Test Your Metal
As Week 3 dawns, we find ourselves approaching Metalworks, and some somber news that we'll get to in a bit. Metalworks was first introduced in S13, and although it's stayed in rotation since, the map is very prone to stalemates, perhaps even moreso than Snakewater (I remember there was one night of Metalworks matches where no game ended with 5 rounds for the winning team, something along those lines). This can be both a blessing and a curse: it acts as a blessing to those who favor a slower methodical approach and also to those who enjoy watching hour long matches between Invite teams. Conversely, it's a curse as teams fail push after push into last, repeatedly getting rebuffed thanks to a Heavy, Pyro, and Engineer Prolander setup, and the long drawn-out games slowly sap away your energy like those mischievous little Spies.
In other news, mustardoverlord wrote up a disseration on the Demoman class, and it's worth a read even though it's a bit lengthy, but hey I literally wrote a short novel in the Invite Preview so I've got no room to talk. ESEA Pugs are becoming more of a thing, so if you're playing in ESEA this season and have time to kill, play in some pugs! You get to play with your competitors and a handful of Invite players like SneakyPolarBear, Sezco, and of course b4nny join from time to time. The picking system and server shenanigans do leave a bit to be desired, though if we keep playing and submitting tickets hopefully we'll eventually get the changes we want.
The Ones That Ran Away
Before we get into the main content, it's unfortunate news that Invite has suffered their first casualty of the season. Runaway 5, under strain from various work schedules and other shenanigans has folded after just one match. Runaway 5 had the potential to throw wrenches in the plans of the other bubble teams, and were no doubt very promising given their close 2-5 exchange with the Mad Men. Alas, what's done is done and we will pay our respects to the gone but not forgotten.
"No one understands me. Jonah's fat. The roses are dead," - Skarlett
Death and Destruction
Process week was certainly interesting. Not a single match this week was better than a 5-1. Some were closer than others, but in general all of them finished within 30 minutes, which is either good or bad depending on your perspective as a spectator. Yomies were able to dismantle a struggling Show Me the Monet in a 5-0 showing, with CJ putting on a dominating performance while on the other side flame struggled to get damage and frags. Street Hoops did more work than I anticipated, shutting out Cisco Adler's Balls 5-0 before just as convincingly defeating Mad Men, giving them a 3-0 lead in this rivalry. Grape continued to put on strong showings and ninjanick died just 7 times between both matches. Paragon also shut me up, playing just as well if not better than cyzer while taking slightly less heals. Maybe thinking a player will perform poorly will make them stronger, in which case I'd better hop on the Ding Dong Daddy and Cisco Adler's Balls train quickly.
Ding Dong Daddy has made strides this season, and put up a valiant effort against eLevate despite the 5-1 loss. That and the 2-5 loss to Froyotech might not look like much to casual observer, but last season DDD only got a single round in 5 matches against LAN teams this is improvement on the rise. This week will be the critical test as they take on both Street Hoops and Mad Men. The remaining matches were an uneventful romp of Show Me the Monet by Froyotech and a 20 minute 5-1 of Cisco by eLevate. As I said earlier, this week wasn't the same thriller that Snakewater was, and the death of Runaway 5 only hurts the competition as we lose a middle-of-the-pack team but hopefully things will change for the better in future weeks.
This will likely be a recurring topic on Invite Weekly, a semi-statistical analysis of your favorite categories like frags, deaths, dominations. Remember that these are always in flux, because no two teams play the same way and not all playtime is created equal, therefore teams with longer matches will have had more opportunities to polish their statlines. Also, until I properly figure out how to code tables for TFTV we'll be using ghetto Excel tables (LOL) to list the top 3 in some categories, rest in peace. After Week 2, eLevate has already amassed 3 hours of playtime, no doubt thanks to their grueling Snakewater week. Given that the team with the next highest amount of time played is Mad Men at 2 hours, eLevate will dominate the number charts early and may even continue to do so throughout the rest of the season, in which case I might have to reconsider this segment, or omit eLevate entirely though neither option is very fun.
Shrugger leads Invite with almost 150 frags, with teammates Ma3la and Decimate following suit. Shrugger has put up pretty powerful performances thus far in the season, and will look to extend his #1 position this week against Yomies and Froyotech. Sidenote: kbk leads all Medics with 8 frags, he is truly the Krossbow Kid. Alfa has died a whopping 151 times already in 4 matches, nearly averaging 40 deaths per game, which is...good? Funny, even? I'm not sure. He better watch out though, harbleu can probably close that gap quickly within an hour's worth of gameplay. The last category was rather random, since nothing really stands out at this point in time thanks to the difference in time played so I picked ubers and kbk almost has 80 of 'em. Statistics will be more interesting as the season runs along, and we compare the numbers from week to week.
The Outset of Week 3
Given the death of Runaway 5, there should be no excuse for me not to cover and predict every single match, but I'm going to wimp out for just this week because. At a glance, this week's matches aren't as impressive or as close as the previous week's, but that doesn't mean we won't have a few good games. In particular, the MOTW is gonna be really key. This week is a chance for all the LAN-hopefuls to continue moving forward in the LAN race, and for the teams below them to hopefully throw a wrench in their plans.
From a purely numerical standpoint, this match should be close. Both teams lost to Street Hoops last week rather convincingly, and Mad Men were only able to get one more round than Cisco. Having said that, however, when I look at the rosters I think a clear advantage is on Mad Men's side. I'd say that Mad Men outclasses Cisco on nearly every position. So while I think this game could be close, I wouldn't be that surprised if a certain ad team ended up snowballing momentum throughout the match.
The Mad Men flank is extremely strong, and I simply don't think Boink / Freestate / squid can be as destructive as harbleu / Mike / seymoo. This is probably irrelevant, but harbleu has played with squid for 2 seasons, but squid has never played with harbleu on Roamer. Over on the combo, xalox vs. Pharaoh is the one matchup I'm giving the advantage to Cisco, but can Mangachu and dbw hold their own against bl4nk and indust? Special note is that this is the reunion and face off of Classic Mixup's remnants: harbleu and indust on one side, squid and xalox on the other. As stated above, I expect a good match, but for Mad Men's firepower to help them pull away in the later stages of this timely map.
Prediction: 5-3, Mad Men
Ding Dong Daddy has a tough week ahead of them. In just the first 6 matches of the season they'll have played the 3 returning LAN teams plus Mad Men. Their performances this season may not look very impressive to the casual outsider's perspective, but I see a lot of growth and improvement here. Last season, DDD got one round in their 5 matchups against the S17 LAN teams. Now they've grabbed a round off eLevate and two off Froyotech. Their results this week will shed some more light on this meme-happy team, especially given that next week they face off against Cisco Adler's Balls, which is surely going to be the MOTW.
Unfortunately, I don't think an upset win is on the menu, though I predict more or less the same. The Daddies should prove a strong showing, and Showstopper and Sneaky will have more Soldier antics to show but I can only see DDD getting a round at most off Street Hoops. Grape will be monstrous as usual and there will probably be more than a few Sniper switches to push last.
Prediction: 5-1, Street Hoops eSports
Let me tell you a quick story. Last night there was a mini-reunion of S16 Hell Xpress. SpaceCadet, alosec, and x3 were hanging around when alosec casually asked if he could write something for Invite Weekly. He wanted to make a prediction for Ding Dong Daddy vs. Mad Men. What transpired in the 30 minutes following developed into a full scale super serious no-nonsense bet (a friendly wager, if you will) between SpaceCadet and alosec over this very match. There were many refined metals, over-unders, and middle-man shenanigans involved but in the end, they're both here to voice their opinions to why they think the Daddies or Mad Men will win Wednesday night.
"So here we see another case of simple mathematics. Big Dong Laddies AKA Ding Dong Daddies are the clear pick to wipe the floor with Mad Men, metaphorically speaking. You could say my prediction is for DDD to win 5-3, but you'd just be lying. That's not my prediction. That's the truth. Let's do the math. Froyotech beat DDD 5-2. Street Hoops eSports beat Mad Men 5-1. From extensive analysis of these numbers, it is apparent that the sum of the loser's score is 2+1=3. The sum of the winner's score is a maximum of 5+5=5. This analysis yields a winner's score of 5 and a loser's score of 3. DDD scored more rounds in their humiliating defeat, and therefore will be the victor in their match vs. Mad Men 5-3." - alosec
"As we near the halfway point of Season 18, this match in particular could end up being one of the most important for LAN implications. By the end of the season, one of these teams will look back and wish they had played better to secured this important win.
DDD’s strong performance vs. Froyotech on Snakewater was short lived by falling flat vs eLevate on Process. The reason could be the maps involved. Metalworks can play a lot like Snakewater with very long and drawn-out rounds possibly playing heavily into DDD’s style. The next 2 weeks are incredibly vital for DDD as they play 4 teams pushing for a LAN spot. A victory here over Mad Men can make huge waves for the entire Invite Division.
Mad Men are the smart pick for the coveted 4th LAN spot as they have the skill & talent to defeat the top 3 teams. Winning these early matches against bubble teams like DDD will be important in locking up a LAN spot ASAP. Stumble now and fight for your life in the last weeks of the season. Prediction: Mad Men, 5-2" - SpaceCadet
Prediction: 5-1, Mad Men
Match of the Week
Here we go, everybody. The grudge match between Froyotech and eLevate. From last season eLevate holds a 2-0 lead in their head-to-head, but this is perhaps the most vulnerable game in this rivalry's history. Taking a look back in history, eLevate came into S17 with zero roster changes, something Froyotech gets to sport this time around while eLevate had to incorporate new players and roles. Shrugger has been playing well, and goes up against his iT Scout partner b4nny for the 1st time (as LAN contenders) (speaking of, I just realized that I accidentally said Froyotech formed in S15 when they actually formed S16, and nobody caught that mistake). Ma3la on Pocket is just as good as I imagined him to be, and with the performances of kbk so far and I can safely say that eLevate has found themselves an upgraded combo. Alfa has been making ends meet whilst dying a million times per match, which is impressive on its own right.
Ma3la vs. lansky is solid matchup that is likely to produce many airshots and excellent ubers, while blaze and alfa will be trying to die as much as possible to take those ubers away. The Medic clash should also be interesting, as shade is more likely to survive and keep uber advantage for his team, but kbk will have clutch frags and we all know that whichever Medic does more damage is the real winner. The Froyotech Scouts will wreak havoc on eLevate if Decimate and Shrugger can't contain Invite's strongest Scout pair. This game's momentum swings will likely be decided on the flank, but I honestly don't recall their S17 exchanges well enough to tell you if that has substantial data to support that claim. Still, given Froyotech's near-perfect postseason dominance and Metalwork's tendency to be on Medic survivability I believe Froyotech will come through and get revenge for their losses to eLevate in S17.
Prediction: 5-2, Froyotech
Players to Watch: clckwrk, b4nny, Shrugger, Ma3la
Power Rankings: Week Two
- Street Hoops eSports [+2]
- Mad Men
- eLevate TF2 [-2]
- Cisco Adler's Balls
- Ding Dong Daddy
- A New Yomie [+1]
- Show Me the Monet [+1]
- Runaway 5 [-2] [RIP]
Street Hoops will climb over Mad Men and eLevate: Mad Men for obvious reasons, and eLevate since they 5-1'd the team eLevate barely lost to (even though Process and Snakewater are significantly different maps). I will continue to believe in the Mad Men which is why they're over eLevate, and will probably not change until their rematch in Week 6. Cisco and Ding Dong Daddy remain unchanged from last week, and possibly through this week, too. If DDD are able to put up a couple rounds against 20b and Mad Men I'll likely bump them above Cisco until these two play each other next week on Viaduct. There aren't any conclusive matches for the Yomies and Monet this week, but given Runaway 5's death and plummet to the bottom (the grave, perhaps) both get a small jump.
Time continues to slowly consume me, but I have plans to incorporate other reviews and the like for future volumes. Thanks to SpaceCadet and alosec for making guest appearances in this week's article. Special shoutouts to TFTV's control panel, which literally took a dump on me when I finished the original draft and deleted half of my work because "form expired." Literally lost everything from League Leaders and on. Thus the latter half of this piece is more rushed and less refined, sorry. >_<