After their success in the APL's 'The Kickoff', what's next for Sandrock Gaming?
Partnered with Psyonix, The APL’s ‘The Kickoff’ tournament saw teams from Asia and the Middle East go head to head, for a split $45,000, the largest prize pool for a competition in said regions. In a revolutionary weekend for the two regions, Sandrock Gaming and Team iXA were crowned champions, and both regions were highlighted for their vastly improved skills and thrilling matches.
Sandrock Gaming formed back in October 2019, acquiring the roster of Ahmad, oKhaliD and Senzo from Osh-Tekk Warriors. The trio had joined forces at Osh-Tekk a year prior and quickly became the best team in the Middle East, winning a multitude of tournaments including the Asia Pro League Season 3 Finals. Most recently they have competed and held their own against RLCS EU sides in the off-season tournaments, even coming second in the European Invitational where they beat Dignitas, Renault Vitality, and Team Singularity twice, before the latter got the better of them in the final. Sandrock has quickly become a notable force within the Middle East and Asia, and have shown that they have the potential to be a great side, if only they were given the opportunity to do so.
The Kickoff highlighted this. The Saudi-Arabian trio lost just one game of the four matches they played, coming out of the tournament as victors with a 14-1 record. Beating 5Head in the final, Sandrock looked to be a class above the pack, despite the overall improvement of the region. Competing in the European events has clearly paved their development, but with the exclusion of an ME/Asia route in RLCS X, there loom question marks over what is next for Sandrock. GGRecon caught up with SENZO after their success in The Kickoff…
GGRecon - Congratulations on your win, how do you think you performed overall and do you think the level of competition is improving in ME/Asia?
SENZO - Thank you, as a team then we performed pretty well, we tried to build more trust between each other and it seems to be helping. [In terms of the level of competition growing] I would say it is, but very slowly because we don't really have that many tournaments in both regions. This is why Asia and the Middle East aren't growing faster and don't have momentum or motivation to perform better. But I believe if Psyonix allows us to compete in RLCS then it would be a big motivation for Asia/ME community.
GGRecon - You came first in spectacular fashion. Do you feel that playing in tournaments like this and other competitions in Europe are allowing you to get better? Also, do you think tournaments like The Kickoff will help other teams in ME improve?
SENZO - Definitely, the more you play tournaments the better you will become as a team, I believe with similar tourneys such as The Kickoff are going be very useful to the regions and whether at getting better or growing fast.
GGRecon - After the recent news of RLCS X, do you think you proved a point this weekend that ME/Asia regions are good enough to be a part of the major tournaments?
SENZO - In my opinion, I think regardless whether we have to prove a point or not, we still deserve to be, at least allowed, to play like any other region. Also [we should be allowed] to get better at LANs and get better at the game in general, because right now every other region are stepping up and improving their stage in events, under pressure, when we're not. But we definitely proved a point to Psyonix that there are two regions trying to be part of the community and trying to get better worldwide.
GGRecon - Sandrock Gaming are now in a strange predicament. Can you shed any light on what's next for you as a team? Are you going to wait for an announcement on what will happen in ME/Asia or is there scope for you to enter the European RLCS X which you have done before?
Every new season of the RLCS, we hope that Psyonix announces that ME/Asia will have its own RLCS, or if not, [for us to be] able to play in different regions. We're losing hope but we won't give up. We're looking forward to what Psyonix have planned for the future, and we're very hyped for what's coming next hopefully. It's hard to compete with the Europe teams as they're improving every day when we don't have anything to compete for, and I'm not talking about a prize pool but a main purpose such as RLCS or competing worldwide.
However, myself, Asia and the Middle East community regions are very grateful to Psyonix for making The Kickoff, we hope nothing more than their support. I wanna thank the APL staff for making it easy for the players and casters, it is much appreciated.
Senzo, oKhaliD and Ahmad are a force to be reckoned with, and should their next steps involve an RLCS X feature or another LAN event dedicated to ME/Asia, they're definitely worth keeping an eye on.
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