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Wolves and the BO3 jigsaw: Longer format a key puzzle to solve for Wolves Esports heading into Six Invitational 2023

Wolves Esports are headed to the Six Invitational with a huge BO3 problem to solve.

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Banner image: Ubisoft / Kirill B.

Wolves Esports' consistency throughout 2022 was impressive and awarded the wolfpack with well-deserved tickets to Montreal, Canada, where they will fight to bring the hammer home.

Alongside w7m esports, the Europeans were the only team to qualify for every international event played in 2022. There, an early group stage exit from the Six Charlotte Major was followed by two quarter-final eliminations in the Six Berlin Major and the Six Jönköping Major.

But that's not to diminish an outstanding online season played by the Wolves. The French-majority roster finished at the top of the European League regular standings with 56 points, leaving us with some great moments such as their five-game win streak at the start of Stage 2.

However, at international competitions, Wolves have only been exceptional in group stages. After struggling in Charlotte, they finished in second place in Berlin in a group shared with the BR6 and NAL Stage 2 champions, w7m esports and Oxygen Esports, respectively. Meanwhile, in Sweden, the roster finished in first place after a surprising first-day win against FaZe Clan.

While they did well in group stages, which have a BO1 format, Wolves Esports' struggles were prominent in BO3 games. In Berlin, the pack was sent home after a 0-2 defeat against XSET. A few months later, in Sweden, the roster fell to the eventual champions Team BDS by the same score. To cap it off, at the European League Finals, they also lost to MNM Gaming -- a team they had the measure of in the regular season.

On paper, this stands as six maps played in BO3 games this season at top-flight competitions all with the same ending -- six regulation losses.

Six Berlin Major
0-2 XSET (Club 5-7, Chalet 4-7)
Six Jönköping Major
0-2 Team BDS (Oregon 4-7, Kafe 5-7)
European League Finals
0-2 MNM Gaming (Kafe 2-7, Skyscraper 3-7)

In a competition like the Six Invitational, where teams are expected to play three or even more BO3 games and a BO5 grand-final, consistency in this format is essential to survive.

"We definitely have something with BO3s, it's very difficult to say because I don't think we have that a bad veto ban," revealed Wolves Esports IGL Valentin "risze" Liradelfo in an interview with SiegeGG ahead of the Six Invitational.

However, risze also denied this was a problem related to pressure.

"If you look at the group stage at every single Major, we have always pulled great performances," he said. "I think it's just like we are a super good BO1 team because we know how to start well in a map, and maybe BO3s slows that down, I think we just need to find our momentum in these BO3s to start fast very quickly and keep the resilience we usually have."

The pack couldn't progress further the group stage in Charlotte, but it made it to the quarter-finals in the Six Berlin Major. However, though that was an improvement, risze stated that he had given the reins of leadership to the rest of the team and that he now views that as a big mistake.

"We had, in my opinion, not the same direction with my lead, I kinda gave it away to [Nicolas "P4" Rimbaud], he had his idea," he shared. "And I believed that was the good thing, so that's my bad, I take full responsibility for the quarters in Berlin, I think the group was doing great and I didn't manage to bring it to the semi-finals that we deserved."

As for the team's loss to the eventual champions in Jönköping, risze was to the point. "I think they were just better, they played better than us, and they outgunned us every single round."

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Nevertheless, the Wolves roster has some of the most experienced players in the scene, like Bastien "BiBooAF" Dulac and risze. However, the roster was only completed one year ago with the signing of Yanis "Mowwwgli" Dahmani, who has been playing as the team's main entry fragger.

Coming from the Challenger League, Mowwwgli adapted to the EUL quickly. Although his best entry numbers in the European League were seen during Stage 1, where he ended with a 25-19 (+6) record, his best SiegeGG Rating was a 1.23 in Stage 2. In Stage 3, Mowwwgli's SiegeGG Rating went down to 1.01, which was followed by a Rating of 0.98 at the Jönköping Major.

"I believe Mowwwgli is an amazing player and he knows what to work on," said risze of his young teammate. "What Mowwwgli really needs is just consistency. We are also trying to work on that as a team because you can't ask a fragger to ask every single match, every single day."

Meanwhile, BiBooAF was one of the most consistent players this year, finishing every stage with SiegeGG Ratings of 1.01, 1.24, and 1.21. The Frenchman will now finally return to the Six Invitational after his last appearance in Montreal was for Supremacy five years ago.

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Wolves Esports have been drawn in Group B alongside Team Liquid, Soniqs, MNM Gaming, and Dire Wolves. This means that the European squad will face Dire Wolves again, who they also played recently at the Jönköping Major. They will also face MNM Gaming a month and a half after their defeat to the marshmallows at the European League Finals.

After a full year with no BO3 victories, the odds that Wolves lift the Caber in Montreal are low. However, with the off-season, they have had plenty of time to fix their mistakes. On paper, they have the team to win -- it's just a matter of finding the consistency to do it.

Catch Wolves Esports next week at the Six Invitational 2023, starting from Feb. 7.

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