Welcome to Invite Weekly, Volume I. As it's still a bit early for Power Rankings, I decided to take a magazine-esque approach for this week. Maybe this will be a recurring piece, maybe this will be the last we see of it. Only time will tell. As the opening week of ESEA S18 draws to a close, we've already seen some intense LAN implications. Rosters were more or less solidifed, a team changed their name rather questionably, and some shenanigans went down regarding Twitch chat. This upcoming week will continue to feature good matches, some of which we'll discuss later. Oh, and if you haven't already, check out beater's GXL frag video. Lots of good stuff. Lastly, I'm going to give a shoutout to gecks. It's been a while since you stumbled upon our little community and your casting has been improving ever since. The raw energy and enthusiasm you bring to each cast is very much appreciated. Keep up the good work, man.
So I heard you like Overtime
Looks like S18 is following right on S17's footsteps with giving us the close games early. Elevate had both their matches go to overtime, and walk away with a 1-1 record. The win against Street Hoops was crazy close back and forth, with Shrugger compiling a monstrous 57 frags and cyzer not far behind with 55. Alfa also had the most deaths I've ever seen in a single match with 64. Deadbolt played very well, and put up more than a fight with Bdonski. In the Mad Men / eLevate thriller, it seemed like a game of two halves, with eLevate shutting down Mad Men's last pushes for a 3-0 lead at halftime, only to barely hold them down 3-3 at end of regulation. Indust and kbk lit up the sky with 7 Medic frags, including a nice airshot on harbleu from kbk and indust amassing over 1000 damage, which is just insane. Alfa and harbleu spent more time on the Spy class that game than everyone else in Invite probably will for the remainder of the season, and seymour went absolutely crazy with a 50 frags, 25 capture points, and just 20 deaths. As seymour's #1 fan, I was very pleased to see him do well and can't wait to see more of him this season.
Elsewhere in the division, Cisco Adler's Balls decided to change their name to "4js4nz3m11mzldasd" for reasons which are far beyond my understanding. I will continue to refer to them as Cisco for the remainder of the season. Cisco took a clean 5-0 over Show Me the Monet, and unfortunately took a forfeit win over Runaway 5, who were unable to field their lineup. Ding Dong Daddy also trumped Show Me the Monet in a rather uneven 5-0, while also putting on a very strong showing against Froyotech. They may not have come up the crazy upset win, but they did play extremely well. A 2-2 halftime against Froyotech is impressive indeed and I'd be lying if I said this match didn't open up my eyes a little.
Show Me the Monet has had a rough start this season. Hijacking a roster, abiding by the roster transaction limits, and all the other shenanigans combined with an 0-2 start is tough. But, the Monet boys have a set roster now. Tagg makes his departure before ever arriving, and Sezco remains nowhere to be seen. Instead, flame has shifted over to play Roamer and Monet brought in Invite veteran smaka to Demoman. I still don't know much about flame, but I'd imagine at a glance Roamer isn't as difficult a transition as Demoman for this Scout main. Smaka is known in the old days for playing with Classic Mixup as Demoman and Medic, and more recently with S15 Lost in Translation, S16 Budsquad in IM, and briefly for 6cuties in Invite last season before dying. Smaka is another one of these players who have played pretty much everything in Invite, but having him in his familiar Demoman shoes will do good for Show Me the Monet. While losing Taggerung might be a huge blow, the replacement of Smaka on Demoman is more than a welcome upgrade. This change makes the Monet combo pretty strong and flame has some work to do to fill Tagg's imaginary shoes. We'll have to see how this squad develops with the new roster throughout the season, and certainly this week, as they take on the Yomies.
The Outset of Week 2
Week 2's map is Process, a map which joined in S11 and has become a staple in the rotation ever since. Process is not beyond crazy long matches, but I think we won't be seeing any overtime matches this time (or week) around. I'm going to try and not duplicate any team names in these match previews unless the matches are really key, because I feel that all of Invite deserves coverage and respect, not just the top. Anyway, we have a handful of potentially good exchanges this week, some with more heavy LAN implications and others for fighting rights and placement in the Power Rankings. Here are some of the key games I've picked for Week 2.
Cisco has breezed through their first week of Invite, but here's where they can make a statement. Street Hoops is one of the top 3 titans in Invite right now, despite the loss to eLevate. If Cisco can kick them while they're down, take advantage of what worked against 20b on Snakewater, they could very well sneak this win under our noses. Considering just how well deadbolt played against Bdonski, if he carries that form over to this week he and grape should run circles around Mangachu and xalox. Squid will have his hands full dealing with cyzer, but how Freestate performs and which paragon shows up will likely play a huge factor in the flank engagements. Speaking of which, expect a multitude of bombs and trickery from both Roamers. Ash will likely offclass during the match, and so will paragon. Squid is the only utility I'm aware of on Cisco but I think this match will be decided by the combo than cheeky surprise plays. If Cisco walks away with a win, expect the LAN race to seriously intensify, perhaps even explode.
Prediction: 5-2, Street Hoops eSports
Yomies represent the changing of the guard as all of them are new to Invite, while Show Me the Monet is a collection of older players from across the seasons. Both teams have a lot to prove here with a win and a leg up on the other in the Power Rankings. Just on paper, Show Me the Monet has a better roster (with the exception of the Roamer matchup), but a lineup only goes so far. Taking past matches into account, The Yomies were able to grab a round off Froyotech while Monet has fallen flat against Ding Dong Daddy and Cisco Adler's Balls. But that was Snakewater and this is Process. Rekuso and CJ will flash their Soldier skills across the map and make BUICK's life miserable, so flame will need to reciprocate that effect on Zilly. I'm positive smaka will not let Yeremy get the upper hand against him on midfights and spam wars, but in the end the young and ambitious Yomies will find themselves with their first win of the season.
Prediction: 5-3, A New Yomie
Ding Dong Daddy will have to play eLevate this week, and that result will likely alter my opinions on this match, but if they play as strongly as they did against Froyotech, the Daddies are going to surprise a lot of people this season. At the same time, Runaway 5 put up a valiant effort against Mad Men and ended up falling 2-5 in 45 minutes. Paddie in particular had the most frags and damage on the server and will more likely than not give showstopper a challenging fight during uber exchanges and pushes. Sneaky vs. Skarlett is another matchup that could go awry if one starts falling behind in productivity, but the rest of the matchups look pretty good across the board. This might come down to which Medic is better at staying alive and escaping unfavorable situations to keep a chance of uber and the defense of the next point for their team. I'll put my faith in showstopper and the boys and their epic dank memes to end up with a convincing win over r5.
Prediction: 5-3, Ding Dong Daddy
Match of the Week
The LAN hype continues with another marquee matchup between Street Hoops and Mad Men. While this match might not necessarily seal a team's fate, it'll certainly feel good to be the team that walks away with a win here. A Mad Men win would be absolutely crazy in terms of shaping up this season's LAN race since they'd jump to an early lead over eLevate and Street Hoops, while a 20b victory keeps things super close immediately between these 3 teams. I will continue on the deadbolt train and expect him to outplay Pharaoh, who has taken a liking to the Loose Cannon which might not be as good on Process. Between indust and ninjanick, many ubers will be milked, many surfs will be surfed and many Crossbows will be fired. The Pocket that will benefit the most from the Medic shenanigans is grape, and the best Soldier in this match will probably be grape.
However, on the opposite side of the combo, I see Mike, seymour, and harbleu doing a lot more damage (both in the literal and figurative sense) than their counterparts. Ash will do his best to match harbleu's plays, and cyzer can obviously stand up to Mike and seymour, but if seymour has another monstrous game I don't see how 20b can stop the Mad Men flank. Paragon is the weakest link of the Scouts, but across the seasons he has had some games where he's stepped well out of cyzer's shadow and create his own impact for his team. Whether the paragon that shows up is hiding in or out of cyzer's shadow will probably dictate how the flank exchanges and average performance will go. Ultimately, I expect another close game, another nailbiter. Slowly but surely the Mad Men will grab revenge for the losses last season and have their first win in this rivalry.
Prediction: 5-4, Mad Men
Players to Watch: seymour, harbleu, grape, deadbolt
The Start of Power Rankings
- eLevate TF2
- Mad Men
- Street Hoops Esports
- Cisco Adler's Balls
- Ding Dong Daddy
- Runaway 5
- A New Yomie
- Show Me the Monet
Froyotech remains undisputed as the #1 team in Invite, while the next 3 slots are all interchangeable and will likely remain between those teams for the rest of the season unless we see some upsets from the other Invite teams. For now, eLevate retains the #2 spot while Mad Men barely inch over 20b given their win and 20b's loss. Of course, you can expect the winner of this matchup to get bumped up or stay ahead. Cisco Adler's Balls have a chance to throw a wrench in the plans of Street Hoops while Ding Dong Daddy are looking to keep themselves in the middle of the pack and will likely do so if they can win against Runaway 5. As I said last week, someone has to be on the bottom right now and Monet will occupy that space until they face off against the Yomies this week and I have new data.
I wasn't able to look over and review match STV's due to finishing up my online class and the return to school, but will hopefully be more on top of things in the future. This was a pilot article to see how I feel about this style / format / topics compared to traditional Power Rankings. I think I liked this, and hopefully you guys do, too. Let me know what you think! Also, since the preview function is under construction you'll probably see micro edits and link updates once in a while.