Athletico Esports is a team that has been around the competitive scene in ANZ (Australia-New Zealand) for a very long time. The squad first shot to domestic fame when they won the ANZ Invitational on LAN in August 2017, but have since been just out of contention for an APAC LAN spot after the introduction of the Pro League to APAC (Asia-Pacific). The team also had participated in the A$10,000 ANZ Cup earlier this year, but narrowly missed out on a playoff spot.
This season, after more than a few roster changes, Athletico has made a strong mark in ANZ, and in APAC. With only Todd and syliX, the captain, remaining from the ANZ Invitational winning roster, the team got its first taste of APAC LANs when they qualified for the offline APAC Stage 3 Qualifiers for the Six Major Paris. While they lost 0-2 in both matches to Aerowolf (from Southeast Asia) and Sengoku Gaming Extasy (from Japan), they took that as a learning opportunity. Since then, they finished in 1st place in the regular Pro League, and even defeated Fnatic in the playoffs to be seeded first at the Season 8 APAC LAN.
Now, in Tokyo, the team has been placed together with Aerowolf yet again, and will no doubt be itching for revenge. If they manage to achieve it, they will face a stern test in the form of either NORA-Rengo (from Japan) or New Life (from Korea) to be able to book a berth at the global Pro League finals in Rio de Janeiro in November.
We had a chat with team captain, Vinnie “syliX” Tam about his team's performance this season, and their expectations from the Tokyo event.
(The interview responses have been lightly edited for grammar.)
Athletico has been around the scene for a long time, but has seen many changes since inception. How has your roster evolved?
Todd and I are the only OGs on the roster now. We’ve had to make changes in the past, mostly to replace someone who didn’t have the time to commit to the game. We’ve made it to a point where we’re very happy with our lineup and hope to see it go the distance.
Who on your team is a full-time pro? For those who aren’t, what do they do outside of Siege?
A few of us work. I teach at Queensland University of Technology. It can interfere with practice and matches sometimes if I have some later classes.
Your captain, Todd, and SyliX have two LANs under their belt -- one domestic one last year, and the Paris Qualifiers APAC one shared with the rest of the team. How have you learnt from these LANs?
Only Todd and I have been on a stage with an audience. It didn’t really affect us too much, I don’t think. The lights can be irritating though. The main thing we’ve learnt is to have really good in-ears that are comfortable!
Communication is easier sometimes when you can just look at the player beside you to know what they are talking about sometimes.
Your team has previously been just out of reach of the APAC LAN spots in Season 6 and 7. This season, though, you managed to make it to the APAC LAN Finals. How would you rate this season, especially in relation to the others?
We’ve been working hard to get to the LAN this time. I think we all wanted it more, and felt like we had something to prove.
This season you finally moved yourself out of the shadow of your greatest rivals, Fnatic, pipping them to the top spot and defeating them 2-0 in your playoffs. How does it feel to have done that?
It feels good to finish first, but it is also great to show the other regions that APAC is still a competitive region.
Your Paris Major Qualifiers journey was ended by Aerowolf when they beat you 2-0. You now face them again at the Tokyo LAN. What has changed with your team since then, and what is your mental game plan approaching this?
When we faced them in Sydney, Ethan had only been with us for a short period and we were still finding our footing with him. We didn’t prepare for Sydney and focused on the PL. Despite losing all our matches, we were actually happy with how we went overall. We’ve now had the time to consolidate and hope to show a stronger performance on our part.
This is going to be the first APAC Finals outside of Sydney, Australia. How does it feel to be going to Japan to play video games, to put it humorously?
Going overseas to play video games is basically living the dream!
Is there anything you would like to share with your fans, and to the international audience that will read this?
Thanks to everyone who supports us. We hope to do you and the rest of ANZ proud!
The Athletico roster is:
Vinnie “syliX” Tam
Todd “Todd” Francis
Tien “EmoRin” Lam
Brendan “Derpeh” Carr
Ethan “Ethan” Picard
Barry "Fluxx" Sukesh (Coach)
Catch all the APAC LAN action from Tokyo, Japan, on the 13th and 14th of October from 9:45 AM GMT+9 onwards at twitch.tv/Rainbow6!