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"We’ve proven to ourselves that we are capable of winning": Sloth, Heroic ready for next level of competition in Charlotte

Heroic come to Charlotte as Europe's top seed. Can they reach their potential?

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Image courtesy of Heroic

Nearly a year after qualifying for a Major that they’d never play in, Jake “Sloth” Brown and the former cowana Gaming core are finally heading to a Major.

Last year’s first stage was full of surprises in all regions. Europe was no different. NAVI lead the league, cowana came third, and top-four mainstays like G2 and Team Empire were far from Major qualification. However, the Six Invitational was postponed, robbing cowana of their chance to debut internationally.

One year later, they’re not just back after a sixth and seventh-place finish in stages two and three, respectively, they’re thriving.

The addition of Aleksi “UUNO” Työppönen and a new, stable home under the Heroic banner have made the difference, Sloth says. “Aleksi brings so much more versatility .. he’s so much better at enabling individuals.”

“For me, personally, he’s brought a lot for me,” Sloth continued. “He’s like a rock … someone if I’m struggling a little bit, I talk to a little bit.”

The pair work closely together in Heroic’s new structure – with UUNO acting as the enabler and main communicator. Sloth says that’s one of the factors for the increase in his individual statistics – the other factor was almost being dropped. “After split two, I was basically told to get my shit together or I’m gone,” Sloth said. “I completely understood and agreed.”

Sloth’s improvement on an individual level is observable. A .94 SiegeGG Rating on Ash and Jager during the second stage of 2021 became a 1.04 with a positive kill to death ratio. That Rating is now a 1.19.

And as Sloth has improved, so has Heroic. The team skyrocketed straight to the number one spot in EUL Stage 1 of 2022 – they’re officially Europe’s best chance on paper to take home a title. Sloth is fourth in the league in SiegeGG Rating, behind only the region’s brightest stars. At one point he lead the league in Rating.

The switch came after he realized that EUL is not Challenger League. Sloth says he had to change up his playstyle drastically, he essentially needed to just stop peeking and take things slowly. With his renaissance comes Heroic’s. Pairing up with a solid IGL like UUNO has had the effect of throwing gasoline on a fire.

However, lately, Europe as an entire region has struggled in international events. They haven’t won an S-Tier event since NAVI won Pro League Season 10 Finals in Tokoname, given, there have been four canceled international events between then and now. BDS and Team Empire have been solid, but after Empire gutted their roster and BDS have struggled recently. New G2 looks promising but is unproven, same as Heroic to a slightly lesser degree. Rogue looked great at times during the stage, but still had to scrap on the final day to even qualify.

Heroic certainly appears to be Europe’s best chance at another Major title. They’re number one in the region, and have looked almost clinical in some of their regional matches. However, only UUNO has competed at an international level – it’ll be the first go-around for four Heroic players.

“If we’re going to win it, we’re going to win it,” Sloth said. “We shouldn’t feel like we need to go out there and win it. If we’re good enough, we’ll win it. If we’re not good enough, then we will lose.”

There’s no telling how a team with four new players will react to their first international LAN. The lights may be a bit too bright – there’s a chance this team could crash, burn, but learn from their experiences. Heroic, as a team, are set up to make more Majors as time goes on, failure at the first isn’t the end of the world for them as a team. Sloth says they don’t feel any pressure to put on the cape for the region.

“We’ve proven to ourselves that we are capable of winning, we are capable of coming first [regionally],” he said. The next step is the Charlotte Major.

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