Competition in the Rainbow Six Siege Invitational 2021 is hotting up with each of the 19 teams battling it out for the top spot. One of those teams is the underdog Mkers who have seen a turbulent few months of players rotating in and out of the roster.
Since it was formed in 2018, the Italian team has achieved several well-earned victories in qualifier events. While they were hoping to achieve more at the Invitational 2021, the team was unfortunately knocked out in round two of the lower bracket by Team SoloMid.
“It’s hard to prepare for something you’ve never done”
We spoke to Diego Hicham Aazzi, the esports manager for the Mkers about what it was like for the team to approach the Invitational 2021. The huge tournament was the first of its kind for the Mkers, which made preparation tricky for the team.
“it’s hard to prepare for something you’ve never done. But we are sure of our method, sure of the fact that, with this pandemic, we had to prepare this event on the game plan but above all on the mental aspect and this helped us to remain solid in our first live event in a difficult situation due to the pandemic,” says Aazzi.
Esports training in a pandemic proves challenging
Much like the rest of the esports professionals we’ve spoken to, the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t done esports training regimes any favours. G2’s Kayak told us that the lockdown restrictions didn’t affect him too much, though he certainly didn’t enjoy missing out on boot camps and LAN events.
Aazzi confirms that the pandemic proved challenging for the Mkers, though they’ve done their best to persevere in the run-up to the Invitational: “Adapting to a pandemic and the resulting restrictions is always very difficult. We are aware that it has been and will be a difficult year for everyone. Consequently, we have been careful to make sure that it does not affect our heads and our approach. This has allowed us to maintain a constant line on the pitch and in life.”
Another area where the Mkers is struggling is with keeping a concrete roster. Most of the players signed on towards the end of 2020, but the team has seen several departures of coaches and management in recent months.
Since February, the team has lost a coach, mental coach, and team manager. ‘Ablanz’ signed on to coach the Mkers in mid-March, only to leave again just a few weeks later.
This turbulent time for the esports team can’t be doing its players any favours. We asked Aazzi how this had affected the team dynamic. He responded: “Each growth path is full of difficulties, you can swing without falling and this is what we do. We remain standing, aware of our goals and strong in our abilities.”
Despite the unsettled nature of the Mkers management, the team are fully aware of their strengths and weaknesses as a team. Overall, the team has a very low average age of around 19. The lack of experience is something that the team is building on, Aazzi explains: “Personally I think that the weakness of this team is the little experience that we are cultivating day by day. The strength instead is the group and the perseverance with which it works.”
Aazzi has big plans for the underdog team
The Mkers are only just getting started with this fairly junior roster, but Aazzi is sure that they’ll be sticking together for a while. When asked about where he thought the team would be in 12-months time, Aazzi said, “the only certainty we have is that we will still be together, we will be Mkers. The rest is a consequence of the work we will do and we are sure that we will be where we deserve to be.”
From the way that Aazzi describes it, it seems as though the team is incredibly close. We asked what the team gets up to outside of esports.
“Each of us has different hobbies, there are those who love sports, those who are following school paths and those who dream of travelling the world. What unites the different things is the desire to be together outside the game and try to gain experiences, all together.”
Wherever the esports scene takes the Mkers next, they’ll surely go with a tight-knit sense of community. It’s often relationships like those that breed the best sorts of teamwork in sports.
For more Rainbow Six Siege esports interviews, check out our chat with NaVi’s Doki. The team recently took the champion crown at the UK Ireland National tournament.
[Featured Image Credit: Ubisoft/Mkers]
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