NORA-Rengo came into this tournament as a promising outsider after disappointing appearances at the Season 7 Finals and the Paris Major were followed up by a joint third-place finish during Season 8 of the Pro League. This meant that here at the Six Invitational they had clear potential, but still were in a difficult group that included Evil Geniuses, LeStream and PENTA, and thus many people underestimated their ability to repeat their Season 8 performance. This meant that NORA-Rengo smashed expectations when they not only got out of their group but then went on to defeat their regional rivals of Fnatic to become the first APAC team to ever make the semi-finals of a Major.
While Nora was then knocked out by the Eastern European lineup of Team Empire who were on a similar underdog run, their exceptional performance and their clear ability to have fun during their games made them one of the clear fan-favourites with kizoku’s signature dances being particularly popular.
As such, we spoke to kizoku to ask what their experience of the tournament was and what comes next for the ever-improving Japanese roster:
So, I’m here with kizoku, coach of NORA-Rengo, and RedEnergy, manager and translator of the team, and I wanted to start off by asking how you have found the Six Invitational?
So we had a gap between APAC teams and other regions, but no we’ve found out that there is no gap anymore, we might be one of the champions this year.
From your experience here have you learnt any lessons to grow as a team?
So four months ago we got a gaming house in Japan so we have been providing good situations for players and also we got two analysts for the players so now we can get more information before the tournament.
Who do you think really impressed you in this competition?
We were impressed by G2. So when we were having scrims they were too good and their movement is unpredictable, so we tried to be like that and we practised in the group stage and practice time.
So for the rest of the season are you looking forward to going back to your home region and performing there as well and hopefully going back to the next season’s Finals?
As the next Invitational is going to be for around $2m also we are going to be giving players a much better environment.
And what do you think of the new operators that are about to come into Pro League -- Kaid and Nomad?
In the beginning, we were inspired by the new ops. When other teams use Kaid, hopefully, they'll ban Thatcher. In relation to us, since players like Pengu will sorta "break the game" (find cheeky stuff with the new ops and such) I feel there is still more balancing to be done.
Do you have any thoughts on the changes they just announced? Things like changes to Dokkaebi, Capitao, and Ash?
Those are good changes because there’s a bug that when you shoot Capitao’s firebolts into a corner it doesn’t do any damage so when that’s fixed that shouldn’t happen any more. Also, Ash is too strong at the moment so it’s good to take the ACOG from her. Also the Dokkaebi, we were thinking why doesn’t the phones turn off in the Mute Jammer's AOE so it’s good to have that now.
Your team has been fan favourites, you have brought a level of energy that we haven’t seen before and your enthusiasm has been very remarkable. Do you have any messages to those fans who have been so enthusiastic to support you?
So one day if Ubi makes an emote system we are gonna make the Nora-Dance in-game and continue it next time we make an international event.
NORA-Rengo’s next game will be against CYCLOPS athlete gaming when the APAC Pro League restarts in two weeks time. Keep an eye out for more coverage of Nora and player interviews on the SiegeGG Twitter and YouTube accounts.