Team Queso may not have had a stellar run at the recently concluded Wild Rift Horizon Cup 2021, but the team remain undeterred.
Queso's squad were in pretty good spirits when Yahoo Esports Southeast Asia met them at Razer's SEA HQ last week.
The Razer-sponsored team joked around as they waited for their turn at an interview, likely eager to have somewhat left the confines of the hotel rooms they had spent a month in to avoid COVID-19.
In Singapore, where cases had surged to a few thousand daily, falling sick was the last thing on their minds as they played for the top prize of US$100,000 in the US$500,000 tournament.
Sadly, the team only managed a 7th to 8th placing and a US$30,000 prize.
But it's not a bad showing for a team that only formed in March this year, with a mix of veterans and fresh blood — such as former competitive chess player and Baron lane player Unai "Acolyte" Seoane.
Wild Rift presented an opportunity and was a game he liked better over Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, which he previously played as well.
"I feel like it's more competitive because it has more strategy and macro. Mobile Legends is more of a fighting game and your team. I found that Wild Rift suits me better and I like it more because I can compete," said Acolyte.
Chess and Wild Rift, he added, were similar, as they required a player to be able to anticipate the movements of their opponent.
While obviously the skills required are different, Acolyte said that chess has helped him think about his moves more and helps him to stay ahead of his opponent.
One thing that Acolyte highlighted was the difference between the competition at the Horizon Cup and in Europe was the playstyle, and he found that there was less macro and strategy overall.
In fact, he found that the teams in Spain "were not very good" at Wild Rift and playing at the Horizon Cup was a whole new level for the team.
"We usually study the meta of Asia and be more comfortable about the style of play as Asian teams are better overall," said Acolyte.
His teammate, Tobias "memorized" Andy Orendi, the only German in the team, agreed.
"We would like to play more against the Chinese teams because they are incredible in their mechanics and mindset, like they always want to be the best. That's something you can learn from," said the support player.
Having been a professional Arena of Valor player with fellow teammate Ivan "Ibu" Rodriguez, memorized made the switch because of the lack of tournaments when he was competing.
Turning to Wild Rift made sense for him as there seemed to be more interest in this relatively new and upcoming game.
"The higher the player base, the more skilled players you have. Spain is smaller than Europe, and so the competition is much less competitive. At the Horizon Cup, you have the best team for each region, so the level of play is way higher here. It's a huge step up from Europe, to be honest."
Not giving up
With Horizon Cup 2021 being the precursor to next year's Wild Rift yet unnamed world championship, Team Queso's performance so far will probably see them return to try again.
It's something the team is already looking forward to.
First time rookie, and youngest in the team, jungle player 18-year-old Andrés "Andreszed" Liu, is already setting his sights on glory.
"In five years, I hope to be a world champion at least once, and if possible, more than once, as that will be the best," said Andreszed.
"Even though we lost quite early in the tournament, it will help everyone to become better and improve for the following years."
Aloysius Low is an ex-CNET editor with more than 15 years of experience. He's really into cats and is currently reviewing products at canbuyornot.com