For playoffs I’m going to eschew normal power-rankings and talk a little bit about the top 5 teams. Next week I’ll try to review some matches and see if I can find a little more insight. For now, here’s my thoughts on the top seeds after playing scrims and matches with each of them.
In order of Seeding:
1. Ginyu Force
Ginyu Force has ended the season with the first seed as many expected. Though we aren’t the powerhouse that was The Syndicate of Season 8, Ginyu still has a very solid roster made up of some High-IM level talent and top-platinum specialist classes. Leading the charge has to be Duwatna on Demo, who both top-fragged and top-damaged during the regular season. Duwatna has some fierce backup though, with both Skarlett and Max leading in frags and damage on their respective classes as well. Foster on scout is severely underrated as well, being within 10 frags of the top scout spot despite not playing the first game. Overseer remains one of the hardest medics in platinum to kill, while still pushing her team into good fighting positions. Abe remains one of the best engineers and I’ve been having one of my best seasons of right-clicking as well. The only soft spot so far this season has come in the form of a relatively distracted Frank West, and a rotating Heavy slot. Both have been remedied in time for playoffs though, and I expect Ginyu to show why the 1st seed was deserved. What set Ginyu apart early on was perhaps roster stability, at least relative to other top teams. With the other top teams coming together, the gap has significantly shrunk and Ginyu can no longer sit comfortably. The first seed will mean a lot now that other top teams have stepped up their game, but Ginyu still have a lot to prove.
2. Baby Punching Marathon
BPM has been a very interesting team to follow this season. Starting off with some roster instability, BPM has made a few changes throughout the season that have boosted them further and further each week. Not enough can be said about Pulse on spy. The Canadian wunderkind has been outperforming every other spy this season and shows no signs of slowing down. The way he tears through teams one player at a time, constantly escaping with his own life constantly keeps BPM’s enemies on their toes, sometimes even to the point of playing a much more passive style to better spy-check. BPM’s all-out aggression plays very well off of this too. There’s no other team I’ve seen this season push as often and as well as BPM does. There’s always pressure being applied somewhere, as they probe for the weak point that will make the damn break. Leading the charge in this fashion are Bronze, Boink, and Kapoww on scout, soldier, and demo respectively. Kapoww seems fond of playing forward to open holes for the rest of BPM to flood through, and Bronze and Boink do just that. It wouldn’t work as well without great coordination and backup though, and you can always expect Cygnus, Sharpshot, and Kammy to be bringing up the rear and bullying their opponents out. Sharpshot has long been vastly underestimated on heavy but this season he’s really shown himself to be one of the greats. The same might be said about Quartz on engy, who’s always put up fantastic numbers but just missed the limelight. In the backfield there’s Mouse on sniper, who’s really stepped up his game in the last few matches. I’ve seen him start playing a little more aggressively lately and confidently peaking in for a quick med-pick that might save a round. BPM sits nicely in the second seed due to a measly 0.5 match-point differential. Teams will have to find some way to curb BPM’s coordinated aggression if they want to knock them out before reaching the final.
3. Menace to Society
What worried some other top teams early on seems to be coming to pass, with mTs bringing the heat in playoffs and stepping up their practice schedule. Their style is somewhat similar to BPM’s with coordinated aggression. Menace to Society leans a little more heavily on the coordination than the aggression though. Harbleu is one of the smartest players in this game and constantly has his team in good fighting position. He’s protected extremely well while he does this by the Heavy/Pyro combo of Panic and Geosus. Leading the offensive charge are Xalox and UKM who seem to play off each others damage to great effect, completely decimating the opposition during uber fights. I expect the greater amount of practice will help the less 6s-seasoned members of the mTs roster adapt well in playoffs as well. Atomsk has taken a little different role on soldier than I’ve seen from him previously, going for coordinated DM fights moreso than distraction-bombs, and it’s been paying off with mTs. M4risa is a genius at close-range headshots and plays pretty aggressively with her team, adding a little bit different sniper threat than some teams are used to. Jerro on spy will bring the heat in playoffs as well, timing the majority of his stab attempts with his teams pushes and instantly turning the tide. I expect mTs to sit pretty the first couple weeks before facing BPM on gullywash. That’s a game I can’t wait to see, pitting the two most aggressive power-houses together on a staple map.
4. Gangsta Gang
After the top 3 spots things get a little muddy, with most teams below having taken at least one forfeit win during the regular season. GG’s made it to the 4th seed despite having 3 forfeit wins in their 5-3 record thanks to the experimental matchpoint system put in place for Platinum this season. For those who are unaware, FFWs award the full matchpoints possible in Platinum, as opposed to the roughly half offered previously and in lower divisions. Regardless GG has made it into a cushy spot, earning a pass straight to week 2 where they’ll likely face Syndicate on viaduct. GG will have to step it up and really practice this week if they want to repeat their upset over a newer, stronger -ts-. All signs point to this being the case though, so hopefully we’ll see a battle for the ages between the 4th and 5th seeds. GG’s roster has stayed mostly the same throughout the season. I expect we’ll see a solid performance out of Unff, Moonchild, Ma3la, and Raz, but newcomers Jav, Phracture, Cole, and Bunny, will have to perform highly as well. Seabass will need to keep everyone working together and push them into good position if the Season 5 champs want to stage a comeback.
5. The Syndicate
Chriz Tah Fah
Since Vhalin’s return to -ts- the team has seen some fantastic improvement. The most beneficial change is that everyone appears to be much more focused and play together better than ever. A somewhat overlooked change, but one that was desperately needed was putting JJK back on the sniper spot. TS toiled around with a few 6s snipers after the departure of Jake, but what they really needed was a seasoned Highlander sniper. Props to JJK for filling in on other classes and being patient for his return. I expect this will be a huge boost to the teams Picking power. Chriz Tah Fah is relatively new to highlander but so far it hasn’t appeared to be much of an issue to the invite demoman. Viewing his stream shows me a demo who rarely misses any opportunity to put out good damage and one that the rest of The Syndicate can play off of very well. I expect to meet up with -ts- on gullywash and expect a fantastic match. Not making the 4th seed will probably end up benefiting -ts- as well, giving them a much needed week to practice together and get ready to take on this season’s Titans.