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Fenix Esports’ year has been a rollercoaster full of ups and downs.
This season in Mexico has been a constant battle between Fenix and Atheris to see which team would be the first to qualify for an international event and seal the debate of who was the best team in the country. Spoiler, so far no one has reached such height.
While Fenix Esports trusted its own region’s talent, Atheris Esport signed the highly experienced players Daniel “Novys” Novy and Lucca “MKing” Cosser. Such signings eclipsed any other project in the country.
The Atheris’ snakes would win the first assault, as the team would survive to the CES Stage 1 group stage, unlike Fenix. Meanwhile, Stage 2 was just the opposite, with Fenix defeating both FaZe Clan and Black Dragons — and Atheris losing all of its matches. Although Fenix’s run to qualify for the Mexico Major looked promising, the team lost to Team Liquid in the first bracket match.
Deception is the word that could describe the third stage, as neither of the Mexican teams reached the final bracket.
Fenix Esports would eventually make changes to its line-up, as the team dropped Arturo “XigmaZ” Vizcarra who was replaced by their academy player Pablo “Paby” Medina. Later on, the team would win the Campeonato Mexicano Finals – a 3-2 victory over Atheris Esports, which was the icing on the cake in the Brazil - Mexico rivalry in the region.
“Personally it felt great, especially because of Atheris’ players' names, Bersa, Novys, MKing… it was great,” admitted Saúl “Morphed” Alejandro in a SiegeGG interview.
However, the controversy was yet to be over in the team, as Eduardo “Luxor” Ortiz would be dropped from the team after having some issues with the team’s owners. Another academy prospect would step into the squad, José "Gonna" Jesús, who will make his professional debut this weekend.
According to Morphed: “The owners, the CEOs decided to make these changes alongside the technical staff, that’s what they decided and that’s what happened (...) I trust them [the players], Pabby has some LAN experience as he played in the Mexicano Finals, while Gonna has been playing the game for a long time, so we hope to do well.”
Fenix Esports' job is half done, as the Mexicans are already waiting for an opponent at the bracket’s semifinal. That is because the roster was the second-best LATAM team in the Global Standings that didn't make it to the Top 16, just behind MIBR and above Malvinas Gaming.
“We have been working even more than before, obviously with two new men and having trained with them for a short time, there are still things to fix. But we believe that we can solve these with hard work,” Morphed said.
This means that the Fenix squad is just two games away from an international debut. Although that sounds promising, there’s a catch.
In another SiegeGG interview back in October 2021, the Fenix player Pedro “BOPE” Monge admitted that “it gets more difficult [for Mexican teams] to win in BO3s”. The truth is that, this year, nobody in the region has defeated a Brazilian team in a three-maps series. So, if that alone is very unexpected to see, imagine in a five-maps series.
Much has changed since then, as the team comes from playing a BO3 and a BO5 at the Campeonato Mexicano Finals. Although Morphed thinks that “the pressure is different now," he thinks that the team is “ready” to play those series.
Regardless of the map complications, both Mexican teams in the qualifier have recently gone through roster issues. This will be the first time we see Fenix’s new roster in a competition, and they will play to compete at the next SI no less. Meanwhile, Atheris’ recent problems with Luís “Guicho” Gómez have forced the team to play with their coach Francisco “Royz” Guillén. This is what has shaken both teams’ hopes to make it.
“I think that we might have a complicated tournament, with Atheris’ problems with Guicho and Royz issues, and us with Pabby and Gonna, I think it’s going to be a bit difficult especially in the first map, but when we control our nerves, I think we can reach the final,” Morphed admitted.
This and the Copa Elite Six Stage 3 results, where we saw the South American taking a step forward in the regional race against Brazil, have left a weird feeling of South American superiority in this debate.
There’s a very important difference between South American and Mexican teams. While Argentinian rosters have the chance to scrim against T1 teams from Brazil, Mexicans get ready to face their regional neighbors by scrimming against teams from another region, North America. That’s due to ping and connection problems, as the distance is an issue with no possible solution.
“We scrim against T1 NA teams, while the South scrims against T1 BR rosters. I think that’s a huge advantage, we have tried it in the past but there are many connection and ping issues, it is not a good experience. So yeah they have a good chance. We scrim against teams like DarkZero, TSM, SSG, OXG, for example,” said Morphed.
So basically, the team prepares for Brazil’s play style by facing NAL rosters. These are obviously some of the fiercest teams in the Siege scene, but it just feels like they were preparing for an NFL match by practicing against NBA teams. Yeah, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
“It is not difficult to see that the playstyle differs from region to region, so training with NA, who are more passive and slow, really changes when playing against Brazil, who are more aggro and put you in unexpected situations… so yeah I feel like it is a disadvantage, but with our analysis and study, we think we can fix it,” Morphed concluded.