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Spacestation Gaming’s astronauts are headed to Brazil in what will be the team’s sixth consecutive Six Invitational appearance. Since 2019, the organization has qualified for every single edition, with the team becoming world champions in 2020.
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then – Alec “Fultz” Fultz is the only remaining player from the Six Invitational 2020 winning roster, with Matthew “Hotancold” Stevens joining the team four months later.
Unexpectedly, the American organization went through changes in Mar. 2023 as the team parted ways with three of their players and three members of their staff team, including the world champions Dylan “Bosco” Bosco, Nathanial “Rampy” Duvall, Justin “Lycan” Woods, Luke “Luke” Slota, and Zachary “Sov” Sites. Instead, the astronauts acquired most of the former Astralis roster and the former TSM player Bryan “Merc” Wrzek.
Although such a deep roster rebuilding usually needs time to shine, the new astronauts did a great job as they qualified for the BLAST R6 Major Atlanta following a third-seed finish in their region. It looked even better when the players started their adventure in Denmark with wins against Elevate, Six Karma, and G2 Esports. Unfortunately, the team’s defeats against FaZe Clan, Wolves Esports, and SCARZ saw the roster missing out on the third phase of the tournament.
Only two weeks after the team’s performance in Denmark, Spacestation Gaming announced the decision of parting ways with the highly experienced Merc, who had joined the astronauts two months earlier. One month later, his replacement was announced as the team decided to add Liam “Ashn” Paz.
When Ashn joined Spacestation Gaming, he was still a 17-years-old player with almost no experience. His first steps in the scene were made in early Jan. 2021 and since then he had been playing for a bunch of Tier 2 squads.
In Dec. 2022, Arial Arise’s 2-3 defeat against Oxygen Esports at the SCS Season 7 Grand Final put Ashn in the spotlight. The team’s performance against the green roster impressed the international viewers, who had no idea about the American teenager mix.
Although the summer off-season was heavily criticized by a big part of the Siege community, making roster additions in May gave teams the chance of spending five months working on the player’s adaptation to the system. It makes even more sense when we talk about a 17-year-old Ashn who was joining one of the biggest organizations in Siege.
“The off-season helped me develop a lot and how to adapt to T1 play,” Ashn admitted in a written interview with SiegeGG.
According to the player, both Adam “Callout” Pazner and Seth “Mango” Mik played an important part in his adaptation as they “helped” the 17-year-old to “learn a lot of strategy and the Spacestation Gaming system.” “I was a sponge taking in all the info. That off-season was very influential.”
With the North America League 2023 Stage 2 kicking off on Sep. 6, Spacestation Gaming’s return to the competition was delayed as Ashn’s 18th birthday was on Sep. 9. Finally, the astronauts played their first match on Sep. 13. Ashn was welcomed to the big league with a 1-7 defeat against M80.
It wouldn’t be the team’s only defeat. While the games were extremely close and could have gone the other way around, Spacestation Gaming lost the following three games in overtime.
“We had a big problem with hyper fixation and tunneling,” Ashn admitted. Inevitably, the 18-year-old started doubting himself. “I had some thoughts overthinking since I was the rookie and it was my first stage with the team.”
However, Fultz’s experience played an important part in the evolution of Ashn’s confidence, as he admitted his teammate portrayed “amazing leadership” and reassured him that “it was the team's fault collectively.”
“Overall I believe we still had a good head space and kept moving forward onto the next game. Once we won our first games against SQ and WC the ball started rolling,” Ashn added.
Eventually, the American’s international debut came in the BLAST R6 Major Atlanta. Following victories against Alpha Atheris and Team Bliss, the Americans quickly moved to the tournament’s Phase 2.
However, Spacestation Gaming’s hopes of playing in front of their home crowd in Atlanta were severely damaged after the first two matches, where they lost to Team BDS and w7m esports.
“We saw a glimpse of our old selves in those w7m and BDS matches, just like our first couple NAL matches,” the player admitted.
Spacestation Gaming’s third game was against SCARZ, who had sent them home from Coopenhagen. After a close series, the Americans redeemed themselves. The team’s victories against Ninjas in Pyjamas and Bleed Esports saw the team climbing up to the Swiss Stage’s Top 8.
“We understood our problem, we worked on it and we showed great pressure management coming back from 0-2. BO3s gave us more wiggle room since we could lose the first map and still win the match, just like the SCARZ game,” he admitted.
Since Ashn’s arrival, Spacestation Gaming has only lost two BO3 matches – against Wildcard Gaming in the North America League 2023 Stage 2 and against FaZe Clan in Atlanta’s quarter-final match.
Curiously enough, the astronauts will play against the Brazilians at the Six Invitational 2024. Both teams have been drawn into Group B, alongside Wolves Esports, DPlus, and Team Bliss. While Ashn admits the Brazilian teams are “really good” he’s also crystal clear when it comes to his team’s confidence. “At the end of the day we don’t care who we play.”
“I think many believe playing on home soil is a massive advantage but it also puts lots of pressure on teams to perform. We are coming into this tournament to play siege with no care for any narrative or expectations,” Ashn concluded.
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