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Max-Strafe and PassionUA set to represent Ukraine in ALGS on LAN

Max-Strafe’s Journey to LAN

Maksym “Max-Strafe” Stadniuk may be a familiar name to longtime Apex Legends Global Series fans but a completely unfamiliar one to newer folks. That’s because he hasn’t played on LAN since the ALGS returned to live events, despite qualifying for them all—until now.

The Road to Success

Max-Strafe hasn’t been able to leave his native Ukraine in the past several years due to Russia’s invasion of the country. Despite this, he’s never been far from the top of EMEA, helping longtime teammates Casper “Gnaske” Præstensgaard and Matthew “SirDel” Biggins qualify for LAN as both Team GMT and Pioneers. Those times, however, his teammates were forced to field substitutes on LAN when Max-Strafe’s attempts to leave the country were unsuccessful. But alongside Ukrainian team PassionUA, Max-Strafe is finally on LAN, and he’s more than ready to leave his mark.

A Big Step Forward

“I’m feeling amazing,” Max-Strafe told Dot Esports ahead of the 2024 ALGS Split One Playoffs, the relief and joy to finally be at LAN etched on his face. “I’m a LAN player. I’ve always wanted to compete, especially at LANs. That was my main goal all the time.”

Max-Strafe’s journey to LAN is inextricably tied to Ukraine—even when he finally managed to leave the country. Signed to an all-Ukrainian squad, he now represents PassionUA, an org founded by Ukraine and Arsenal soccer star Oleksandr Zinchenko. The connection with PassionUA finally allowed him and his teammates to leave the country for work, Max-Strafe explained to Dot Esports, although there were several times when it felt like the journey might not happen.

Overcoming Obstacles

First, he and his teammates, Sanya and Artyco, needed to cross the border from Ukraine into Poland. From there, they needed to apply for visas to enter the U.S. on short notice. But this time, everything worked out for Max-Strafe and the team.

“I was always in the mindset that we probably would not attend, you know?” Max-Strafe confessed to Dot Esports. “First, I was afraid that we wouldn’t leave Ukraine. Then I was afraid we wouldn’t get our visas in time. Then I was afraid we wouldn’t cross the [U.S.] border due to some officer’s decision. But when we got to L.A., I just felt satisfaction, and even some chills.”

Looking Ahead

The immense amount of work just put into leaving Ukraine and acquiring visas did take its toll, of course. Max-Strafe told Dot Esports that PassionUA probably missed around a month’s worth of scrims, and they’ve been practicing hard since arriving in the U.S. to try to catch up. Still, he’s confident in his squad and their ability on LAN, as well as the pride of representing their country. This is the first time in Apex Max-Strafe has been a part of an all-Ukrainian roster, and they represent a Ukrainian org to boot. They’re not here to just be happy they qualified. They came to win.

Max-Strafe told Dot Esports the team’s “minimum” goal is to qualify for the finals, but with his and his team’s confidence on LAN even before COVID, they believe they can beat anyone when it comes down to it, no matter how difficult the match or the zone.

“I really, really enjoy endings in Thermal Station,” he said when asked where he imagined it would take place if PassionUA were to win LAN. “And not really the predictable [zones] that people can read… Succeeding in these games, when you read a tricky zone right, is the most satisfying to me as a player.”

And after what they’ve overcome just to get here, it’s hard to bet they can’t make that dream a reality.