Invictus Gaming is back. Mostly.
It’s still not absolutely certain Jeremy “HysteRiX” Tan will be able to attend -- the player is trying a final, hail-mary to be able to go, despite his Nov. 3 tweet. But the Southeast Asian roster finally looked like its old self with a strong table-topping APAC South performance in Stage 3.
The result marked the first time the players had managed the feat in APAC South, despite having gone blow-for-blow with Cloud9 (now SANDBOX Gaming) at the top of APAC North in 2020.
This recovery started at the tail-end of Stage 2, when team captain Glen “Lunarmetal” Suryasaputra had revealed to SiegeGG that doubling-down on structure had been the key to going from a possible eighth-position, to the APAC Playoffs, and to the Mexico Major.
But the jury is still out whether this play style is superior, especially when compared with aggression-focused APAC teams like CYCLOPS athlete gaming.
“The four teams going from APAC are actually quite interesting now,” says Lunarmetal in an interview with SiegeGG. “If you look at SANDBOX and us, we are your structured teams, and if you look at DWG KIA and Chiefs, they are your more ‘loose’ teams.”
The divergence in philosophy comes from a difficulty in maintaining structure in APAC, with Chiefs’ Ethan Picard also agreeing that playing against teams like Dire Wolves or Elevate is quite different from playing against teams like Invictus Gaming or Knights. Many teams, says Lunarmetal, find it easier to fall back on their natural aggression.
“For us, we always have the vision of doing well internationally and just don’t see a way of doing that just relying on aggression,” he explains, stating that the team is happy to trade off comfort in APAC for long-term growth on the international stage.
That tradeoff nearly cost iG, however, as Chiefs exploited their arguably rigid structure on the penultimate APAC South play day and looked to have stolen away the auto-qualification spot for the Major.
The players had also got ahead of themselves, having been aware that a win would send them straight to Sweden, chimed in Jose “Jo” Iman.
“We hyped ourselves out because of it, and then we ended up playing kind of nervous,” said Lunarmetal. “We’re all human.”
But that same infection of hype and nerves hit Chiefs on the final play day against ORDER, as theorized by Lunarmetal and confirmed by Chiefs’ Ethan, and iG was back in the fight -- though they had no idea. After the shocks against Dire Wolves and Chiefs, the players implemented a social media blackout, and were unaware that the Chiefs had lost earlier in the play day.
“We didn’t even know whether winning [against Elevate] would give us the [auto] qualification or not,” revealed Lunarmetal. “We were all playing with the mindset that this will get us a higher seed in the APAC Playoffs… only [our coach] GiG knew what was at stake.”
Even so, iG nearly failed, having been left in a 2v5 situation with 7-7 on the scoreboard. But the players did not give up; those dead were flicking through drones and were feeding information to the two left standing, Matin “SpeakEasy” Yunos and Jordan “jrdn” Cheng. One-by-one, the Elevate players fell, and the Singaporeans were through to the Sweden Major.
The Sweden Major will come with its own set of challenges, though. With HysteRiX unlikely to be able to attend due to his National Service obligations. Playing in his stead will likely be iG’s coach, Ellis “GiG” Hindle.
“We’re still working on getting [HysteRiX] to Sweden, we haven’t given up on that yet,” began Lunarmetal. “GiG stepping in for [HysteRiX] will likely be the last resort.”
The Invictus Gaming captain drew some parallels to TSM’s troubles at the Mexico Major, when Bryan “Merc” Wrzek was unable to play. TSM coach Owen “Pojoman” Mitura had filled in instead, but a clash of roles and play styles meant that the North Americans finished last in the group.
“It might just be better to have a complete overhaul of our play style,” said Lunarmetal, when asked what his team will do if it is forced to play with GiG. “I’m thinking like Dizzle for Fnatic [at the Pro League Season 8 Finals against Evil Geniuses].”
Despite the potential difficulties, iG is ready to roll with the punches. Dwelling on the downsides, says Lunarmetal, is just counter-productive.
“It’s out of our hands at this point,” he concluded. “The goal hasn’t changed, we still want to get out of groups. … Top-eight is still a reasonable goal to have.”
Both Lunarmetal and Jo also stated that they were eager to take on BDS Esport, who are with them in Group C, as they are eager to find out how the two teams’ philosophies on structure clash.
Catch Invictus Gaming on Nov. 8, when they take on Ninjas in Pyjamas to start their Sweden Major campaign.