In the spirit of pragmatism I'm going to plonk this beautiful bracket right there at the top to save your little fingers from furiously scrolling down come Sunday. Thank me later. In fact, that one diagram is packed with so many important details that I really question why I am bothering to write anything else. Am I getting paid by the word? Do I just love this clickety-click sound? Potato? Snarf!
Oh, you missed the announcement? No idea what's going on, eh? Allow me illuminate that rock you've living under. This is the second invite tournament hosted by TeamFortress.TV and sponsored by the good people at ZOWIE GEAR. The current eight best teams in Europe are coming together tomorrow, Sunday, January 26th at 06:00 PST / 09:00 EST / 15:00 CET to slug it out for their chance to bag some highly coveted ZOWIE merchandise on servers provided by the ever-so-charitable serveme.tf. The best part is that it's being broadcast on twitch.tv/teamfortresstv for your viewing pleasure, with Admirable, CommanderX, huhy, Ducky and Jon bringing you live action, team comms, insight and interviews throughout the six hour tournament duration.
This is Europe, baby. We do things a little different round here. This tournament functions as a precursor to ETF2L's upcoming Season 17 and as such will be played in that environment. We've invited the eight teams who have earned Premiership placement, and we will be using the same map pool, unlocks and win conditions as adopted here on the Team Fortress 2 master continent.
The tournament will use the double elimination format. All rounds preceding the Grand Final are played as a best-of-one on maps predetermined by the organisers. The Grand Final will be played as a single best-of-three, with maps picked by the teams from a pool of Badlands, Granary, Gullywash, Process, Metalworks, Snakewater and Pro Viaduct. The upper bracket winner earns the right to pick the first and third maps.
At this stage of the tournament you are only as good as everyone thinks you are. Until high-skilled manoeuvres combine with high explosive ordinance to rend virtual flesh from jigglebone, we can only go on peer assessment, recent performances and rosters to fuel our musings... oh, and trash talk. I've got you covered on all fronts.
With so many so many new, untested teams finding their way into the Premiership, I opted to poll the competitors to determine the tournament seeding. I even told them to place themselves in their imagined rankings, though that was only for our amusement and not the seeding calculations themselves.
Seeds, votes and teams' personal placements are laid bare below. Interestingly, only two teams put themselves in the number one spot. No one wanted to place themselves in second and, as you might, expect fewer still saw themselves finishing seventh or eighth. Someone is not telling the truth around here, but I'll let you figure it out.
I've also trawled the logs.tf for the last four maps played by each team so that you can stroke your chin and make thoughtful noises before the real games start. If you follow the mantra of "lies, damned lies and statistics" then you may prefer to put your faith in the scribblings of the players themselves. Either way, downward you must go.
Seed: #1 (1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1) placed themselves 1st.
Despite not ending up with an absolute German roster as they had originally intended, and even with ETF2L's most celebrated player, Stefan, departing the team during its genesis, they are still most definitely the team to beat. Apparently they are the spiritual successors to the Epsilon eSports side that ruled Europe, nay the world, with an iron fist for well over a year. Literally everyone ranked them as the number one team in this tournament, including themselves. This is Made In Germany's tournament to lose.
Mike: all teams with kaidus fail -- its a slick approved fact
Zebbosai: Made in germany 1st seed -- Should win the cup have some great players and a good main caller.
T-Mac: MIG is favorite
ipz: We should win, and if we lose it's just because we want to play aggressive all the time and we might not have that amount of teamwork at his moment in time
Seed: #2 (2 - 4 - 1 - 2 - 2 - 2 - 3) placed themselves 3rd.
The pre-season good vibrations coming from The Last Resort have been thrown off key by the news that demoman-caller, HYS, has sustained a shoulder injury whilst pumping 'ron. He joins the long list of crippled English stickie-slingers including kaidus... oh, well just those two actually. Nevertheless, it will be a trying six hours for both players who are tipped to reach the Grand Final. TLR also find themselves without their recent roamer acquisition, Rising, who along with Mirelin has added a lot of credibility to this new roster iteration. Stepping in for the absent son of Germany will be zoob who has been playing pocket for several seasons for the recently demoted Team Decerto. One might speculate this could impact on the fluidity of his roaming plays, but he excels in a similar position for top European Highlander outfit, Highpander, so I will reserve judgement.
Mike: TLR will be 60% without hys maincalling
HYS: I have a big problem with my shoulder -- if I am honest, I shouldnt be playing now but the lads wanted me to keep playing -- even though we tried with WAR
Zebbosai: TLR 2nd seed -- Got alot of talented players but in my opinion lacks a really good main caller that can lead them but should atleast get top 4
kaidus: TLR -- Favourites to make the final, but I think at this stage that in itself would be an achievement for the forever 4ths. They have everything thats needed but maybe too many rookies for it to be a sure thing.
T-Mac: TLR is better than last season and maybe better than MIG -- because mirelin
ipz: Really strong -- it's a bit of a fuck up that HYS is now injured -- but yeah we will see -- I think that they will definitely end up second
Seed: #3 (3 - 3 - 3 - 4 - 3 - 3 - 2) placed themselves 3rd.
The day that Exon stops over extending is the day that Evokate become true European contenders. Sure, constantly trading your demoman for damage and maybe even baiting a few opponents out of position has been a viable play style since the heyday of hymzi -- but a tournament winning strategy? In this day and age? I doubt it. Even with such a strong supporting cast of players, all speaking their native tongue, they will still have to demonstrate more control if they want to take and, more importantly, hold ground against the best in Europe. That or rely on big individual plays – Flippy on sniper can be a showstopper. Hell, I even fancy his chances on engineer. Backup, dmoule, is on standby as there may be some uncertainty I couldn't quite decipher as to whether this will be the team they field on Sunday. This is the same second string player who featured in those logs against Superstars only? Oh dear.
Mike: evokate can't win if flippy can't hs anything
Zebbosai: Evokate 3rd seed -- Have insane dm power but lacks a caller from what i know but i dont understand french so what the fuck do i know.
kaidus: Evokate -- The dark horse to reach the final. Huge history together could give them the edge in a pre-season competition.
T-Mac: ehm that might be the team i know the less -- i know we can we win every team but we can lose everyteam too -- so i'd say our first opponent is us
ipz: If they go keen this season, this could be a nice time for them to show it -- I saw Tek watching demos recently on his stream -- a good sign
Seed: #4 (4 - 3 - 2 - 4 - 3 - 4 - 5) placed themselves 3rd.
Although initially in doubt due to the time difference in his current country of residence, recent medic addition, Mitsy, has decided to brave the cold Canadian mornings and get up early to compete with his French-speaking brothers. Playing medic, on 130 ping at the crack of dawn; that's dedication. Unfounded questions about Captainhax's ability to play roamer might just be the running joke of the season, but he can nip that in the bud right here, with a few big performances this weekend. Four losses against higher seeds in their last four maps is probably the best preparation you could ask for -- superbrain soldier, KnOxXx, should know what they need to do if they want to cause an upset here.
Mike: mais la moule will have to be carried hard by knoxxx and fl1p if they want to win
Zebbosai: Mais La Moule 4th seed -- knoxx is the best main caller in the game imo and thats in english now that he gets to speak his own language im sure he will be even better. 2 good scouts captainhax is a really good soldier but im not sure if roamer is the right position for him :D. Nadir is the big question mark in this team but if he plays well this team will get atleast top4 and probably pushing for higher then that.
Captainhax: if another team win, it will be just because of luck, NON MAIS LA MOULE
ipz: The way that they play around their combo and their combo being so passive, I think aggression will work really well against them -- I don't see them top three in the cup or the season -- their combo enjoys playing passive too much for my taste to win against aggressive teams
Seed: #5 (2 - 4 - 6 - 2 - 5 - 4 - 4) placed themselves 4th.
No team drew the same range of votes from their peers as Dotter -- it seems the jury is still out on this one. This is a good roster on paper... or at least it was a good roster on paper a season or two ago, but I feel like some sort of fungal brain rot has begun to set in on these mighty Swedish Spruces, who seem at times to be severely short of fucks to give. Throughout the pre-season we have been told that they don't care about practise results, yet in the ETF2L Qualifiers when it counted they only barely managed to beat Lethal Weapon, who themselves took a nosedive in to Division 1. Everyone wants these guys to live up to their true potential, but until now they have been given a free ride on their own reputations – more than any team, I feel this tournament will establish their outlook on season ahead. Will that be as contenders or also-rans?
Mike: dotter are weirdly bad even though on paper they are really good -- i think zebbosai doesn't want to pocket and is roaming, but he'll end up pocket and it might hurt them
Zebbosai: Dotter 5th seed -- för lätt!
kaidus: Dotter -- One quality player away from being a real contender but still more than capable of causing upsets
T-Mac: Dotter will have to wake up to do something because they have maybe the best roster but no cohesion atm
ipz: Underperforming throughout their scrims so far -- I know scrims are not necessarily counting for anything, but some of the decisions they are making for the team setup are not making sense to me -- Zebbosai on roamer instead on Knutsson completely ruins it for me -- we watched demos of them on Granary earlier and Zebbo is playing very uninspired on roamer
Seed: #6 (5 - 5 - 5 - 5 - 6 - 5 - 7) placed themselves 1st.
Speaking of season outlooks, when the team henceforth known as AYO was founded, it was as a "fun team", but the pre-season sparked their ambition. You might see their personal placement in 1st as mild trolling, but I prefer to interpret it as British arrogance – I don't doubt that (most of) these players genuinely believe they can win this. It's no coincidence that Sideshow, hawku and Mike are all upgrading their PC's at present; they are clearly keen as mustard and prepared to invest time and money into this team and this game. The new gaming rigs won't be ready by Sunday though, so disregard everything I said, these British shitlords won't even see Gullywash. The headline here might be Epsilon Mike on demoman, but the team's fate in this tournament lies squarely in the hands of Sideshow, Permzilla and hawku -- they are the ones who must find the frags, whilst not giving them away – "control the flank, control the universe!"
Mike: AYO GURL for surprise victory -- idk what your article was about -- but that team will win it
kaidus: ayo to go out to lego in first round of lb -- heard it here first -- i was clearly joking!!
T-Mac: i dont know what ayogurl is able to do
ipz: AYO GURL is overrating themselves by a mile - even if they have Mike on carry-demo, they have Sideshow to equalize.
Seed: #7 (6 - 6 - 6 - 5 - 6 - 6 - 6) placed themselves 5th.
I've had some romantic notions about this all-Danish roster of friends. I've given them credit for the resurgence of the single nation roster. I've applauded their decision to take a season in Division 1 to grow and earn their Premiership status. I am a LEGO fan boy. Yet, when I began to search through their recent logs I was troubled by the quality of their practise schedule – I had to go back ten days to find them fielding anything close to their actual roster, and even then they are not playing Premiership standard opponents. My worries are compounded by the absence of pocket soldier and main caller, Natural, who I would have pinpointed as the linchpin of the team. His big boots will be filled by Forsak3n of Lethal Weapon, but it is unclear if his inclusion will mean Danish communication will be abandoned for English. Alarm bells are ringing over here, but I am still excited to see F2 back on the big stage.
Mike: lego play most similarly to quarantine -- i don't think it will work out that well for them
kaidus: LEGO -- Who knows man. These kids keep it on the down low and apparently they do the typical scandinavian thing of only performing in matches.
T-Mac: never played LEGO
ipz: Haven't seen them at all, no idea
Seed: #8 (7 - 7 - 7 - 7 - 7 - 7 - 7) placed themselves 6th.
Perhaps the surprise of the season so far came when Fenneks overturned expectations and trampled on Russian dreams on Thursday night, clinching a decisive victory in the ETF2L Qualifiers and securing their Premiership placement. Surprising because their roster has been in a constant state of flux throughout the pre-season period and as of right now I can't honestly tell you who will be representing them on Sunday. I understand that talismanic scout, gf18_idiot, and newfound pocket, KLar, are both unavailable. Add to that the rumoured disinterest of delzic and one begins to wonder what they can hope to achieve in this tournament. It might actually be a good opportunity to trial a few replacements; a baptism of fire, so to speak. We'll update you with more on this situation as it unfolds.
kaidus: fnx -- Don't see them going very far, but they have some talented players that could shake up the lower bracket.
T-Mac: and for fenneks they can create a surprise becasue gf18
ipz: Fenneks plays very passive -- we played them on Badlands and their combo are just hiding in the house the whole time, therefore they can't counter aggression
A Final Thought
I'll leave it to the sauve slav to close us out here folks, responding to my requests for player insight he offered...
HYS: only that anyone can win this cup -- don't think I have ever played when there has been 8 teams with so little between them