Banner Image: Ubisoft / Kiril B. @ItsKirillVision
Following back-to-back first places in the two Oceania League stages and an international debut season, Team Bliss qualified for the Six Invitational 2024 in the team’s first top-flight season.
It’s not been an easy year for Team Bliss, though. The pink organization faced both roster and staff changes halfway through the season. Additionally, the team’s results were met with harsh criticism from international viewership as the Australians became one of the easy targets to blame for Team BDS and MNM Gaming’s absences at the Six Invitational 2024.
“To be honest, we don't pay much attention to the criticism we and our region receive on social media,” Mitchell “Sageon” Sage explained in a written pre-Six Invitational 2024 interview for SiegeGG.
From a neutral point of view, Team Bliss’ season should be rated as great. It’s not easy to go from regional to international in a matter of months. With a team core built in May. 2022, the synergy was there from the start. It was about getting the right results, learn from the downs, and enjoy the ups.
Team Bliss' first stage at the Oceania League saw the Australian roster running over everyone in the league and concluded the split flawlessly. Unfortunately, the team was sent back home early from the BLAST R6 Major Copenhagen after defeats against w7m esports and Varrel.
“Copenhagen was our first international event - and for us, it was a battle on two fronts,” Sageon admitted. “The first being the elevated level of competition; we had never played such high-level siege; and secondly - getting used to LAN conditions, and event protocol in general,” he explained.
It takes some time to adapt to the needs of offline and, most precisely, international Siege. It is a challenge that some teams struggle with. Despite the team’s poor result in Copenhagen, Sageon and his teammates were content with the experience.
“We gained invaluable competitive experience from our week-long bootcamp before the event, during which we practiced against the best teams in Europe,” the former Knights player explained.
Moreover, the Australian admitted the team “had to redevelop our understanding of the game to be able to compete on the international stage.” “These scrims really taught us how to play the game properly - although most of us have been around in the local scene for years.”
Following Team Bliss’ short stay in Denmark, the team faced the five-month off-season thinking about how to improve heading to the second split of the season. In July, the organization added Kim “MinGoran” Min-Geun to the staff team after parting ways with Erik “Nikoh” Ahrenfeld.
“MinGoran is not just a coach, he's also a very dedicated analyst,” he admitted. “MinGoran has helped us prepare for what the enemy is going to throw at us in the server - which is critical when facing new opponents from different regions,” the Australian explained.
It wasn’t Team Bliss’ only change heading to the second stage. In Aug. 2023, Team Bliss announced the departure of Jack “Jigsaw” Gilles after the Australian was signed by the Spanish organization KOI. With SiegeGG ratings of 1.34 and 0.95 in the Oceania League and the BLAST R6 Major Copenhagen, the now Rogue player had been Team Bliss’ second-best player throughout the first split of the season.
Less than a week after announcing Jigsaw’s move, the pink organization announced Issac “Wettables” Moore as the team’s fifth player. Excluding Team Bliss’ players, the former Arial Arise member had been the third-best player in the first stage with a SiegeGG rating of 1.16.
According to Sageon, the former Arial Arise player was “easily the best player outside our team in Stage 1.” Team Bliss’ IGL rated Wettables as a “highly skilled vocal leader of his team who was extremely hungry to improve.”
Unexpectedly, Team Bliss kicked off the second split of the season with one overtime defeat and one overtime victory against Kelton Knights and Odium, respectively. Despite the slow start, the pink organization qualified for the BLAST R6 Major Atlanta after five back-to-back regulation wins. It was time for the players to redeem themselves under the American lights.
Team Bliss’ first match in Atlanta was against Wolves Esports, Europe’s third seed. Although the match started as many people expected, the tables would be unexpectedly turned. Against all of the odds, Team Bliss won five rounds in a row to go from 3-6 to 8-6. The team’s victory put them one map away from qualifying for Phase 2.
“Although we were down 3-6, we found a nice groove on the attacking side, and managed to secure 4 rounds in a row. On our defense in overtime we managed to capatalise on a weakness we identified in the first half and take the final round we needed,” Sageon admitted.
The Australian’s performance on Day 1 was close to being repeated against Spacestation Gaming as the team sent the Americans to overtime. This time, however, the team couldn’t end the job and the astronauts took the group’s first seed. This meant that Team Bliss and Wolves Esports would meet again in the lower bracket grand final.
Despite Bliss’ great start to the series against the pack with a 7-2 win on Consulate, the orange roster’s win on Nighthaven Labs was followed by a maximum overtime victory against the Australians on Clubhouse. This meant that Team Bliss was one round away from Phase 2… twice.
“It was absolutely devastating losing the way we did - being one round away from Phase 2 twice in one day,” Sageon admitted.
“We were obviously disappointed, but we sat around the fire at the hotel in Atlanta that night planning our preparation for SI. We had a taste of competing in Atlanta, and having it end so soon has only motivated us to be better at the invitational.”
Overall, the roster’s domination in their home region was mixed with a clear and constant growth at the Six Majors. While the format used in the current season may have helped them to qualify for the event comfortably, the truth can be hidden: Team Bliss have shown signs of improvement.
Curiously enough, Team Bliss will play against Spacestation Gaming and Wolves Esports again as they have been drawn into Group B. The Six Sweden Major champions FaZe Clan and the current South Korean champions DPlus complete the group.
Regarding facing Wolves and Spacestation again, Sageon believes it can be “a positive, but it can also be a negative.”
“On one hand, playing two familiar opponents can help us limit the pressure of the unknown. On the other hand, we were an unkown to SSG and Wolves in Atlanta, but at SI we will be a known entity who won't be underestimated,” he concluded.
It’s also worth mentioning that Team Bliss is the first Australian roster to qualify for the Six Invitational since Wildcard Gaming qualified for the Six Invitational 2021. Back then, unfortunately, the red roster couldn’t play in Paris, France, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, Team Bliss will be the first Australian roster to play at a Six Invitational since Fnatic’s Top 6 finish at the Six Invitational 2020.
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