A New Year

Well, it’s been much too long since I last posted here about competitive, but here we are, with too much happening while I was away. Thus, let’s go over the finer points of what exactly happened.

Of course, we can’t forget the biggest event of competitive (well, at least in North America and 6v6) – the ESEA Invite LAN! Four teams traveled to Dallas, Texas to compete for the serious money on the line: WELOVEANIME, lost in translation, Classic Mixup, and iT. From the beginning, the fight was expected to be mainly between iT and Classic Mixup. iT, the team with superstar b4nny on Scout, was the slight favorite given that they had compiled yet another perfect regular season in Invite. On the other hand, however, the TeamFortress.TV ZOWIE Invitational had proved that records don’t mean anything, with Classic Mixup exacting revenge on iT by after getting knocked into the lower bracket and coming back to win it all against iT. This time… well, let’s just say that it was a harkening back to that time. After defeating Classic Mixup in straight maps to send them to the lower bracket, iT lost not only the first best-of-three in the championship in straight maps but proceeded to lose the next best-of-three and thus lose LAN finals to their classic archrivals, Classic Mixup.

A Seagull, the roaming soldier of Classic Mixup who wowed everyone with his plays during the Grand Finals. Picture courtesy of pascal on TeamFortress.TV.
A Seagull, the roaming soldier of Classic Mixup who wowed everyone with his plays during the Grand Finals. Picture courtesy of pascal on TeamFortress.TV.

So what happened? Why did iT, the king of kings, fall? Are they susceptible to grand finals pressure and unable to get it done where it counts, given that they are 5-0 in maps during the regular season and in upper bracket finals and only 2-6 in grand final maps? Does the LAN experience count, given that every one of the members of Classic Mixup had more combined LAN experience than iT who had two LAN rookies? Was it iT underperforming or Classic Mixup stepping it up greatly with the prize money on the line? Well, while it’s probably a combination of some of these factors and more, we’ll probably never be able to know for sure.

Now that LAN’s over, however… as b4nny has been famously quoted, “everything changes after LAN”. Cue another offseason of roster drama as teams form to climb for the top (of course with the implication that this season’s champions will likely get an all-expenses paid trip to Europe to represent the North American community in Insomnia52 and reclaim the lost glory of North American dominance). What’s almost for sure is that the two titans will not clash again in the same form, with squid, one of the conquering champions, having departed the roster soon after the LAN’s conclusion.

Anyway, enough talk about LAN – there are three other divisions in ESEA and many other leagues besides ESEA. Currently all of the aforementioned divisions are wrapping up playoffs. As of this writing, four teams have booked their ticket to the grand finals of their division (Street Hoops eSports of the upper bracket and AG Rinkuing with Rinku of the lower bracket in Main, Tonights Entertainment of Intermediate, and Quantum Flux of Open) and six other teams are battling it out to join them. This season has had plenty of action with upsets and nail-biting victories aplenty, but unfortunately not much coverage has been provided of these divisions for me to follow. Apologies on that.

(Speaking of finals… ETF2L just concluded its Highlander season with Kill Switch taking the crown from first seed Highpander. Congratulations to them!)

With all of these seasons wrapping up, new ones are beginning! CEVO has opened signups for its fourth season with a much larger amount of support from those fed up with ESEA and its questionable practices. ESEA has also opened up registration for its sixteenth season, though obviously most teams won’t be even considering it until playoffs are done, moveups are announced, and the vast majority of teams decide where they want to go. ETF2L has concluded registration and is beginning its new preseason tradition of facing teams off for coveted spots in Premiership, with three teams competing for the final spot tomorrow.

UGC, of course, seems to have taken the crown for the most interesting announcements so far yet – the first being the prize pool for the UGC Highlander Platinum division and the most recent one being the opening of a 4v4 league, the new format taking the competitive community by storm (with some help from Sal). Unfortunately, UGC has also mostly concluded signups and begun its preseason week, which makes it difficult for those of you that are interested to actually get in on the action.

Finally, this week will end with a treat for all us spectators – TeamFortress.TV and ZOWIE have partnered up again to bring us more top-level one-day cup action in the second TeamFortress.TV ZOWIE Invitational – this time focusing across the ocean on Europe and Premiership. Tune in on Sunday for an exciting preview of the ETF2L season that will undoubtedly have major implications, just like it did in North America.

See you next week!

Leave a Reply