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The Tale of Temperate: The Ultimate Underdog Story

Temperate's Insomnia win capped off a rollercoaster journey for the core since its inception at the start of the year, this is their story.

by arnie

The significance of Temperate’s win at Insomnia 69 cannot be lost on anyone who has followed their journey since the core came together. The team had failed to find a major breakthrough for the best part of six months, failing to make it through open qualifiers for both the Beyond UKIC cup and the SteelSeries Nova Cup UK & IRL (BLAST). Many thought that Insomnia would be the last chance for this five to show that it was worth sticking together. Coming into the tournament with a mixture of bad form and seemingly cursed by bad luck, you would be hard-pressed to find someone bold enough to have put them as the tournament’s winners. Yet they won.

The story for Temperate’s Insomnia win feels like one of those magical non-league FA cup runs, having to fight through the lower bracket and then reverse sweeping, what is widely considered, the third-best team in the UK. Everything clicked for the team and for one tournament, at least, they have shown the heights that this roster can reach. This result could well be a flash in the pan, a level that the squad will struggle to reach again in the future but it will inspire confidence in a team that has been so near yet so far for the best part of 2022. I’d like to invite you onboard to join me on the rollercoaster ride that has been Temperate’s journey since the start of the year and their breakthrough result at Insomnia 69.

The Journey Begins

The core came together at the start of the year, in January 2022. Man-Ho “mrhui” Hui and Emyr “eMy” Green would be the veteran partnership and backbone of the squad, in the vein of the long-term partnerships of Patrik “f0rest” Lindberg and Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund or Wiktor “TaZ” Wojtas and Filip “NEO” Kubski. The pair played their first HLTV matches together in 2018 under 3era in the Grosvenor Championship season 1 and were reunited on XENEX (later becoming AURA) in the middle of 2021. Joining them would be former teammates Lewis “Ziimzey” Coleman and Josh “Yoshwa” Ryley. For their fifth, the team would give a chance to 19-year-old IGL Marco “MMS” Salomone who at the time had only played seven matches at the ESEA Main level. 

The move came about due to Ziimzey and MMS having known each other for a number of years after going to the same school. In what would become a theme for the roster’s recruitment style, they lent into playing with a player that they knew, despite the perceived lack of experience and quality. In the space of four seasons, MMS had made the jump from Open to Main and many questioned whether it would be a step too far, especially as the IGL was brought on as a rifler, not a caller. However, in his short time within the scene MMS had developed a reputation as a hard worker, and this in combination with Ziimzey’s friendship gave him a place on the roster.

                 MMS was the last part of the TLR team that would become the core for Temperate 

It took about a month of practice before the team signed with an org, and in signing with The Last Resort they only amped up the expectations for the roster. TLR are one of the historical organisations of UKCS. Their first HLTV entry for CSGO was at Insomnia54 in 2015, with a roster represented by a famous face in Joshua “steel” Nissan. The chance to represent a prestigious name within the scene didn’t seem to trouble the squad, as they posted some promising early results. Their first big test would be the February EPIC.LAN, EPIC35, where the team would test themselves against some of the best in the domestic scene.

Early promise

EPIC35 started off strong for the roster, the team breezed through their groups undefeated. Despite a loss to EKO in the upper bracket, the match was close enough for the team to carry some confidence into their lower-bracket run. They would be foiled by a bit of rough luck. After losing out to future finalists EKO they ran into DUSTY in the lower bracket, the Icelandic team would prove too strong for the TLR squad and ended up winning the whole event. The fifth-sixth place finish was not to be sniffed at. The team had put together an undefeated group run and lost to both finalists, not to mention it was their first LAN as a five. With a limited map pool, it would always be a tough ask to get a higher finish but it showed the promise that the lineup had.

With ESL Premiership Spring around the corner, it was the perfect time for the team to find form. EPS is the pinnacle of UK Counter-Strike. A chance for teams to battle it out for a spot at the conference league, where qualification for the prestigious ESL Pro League is up for grabs. With teams like Endpoint, Into the Breach, FAMBIT (now the EKO core), EKO (old lineup), Heaven & Hell, and ROYALS the EPS Spring season would be one of the most competitive in years. With that in mind, the team went into it expecting very little. After all, the spot was a freebie having been retained from the old AURA team. In a group with the kings of EPS themselves Endpoint, a FAMBIT roster that in 2021 had earned their first international LAN win (under coalesce), and a Heaven & Hell roster that had the core of the future 1PIN roster. The team was schooled by Endpoint and FAMBIT but an impressive 16-14 win over H&H was followed by wins over Lucent esports and NeverBrokeAgain. 

This gave the squad a third-place finish in the groups and set them up with a play-off match against BLVKHVND. BLVKHVND would become a rival for the, then, TLR roster as the community would compare the two teams’ progress through the year. To add to the rivalry, the Fraser “Frazehh” Sollom-led team would spoil multiple tournament runs for eMy and co. TLR would fall 16-11, 16-9. The fifth-sixth finish meant the team would hold onto their spot for the Autumn season and whilst disappointed with the loss to BLVKHVND, it was another encouraging result.

Gaining momentum

In April they had another chance at a UK LAN. In what was one of the most stacked iSeries in recent years, with arguably the three best teams in the country, at the time, in attendance in ITB, FAMBIT, and EKO. The best the other teams could hope for would be the fourth place spot, which because of a slightly odd prize pool split would offer up £800. TLR were dealt a blow before the tournament even got underway, unable to attend with their full lineup as one of their core members eMy would be away. This led to them having to pick a stand-in, they chose Oscar “AZUWU” Bell who at the time hadn’t quite burst onto the scene in the way he has since. In fact, MMS has said he had reservations about playing with the young rifler since he was a bit of an unknown quantity.

The team had lost a key piece in their puzzle in eMy, but AZUWU’s firepower managed to help make up for it. TLR managed to fight their way to the second round of the upper bracket, but a 2-0 loss to the FAMBIT team meant they would have to pull off a lower bracket run in order to make the top-four and HLTV. Wins against Temperate and Aimerlegion led them to play EKO slayers for a spot in the top four. They required all three maps but managed to get the game over the line. Without their full roster, the team had secured a top-four finish, £800, and HLTV. Only they hadn’t, because amongst the myriad of issues that plagued Insomnia 68 the tournament hadn’t been submitted to be added to HLTV. Despite this and another super close but ultimately unsuccessful three-mapper against Oscar “LVN” Levin’s EKO, the team could once again take heart from the placement.

Switching things up

However, in May the team decided to pull the trigger on their first roster change. The team felt that Ziimzey wasn’t putting in enough extra effort outside of turning up and playing the game. Although the team were posting consistent placements, they needed an extra push to break the ceiling they had reached. Ziimzey’s removal came just at the start of the new ESEA season and without time to confirm a permanent fifth, the team decided to trial Mohamad “Ducky” Nourelden (now with XRAVEL) as a stand-in for the first set of ESEA matches. The matches went well, sitting undefeated at the top of Main whilst playing with Ducky. Despite this, TLR went a different route. Reegan “ReegaN” Ward became available after the dissolution of his former team and the team decided to pick up him up. Once again the team favoured the known quantity in choosing ReegaN, who had played with eMy before, over picking up a player they had only played with for a few games.

                                                ReegaN was brought in to replace Ziimzey

A further blow was dealt to the team as Yoshwa decided it was time to hang up his mouse just a week later. It would not be easy to find a replacement for Yoshwa and figure out how the roles would work on the team. After assessing their options the team decided that they would move eMy to the AWP role, a big change for a player who had rifled the majority of his career. Both Rhys “Rhys” Stumbles and Harry “moshi” Raines were considered but were unsure of whether to leave their current projects. It was then that ReegaN brought up Beau “fluFFs” Newton his ex-teammate, once again a known quantity. It seemed like a no-brainer for the team: fluFF’s would fill the anchor roles, he had good experience despite his age and was a positive vocal player.

An early sign of the inconsistency the team would become synonymous with would present itself in their rocky form in the ESEA season, from 6-0 to 10-4 including a double-match day in which they lost both games. There was always going to be an adjustment period with the role shift within the team, one of the benefits of the team being built on solid friendships is that it allows for patience and understanding in a business that is usually cutthroat. eMy was still adapting to being a dedicated AWPer, ReegaN was adjusting to his newfound freedom, and fluFFs was still integrating into the system. Ultimately the team made the ESEA playoffs but missed out on being able to challenge for an Advanced spot.

Teething Troubles

The next significant tournament in the calendar for the TLR lineup would be July’s EPIC36, where the team would look to recover from their play-off disappointment by putting on a good show against some of the UK’s best talent. The roster was thrown a curveball when TLR decided to drop the squad before the tournament. The move and how it was communicated left a bad taste in the mouths of many who watched the events unfold. The team had been offered new contracts and were set to sign them before being told they no longer would be a part of the organisation. TLR’s reasoning was strenuous at best with some seemingly minor grievances, such as not sending them match times among them. The TLR squad became orgless, with a LAN around the corner and some question marks in their future.

Temperate stepped in to help the team as a temporary solution for EPIC36, and the team would go by ETERNAL PAIN in ESEA, following the trend of UK teams taking spins on professional team names. EPIC36 started as expected for the team, 4-0 in groups after their first four matches. A loss in their final group game meant they would have to play eventual winners Cai “CYPHER” Watson’s mix in the upper bracket semi-final. There was a clear sign that something was disconnected within the team when Dust2, their perma-ban, was allowed through the veto and abused by the mix team. This veto blunder was an example of one of the lingering questions about the roster. Their mental game was exploitable and, if weaponised, could damage the team’s performance.

This was maybe most obvious in the consolidation final against BLVKHVND. Temperate went 13-9 ahead on their opponent’s map pick of Vertigo, only to throw it away and lose 14-16. Then on their choice, Nuke, the team threw away match point at 15-14, after coming back from 12-14 down, and would lose in overtime 19-16. Frazehh’s massive 100 ADR performance shouldn’t be overlooked, but having sat behind the Temperate team as the maps slipped out of their grasp it was impossible not to notice some issues in the team. A lack of communication and a negative mood infected the team, it seemed like the community’s fears regarding their mental strength were coming true.

Cracks in the team were beginning to show, particularly in relation to the team’s failure to close out games and subsequent mentality issues. ReegaN was undoubtedly a talented player, but he failed to impress when it mattered, and to compound the issue his negative mindset was affecting the team. MMS has since said that after EPIC it got so bad that he was beginning to not want to play with the young rifler, that when ReegaN gets into this head space he becomes extremely difficult to play with. The team could have made a roster change, but they gave the young rifler extra time. With ReegaN making a commitment to improving his attitude and the squad being officially signed to Temperate, the team looked forward to a month of open qualifiers and another UK LAN Insomnia 69.

A month to forget

With ReegaN moving back home and eMy away, the team had no practice from 10th July-24th July. Whether it was due to this break or the continued bad luck that seemed to follow the roster, the team’s results fell off a cliff in August. In the first qualifier for the Beyond UKIC summer cup, the team started well. They breezed through their first matches but halfway through both mrhui and fluFFs couldn’t play, Ethan “EjR” Ross and James “bevve” Slinn stood in and the disruption threw the team off track. They ended up losing to XRAVEL in the qualification match. After securing the first map in the second qualifier’s final match, Temperate ran away to a 12-4 lead on Map two. Then the choke curse hit once again, as they lost twelve rounds in a row. They then lost the final map in double overtime. The Beyond UKIC cup is a huge initiative for the UK scene, being one of the few UK tournaments to have full HLTV coverage. Missing the main event was a bitter pill for the team to swallow and it set the precedent for the rest of their month.

Temperate would once again encounter some rotten luck, for some bizarre reason, the bracket for the BLAST UK & IRL qualifier was randomly seeded. Which ended up putting three of the four best teams in the tournament, not only in the same half of the bracket but in the same quarter. EKO, Temperate, and SPADE would all have to fight it out for one spot on HLTV. This misfortune was made worse by the fact that Temperate had forfeited an ESEA Main game in order to play the qualifier. The way the bracket had been put together was widely maligned by the whole scene. For a tournament of this importance, it was unacceptable for there not to have been some proper seeding. Temperate played and lost to EKO in the opening match meaning that they were 0-3 for qualification attempts in the month and, due to the FFL, 1-3 in Main.

Needless to say from the outside things were not looking good for the roster. At this point, the team had been together for long enough to expect some real growth and development. Their failure to qualify for these tournaments was a massive step backward for the team. The community started to wonder whether they needed a ‘proper’ AWPer, eMy still seemed uncomfortable in the role not able to have the kind of impact you need from the big green. There were also questions over the team’s IGL. mrhui has not traditionally been a caller, whereas, MMS has and many wondered whether this setup was limiting the team. Despite this, MMS would explain in an interview with UKCSGO at Insomnia 69, that the team didn’t consider any changes after ReegaN had committed to improving his attitude. They had faith in the lineup and the style that they played and they hoped to prove that at I69.

Shattering the ceiling

The goal was to get on stage, have a clean tournament against the teams they expect to beat, and give the big boys in EKO a run for their money. The team didn’t expect to win. It looked like old demons were once again rearing their head, after suffering a loss in the swiss stage to the ONE HAG mix. A couple of silly rounds were lost and the team’s communication dropped the players got quiet and on Ancient, one of their best maps, they ended up losing to the mix. The loss didn’t really hurt the team’s ambitions, however, the next one did. In the first round of the upper bracket, Temperate faced AZUWU’s 1fredde. Despite having the 1PIN star it was still a game Temperate were expected to win, after all, they were a team that had been together for the majority of the year. Temperate lost a very close series 2-1, in a result that could have caused one of two consequences for their tournament. Either they let the negative mindset creep back in, or they could take it as a wake-up call, learn from it and use it as fuel for their lower bracket run. 

They would take the latter route and power through the lower bracket without dropping a single map. This run included revenge on both ONE HAG and 1fredde. In particular, the 1fredde game showed a massive shift in the atmosphere in the team. Temperate found themselves 14-4 down on map two, Nuke. In the past heads might have dropped, players would get quiet and the team would suffer from a lack of communication.

Not this time, and having sat behind them at EPIC during their loss to BLVKHVND and sitting behind them as they stared at a 14-4 deficit the difference was palpable. You would have thought it was Temperate 14-4 up with the way they were laughing and joking, it was a stark contrast to the sombre atmosphere during their match against BLVKHVND. Sure enough, one at a time the rounds began to stack up and the confidence grew. Even after losing a round to allow 1fredde map point, there was still a belief, almost an expectation that Temperate would come back and take it. They needed double overtime, but they managed to pull it off.

The confidence from this comeback carried into their next match, where a spot in the grand finals was up for grabs. ReegaN who had been criticised for his struggles in big games decided to break the curse. A monstrous 1.53 rating against Leicester 5 showed the potential that he had. Despite the question marks around him, eMy was also having a standout tournament for the team and ended up being the joint highest-rated player at the event for them. Everything was clicking, they were playing far above the levels they had previously shown and it had put them onto the stage. Here more questions needed to be answered though, only eMy and mrhui had been on stage before and how would the pressure affect the younger players?

                        eMy had a standout tournament on the AWP and was crucial in the grand final

The Final

It may have helped that EKO fully expected to win the grand final, with a map advantage, having come from the upper bracket, the odds were stacked in their favour. EKO had not long ago won an international LAN in Austria. Map one would be Nuke and after racing into a 5-0 lead, Temperate conceded control and it looked as if fears about the player’s nerves were to be founded. mrhui and eMy were dragging the team through the map and at 12-13 an accidental jump mid-gunfight by MMS, arguably, cost them the map. Despite losing Nuke, the team took confidence in how close they ran EKO and knew that if it weren’t for one or two mistakes they could have easily taken the map. It left them needing to reverse sweep in order to win. 

Temperate managed 7 rounds on the T side of inferno and controlled the map on the CT side, giving them a fairly easy 16-11 win. Then it was onto EKO’s pick of overpass and MMS made up for his mistake on Nuke with an outrageous 2.15 rating, everything the Temperate team touched was turning to gold. For the first time it felt like they were getting the rub of the green, the bad mojo had been lifted, ReegaN had broken his HLTV win drought the day before and the atmosphere in the team was at an all-time high. EKO had no answers on Overpass, able to scrap together only three rounds, and all the momentum was with Temperate heading onto Ancient. 

ReegaN, who would end up being crowned UKCSGO’s MVP, had been quiet for the majority of the final but it was his and fluFFs turn to step it up on the final map. Not only did the pair sport a 1.3 and 1.1 rating respectively, but they made some huge plays as well. In a chaotic final few rounds which included ReegaN pushing a smoke to steal a kill to stop an EKO execute, fluFFs sticking a defuse in a 1v1, and one of the most chaotic rounds of Counter-Strike I have ever witnessed. At the end of the round, which included fluFFs getting a double kill through smoke, eMy is left in a 1v2. The Temperate AWPer put EKO to the sword, hitting a quick flick on Tom “arTisT” Clarke to win the round and give Temperate match point. eMy doubled down with the AWP as he gave Temperate a 5v3 advantage with two quick openers in the final round. Temperate had pulled off the reverse sweep and with the 3-2 win became Insomnia 69 champions.

 

Champions but still questions remain

The Insomnia win capped off a tumultuous time for the Temperate side, coming into the LAN they were at their worst run since the formation of the roster. Yet, they played to an incredibly high level, beating one of the best teams in the domestic scene in EKO. All in their first ever grand final and with a smile on their faces. The win felt like a watershed moment for the team. Proving a lot of the critics wrong, with ReegaN ending his big game struggles, eMy performing on the AWP, and most importantly a positive atmosphere. It broke the ceiling that the team had been struggling to get through for the majority of the year. 

Now we will have to wait and see whether this result was a temporary hot run or if it’s truly the new Temperate that we will have the pleasure of watching going forward. Temperate’s rollercoaster ride will no doubt continue, however, we can all hope that there are more ups than downs in the future.

*The team would like to give a couple of shout-outs to people that have helped them along their journey as both a team and as individuals;

William “Mezii” Merriman – Being a pro and yet offering time to respond to people and passing down his knowledge to help the rest of the scene grow.
Javier “Ping” Griffiths – For, and I quote MMS, ‘’teaching me how to play the game’’ being helpful, humble, and giving up time to give tips.
Cai “CYPHER” Watson – For spending time to sit down and help MMS, especially on T side, and for being a friend.
Luke “EMPEROR” Ingram – For offering his help when his SPADE (now 7AM) team were on break.
Harry “Moshi” Raines –  For standing in for the team so many times.

Photo Credits: Insomnia 69

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