Image: Ubisoft/Kirill Bashkirov
Elevate have been having a very strong 2022 that is reminiscent of much of their 2021, but without their fatal flaws. No longer do they seem to squander man-advantages in matches, their aggression has become much more measured.
As a result, they kicked off the year with a strong international debut at the Six Invitational 2022 -- a top 12 finish, equal to DWG KIA. They followed it up with qualification to what was set to be their second successive international event, but were denied due to long-winded visa processes in the USA.
“We weren’t complaining because it is what it is,” said Paramin "Onigiri" Suwanwattana in an interview with SiegeGG, revealing a perhaps-unexpected level of maturity in a situation where many would feel hard done by. “We just moved on, prepare ourselves for Stage 2.”
Missing Charlotte turned out to be somewhat of a blessing-in-disguise for Elevate, however, despite the loss of the international experience APAC teams constantly crave.
“We just move on and focus on our new operator, new meta,” explained Onigiri. “[Teams that go to the Majors] don’t have enough time after the Major to come back and prepare new strats for the new stage.”
This time around, though, Elevate were prepared to ensure they actually went to the Major. All personal details and information was prepared beforehand and the entire team marched down to the consulate the very night they qualified to apply for their Germany visas.
The Thai squad looks very different from its 2021 iteration after two player changes, but also with the assurance of Major qualification exuded in its style of play. Gone are the “LAN-dodging” stages of 2021 and in are questions of when Elevate will qualify.
Stage 2 was a fair bit tougher for teams in APAC, however, with the removal of the APAC Playoffs creating a shorter stage of just seven BO1 games. Furthermore, only the top two teams from each subregion were set to qualify.
“There’s a lot of pressure (this stage) for sure,” admitted Onigiri regarding the far higher value of each game. “But we know that we are top-performance team in APAC and everyone gonna focus on our team, how to take us down, how to fight our strats…”
That self-assurance meant that while the stakes were higher for each Stage 2 game, Elevate were well-prepared to fight off teams that specifically targeted them anyway. A format change that made things harder was merely another hurdle they had trained themselves to leap over.
Now, despite almost six months and three new operators on from SI 2022, Onigiri is still confident that he will be able to bring a lot of what he learnt at SI 2022 over to Berlin.
“I feel like the meta from the other region didn’t change that much compared to APAC,” explained Onigiri. “On the attack side most of the team rely on Finka … I don’t see a lot of Azami on the defenders.”
Comparing pick-rates across regions, Onigiri’s feeling seems to be backed up by statistics. Of all the regions that are sending teams to Berlin, APAC South has the second-highest pick rate for Azami at 37%. Only EUL beats APAC South with its 40%, with the BR6 and NAL clocking in at 33%.
While Elevate are confident, however, they are still with flaws. The biggest of those flaws, says Onigiri, is how much his team struggles to repel rushes.
“Even we know that they gonna rush for sure, but we cannot prepare it fast enough,” he elaborated. “That’s kind of the style we need to fix.”
Catch Elevate on the international stage again at the Berlin Major, which will run from Aug. 15 to 21.
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