With two 2nd place finishes in 2012 for Moscow Red Legion, it’s been a solid season for one of the best teams of the past ten years. But the small amount of success has a twinge of disappointment, because Red Legion is a team that doesn’t go too long without winning an event and they are currently ranked 5th, with a 7th and a 6th place finish on the board this year as well.
They are normally more consistent.
2012 was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Moscow, but the new additions have played very well. Jason Wheeler (ranked 8th), from England and Alex Gaudin (10th) from France, have been putting in aggressive work on the snake side, and Marcello Margott (1st) has been an anchor on the Dorito side, destroying the competition all year long which is why he’s the highest ranked player on earth heading into World Cup, a tournament which Red Legion has dominated in years past.
Both Wheeler and Gaudin have been explosive on the snake side, in a year that hasn’t been very kind to other players in that position. They’re getting better and more confident and are poised to excel in the Russian’s system should they stay on for 2013.
The two long standing veterans on the team, Alexandr Berdnikov (2nd) and Kirill Prikhidni (4th) have been very consistent all year long, put up great numbers and performances, and are ranked near the top of the leaderboards as well, with Berdnikov ranked 2nd and Kirill 4th.
Since the imported players do not train in Moscow with the bulk of the team, it’s up to Kirill and Berdnikov to guide the younger, homegrown talent, and mold them into top-tier players so the team can get back into winning form. The biggest hole for Moscow is the fact that they have two lines and their second line hasn’t been playing as well.
Berdnikov will be moving over to the team’s second line with the recent addition of Zack Wake (26th), formerly of LA Infamous, and most recently SD Dynasty. Wake has been looking for a home, for place where his talent can be groomed, and might have been enticed by the success of friend and former teammate Margott’s dramatic rise to the top of the leaderboards this year under the Russian system.
It’s will be tough for Wake to fill Berdnikov’s shoes on the first line, as he’s one of the most productive players on any team. But the second line needs help, so overall this strengthens the team. Wake had an injured his elbow playing for Dynasty early in the year but he is completely healed now and ready for action.
One of the biggest stories for Red Legion was the departure of three of their long time stars (Sergey Solnyshov, Konstantin Fedorov, and Mikhail Knyazev) in the off season to Houston Heat, the team who sits in the # 1 spot heading into Cup. Red Legion is 0-4 against Heat this year; pretty disheartening considering Heat is the team the Allstar Russians defected to.
Red Legion has one of the easier prelim draws, with the two bottom ranked teams in CEP (12th) and Aftershock (11th ). But Infamous (2nd) and Vicious (8th) have both been in overtime games with Moscow this season, where they lost to Infamous and beat Vicious, and those games should be close. In fact, the Russian’s have the most overtime games of any team this year, with 4 Sudden Death matches.
If their second line can step up, Red Legion could be a favorite to win the biggest event of the year.
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