Soniqs finished in the semi-finals of the Jönköping Major in Nov. 2022. They had just completed a significant rebuild, having parted ways with Alexander "Yeti" Lawson and their IGL Seth "supr" Hoffman. In their place had come Emilio "Geometrics" Leynez and Shaun "Gunnar" Pottorff, which had caused fans to already bill them the winners of the Aug. transfer window.
Then, in the first Nov. transfer window in years, they did it again.
Less than a week after Jönköping Major semi-final appearance, they opted to bench Evan "Kanzen" Bushore in a shock move that was based on a "team decision". No replacement had been lined up, which was concerning given the fact that Kanzen was the third-best Soniqs player at the Jönköping Major by SiegeGG Rating.
"He just didn't fit in in, like, the environment that the team was, like, trying to seek," explained Soniqs captain Pablo "Gryxr" Rebeil in an interview with SiegeGG. "Team culture is probably, like, the best way to put it ... team culture was probably 90 percent of it."
But the concerns vanished when they signed G2 Esports star player Ben "CTZN" McMillan.
"CTZN wasn't one of our initial options," shared Gryxr, though he quickly added that that had only been because they had been unaware of CTZN's availability at the beginning of the transfer window.
Signing CTZN was obviously an exciting prospect for Gryxr and his team. The player burst onto the scene with an ESL Pro League win in Nov. 2019 and soon after joined G2 Esports, where he was consistently the best player on the team. However, there was a fair amount of tempered expectations due to the complicated nature of the signing.
"You wonder like how optimistic you can be just for the sole fact that orgs are negotiating and, you know, the whole visa issue," said Grxyr, harkening back to Sep. 2019. Then, Soniqs had signed Santino "Gomfi" de Meulenaere and Alex "SlebbeN" Nordlund, but had them unavailable for several months due to visa issues.
But the excitement was certainly simmering beneath the surface, as the prospect of trials with CTZN going well would mean that Soniqs would actually end up upgrading after not having a replacement for Kanzen lined up.
"If you'd have told me a year ago this would be our roster now, I would have bet a million dollars against you," said Gryxr, still in similar disbelief to how he had been after the Geo and Gunnar signings. "Everything definitely turned out for the better."
Of course, the team still had to make changes when accommodating a new player, especially since CTZN's roles did not directly replace Kanzen's. Instead, CTZN's roles were more similar to Gryxr's himself.
"It was obviously not a worry to us, more so to the public," said Gryxr about CTZN's fit within the team. "I think CTZN is a very versatile player... he can play anything, like most of the top-top players."
As CTZN had been trialled with Soniqs, that fear had not been present right from the beginning of the transfer process. Instead, it helped them discover that he fit in "perfectly" with the rest of the Soniqs player as he was very flexible in what he could play.
"We're a lot more free flow," he explained. "Besides like, I'd say [Rexen], every other player on the team, you know, like, alternates roles between different maps and bomb sites and I think he allowed us to do that a lot easier than other tryouts were."
Once again, things turned out better than even Gryxr could have hoped. So good are things, in fact, that he believes that "there is no ceiling with this team".
Now, all eyes are on them as they look ahead to next week when CTZN debuts with them at the Six Invitational from Feb. 7 onwards.
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