Confidence is flowing for Thomas “Scrappy” Ernst and the rest of the Toronto Ultra Academy NA roster.
Coming off the back of a resolute and resilient victory at the Boston Open, the team are already looking forward to the Amateur World Championship event at the start of August.
The Helix Esports facility that housed the Boston Open was smaller than the Mattamy Athletic Centre venue in Toronto.
Tight-packed contestants and spectators all rubbing shoulders is what the passion pit is all about.
Into The Pit
Scrappy told The Rotation: “It’s just louder. Everyone’s going harder. Everyone’s watching everyone’s matches. It kind of puts that pressure on.
“I feel like with me, putting more pressure on, it just makes me even play even better. I like that part of it.”
Scrap showed his ability to take over maps at the exact right time. He came up with a crazy 14/6 in map five of the Grand Finals against Electrify Steel in Boston.
🏆 BACK-TO-BACK GRAND FINALS M.V.P.
💥 1.92 SND K/D
🔥 100 KILLS
😮💨 12,147 DAMAGE
— The Rotation (@_TheRotation) July 10, 2022
He said: “It came from the second map. I got blooded a bunch of rounds and I knew that, going into last map.
“If it ended up happening again, we were going to lose. I went back to my roots of SnD. It was just basic fundamentals of just, stay alive, work a pick, they’ll come to you and that’s it.
“It’s just really doing the basics and you’ll get rewarded for it.”
Bouncing back from the loss at the Toronto Open was a huge step for the team. Even still, the feeling of winning back in Minnesota sticks with Scrappy.
He added: “It felt great. I can’t lie though, Minnesota definitely felt better, because nothing’s better than your first.
“It was still such a good feeling because we came off a loss in Toronto. It was kind of that good, reassurance, that you guys are the best team.”
Playing against Clay
Many people see Scrappy as a reincarnation of James “Clayster” Eubanks. His tendency to get loud after matches and rounds of Search and Destroy has endeared him to many fans.
Fans got the opportunity to see the two teams play against each other in Boston.
Scrappy said: “It was intense because everyone knows how Clay is. He’s kind of like me, or like I’m like him. He’s a loud player or something like that.
“It was just like, I knew he was going to be an intense match. I knew he was going to come out and scream, I knew. I told the team, we just have to do it.
“We know what to do. No matter what he says, it doesn’t really matter. Let’s just do us. And it was, it was a fun match.”
— Boston Breach (@BostonBreach) July 9, 2022
Clayster was one of the players that was massive during the time that Scrappy was coming through the ranks at a younger age. It would be easy to look up to a player like that.
Scrappy said: “I don’t know if I looked up to him, but I definitely watched him a bunch growing up because he was kind of like the big star when I was growing up.
“But I don’t know. I can’t really say I looked up to him, but it was just, I guess it was someone I’ve always wanted to play against.”
Changing the team
The Toronto Ultra Academy NA team made a change just after winning Stage 4 of the Elite. They brought Adam “Assault” Garcia in place of Mohak “MohaK” Kumar.
Assault brought a different level of pedigree to the team. Being a former World Champion, it brings a kind of experience that not many Challengers teams have the luxury of having.
Scrappy said: “He’s a world champ, a lot of people aren’t. He brought something to our team that we never had before.
“The comms that came with him just helped the team on such a bigger level than people actually see and people actually know.”
Scrappy also accredited the win in Boston to the introduction of Assault into the team.
He told us: “To be honest, I hate to say this, but I think if we had Mo, we wouldn’t have won the event.
“I think that with Adam, Charlie played better and Javi played really well this weekend. I just feel like everyone stepped up when a new guy came in.”
Sticking as a unit
The core unit of the Toronto Ultra NA team has stuck together all year long. Javi “Vikul” Milagro and Charlie “Hicksy” Hicks have both been incredibly important pieces in the team.
The fact that they’ve stuck together for so long has helped their chemistry in-game endlessly.
But it nearly wasn’t to be for the dynamic trio.
Scrappy said: “At the beginning of the year, I wanted Javi off the team. It was because I didn’t really know him.
“We were gonna pick up John “Xotic” Bruno. Now that Javi’s on our team I’m so grateful that we kept Javi and that Charlie was like: ‘Yo, we’re gonna stay with Javi.'”
Vikul has made a name for himself as one of the most underrated players in the Challengers system this year. Even in Boston he showed his undeniable ability to take over a map.
🌪️ Vikul like a tornado 🌪️
Gotta go fast. pic.twitter.com/XUoZYgdNHe
— The Rotation (@_TheRotation) July 10, 2022
Scrap added: “That kid, his growth over the past couple of months has been insane to watch. I just think me, Charlie and Javi just being together helps Adam too.
“Instead of joining like a two-man group, you join a three-man. It’s not really so much you have to do. It’s just kind of fill in and, and just figure out what, what we have to do together with him.
“So us three being together has helped our change tremendously. It’s helped our team over the year.”
Looking ahead to Champs
Now the team has to look forward to the last event of the season – Champs.
The final tournament of the year for the Challengers players will be played in LA, on LAN with just eight teams in attendance.
The significance of the tournament isn’t weighing on the minds of Scrappy and co. though, as they head into the event treating it like any other.
Scrappy said: “We’re just going play every tournament like we’ve been playing every tournament.
“Just calm, doing what we do. Not trying to do anything special. No flashy plays, just come out with the win. We’re all thinking we’re going come out with the win. We all have extreme confidence that we’re gonna come out and win. We can’t wait to play there.”
Other teams have been criticising the format of Champs, with just four teams being given automatic qualification spots to the event.
A team formed in NA to knock Rokkr Academy out of the fourth spot based on PPs.
Scrappy joked: “I kick my feet up and I eat my popcorn and watch all these teams go at it.
“We deserve the first seed, we deserve to auto qualify. We’ve all said it to each other. We are just going to see what happens and whoever we have to play at Champs is who we’re going to take down.”
Scrappy also believes that his confidence and swagger reflects back onto his teammates.
“I’m a super confident person in and out of game. We all are. Every player on the team has as much, almost to the point of delusional confidence.
“I know my teammates. If I give them the most confidence they’re going to play the best. That’s just my job, what I try to do. Yeah, the whole team has extreme confidence going to Champs.
Still things to work on
Even with the confidence that the entire team displays, it doesn’t mean that they are in any way perfect. They still have plenty to work on before it comes to competing in LA.
Hardpoint has looked a bit shaky for them at times over the last two events, nailing down the first mode will be a big focus of theirs.
Scrappy said: “We’ll really focus on our Hardpoints, going into Champs and just kind of clean up things, holds, breaks, stuff like that. Our team’s really strong-minded about winning first map, cause we’re very good SnD team.
“So if we could just win first map every series and come out with the fire, every single series, then Champs should be a breeze to be honest.”
Toronto Ultra Academy NA are the number one seeded team for Call of Duty Challengers Champs, starting August 4.
Follow along with the Rotation’s journey: