Road to APAC LAN: Aerowolf

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In this article series, we give you a preview of the eight teams going to this season’s APAC LAN event held in Tokyo, Japan from the 13th to the 14th of October. Here, we take a look at Southeast Asian side Aerowolf.

Aerowolf is a team that has been around the competitive scene for almost as long as it has existed. Back in Year 1, the team was known as Team Envy, and was the first Asia-Pacific (APAC) team to make the international audience take notice of this then-unexplored region. Qualifying for the inaugural Six Invitational in 2017, they exited in the Quarter Finals, but not before giving eRa Eternity (now Rogue) a scare after defeating them 6-5 on the first map.

After the introduction of the Pro League to APAC in Season 6, they changed their name to Tyde, and made it to the first APAC LAN event without difficulty, at which point they were picked up by Team CryptiK -- the first international organisation to make an entrance into APAC.

However, as happened for every LAN event since, they were only second-best, and fell to eiNs in the Quarter Finals. This was followed by a failure to make it to the 2018 Invitational engineered by Mindfreak (now Fnatic), then a repeat denial by the Australian side in Season 7, and was capped off with Element Mystic (mantisFPS) beating them to the Six Major Paris.

Nevertheless, the team has always maintained a level of strength feared by every team across APAC. This season, while beaten to first-place by Xavier Esports in Southeast Asia (SEA), things are no different.

We had a chat with team captain, Glen “Lunarmetal” Suryasaputra about his team’s performance this season, and their expectations from the Tokyo event.

(The interview responses have been lightly edited for grammar.)

You have had an incredibly long journey in competitive Rainbow Six, yet some might have forgotten you guys. Care to give them a reminder of your history as a roster, and with organisations?

We’re probably one of the oldest teams out there despite our mixed success. Started out as Envy (NOT EnvyUs), managed to do well in APAC and represented the region at the Six Invitational. I wouldn’t say we were the best in APAC or anything, as ANZ wasn’t included at the time. Since then, however, we’ve always fallen short of qualifying for a LAN despite being favourites at almost every APAC LAN.

Our roster had changes here and there, though it was a lot less than some of the other teams out there. Ysaera, Reveck and I have stayed together since the beginning, with Array and HysteRiX rounding up our roster after several changes.

As for org history, we were Envy > Tyde > Cryptik > back to Envy > Aerowolf. There are reasons behind all the org changes, but I won’t go into too much detail there. Let’s just say that, as someone new to esports at the time, I was learning on the job and making mistakes along the way.

Singapore has been in the news recently with Crazy Rich Asians. What would you say are the biggest differences in the “high-SES” (SES = Socio-Economic Status) lifestyle depicted in the movie, and your own lives in Singapore?

Regrettably, I haven’t had the chance to catch the movie though it has been on my watch list for a while now. I did manage to see the trailer so I did at least get the gist of the plot.

As with most other movies though, it is probably an exaggeration; we don’t all live like that in Singapore. It is (probably) true that the top 0.1% probably live lives like what’s depicted in the movie but hey, most of us live in HDBs (government-provided housing) and get our food from hawker centres. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, though.

For example, even though a large percentage of Singaporeans live in public housing units, it’s really well planned and closely taken care of so I’m quite confident that most of us here live comfortably. Plus, almost all of us have optic fibre connections for that juicy 9ms gameplay in SEA servers.

Coming from Singapore, where esports are watched but hardly participated in, how has you and your Singaporean teammates’ journey been so far, especially in terms of support from fans, and family and friends?

After being in esports for a few years now, I can see clearly why this has been a difficult career to pursue for Singaporeans for two main reasons.

Education in Singapore is actually a really good system that includes everyone. This is because the government is pretty open about their policy of ‘meritocracy’ where, regardless of family background, every student in Singapore has a fair shot at going to a good school based on their merits (be it academic or otherwise). However, what this creates is a lifelong rat-race where the worth of every individual student is judged by how many points they can get in a national exam – the first of which comes when you are 12, with the next at 16 or 18 (or both). It’s no wonder that most Singaporeans get caught up in this system because whether or not you can succeed in this system is what you think about most of your childhood and this makes it very difficult to pursue esports because most people don’t see it as a ‘successful path.’

National service is a lot more explicit a factor. All males who are residents in Singapore must complete a mandatory 2-year service (in the Armed Force, Police, or Civil Defence), which is an esport career killer, followed by a reservist period of 10 years. You simply won’t be able to compete on a professional level because you’ll be stuck in camp most of the time.

Take Ysaera for example -- you might now know this but he used to play Dota 2 professionally. No one in the region can deny that he was talented given his age. He played in a few of the top teams in SEA at the time and who knows where he would’ve ended up if it wasn’t for that 2-year service. He had to put Dota on hold and found it too difficult to return considering how fast the game has grown. Now he’s stuck playing Siege with me!

Quantic at the 2017 Six Invitational

We first spoke to you when you made a roster change, swapping out Quantic (now retired) for Array. How has he gelled with the team, and how has your team dynamic, both in and out of the game, changed since then?

Swapping out Quantic wasn’t an easy decision. Being one of the original players in the very first Envy roster, he played a huge part in our successes, and Array had big shoes to fill. Understandably, he struggled at first because he always viewed himself as the ‘new guy’ on the team and couldn’t find the confidence to speak up sometimes. Since then, however, he’s made a lot of progress as a player and I’m happy to say he’s becoming more confident in not only himself, but his team as well. We’ve all seen what Array can do when he finds his mojo and equipping himself with Siege’s version of an AWP -- the BOSG.

Mentalist has been your unofficial substitute player for a long time, and he is soon approaching 18 years of age. What would you say his future in competitive Rainbow Six looks like, given his obvious skill?

It’s a given that he’s probably one of the most skilled players in APAC so his future looks really good if he continues to pursue this. But who knows what’ll happen right? After all, I might even move to coaching and have him fill my shoes!

With the Aerowolf organisation, you have got a team house and a team manager. How have these additions helped in a region where most teams do not have such things?

The team house has been really useful & fun. When you’re trying to discuss strategies with your teammates [scold them really harshly when they make mistakes], it helps when you can gauge how they’re feeling pre/during/post scrims based on body language [you know to stop screaming at them when they’re about to cry].

In Year 1, your team was one of the best in all of APAC. Soon after, you were arguably the 2nd-best in APAC and best in SEA. With this season’s SEA games over, you are 2nd-seed for the first time ever. How would you say the APAC region has evolved, and your team with it?

Even back then, I wouldn’t say we were best in APAC because ANZ wasn’t included yet. It’s undeniable how APAC has grown over the last year. Milestones include teams like Fnatic getting picked up and as each season passes, an APAC team scoring a win against any other region was slowly becoming less and less of an upset. The metas are also amalgamating with each other and there isn’t really a clear “APAC-meta” anymore because teams everywhere are learning from each other regardless of region. I’m pretty proud at how close we are with each other within the region, and I’m also proud that my team has, at the very least, remained strong contenders for that APAC slot every season.

Your team defeated Xavier Esports 2-0 in the SEA Paris Major Qualifiers Stage 2, then fell to them 0-2 in the Pro League, and 1-2 in the Season 8 APAC LAN seeding. What would you say changed?

I’ve seen Xavier’s rise coming for awhile now (and publicly called it, too). They have 5 incredible players who can work together as a team better than any other I’ve played. As for our matches against them, fundamentally it came down to the mentality the team going into it. When we lost to them 0-2, the reason was clear because we were still recovering from the devastating loss at the Pairs Major quals. In the seeding match, however, that was us giving them everything we had and still they came out on top. They were better than us, but that doesn’t mean they will continue to be, though!

Is there anything you would like to share with your fans, and to the international audience that will read this?

To our loyal fans (yes, all 3 of you... nah, I kid!) thank you for all your support. You guys are always there for us regardless of our victory or defeat and I can’t explain how much I appreciate that.

To the international audience, we’re a really small team from SEA and hopefully we get a chance to prove ourselves Internationally sometime soon. When we do, please be gentle on Twitch chat.

The Aerowolf roster is:

  Glen “Lunarmetal” Suryasaputra (Captain)

  Adrian “Ysaera” Wui

  Warren “Reveck” Lim

  Jeremy “HysteRiX” Tan

  Allessandro Billy “Array” Adi Dwiputra

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.