2020, what a year. It wouldn’t be farfetched to say Team 7AM’s journey has been a rather tumultuous one, with many valuable lessons notched under the ‘esports journey’ belt! From the highs of making the playoffs in the first split in the Belgium League, to the terrible pandemic affecting everyone worldwide.
Before signing off from 2020 -good riddance!- and wishing everyone both “Merry Christmas!” and “Happy New Year!”, let’s take a walk through their maiden campaign in the Belgium League and recount some brilliant moments before we walk through the doors to 2021.
Slow and steady?
For those a little newer to 7AM’s journey, most of the players have played together for some time, especially with Vinnie, Henk and Mark. Despite prior experience, entering the newly formed Belgium League, whereby the winner feeds into the prestigious European Masters (EUM), presented a different kettle of fish.
“In the beginning, we leaned a bit too much into scaling picks and we made some silly mistakes.”HenkHenkerson
The first four weeks were not the easiest for the team, going 1-4 and dropping to last in the standings. Many of their performances were down to nervousness and crucial mistakes during critical moments, and their sole win was against Brussels Guardians in Week 2. Of course, facing defending Belgian champions Sector One and Night’s vaunted Ryze, who went 9-2-2 that game, didn’t exactly help stoke the fires of confidence for 7AM, who were now in last place.
They needed a spark to blaze their way to the top.
Sector One? Sector NONE!
7AM’s patience would eventually pay off. In the marathon of eight weeks for the Belgium League, they didn’t need to sprint to the finish. From Week 5 onwards to the end of the regular season, 7AM made their opponents set their alarms to their namesake: Because it was 7AM all the time on the Rift, starting with their revenge against RSC Anderlecht in a tense match, whom they lost to in their match in Week 1.
They would go on to defeat Brussels Guardians once more, lose to KV Mechelen Esports once more, but most importantly, play arguably the game of the Summer Season in Week 7 against Sector One. Revenge was on the menu.
This game had everything: with midlaner Henk picking Electrocute Nunu in the midlane against Night’s Rzye, to both teams constantly trading an eye for an eye, to 7AM’s amazing comeback and that legendary base race! Vinnie and CutieKatie’s heroic base defense sealed their victory.
Caster Chronicler’s cries of “NEE!” in utter disbelief and Xsodus’ exuberant exclamations at that ending should be immortalised in the Belgium League Hall of Fame, and paints how significant this victory was. It was also arguably the game which sealed 7AM’s spot in the summer playoffs.
This put them at 4-5 at Week 7 and their closest rivals, RSCA at 3-6, needed to defeat Sector One in Week 8 and for 7AM to lose to Aethra Esports. Unfortunately for 7AM, they did lose to Aethra but unluckily for RSCA, Sector One returned with the fury of a scorned champion and dismantled their opposition.
“I wasn’t really expecting to beat S1 but I was confident that we would be able to take a win if we went all or nothing. Also, I’ve never screamed that loudly after a win and it’s probably fair to say the same for my teammates as well”HenkHenkerson
Playoffs against Aethra
Making playoffs and a top four regular season finish would be considered a success for their first foray into unknown territory, but the lure to reach the dizzying heights of making it to semi-finals or even the finals is a temptation hard to resist. Despite a spirited performance against Aethra in Week 8, 7AM had not managed to beat them all season long and the team would desperately hope for a reverse in fortunes as they met again.
Unfortunately for 7AM, their Achilles Heel in Aethra would stop the alarm clocks resonant chimes, and end the fairytale dreams to fly higher. The series was challenging. Aethra support Bardo had a 100% Bard ban levied at him the entire year, and 7AM knew they had to ban Slyv3r’s Heimerdinger. Game one saw Yoni’s Karthus constantly targeted, finishing the game at 6-9-5. Despite getting the Ocean Soul, Aethra would win the crucial fights and eventually took the win at 35 minutes.
Game two gave the 7AM faithful a modicum of hope to cling on to as both teams held even till the mid-game, with CutieKatie’s Karthus jungle hopefully outscaling Aethra and turning into an unignorable menace. But alas, it was not meant to be. Aethra would win the fight to claim the Mountain Soul, took their first Baron Nashor after and never looked back, sealing a dominant win at 28 minutes and taking the series 2-0.
Sector One would ultimately win the summer season and move on to EUM and Team 7AM finished fourth. A bittersweet ending in a year fraught with external issues.
To all ends, new beginnings
7AM are not a team or an organisation that wallows in the immutable past, and they constantly move forward. From bringing smiles to many with their participation in the “Benelux vs. UK” event with memes and players, to their hugely successful organisation of the Benelux Charity Showdown event that brought together the community for a good cause, raising over £3,000.
Henk has also announced his retirement since then and his presence will be sorely missed. But before the year ends, Team 7AM -like the famous lines at the end of the Marvel’s Avengers movies- will return in the Belgium League in 2021, alongside both new and old faces alike.
As Idris Elba said in Pacifim Rim, “Reset that clock!”. It’s time to put your alarms at 7AM once again and await it’s booming ring for the anticipation of the new season.
Remember, the time here is 7AM all the time, every time!
A new year approaches, and the grind never stops for the competitive sector of esports. But as the days get colder and the holiday season approaches, Team 7AM wishes everyone safe journeys to those who can visit their loved ones and our thoughts to those who cannot.
Thanks to Megalodontus for putting this piece together – Megalodontus 🦈 (@Megalodontus) / Twitter