The past months have been tumultuous for SI 2020 champions Spacestation Gaming.
First, IGL Troy “Canadian” Jaroslawski retired in March, forcing Spacestation to play with its analyst, Luke Slota, as a stand-in for NAL Stage 1. Then, Luke’s passport couldn’t be renewed in time for SI 2021, and Canadian had to be called back just for the event.
As such, Spacestation needed a permanent fifth player, one it settled on while still in France for SI: Matthew “Hotancold” Stevens.
“It wasn't until we were at SI  and talking about the play style that we wanted, that we really were like wait a minute like Matt actually might be the best pick, not these other guys that we're looking at,” said Justin “Lycan” Woods, Spacestation’s coach in an interview with SiegeGG.
Lycan says Spacestation was considering Alexander “Skys” Magor, who retired after SI 2021 and mentioned Jack “J90” Burkard as a player he’s had his eyes on.
Hindsight is always 20/20, and it’s clear that Spacestation made the right choice with Hotancold. They immediately rocketed up NAL rankings, and finished Stage 2 with the highest amount of points ever achieved in an NAL stage: 22.
After he was controversially cut from DarkZero in Feb. 2021, Hotancold went on a “revenge tour” of sorts with Mirage. He posted a 1.23 SiegeGG Rating in his only stage with Mirage, and only lost out on Stage 1 MVP honors due to Pablo “Gryxr” Rebeil having one of the best stages in NAL history. Hotancold’s upwards ascension continued during Stage 2: he posted a league-leading +12 in Entry +/- and 1.33 SiegeGG Rating.
Raw stats aside, Hotancold has slotted in perfectly to this new-look Spacestation that burned a trail through the NAL regular season.
“We are very different than what we were before,” said Lycan when asked about what changed after the Six Invitational. He detailed a few minor changes, such as the shift from a laid-out plan to a strategy that consists of Spacestation’s spy drones spotting the defenders’ setup, and then, “everything is made up on the fly.”
“We basically went from a system that was scripted, I think that's a perfect word for it, to something that's very free-flowing and ‘improv,’” said Lycan.
After the LATAM region’s success at SI 2021 in the new meta of “Rainbow Six Siege”, other regions are following suit. The “20-second meta”, which was slow and plodding, has been replaced by a hyper-aggressive meta that centers around early picks and map control. Key to these changes were the nerfs to “catcher” gadget operators Jaeger and Wamai, and the reduction in power of bulletproof defender gadgets.
The end result has freed up players to take less rigid operator lineups and freed them to take more risks, which has led to faster, more exciting gameplay. Lycan says another key to unlocking the new meta was the understanding that sometimes, you don’t have to go through the set bulletproof utility, you can just go around it, like LATAM does.
“We took what we saw that we liked from each of them [The LATAM teams at SI] and we kind of molded this thing which we believe to be our version of a LATAM team,” said Lycan.
Lycan says they picked and chose certain elements of Ninjas in Pyjamas, Team Liquid, and FaZe Clan that they liked, and molded something they believe is on the cutting edge of the meta. Lycan specifically believes his team is incredibly similar to Team Liquid in terms of the players they have.
If Spacestation has truly figured out something special, it’ll have to prove it during the Mexico Major. Results during regional competition are all well and good, but the international events are where real glory is won.
Spacestation’s group has been truncated by the Australian travel restrictions that prevent Knights from attending. Just Natus Vincere and FURIA will be the North Americans’ group stage opponents, instead.
Catch Spacesation Gaming next at the Six Mexico Major against Na’Vi, set to be played on the Rainbow6Bravo Twitch channel on August 16th at 10 AM CDT (UTC-5).