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On the cusp of a Major: Why LFO brought in a rookie in their highest-pressure stage to date

LFO gambled on themselves. It looks like they're about to cash out.

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Image via Ubisoft/@Kirill_Vision

On Feb. 11, 2022, Vitality — one of the largest French organizations in esports and one of the first organizations to invest in Rainbow Six Siege — left the scene abruptly.

Vitality, which became LFO, had just failed to qualify for the Six Invitational 2022 through the Closed Qualifier. They were a Sweden Major participant, but only had that international result to hang their hats on after two long years of middling regional performances.

Upon their exit, Vitality the organization left the roster a small blessing: the players and support staff retained their license to compete in EUL, meaning they were available to any org wanting to pick them up for free. The roster would not be relegated by default, they would have a stage or more to advertise themselves to potential teams.

But it wasn't easy, according to Valentin "risze" Liradelfo: "We had rent to pay and stuff like that. Having two months off salary was a bit stressful for us to be honest."

Risze said that he has full confidence that Robin "Robz" Planus will be able to find the roster a new team: Robz has been taking on the brunt of the negotiations with several teams that risze couldn't name for confidentiality reasons.

If the team wasn't playing well, their negotiations wouldn't be going great. Currently, LFO sits on the precipice of qualifying for the Charlotte Major — a great feat considering the circumstances. Ironically, the newest, and arguably most important LFO addition hasn't been feeling the financial crush.

19-year-old Dahmani "Mowwwgli" Yanis, brought on to be LFO's tip of the spear, is still living with his parents for now, and never considered turning down the LFO offer when it came. He was playing Siege on PS4 before he saw a future in Siege, and bought a PC five years ago. Mowwwgli also said his performance in PG Nationals and Challenger League was the main factor in LFO's decision to sign him.

"I know we will find another family, you know?," Mowwwgli said. "... I wanted to play in EUL."

Risze said the decision to move on from Medhi "Kaktus" Marty wasn't personal, and that he still thinks he's a good player. LFO needed more firepower, though, and Mowwwgli has that in spades. The move has freed up Axel "Shiinka" Freisberg to move back to hard breach and has given Nicolas "P4" Rimbaud more space on the map in his important lurker role.

"For us, it was kind of obvious that we would be a better team with Mowwwgli, and it didn't matter that we didn't have an org," risze said.

P4 and Mowwwgli currently lead the team statistically, but LFO is the only team still in Major contention without a player in the statistical top ten of the league. Respectively, P4 and Mowwwgli sit at 12th and 13th in SiegeGG Rating for the stage. While their firepower has been upgraded, their strength still comes from a team effort.

"I can take positions, make plays they can't before, you know? There are only two people [on the team] with the 'big balls' to take hard positions," Mowwwgli said with a chuckle. "I'm just following drones and I take a lot of hard positions with my gunfights."

Above everything, Mowwwgli is fearless. Risze said he plays the exact same way he did in the national leagues: the proverbial bright lights of EUL haven't given him any self-doubt or trepidation.

In Siege, the only thing that truly matters is making a Major.

Prize pool cuts from national leagues are okay, and some national leagues offer relatively prestigious achievements, but if you aren't making the Major, you only play nine EUL caliber matches in three months. It often goes unsaid, but one of the only ways for organizations to get anywhere near an adequate short-term return on their investment is to have a roster that consistently qualifies for Majors. While Mowwwgli and risze say that no organization they've talked to about the future has explicitly said they need to make a Major in order to be signed, it's "understandable" that it would be a concern.

LFO has had multiple chances to punch their ticket to Charlotte for the May Major. They bottled an excellent start against MNM Gaming: a 3-3 attacking half on Villa became an 8-7 overtime loss. One round was again the difference in another maximum overtime loss to Rogue.

LFO's final game of the stage comes against the worst team in the league by the record: PWNZ, ex-Empire, who gutted their roster in the offseason. A regulation win, followed by an expected Heroic victory over Rogue, should punch LFO's ticket to the Major. If they make it there, they'll almost assuredly have a home by the time it ends.

On May 2, LFO will play PWNZ. If they win in regulation, they'll more than likely qualify for the Charlotte Major. If they don't qualify, it doesn't appear to be the end of the world – they still may find an organization — but the strain and the stress will certainly compound.

Effectively, the LFO roster has gambled on themselves, and in about a week's time, that gamble might have paid off. Facing the prospect of no salary for some time, and the additional stress of not knowing who would sign their next check, they went out and took a risk on Mowwwgli, a young gunner. They're one regulation win away from a Major, and for now, that's the only thing in their sights.

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