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"We spoke after the Major to see what was the best decision": Geekay's coach ALO talks about the team's Cinderella run in Atlanta

Geekay qualified for the Six Invitational 2024 after the team's Cinderella run in Atlanta.

Banner Image: Ubisoft / Kiril B. @ItsKirillVision

When we talk about sports, the neutral viewer loves a Cinderella run. Leicester City’s Premier League success in 2016, Portland’s run to the Conference Finals in 2019, and Verstappen’s first world championship in 2021 are examples of people taking the weak’s side fueled by their desire to see something different happening to their sport.

In this respect, esports is the same. Throughout the last five years, we have seen some incredible Cinderella stories in Rainbow Six Siege. Fnatic’s performance at the PL Season 8 Finals, Parabellum Esports’ victory against G2 Esports at the Six Invitational 2021, and Team oNe’s championship run at the Six Mexico Major are examples of the weak beating well-established powerhouses in the scene.

Although w7m esports won in Atlanta and Copenhagen, it’s fair to say the most notorious Cinderella run of the Rainbow Six Siege’s esports 2023 season was Geekay Esports’ at the BLAST R6 Major Atlanta.

After topping the standings of the MENA League 2023 Stage 2, the roster was confirmed as the second team from the region to qualify for a Rainbow Six Siege international event, following the footsteps of Team Falcons, who qualified for the BLAST R6 Major Copenhagen.

If the team’s lack of international experience wasn’t enough, the roster was put between a rock and a hard place when the squad was told that Ahmet “SRSLy” Hasan wouldn’t be able to fly to the United States. In a matter of days, the team had to find a replacement for the Turkish player.

“Two weeks before the start of the competition we were told that SRSLy couldn’t travel due to visa issues, it was a hard pill to swallow,” Alonso “ALO” Díez explained in a pre-Six Invitational 2024 interview with SiegeGG. 

“Seeing someone who had been there for multiple years in the team, a very hard-working and humble person missing out on his first international competition, was a big hit for everyone on the team.”

Eventually, Jake “Leadr” Fortunato was chosen as Geekay Esports’ temporary fifth player. “I met Leadr in Natus Vincere and that’s why he joined because I knew what he could bring and what the team needed.”

“We didn’t have a solid IGL, the responsibility would always fall onto different people, but we didn’t have that piece. Leadr was a great addition, he fit extremely well, bringing some qualities the team didn’t have,” the Spanish coach admitted.

Given the situation, not many viewers expected much from Geekay Esports. With a substitute, the fans thought it was unlikely Geekay would perform well in Atlanta. Against all the odds, the team only needed one day to silence the comments as they defeated Ninjas in Pyjamas on maximum overtime. “It gave us a lot of confidence, it was very important,” he admitted.

One day later, Geekay Esports’ one-sided victory against Crest Gaming Lst saw the team topping the standings of their Phase 1 group.

In Phase 2, Geekay Esports seemed unstoppable during the initial two days as they defeated the BLAST R6 Major Copenhagen and Gamers8 2023 champions of w7m esports and Team BDS, respectively. One more win and the roster would become the first MENA team to reach a Major’s Top 8.

Following two narrow defeats against G2 Esports and LOS, Geekay Esports made it to the quarter-finals after winning against Wolves Esports. Unfortunately, their Cinderella run was stopped by w7m esports, who defeated them by 1-2 with victories on Bank and Oregon.

“We didn’t have the capacity, maybe due to a lack of time of practice, of adapting,” Alonso said regarding the team’s quarter-final match against w7m esports. “We were too predictable,” he added.

Geekay Esports' start to the match was a 0-6 half on attack against the eventual champions. According to the Spanish coach, this is an example of what the team must improve heading to the Six Invitational 2024.

“We had only been together for two months and a half and we had to make a roster change, we came to the Major without having enough time to prepare for winning a Major, we weren’t deep enough in terms of roles and communication,” he explained.

Despite the team’s elimination, Geekay Esports’ performance in Atlanta will be remembered as the first time a MENA League roster played in front of an international crowd. Additionally, Geekay Esports was the only team to win two maps against w7m esports.

Such a good international performance with a substitute forced the team to re-evaluate the structure of the roster heading to the winter off-season. With the Six Invitational 2024 in their minds and the transfer window just around the corner, the possibility of adding Leadr to the roster was real.

“Of course, yes. We spoke after the Major to see what was the best decision we could make for our future. Although there were different opinions in the team, the team decided that the best was to continue without Leadr,” the Spanish explained.

Geekay Esports have been placed in Group A and will compete against G2 Esports, Ninjas in Pyjamas, DarkZero Esports, and FearX. While the first step is getting out of the group stage, the Spanish coach is ambitious. “We want to win the tournament, but we will go step by step,” he concluded.

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