Reckoning Esports Chasing Ascension: Committing Mistakes, Building Resilience, Cultivating Success
Taking small steps towards the final goal while growing as a team.
The Valorant Challengers League South Asia (VCL SA) is currently underway, posing a formidable challenge to all participating teams, pushing them to their limits. With high stakes at hand, teams have taken steps to strengthen their lineups by recruiting at least two overseas players, aiming for victory.
Reckoning Esports, like many other teams, underwent a major revamp in preparation for the tournament. The team’s new Indo-Russian lineup has garnered attention and impressed spectators showing significant improvement from to the ongoing .
Before embarking on their Split 2 journey, AFK Gaming had the opportunity to catch up with Reckoning Esports, learning how this international lineup came together, their overall Split 1 experience, preparations for the next stage, and thoughts on reaching .
Bringing the pieces together: Reckoning Esports builds an international roster
Reckoning Esports made a significant announcement regarding its Valorant roster on the day the VCL 2023 South Asia Split 1 commenced. However, the process of scouting and assembling the players had been underway well before that.
During this revamp, the organization decided to retain only one player from the previous lineup, Harsh "Harshhh" Arora, while also focusing their attention on Saksham "Deadly10" Aurangabadkar, who had initially started his Valorant journey with Reckoning Esports back in December 2021.
When it came to recruiting overseas players, Reckoning Esports Founder and Managing Director - Sharang “SharkyyBoss” Naicker shared that while several South Asian organizations were scouting talents from Southeast Asia (SEA), they wanted to explore beyond one specific region and hence turned towards Eastern Europe.
Having concentrated its focus on one region, Reckoning went on to sign its head coach, Evgenii “Esav” Savgabin, and then based on his recommendations acquired its two foreign players, Daniil “flabben” Merzlyakov and Aleksandr “hvoya” Eremin.
The final player to join the team was Varun “Mast3r” Menon, having impressed the selectors with his amazing performances during his 16-month stint with True Rippers Esports.
With the lineup finalized, Reckoning was eager to begin its preparations for the VCL 2023 SA Split 1. The team assembled at their bootcamp, and the international talents joined them during the first week of March. This allowed the players approximately two weeks to practice and establish cohesion as a team, ready to face formidable opponents from across South Asia.
A tournament of blunders: One step forward two steps back
Reckoning finished third in its group during the regular season, starting with two wins against Lethal Esports and Medal Esports, and finishing with two losses against Aster Army and Orangutan, barely managing to qualify for the upper bracket quarterfinals.
Reckoning experienced an unexpected loss against Aster Army during the VCL 2023 SA Split 1, one of the teams that qualified through the open qualifier. This defeat came as a surprise and dealt a significant blow to their morale. As the team's captain, Harshhh admitted, "We made a lot of mistakes individually and as a team, simple stuff that we usually don't."
Despite this setback, Reckoning gave its all in the final group stage encounter against Orangutan. Harshhh believed that the match could have gone their way, stating, "I know they won Split 1, but we put up a great fight against them. We could've won the series 2-0, you know. But it was a great game, and we played well. So, going into the playoffs, we had acknowledged the areas we needed to work on but we were pretty confident."
In the playoffs, Reckoning caused a stir by handing Gods Reign a surprising 2-1 defeat. This outcome was unexpected, as Reckoning managed to rattle the eventual grand finalists right from the opening bout.
Reflecting on this impressive comeback, flabben remarked, "Even after the first map loss in that series, we were confident and were able to bounce back by keeping our calm. One good thing about that match was the fact that God's Reign likes to play the same maps we do, so it was familiar territory for us."
Unfortunately, Reckoning failed to capitalize on its initial success and suffered consecutive defeats at the hands of Orangutan and Aster Army, with the scorelines reversed. The lower-bracket match against Aster Army proved to be particularly challenging for Reckoning, as Esav acknowledged that on paper, Aster Army was a strong team with solid fundamentals. However, their struggle against them primarily stemmed from the difference in map preferences.
Aster Army is a team that liked playing maps that we didn't - Split, Icebox, Haven. We were pretty good on Ascent, Lotus, Pearl, and Fracture. On the first map (Ascent), I think we made a lot of errors. The series could've been won 2-0 if we had won Ascent, which we had practiced extensively.Evgenii “Esav” Savgabin - Head Coach of Reckoning Esports
The haunting memories of their past performances brought Reckoning's Split 1 journey to a disappointing end. However, reflecting on the team's overall performance, hvoya honestly believed that they met the expected standards and were able to identify areas that required further improvement.
Regarding individual performances, hvoya highlighted that among all the competing teams, Reckoning offered the most flexibility in terms of individual roles. Players were willing to swap positions and roles across different maps. "Of course, there are things we need to work on, but I think we did justice to our roles," added hvoya.
Reforging the lineup, Relearning the strats: Stepping up their game
Following its 5th-6th place finish in Split 1, which earned the team prize money worth $2,000 USD (INR 1,65,545), Reckoning Esports displayed a strong desire for further success. The team made the most of the ten-day break before VCL 2023 South Asia Split 2 to make a significant roster change, replacing Mast3r with Jit "tryst" Choudhury, who transitioned to a substitute role.
Naicker explained that Mast3r practiced well with the team but things did not turn out as expected and hence they looked at tryst as a replacement. The 20-year-old had previously been a part of Reckoning for a year from Dec 2020-21. “The practice sessions with tryst improved the team as a whole, and our players were able to find more impact in their gameplay. Hence, we finalized tryst and within a week of tryouts decided to go ahead with him,” said Naicker.
This roster change proved fruitful as Reckoning achieved a 3-1 record in the group stage, securing victories against Revenant Esports, Velocity Gaming, and MLT Esports. However, Orangutan remained a formidable opponent for them.
The team's improvement provided a significant boost, having defeated some strong competitors along the way. Harshhh emphasized that this achievement was not solely due to the lineup change but also because the team actively addressed their shortcomings.
For starters, we're improving our map pool. Esav (head coach) has helped us identify some key mistakes in team play and even individual mistakes. As and when we play, our team chemistry obviously improves, so there is that. And we have Tryst with us now; it's been a good change for us as a team.Harsh "Harshhh" Arora - IGL of Reckoning Esports
Deadly10 and tryst praised Esav's strategic prowess, emphasizing his role in designing strategies, agent compositions, and maintaining map awareness. They commended Esav's comprehensive understanding of the team's mistakes and constant drive for improvement at both the team and individual levels.
Harshhh adds that it is the analysis of other teams and their playstyle provided by Kilobyte that helps Esav design his strategies to play against our opponents, “Small things that maybe don’t look so important to the average viewer, like when does a team prefer using Vandal over Phantom, and other such things, it helps decide a few strats or maybe even how we play certain anti-eco rounds.”
Reckoning Esports has made significant strides and implemented effective strategies, leading to improved results in Split 2. Unlike the previous split, the team has showcased dominance and comfortably secured a spot in the playoffs.
Esav emphasizes that the team adheres to its philosophy of taking things step by step. Their focus lies on the upcoming match, which, at the time of the interview, is against God's Reign in the upper bracket quarterfinals of the playoffs.
Esav states, "Obviously, we want to win it all as all teams do. But for us, as a team, we take it step-by-step, game-by-game." They aim to replicate their previous success against God's Reign, setting the stage for an exciting encounter with the team's rival, Aster Army.
Reckoning Esports is prepared and genuinely excited about the upcoming challenges. It remains intriguing to observe how far they will progress in Split 2, which resumes this week.