While no longer the star of the show, coldzera will still need to contribute if 00 Nation are to take down big teams

00 Nation will continue to be a dangerous team after the player break

The new-look squad turned heads at Cologne, and they could very well keep it up when they return to competition.

"We both understand that it's also a different moment of our careers" is how Epitacio "TACO" de Melo described his and Marcelo "coldzera" David's mentality in the newly-constructed 00 Nation roster in a recent interview with Dust2.us. This iteration of 00 Nation is the culmination of changing paths for the two veteran players, who both led Brazilian youngster-oriented squads that struggled in 2022. Now with their two projects merged into one, 00 Nation look to be a team that develops some of South America's best talent while also staying competitive with top teams, an impressive feat considering the state of the squad just months ago.

TACO's first opted to make the transition to leading a squad of young players with his GODSENT project in early 2021, alongside João "felps" Vasconcellos and Ricardo "dead" Sinigaglia. GODSENT showed some promise at various points in the year and a half of the team's run, but things started to stall for the team in 2022, with the team dealt a horrible blow after failing to even qualify for the Americas RMR following two lackluster open qualifier runs.

coldzera opted for the route of developing talent a bit later than TACO, forming his squad earlier this year under the banner of 00 Nation. 00 Nation struggled to approach even near the success that GODSENT periodically achieved. Although the squad managed to qualify for the Americas RMR, the team bowed out with a lackluster 1-3 record, the death blow for a team hardly out of its infancy. When it was reported that TACO and coldzera were interested in merging their two squads into one under 00 Nation, it seemed unlikely that the project would be able to put up formidable results, considering the disappointing showings of their previous two teams.

While 00 Nation was certainly one of the most interesting teams heading into the IEM Cologne Play-in, one would be hard-pressed to argue that the squad had a real chance to reach the main stage of the prestigious German event. TACO and coldzera's new project had debuted just days earlier at ESL Challenger Valencia, where the squad was unable to turn a 2-0 victory over FURIA into a playoffs appearance, falling 0-2 to Sprout in the Spanish event. While the FURIA victory was a promising sign, it would still be a tall task to take down some of the big names in the Play-in, including their opening match opponent Astralis.

But, to the surprise of many, 00 Nation came running out of the gates in the Play-in, trouncing Astralis 16-6 thanks to immaculate showings from Santino "try" Rigal and Bruno "latto" Rebelatto. This booked them an upper bracket quarterfinal match against Spirit, and although the CIS side ultimately bested 00 Nation, it was a very close affair, with the last two maps going the distance for the series to be decided. Once in the lower bracket, 00 Nation moved past Imperial in a scrappy 2-0 match, with try and latto once again leading the way for the team.

Getting to the main stage was impressive for the fresh squad, but coldzera and co. managed to take it a step further in their performances against their opponents. An opening match against FaZe was expected to be a stomp for the international squad, but a strong performance from try kept FaZe honest for both maps. Although FaZe won the series 2-0, it was in a far closer fashion than most expected, an achievement for this fledgling squad for sure.

00 Nation kept things close in the lower bracket in their elimination match versus Liquid. 00 Nation came back from an eight-round deficit on their pick of Overpass, securing the map in triple overtime. Liquid's pick of Mirage was a similarly close affair, requiring overtime for Liquid to come out ahead. Although the decider map of Ancient was not particularly close, 00 Nation should certainly be proud of how well they performed against the North American side in the first two maps. While a close game against Liquid would not normally be an achievement, the addition of Mareks "YEKINDAR" Gaļinskis as a stand-in has revitalized Liquid's form this event, with the best showing the squad has produced since ESL Pro League Season 15.

With these impressive showings, the new-look 00 Nation have already surpassed the achievements of coldzera's original 00 Nation project. The young guns of the team seem to be adjusting to their new circumstances particularly well, especially so for try, who powered his squad through the Play-in with a 1.22 rating and posted a team-high rating of 1.09 in the main stage.

That being said, if 00 Nation want to go from keeping things close against top teams to actually besting the big names, certain players will be required to step up. coldzera, while no longer the star player that he once was, will be an integral component to any future success that 00 Nation can foster for themselves. While latto and Eduardo "dumau" Wolkmer certainly have the ability to take over maps for the squad, the two riflers were more hit-or-miss than try throughout the Play-in and main stage. With coldzera's experience, if he can provide a consistent backbone for the squad as far as performance goes, it could be the extra push the team needs to start claiming the scalps of top teams.

"Our rivals are just the best teams in the world", was coldzera's response to 00 Nation's potential rivalry with Imperial. Even as 00 Nation had just come off an impressive 16-6 thrashing of Astralis, many may have scoffed at the idea that this fresh squad was hoping to already contend with elite teams, myself included. But, with their run in Cologne now complete, 00 Nation have shown that they absolutely have what it takes to keep things competitive with top teams like FaZe, Spirit, and Liquid. When competition returns after the player break, fans and teams alike ought to keep an eye out for this squad on the rise.

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