It was in Hannover for the IEM season three finals where Realz first played for SK. By his own admission, the tournament was disappointing but it was due more to the circumstances than anything else. Playing with Vance 'Serennia' Phuoc was never an easy task for any player and it came as little to surprise when that lineup folded immediately after the Global Finals.
Realz was the man SK chose to build the new team around and the largely unknown new roster had an instant impact on the WoW scene. Alongside Joe 'Enforcer' Morrone and Mark 'Pookz' Rendon, Realz led SK to back-to-back glory. During their first event together, at MLG Columbus, SK US shocked fans by winning the event. In the final they overcame the highly-favoured ‘Beastcleave’ of eMazing Gaming – a feat that very few RMP teams had done before.
But rather than rest on their laurels, SK took the US Blizzcon qualifier by storm. Dropping just three maps in the whole tournament, they headed to Blizzcon itself as one of the favourites. That tournament proved to be very strange with TSG – the team SK beat in the US final – winning the whole thing. Meanwhile SK had to settle for 4th place and no prize money, despite beating the other favourites, Button Bashers.
After Blizzcon, things went down hill for that lineup. 5th place at MLG Dallas meant no bracket play and no prize money for the 2nd event in a row. Rumours about squabbling in the team abounded and it was shortly thereafter that the team who started on such a high ended on something of a sour note.
Still, it takes a strong character to rebuild after such a successful team falls apart, and that’s what Realz proved to have. The current lineup of Realz, Tim 'Kollektiv' Yen and Alexander 'Glickz' Hloderwski got together just in time for IEM’s American qualifier. Despite some massive problems at the event, SK managed to qualify in 2nd place, narrowly losing the final 4-3 against the team formerly known as Check Six (now compLexity Gaming Black)
Having qualified so impressively for the Global Finals, the event itself would prove to be rather a letdown. SK struggled in group play and managed just two wins, failing to make the knockout stage. Again, this was a heavily problem-hit event but every team suffered with the long delays and less than ideal accommodation.
Again, SK dusted themselves off in time for the MLG season opener in Columbus. Realz hoped for a top four finish and that was exactly what they got. In one of the longest group stages ever, teams from Group A had to play countless tie-breakers until finally SK made it through. Whether they were exhausted or simply outplayed, 4th place was as good as it got for the team in what turned out to be one of the most exciting WoW tournaments of all time. It was almost worth not playing in the final just to watch the game instead.
Sadly, Columbus turned out to be the end of the road for SK Gaming USA. On a personal note, the final incarnation of SK US was one of the coolest bunch of guys I ever had the pleasure to meet in my time in esports. Everyone at SK Gaming wish Ryan, Tim and Alex the best of luck in the future with Nerdstompers. I’ll leave the last words for Realz himself:
You can follow the guys in their new team over at Nerd Stompers (under construction).
If I don't know you I will decline your friend request.
Other esports work
Zechs Files Uncut - A more personal look at esports and the stuff i felt i couldn't put in my column.
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Everything I ever wrote for SK
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TeamAMD Gamer - Coverage writer
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GotFrag - Coverage/Features
ACON5 2005 UK Qualifier
ESWC 2005 Finals
ESWC 2006 UK Qualifier
ESWC 2006 Finals
CPL WT 2006: UK
IEM Global Finals 2009
IEM Global Finals 2010
Joefernandes Leads New SK WoW Team
World champion Joefernandes talks BlizzCon
SK Gaming chats with Sid 'Supatease' Compston
SK Gaming is the 2015 BlizzCon WoW Champions
SK advances to World Championship semi-finals
THE NEW JERSEY