It’s that time of year again… most leagues are finishing up recording another winter season into the record books. Currently ESEA is in its final week of the regular season, UGC is nearly finished with playoffs, ETF2L 6v6 is proceeding with its Premiership playoffs, and ETF2L HL is in the second half of the season. So near the end, I think most can agree… this season has perhaps not been as exciting as it has been.
For the ESEA Invite division, the LAN situation has pretty much stabilized… and it’s much less contentious than in previous seasons, with each seed having been beaten in the games against higher seeds. Of course, Team iT, led by legend b4nny and undefeated in the regular season so far, will certainly face its challenges from Classic Mixup, led by other legend Platinum, but b4nny’s team looks like an absolutely unstoppable force, dropping a grand total of 9 rounds on the season so far and the majority of them to mix^ thanks to the close matchup on Metalworks. Unfortunately, we won’t even get to see the match for another month and a half, with LAN occurring in the middle of January.
Of course, most contend that the season would have been much more competitive if it weren’t for the unfortunate situation with the team watch this being effectively disqualified and choosing to not participate in Invite for the season. Thankfully, we might get to see a few glimpses of them in the upcoming TeamFortress.TV ZOWIE Invitational, in which 7 of the 8 active teams in Invite and one team from Main have agreed to participate in a double-elimination tournament for the prizes of mouses and mousepads. Particularly interesting is team lost in translation, which is composed of more former Invite players than actual players on the team, including former members of watch this clockwork and dummy.
The other divisions of ESEA look much more interesting, with several different contending teams in each division. ESEA Open, like last season, has its own undefeated team, The Meat Market, which has been dominant, but The Italian Stallions of undefeated regular season glory in ESEA Open last season has a cautionary tale to tell after being knocked into the lower bracket and having to fight back up to the championship. Fortunately, this much more interesting action in ESEA happens soon, with playoffs beginning immediately after this week’s matches.
In ETF2L, which is sluggishly moving through playoffs, the second round match is happening this weekend. The winner will face a very uphill battle against continuing titans of Premiership Epsilon eSports, who have added another undefeated regular season onto their streak of 4 so far and can safely claim the title of current best team in the world after a strong showing at i52 this summer.
Finally, the UGC season is ending, with the playoffs hitting the final round in the lower bracket for Platinum. Apocalypse Gaming Highlander, the last team standing in the lower bracket after a close win over weakened team Ginyu Force, meets MenaceToSociety, reeling fresh off a loss to dominant team Street Hoops eSports. It will take a Herculean effort to overcome Street Hoops eSports, which is enjoying a similar position to the top seeds of 6v6 this season.
Like every other season, spectators can only pray that the competition will form in order for the next season to be much better than the one that came before it, and it seems that there will certainly changes that affect it. As discussed last week, the transition to CEVO (which has become much more concrete with the community) will certainly affect the top level of North American 6v6, with players speaking for both sides. In addition, UGC Platinum is sweetening up the prize pot by fundraising for a prize pot next season, which should hopefully attract more competition looking for the sweet cash prizes. Will it work? Only time will tell, but for now enjoy the winding down of this season.