It’s the year of the Drop Bear. They were out for blood after dropping a map to SereNity in the quarter-finals and no one escaped their grasp at Melbourne Esports Open where they claimed their second Contenders Australia title.
Sydney Drop Bears was a team built for Contenders Australia. After Kings Gaming Club parted ways with the highly successful 4Legs roster, they were quickly swooped up by Sydney Drop Bears.
While tongue (Blank Esports), Termo (Dark Sided) and Yuki (also known as animefan, Masterminds and now Dark Sided) left the team, they rebuilt with a strong selection of players left behind by the transition from community tournaments and Contenders.
Their Season 1 Squad, made up of Jordation, Quatz, Shoyo, Bertlog, Akraken, Billa and Face finished second in the group stages behind Masterminds. Coming into playoffs, they were regarded as one of the best teams in the region. Coming out, almost all doubts were erased. The Drop Bears dominated the playoffs, getting their revenge against Masterminds in a stunning 4-0 performance in the Grand Final to be crowned Season 1 champions.
Heading into Season 2, Face stepped back into a coaching role, while Billa was replaced by ColourHex. With this roster, they have looked almost unbeatable. Their performance in Season 2 Contenders has been one of the most dominant across all regions.
The first team to have a perfect 20-0 season globally, they are considered one of the best – if not the best – team in the region. Now after the finals, they boast a 31-2 complete season record, if you count the Eichenwalde map they played against Kanga which was deemed invalid after an admin error.
Their performance in finals was dominating. In their series against Kanga, they never looked in doubt, putting their week of preparation at the Esports High Performance Centre to good use. Then in the grand final against Dark Sided, they took it up another level with the entire team shining brightly on the Rod Laver Arena stage.
The team have been awarded for their efforts. Akraken secured a spot over the man he replaced, Tongue, in the Australian World Cup squad for 2018. Quatz and Bertlog made the top 12 for selection, but barely missed out. Colourhex is becoming the first New Zealander to play in North America after joining Toronto Esports, but with the quality of the rest of the Drop Bears that might not be the only move.
WATCH: Colourhex picks up 5 on Pharah, dominating Dark Sided on Ilios at the Melbourne Esports Open.
Anything less than back-to-back wins would have been a failure, and with a week to digest the win, I spoke to Sam “Face” Merewether about playoffs, their preparation and the future.
First of all, congratulations on winning for a second season running. I’ve jokingly said before that you had one of the least enthusiastic celebrations after winning a major tournament, but how does everyone feel one week on?
Honestly we are just happy to get the result we wanted. The only goal we had in mind for this season was winning and anything less was a failure. When we lifted the cup, there was a lot of relief for me personally. I didn’t take notice of the crowd, I was just focused on making sure we got the win.
How much did the replay of Eichenwalde/Kings Row affect the team against Kanga?
It was a brief annoyance, but it was clear we’d have to play another so we just concentrated on the next map. The players were moving onto the last map (Temple of Anubis) so it was just unexpected we’d have to play Kings. Our confidence didn’t change, we just had to play an extra map and winning a 4-0 in a best of 5 sounds great anyway.
With Colourhex off to NA now, there’s a hole in your DPS lineup. Which player would you want the most to fill the void?
Colourhex is a great player. He will be very hard to replace but there are some great options and I’m confident we’ll get the best option. As for specifics, you’ll have to wait and see.
Dark Sided have given you two hotly contested affairs in both seasons of Contenders. How much do you respect them as a team?
Dark Sided are an extremely disciplined and cohesive team that puts in a lot of hard work. Combine that with a couple of star players who always perform insanely well under pressure and they’re always going to be a great opponent to play.
Akraken is on the OWWC roster for Australia – how much has he grown since joining SDB?
Before us he really had close to no experience with teams but since joining us he’s really embraced it and transformed himself as a player. All the credit goes to him though – no player works harder and takes such a disciplined and focused approach to improving. It might have seen like he came out of nowhere but if people learnt about his approach it would make sense.
A bit early to call, but do you think you can go 3 seasons in a row? Do you see yourselves being challenged next season as the region grows in strength?
You always get challenged but our expectations will be to win. The region is going through a bit of a reshuffle now so it’ll be interesting to see where the cards fall but I don’t see why we can’t hold our place at the top.
You guys had the best preparation heading into MEO with your bootcamp at the EHPC. What did you get up to while over there and how much did it help you for the time LAN came around?
If nothing else, the bootcamp was an opportunity to focus purely on the game. Everyone has their own thing going on in life normally and we get one week where we can focus purely on the game and improving. Players and coaches can instantly provide feedback to each other, to teach and learn from each other at a much faster rate. That was the best part about it.