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For our first ‘Team Insider’ piece, we took time to chat to 7AM team captain and co-founder Jody ‘Yoni’ Bruggeman. We asked him about his thoughts on 2019 and what 2020 will look like for himself and his team mates.

Team 7AM was founded early 2019 and saw a lot of growth and also some challenges along the way with Yoni not afraid to admit ‘It was shaky but at the time we had players that didn’t fit our vision or ideas, they had bigger plans and higher expectations. In some areas there were play styles that didn’t match and this was solved when Pieter and Henk joined us. So now we have a team with the same goals and vision for the future.’

September saw 7AM take part in their first big tournament as they qualified for the ESL Proximus championship, narrowly missing out on the offline finals it’s easy to see this was a valuable learning experience for the team. ‘It started slow with some big competition, we needed to warm to it’ Yoni admits. ‘We had good games against big teams and always took the positives and lessons from them. Yes, we were so close to the offline finals but all we can do is work to make it next time. Overall, we have grown as a team and learnt from the experience.’ Ending the tournament with noticeable buzz around the team and organisation Yoni added ‘It was a great opportunity to introduce ourselves to the scene in a positive way.’

In addition to their participation in the Proximus championship, 7AM also made their first appearance in an offline tournament attending Victory LAN. ‘Victory LAN was honestly one of the best weekends of my life, being able to meet my team mates and the management was a special experience. We didn’t necessarily give the best performance but we took so much out of it in just being able to bond as a team, being face to face with my team mates felt super natural. There were no characters just everyone as they are when they’re online.’

With an obvious path set for 7AM they still had tournaments outside the Benelux to compete in and further their development. Having participated in the last 2 splits held by Serenity Gaming, the results make for good reading and a positive indication of the teams competitive progress. ‘We played the first split and had some good competition (finishing 2nd) but by the next split it was very clear we had grown as a competitive team. It felt good to win and have a challenge from Team 2 in the final but I feel it is time to move on and challenge ourselves with better competition elsewhere.’ Who could argue with the points made by Yoni after 7AM finished the last split losing only a single game in as many as 11 matches?

When asked for some highlights Yoni commented ‘Whoa man, this is a tough one!’, with the last 8 months packed with so much positivity it’s understandable that this point of conversation took a moment! ‘For me what was really special was the whole Victory LAN event and specifically the on stream interview with Mark and presenter Hanaï. It’s something we had never done before and it felt like recognition for the team and an accomplishment as they were genuinely interested in who we are and our point of view. I’d also say Pieter and Henk joining us was a highlight too as they felt like the missing pieces in bringing the puzzle together. For 2019 in general my highlights are Liverpool winning the champions league and growing my hair long enough to maintain the perfect man bun.’

Moving on to 2020 we saw a shake up to the league system in the Benelux with the introduction of the Riot backed Dutch and Belgian leagues. 7AM submitted an application for a spot in the Belgian league but were unsuccessful. Something that could be seen as a negative has not shaken the team at 7AM. ‘Honestly, we always hoped for a spot but were well aware the chances were limited because we had no idea what teams or organisations would emerge. It would have pushed us a lot quicker towards our goals but we see the open tour as a viable route to the Belgian league and may be even better to develop as a team so we can really challenge the top teams. The road to our goals may be a bit longer than if we had been successful but our goals remain the same and we are very motivated’.

Team goals are very important but looking to 2020 it’s important to Yoni as team captain that he keeps the status quo within the team. When asked about his goals as a team captain Yoni commented ‘ I don’t necessarily have any certain criteria we need to meet in terms of play. It’s important we continue to grow and stay motivated, as long as we have that we will improve. It’s important people know we are working hard for it and we are not sat on our asses doing nothing and expecting things. It’s not like I’m telling the players that we need to get ourselves top spot or they are out, that is not the way we do things. We all know what is expected of each other and with hard work our goals will come. I see that as the key to success and a healthy mental that we focus on improving and not just results.’

With so much to look forward to with the team it’s easy to forget about what the game itself is bringing to 2020, we asked Yoni what he is looking forward to from the game and what he thinks about the pre-season changes ready for Season 10. ‘The new champs they have designed so far are really fun to play and watch, so they will be great for LCS/LEC and competition overall. The new dragon system is refreshing and adds a new feel to the game. Games are hard to stall now so it’s nice that teams will be rewarded for being proactive. I think this will improve the kill counter and make the game more exciting as objectives have been made more important. Overall games will be quicker and I think a lot more fun.’

To finalise we asked Yoni what he is excited for in 2020 in relation to the team to which he simply replied ‘ I always look forward to every single game we compete in’ adding for himself ‘I’m excited to see how the Dutch and Belgian leagues go, especially the competition and the production. I’m also looking forward to seeing how TSM do and if G2 can win worlds this year!’

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