The early favourites to come away with Champs qualification in the EU LCQ are ErikBooM’s AYM Esports.

That won’t stop Kels and her Aw0babobs Academy roster from heading into the event full of confidence.

They’re coming into the LCQ on the back of a really impressive T24 finish at the Boston Open.

Kels told The Rotation: “If this was on LAN, we go in 100% confident. I’m not saying we don’t have a hundred per cent confidence now. You need to, but you know, Vanguard.

“Especially online against the Spanish, it’s always going to be a shitshow.”

The Spanish teams, AYM and the Minnesota ROKKR Academy team, have both had consistent shade thrown at them for the situation regarding their ping playing from Spain.

“It’s a weird one. I feel like with this game in particular, it’s so inconsistent. Don’t get me wrong, the Spanish are really good.

“This one is a bit different because the Spanish are just really good. Their Hardpoints are particularly good. Whereas our Hardpoint, we’re either really good or really shit.”

“When we first found out that we were playing the Spanish, none of us were too bothered. It’s not because we don’t care, but it’s a case of any team’s going to be difficult, especially for this game.”

Starting strong

The pace that the Spanish teams play at can be overwhelming for many trying to play against them. They earn themselves momentum in many series just by blitzing teams in the opening map.

Should Kels and co. start their series with a solid outing in whichever Hardpoint they get left with, then anything could end up happening.

She said: “If we start the series strong; if we have a good Hardpoint, we could win. We favour our SnD and our Controls way more than our Hardpoints.

“If we have a good start, that could set us up. It’s nice going in as underdogs almost when we’re playing against the favourites because most of the pressure is on them.

“I’m not saying we have nothing to lose. It’s an LCQ spot, but most of the pressure can be on them.”

The Aw0babobs Academy team have countless reps in Search and Destroy. Not only in Vanguard but historically too. Their knowledge and slower pacing could end up favouring them against AYM.

Kels added: “It’s Vanguard still, but we all know what we’re doing in SnD.

“We should never, we should never lose an SnD and if we do, Jesus Christ we’re shit.”

The slightly more team-based and less chaotic respawn mode, Control, is something that the team also favour.

“Our Control and our SnD, we’re really confident with. Especially if we get a Berlin Control.

“No one’s beating us on that. If they beat us in the LCQ, they’re cheating.”

Personal improvement

With three T8 finishes in Cups this year, Kels’ improvement this season has been undeniable.

The steady progression has been evident over the last two seasons.

Kels told us: “I never have once thought: ‘Wow, I’m unreal.’ I’ve never once thought that.

“In comparison to like the finishes I had in Cold War, it’s obviously an improvement. It’s a big improvement.”

Kels has been the top female player in Call of Duty for the last two seasons. She holds a lot of responsibility on her shoulders when it comes to representing women in the esport.

Kels added: “Seeing yourself having that personal progress is always the best feeling, especially when you’re trying to prove yourself as a female in a male-dominated scene.

“This has been a much better season than last year, so I can’t complain. At the same time I can, because it’s been Vanguard.”

The Cold War season started with consistent T64 placements in Cups but it finished with a first T8.

Vanguard has then been consistent at a higher level for the Scot, only placing lower than T16 once in Cups this year.

Kels said: “It still feels good. It still feels better. It’s good to break into that T8/T6 bracket and even playing top teams and keeping it close. It’s a good feeling. No matter how bad the game is.”

Vanguard has been one of the most mentally testing seasons of competitive Call of Duty for everyone involved.

“Any player, especially pros, could say that this game has taken a toll on them. I don’t think anyone can deny that. And if they deny it, they’re f***ing stupid.”

Keeping the feeling and vibes high during series in this game has been incredibly important and that’s the same for Kels and co.

“It’s been draining with how inconsistent it is. Having that team that you can vibe with, especially when you’re getting smoked on this game, makes such a huge difference.

“I think that’s helped me a lot actually. We could go down two in a series and it’s a case of let’s just breathe. Let’s have a laugh, whatever happens, happens as long as we’re on the same page, we’re fine.”

Kels’ Aw0babobs Academy (Kels, JonnyW, BBConor, Genesis) will face AYM Esports in their opening match of the EU LCQ. The tournament starts at 12:00 BST on Sunday, July 24.

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