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EnvyTaylor states modest SI 2022 goal for SANDBOX, reveals plans for Nova to move to coaching role afterwards

The Koreans are already planning for the transfer window following the Six Invitational 2022.

Image via Ubisoft/Kirill B.

While the Six Invitational 2022 has been moved to Stockholm, Sweden due to restrictions in Montreal, Canada, the change has had no effect on the preparation of Seongsoo "EnvyTaylor" Kim and the rest of SANDBOX Gaming. There is no superstition with the new event location, where a quarter-finals finish in the Sweden Major marked the team’s best-ever result.

“[In 2021], until the Stage 3 APAC playoffs, our performance wasn't up to par. So, SI 2022 we plan to work harder and produce a better performance … the goal is to make it to the quarter-finals at least,” EnvyTaylor said in an interview with SiegeGG.

SANDBOX Gaming at the Six Sweden Major. (Photo: Ubisoft/Kirill B.)

The burnout that plagued the players in parts of 2021, where they struggled after practicing too much, is unlikely to surface again. Right now, says EnvyTaylor, the focus is primarily on understanding what makes any international-level Brazilian team capable of winning a title.

In 2021, Ninjas in Pyjamas won the Six Invitational, Team oNe took the Mexico Major title, and FaZe Clan were the best in Sweden in November. Despite that, EnvyTaylor believes that they aren’t invincible -- though he is keen to avoid facing oNe at this upcoming event.

“Each player sometimes has like this individual-focused play style… for example, each player might just come in one-by-one [into a room],” he said, when asked about a potential weakness of the Brazilian teams. But he noted that their strengths, particularly their ability to follow and execute plans, outweigh their apparent weaknesses and netted them three titles in 2021.

While Brazil is unquestionably the best in the world right now, APAC has been rising quickly as well. At the Mexico Major, Team oNe would have been eliminated if they had conceded just one more round to CYCLOPS athlete gaming, while DWG KIA was one bullet away from eliminating FaZe Clan in the semi-finals of the Sweden Major.

So impressive was DWG KIA’s performance, and the fact that they had qualified to the playoffs and SI 2022 alongside SANDBOX Gaming, that many have begun to regard Korea as the best region in APAC and one of the best globally. EnvyTaylor, though, shies from a similar assessment.

“When encompassing the APAC North and South regions, Korea isn’t necessarily the strongest region,” he said. “Depending on each region, the playing style of each team differs, and even though teams like DWG KIA and us have been able to qualify for Majors and SIs, the other [APAC] regions are equally as strong.”

SANDBOX Gaming, said EnvyTaylor, still has some ways to go to reach the level of their compatriots on DWG KIA. While DWG is able to play extremely coordinated and reap that play style’s rewards, his own team still falls into the trap of an overly-individualized play style.

That’s not to say that SANDBOX is a poor team, he says -- often, it does show off the coordination it needs to win, as evidenced by its strong group stage at the Sweden Major. But the work being done in these final weeks is to make those bursts of coordination consistently present.

That failure to work as a concerted team was most apparent at the Six Invitational 2021. The then-Cloud9 roster was extremely impressive in opening engagements, but that Entry K-D mattered little as the Koreans kept losing round after round. Eventually, they scraped into the playoffs’ lower bracket thanks to a win over CAG, but were embarrassed by Challenger League hopefuls Mkers.

The Cloud9 roster's statistics from the Six Invitational 2021.

This time, while the minimum goal is to make it to the quarter-finals of the double-elimination SI bracket, EnvyTaylor is hoping to carry on the momentum to a semi-finals appearance, or even a grand final one. But despite that hope, he backs DWG as the likeliest of any APAC team to win the title.

While the primary focus is understandably on the Invitational, SANDBOX is not limiting itself to just one month of planning. Changes are already set to happen after the event, before the start of the 2022 season, and will focus on the currently-vacant coaching role.

Hyun "OCN" Park had been the SANDBOX Gaming coach until after the Sweden Major, when he had retired to focus on personal projects. Minjae "RechoTZ" Seo, on the other hand, is just the team’s manager.

“This time, only five players will be part of the roster at the Six Invitational,” revealed EnvyTaylor. “A new player will join in April this year … Sihun "Nova" Lee is trying to change his role to a coach, so the new player will replace him.”

Catch SANDBOX Gaming from Feb. 8 onwards, where they will be eager to show their worth -- and avenge DWG’s Sweden Major loss to FaZe -- at the Six Invitational 2022.