It has been a hard, long season for Dallas, but they are finally getting their due in Stage 4. After finishing near the bottom of the standings in the first three stages, the Fuel’s flame is now burning a bright, hot blue after their most important match result to date—an upset victory over the previously undefeated Pacific Division champion Los Angeles Valiant that put the team on the verge of qualifying for their first-ever Stage Finals.
HarryHook previews Philadelphia vs. London (1 p.m. PDT):
“The Spitfire struggled a lot, but they are playing way better on stage and in scrims. I think they can win at least one map [to help us qualify for the stage finals], but they will win 3-2 because Philadelphia is also struggling.”
“We pretty much just played our style,” Fuel support Jonathan “HarryHook” Tejedor Rua said of their preparation against the Valiant. “They studied us, and we studied them. We knew what they were going to do.”
The Fuel opened with a decisive victory on hybrid map King’s Row, holding the Valiant easily on the back of Min-Seok “OGE” Son’s excellent Reinhardt play in the streets phase.
They followed that up with a strong performance on Horizon Lunar Colony, and while it wasn’t enough to take the map, they remained confident. “We learned from our mistakes on Horizon against Houston and used different comps, and we still lost, but we didn’t panic,” HarryHook said. “To be honest, I think we won tonight because we stayed calm.”
The Fuel eventually closed out the series against the Valiant with convincing map wins on Lijiang Tower and Watchpoint: Gibraltar, making it clear that they were the better team on the night. And while beating one of the strongest Stage 4 teams is an amazing accomplishment, what really matters to HarryHook is that his team is now in a strong position to play in the Stage 4 Finals.
“It feels amazing,” HarryHook said. “We just need Spitfire to win one map and we’re fine. We believe they can do it. After everything that has happened this season, making it to playoffs is the most important thing.”
The Fuel may be one good bounce away from their chance at their first best-of-five this year, but other teams were not so fortunate. Houston and Seoul both fell short in their matches earlier in the evening, and dropped out of the playoff picture as a result. Neither team will be participating in the stage finals, either.
In fact, the Fuel’s win over the Valiant locked the Outlaws out of contention, which HarryHook finds just a bit sweet.
“It feels good [to deny the Outlaws]!” he said with a chuckle. “I mean, I like Houston a lot, but they’re our rival so it’s definitely a huge plus.”
Regardless of whether the Fuel compete on Sunday, the team finished the stage with a solid 6-4 record, which includes wins against the Valiant, the Spitfire, and the Boston Uprising—all playoff-bound teams. A variety of factors came together for Dallas in the end, changing everything despite low expectations.
“In stages one, two, and three, we were pretty much garbage,” HarryHook admitted. “The meta changed and began to favor us a lot, so that helped us a lot. Brigitte was the most important thing. With Mickie on Brigitte, other teams can’t run dive comps anymore. [New head coach] Aero helped us a lot too, and we also have more staff in general.”
If London can pull through for Dallas, though, HarryHook already has an opponent in mind: “I want to face New York for some reason. They feel pretty weak at the moment…”
He quickly backtracks after some more thought. “…But they are still New York and they have Jjonak. Things can change super fast and their playstyle is really difficult for us. If I had a choice, I would choose the Gladiators or Valiant first. Probably Valiant again.”
HarryHook is excited to be so close to competing in a playoff match again after the team’s struggles this season, but he says he’s playing for more than just his team’s redemption.
“As a person and player for the Dallas Fuel, thank you to the fans who stayed with us and didn’t run away when we were losing,” he said. “After all this suffering, we have almost made it to the stage playoffs. You deserve this happiness more than us.”
I'm so proud and happy of my team, was a crazy game, GG's @LAValiant , and thanks all the fans who still believe in us.— Jonathan Tejedor Rua (@HarryHook) June 16, 2018