I had to wait a week and then I had to wait like two or three weeks, just for the fingerprints.”
TSM flew back to the United States from France after the Six Invitational 2021 and immediately started practicing with coach Owen “Pojoman” Mitura while Geo was stuck in Mexico. Ironically enough, Geo learned that the Major would be in Mexico while he was in Mexico.
“I definitely do think it's funny. I got the news that it [the Major] was going to be in Mexico when I was in Mexico. I was sitting in Guadalajara, I think it was, and all of a sudden my manager texted me and he's like ‘hey it's gonna be in Mexico,’” said Geo.
As a citizen, Geo’s happy that the Major is in Mexico, and bummed that players won’t be able to experience the Mexican fans, which he describes as “crazy”.
TSM was forced to start Stage 2 with Pojoman due to Geo’s visa struggles. Despite not having Geo, TSM notched a 3-2 record with losses to Mirage and Spacestation during that time. After lawyers expedited the visa renewal process, which could’ve taken until March 2022, Geo returned to TSM’s team house on July 6, and returned to live action on July 14 against XSET.
TSM only took three losses across the stage, and one of those only occurred after it qualified for the Mexico Major where the stakes for a regular season match were considerably lower.
Historically, TSM has been one of the most consistent international event participants. It notched a third place finish at SI 2020 and a fourth at SI 2021 -- the highest placement of any non-LATAM team -- and won the NAL US Division 2020 Finals.
A chunk of this consistency is due to its stalwart roster. TSM hasn’t made any roster moves other than the occasional Pojoman stand-in since June 2020, when Pojoman moved to full time coaching and Brady “Chala” Davenport took his place on the starting lineup.
Regional excellence is nice, but the expectation for TSM has been to win international events ever since its third place finish at SI 2020. While you could argue that TSM got over the second-place hump by winning the US Division 2020 Finals, that was still a regional competition. The counter to that assertion is that there have only been two international events in “Rainbow Six Siege” since 2020 was rung in -- SI 2020 and SI 2021. That’s not many chances to take home an international title.
How close they are doesn’t bother the TSM players. They don’t really see anything that needs to change in their approach. Geo states that had they won their upper bracket matchup against FaZe Clan at SI 2021 (they lost by a single round) or defeated Team Liquid (again, one round away at one point), they had a real shot at winning the whole thing.
“I really do believe we're a solid team,” said Geo. “We just need to execute like when we play, we just need to be able to live up to the moments.”
TSM will get its fair share of moments early and often during the Mexico Major. As part of Group D, unofficially the “group of death”, the North Americans will face competition early and often. TSM will get another shot at Team Liquid in the group, will face off against a Team Empire roster that’s coming off a stage-topping EUL performance, and will have to play an Invictus Gaming that’s peaking at the right time.
“[Team Empire], they took Milan from me,” said Geo of TSM’s groups. “I think Empire thrives in best-of-ones. They really get their map pool and just how they play...We have Invictus Gaming [ex-Giants Gaming] which beat us at the last Invitational in a best-of-one. So I think our group is really tough but, I mean, for us it's just about showing up.”
Catch TSM FTX next at the Six Mexico Major against Team Liquid, set to be played on the Rainbow6Bravo Twitch channel on August 16th at 11:30 AM CDT (UTC-5).