Dark Sided are Australia’s Overwatch bridesmaids. They have never won a tournament in their one year existence (to the day), but they have also finished no worse than third.
They’ve always been at the top of the scene but never able to get a breakout victory. Come Saturday, they’ll be looking to make history.
The current Dark Sided roster has 2 players from every iteration of the roster. Punk and Mooney were part of the Space Retrievers roster Dark Sided signed at the end of August 2017. Space Retrievers, who split from Athletico in the middle of last year, were only together for a matter of weeks before being picked up by Dark Sided.
Molotov and Termo came into the squad at the start of Contenders Season 1 to replace Grafix and Nesty. The Dark Sided of Season 1 was painfully close to booking a ticket to the grand final, before being pipped by the Drop Bears in a 5 map thriller. While a few pundits considered this to be the true ‘grand final’ of last season, Dark Sided will want to make it all the way for Season 2.
To help them on their way, they acquired the services of Yuki and CantuS from last season’s grand finalist Masterminds GC to replace Swilko and usmc. This season they have looked dominant in the strong Group B, only dropping 3 maps in regular play. The addition of JohnGalt in the coaching department alongside Project has seemingly had a massive impact on Dark Sided, who look cleaner and more co-ordinated every week.
While their Lijiang Tower looked a bit shaky against Tainted Minds in the quarter final, they won the series convincingly to qualify for MEO. Having one of the most LAN hardened rosters in the league will certainly help come Saturday, where unprepared players could possibly face the dreaded LAN choke.
WATCH: DarkSided’s Yuki catches Masterminds in a rotation with an immaculate Dragonstrike in Week 1 of Contenders Australia Season 2.
Will the perennial bridesmaids of the Australian scene take their crown as the champions at the Melbourne Esports Open? I spoke with coach Nicholas “Project” O’Brien and flex support Zach “Molotov” Cesnik to find out.
This is the team’s first opportunity to play in front of a big crowd – any nerves?
Project: For me personally no. I think to get up to this stage any team has to be proud of their achievement. Going forward is a big ask for the players so I can understand that they might be feeling the pressure but they all have been to a LAN – this isn’t anyone’s first rodeo.
Molotov: Not just yet, but I’m sure once we arrive on the weekend and especially in the morning before our games it will start to hit everyone hard. Luckily, we have the benefit of playing the second series of the Saturday so will have extra time to take in the atmosphere and calm down.
How important has the addition of JohnGalt, Yuki and CantuS been to improve the team for Season 2? Do you think you have improved and where have you improved?
Project: John is definitely a hard worker. He has put in a lot of time and effort into helping the team improve, drafting strategies to help the team and helping the players fix mistakes. CantuS has been a good caller and Mercy for the team. He’s had some rocky transitions on heroes as the meta has shifted substantially but ultimately still a credit to the team.
It’s hard to track improvement as its hard for players themselves to actualise what is going wrong with their play and the team play in the middle of a scrim or game. That’s ultimately where the greatest challenge lies and that’s the hurdle that needs to be jumped.
Molotov: John has been the most integral part of our improvement as a team since the day he arrived. He puts in a tremendous amount of effort to analyse the game as well as our individual scrims and points of view in-game. He works well with Project as well; the two often bouncing observations and ideas off each other on the direction the team needs to take on improvement.
CantuS and Yuki coming in, on top of being gifted players in their own rights, shored up a few weaknesses of ours. These were mainly our use of consistent communication in terms of planning fights and ult tracking.
What has the preparation for LAN been like?
Project: Scrims, scrims and more scrims. Theory sometimes.
Molotov: LAN preparation has been much different this time around. Last season, we bootcamped at the CyberGamer studio in Adelaide for a week which was an absolute blast. However this time around we simply didn’t have the free time to do so with all members. Instead we have just been taking it one day at a time and focusing on shoring up our own play with about 4-5 hours together most days both scrimming and doing analysis.
If you get over ORDER, you will have a chance to play against Sydney Drop Bears in the final. After losing in the semis last season to them, what would it mean to get redemption on them?
Project: I think any team is working towards stopping Jordation from winning, getting back at them is just a plus.
Molotov: Last season was a real shame for us as we know if we got one more fight correctly or one more map against Sydney Drop Bears we would have taken the entire tournament. Getting redemption on Sydney Drop Bears would affirm the path we’ve taken this season was correct and that we can still take on what is now the tournament favourite despite their substantial improvement. However, we’re focusing on simply getting to the final before thinking of winning it.
Where do you see the future for Dark Sided heading?
Project: Who knows, I just watch the boys game and try offer suggestions. It’s always up to them with what they want to do and where they want to take themselves.
Molotov: I’m not sure to be honest. We have talent on this roster but often have trouble working together to show it off correctly. Depending on tournament performance, I’m sure most teams will go through some form of roster change after this LAN so I will just say that I hope to see Punk on a better team and JohnGalt as well as Project still coaching a top team.