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Dusting off Jönköping heartbreak, Spacestation return to international stage at Invitational confident of "showing up"

Can they do what they did in 2020 and win it after coming through the qualifier?

Dylan "Bosco" Bosco does not lose qualifiers, does he?

"Nah, he really doesn't," laughed Spacestation Gaming head coach Justin "Lycan" Woods in an interview with SiegeGG ahead of the Six Invitational 2023. "There's no one who can do it like him."

The context here, of course, is Bosco's incredible record of last-chance qualifier victories. With Spacestation having secured qualification to the Six Invitational this year late last month, that streak has now stretched to a whopping 11 straight wins.

It also includes the Six Invitational 2020, an event that Spacestation and Bosco won after also securing qualification through the last-chance North American qualifier.

"When we picked him up (in Oct. 2018) we'd heard about how good he was at qualifiers," said Lycan, revealing that the team had been well aware of Bosco's prowess in such pressure scenarios. "In Obey, he beat us -- like SSG -- in the lower bracket to go on [and qualify for the Paris Major]."

Of course, his eight subsequent qualifier wins came with Spacestation as well, including the most recent Invitational qualification.

However, despite eventual qualification, things looked downbeat for Bosco and his team on the first day of the NA Closed Qualifier. They lost 1-2 to Challenger League team Reality TV, losing maps in 3-7 and 5-7 fashion, before only managing to beat Mirage 2-1.

"The first day in general wasn't very good for us," recapped Lycan. "We weren't really playing liked we had been in scrims ... the comms weren't right, the synchronisation of everything was really off -- it felt like everyone showed up on an off day."

Despite that, Lycan was able to "nudge" his team past Mirage in the lower bracket and was relieved that his efforts were just "enough" to prevent elimination right off the bat.

The second day then started with a reset of the first, with Reality TV up against Spacestation first. Things had to be different, especially due to RTV being the "most structured tier-two team" Lycan had played against. The first day, Spacestation had been surprised by RTV's ability to "full clear", set up quickly, and play "passively" in a way that prevented early deaths.

But teams that lose the first time usually win in rematches and Spacestation took care of business with an emphatic 2-0. Suddenly, qualification to the Invitational looked possible again.

The final matchup was also perhaps somewhat more in favour towards Spacestation than TSM, said Lycan, as the first-day loss to Reality TV had inadvertently meant that TSM would have no competitive preparation against Spacestation's plans.

And plans they certainly had, as TSM lost 1-2 and were nowhere to be found in the first map, Bank -- a 7-0 in Spacestation's favour. Bank, in its old form, had also been the map on which Spacestation had confirmed their status as world champions in the 2020 grand-final.

"I thought it was weird that they just went straight for Bank versus us, 'cos we're not a bad Bank team," explained Lycan of his confusion at their pick. "They did beat us on Bank in the NAL, but it was (only) 7-5."

Now, Spacestation return to the international scene after having dealt with heartbreak the last time. Then, at the Jönköping Major, they had been eliminated in the group stage by the smallest of margins. Instead, Team BDS had progressed -- and then won the entire event.

This time, they are in a group alongside KOI, G2 Esports, Elevate, and w7m esports, of which the latter will be the toughest opponents. Nevertheless, Lycan is still confident and knows it is just a matter of "showing up" that they are still a very good team internationally.

Catch Spacestation next week at the Six Invitational 2023, starting from Feb. 7.

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