Welcome to week 3, friends! IM is still holding at 15 teams strong, although where these teams lie in the power rankings are fluctuating constantly. Last week on process saw a few upsets and a few very close games. To all the teams with less than stellar records: The season is barely starting, you still have plenty of time to come back. Even the teams at 0-4 have the potential to bounce back and finish somewhere around 8-8. Unlike in Open, the bubble in IM is super tiny, usually just down to maybe 3 teams. It isn't time to start counting your rounds, but don't lose hope if you've had a rough start this season.
Metalworks is probably one of the most awkward maps in the rotation right now. Even though its been in the pool for the last couple seasons, its still a map that some teams just haven't quite figured out quite yet. Hopefully this means we see some good games, at least until we get to the part of the season where everyone is playing maps they have been playing for their entire TF2 lives. Looking at the schedule, I can only see a few games that will be close, but if there's one thing I've learned so far, its that nothing is for certain in season 18.
This week, we'll see some TOTALLY SICK frags from some of our top 8 players. Hope y'all enjoy it, and once again a big thank you to k.L. for taking the time to make these videos. You are my stallion.
1. Meat Market (4-0)
Meat Market had a pretty clean week, picking up a forfeit from Goldman Sachs and taking a 5-0 off of Pizzagon eSports. Honestly, this team's schedule hasn't been terribly exciting for their first couple weeks, but this week they should have a decent game against sparkle bunniis, who are still trying to come together as a team. I don't expect Meat Market to drop more than a round to Pinoy Boys, but since last week Pinoy is starting to bounce back and may come up with a few surprises of their own. Looking forward, Meat Market should be getting matched up with teams at the top of the division come gullywash and badlands week. Its almost a certain thing that we'll be able to see the match up between Cafe Monster and Meat Market on gullywash, which will pretty much decide who gets to sit in first for awhile.
2. Cafe Monster (4-0)
Cafe Monster has yet to drop a single round so far, which would lead me to believe they should probably be in first right now. At the beginning of the season, I just threw them both in at the top and let it lie until they played each other. This week presents a unique opportunity, as both teams play the same teams this week on metalworks. While I don't expect any of these matches to be upsets in any way, it will be interesting to see how each team does against Pinoy Boys and sparkle bunniis. While it may not be enough to really mix the rankings around quite yet, the comparison will be fun for novelty purposes at least. Much like Meat Market, the next couple weeks will be the more challenging matches of the season, but by the time badlands week rolls around, this team will know roughly where their final seeding for the post season will be.
3. Bearded Clams (3-1)
Bearded Clams (or topshot boys as they were once called) gets a meteoric rise to the top 3 in the division with an upset win over MAD LUX GOLD, and a solid win over Anteaters Chuckin Chairs. This team is still far from tight or pretty, but lets talk about the potential here. Fragg and Paul both had some great games this week, putting up big numbers and more often than not doing a fantastic job in their roles. Nonis and Vand both were all over the place during the match against MAD LUX, but more often than not I was impressed with their ability to not just constantly feed, unlike some scouts in this division I could name. They've had some sketchy games and they don't always have the same 6 in the server at one time, but even after a somewhat embarrassing 5-0 loss at the beginning of the season, the clams are showing this group of gamers can still come up with a surprise or two. Next week they will be playing Champagne and Cocaine as well as Subspace Emissaries. Champagne is having a decent season so far, and should be a great game to watch. Subspace has continued to struggle to keep the “no scrim season” dream alive, but shouldn't be underestimated. All in all, I'm excited to see what comes from this team.
4. MAD LUXURIOUS – GOLD (3-1)
MAD LUX took a hit last week, with a 5-2 loss to bearded clams, a team not on most people's radar after their week one performance. While MAD LUX may have thought they had that match in the bag, they were shut down pretty hard by the clams with beards, with some very sloppy play overall. Dance had a decent game, but everyone else just seemed to be playing on tilt and making some silly mistakes throughout the match. They more than made up for it in their match against sparkle bunniis, however, with a tight 4-3 win against former teammate dingo. Process seemed like a map the team just didn't really play well on, which is unfortunate. Lets hope that metalworks, which shares some similarities with process in many ways, doesn't cause as many problems for them. They'll be playing Wu Tang Club and Hate Being Sober this week, which both have potential to be decent matches. I expect to see Wu Tang Club take a round or two, but probably won't take the win here. Hate Being Sober has had a good start to the season, and should present a challenge for the MAD LUX boys, but we'll talk more about this match in the MOTW. Hellbent: don't kill yourself if you lose, its going to happen at least a few times this season!
5. Hate Being Sober (3-1)
I got excited for Hate Being Sober when Paddie joined the roster and played in their most recent match, but since then he has left the roster to rejoin his now dead Invite team. Despite this team not having a whole lot of data in ESEA to back up putting them in the top 8, the two matches they've actually played this season have been exciting to watch to say the least. Last week they took a win away from I THOUGHT SHE WAS 18 (please change your team name ffs) in what was a closer match than I expected. Next week the team finally gets to play their two matches in one week, which will give us a really good idea of what we can expect from this team for the rest of the season. Their match against Champagne and Cocaine should be pretty close, either a 5-3 or a 5-4, but at this time I couldn't tell you who would definitely come out on top of this match up. Either way, Corsa is looking like the main threat on this team, and I'm looking forward to seeing more from him and the rest of the team on metalworks.
6. Sparkle Bunniis (1-3)
While a lot of people are going to question this decision to keep sparkle bunniis in the top 8, I look at this team as still being in transition. Even after getting their booties handed to them on process last week, the team was looking stronger in their second match against MAD LUX GOLD. So far, their biggest challenges are going to be keeping Skye alive long enough to make the right push, as well as Skye learning when to hold on to those ubers and when its ok to pop it when under pressure. Last night we saw a lot of unfortunate drops and some lackluster ubers, but with mason in the pocket role the direction should become clearer as the season progresses. Gls and Oobii also tend to feed at random times as well, but that was less impactful to whether rounds were won or lost, but more on if pushes were successful or not. The team still has a lot of room to grow and have had a tough schedule so far. With matches against Cafe Monster and Meat Market this week, that schedule is still unforgiving, but the team has the chance to come back in the rest of the season to sneak into playoffs. Dingo on roamer was pretty fun to watch, but one man's antics aren't going to be enough to take wins off the two best teams in the division currently. Hang in their, bunniis! Your time will come.
7. Champagne and Cocaine (3-1)
Another batch of newcomers to the power rankings, Champy has had a great start to the season with only one loss to Meat Market and some solid wins under their belts. Their most recent game against Pinoy Boys was pretty back and forth, and spoke to the teams strengths and weaknesses. From watching them, it feels like a lot of this team's play revolves around Muma's damage, which is neither a good or bad thing. Both scouts play somewhat passively (some might say more intelligently) and the soldiers make room when they have to. I would like to see the team break out a little more and take some wins over teams ranked higher than they are at the moment, and I expect to be impressed before long. Their match against bearded clams this week should be a great opportunity for an upset win, as the clams are probably the most inconsistent of the teams in the top 4 at the moment. Their second match should be another close one, as I see Hate Being Sober roughly around the same skill level as Champagne and Cocaine. Metalworks will be a good map to see which team is more coordinated with eachother, as a successful transition mostly comes down to timing rather than DM in a lot of ways. Hopefully Muma and crew can show the rest of the division they shouldn't be underestimated this week.
8. MAD LUXURIOUS-BLUE (2-2)
With Pizzagon eSports being fired from the power rankings last week with their loss to Pinoy Boys, I bring the second MAD LUX team in for a few reasons. Their forfeit loss was unfortunate but in any event I would have predicted Hate Being Sober to win, and their 5-0 win over bearded clams has yet to be proven to be a fluke or just the team playing really well. Picking up Wrech on pocket was a good move, and in a lot of ways seems to be an upgrade (sorry Huck). Demoted and ex both are solid scouts, although demoted seems to be very frag-hungry, which can either make or break the team during a lot of fights. Their place in the top 8 is pretty tenuous right now, as even another loss to the next 3 teams they will be playing would be enough for me to move someone else back in. While this team is a place holder at the moment, I think they have the potential to be a top 8 team if they continue to improve. They have a tough viaduct week, but if they do well enough against sparkle bunniis and Cafe Monster I could see this team staying in the top 8 for awhile. Good luck to the sophomore MAD LUX team.
Match of the Week: MAD LUXURIOUS-GOLD vs Hate Being Sober
This weeks Match of the Week is going to be MadLuxurious Gold versus Hate Being Sober, formerly known as American Jerks. The teams will face off against each other on Metalworks, one of the newer maps to the competitive scene. The map features a fairly open mid with a several big flanks leading into a second with small chokes, foreshadowing the even tighter last point. It will be key for each team to control the flanks and prevent the other from moving through them. I feel as though this game will be won or lost on the flanks and both teams field a solid flank.
For MadLux Gold, we have Fox and DanceNumber on scout, Pamphlet on demo, Jaybenaduchi on pocket, Lucrative on medic and somehow, Hellbent managed to make it out of Open and is now playing roamer for the MadLux squad. This team has a lot of experience shared among the players, especially with Lucrative, the old man of this team, who made his TF2 debut in Season 2. Rounding up the combo we have Jaybenaduchi another player who has been around for a while and Pamphlet, the ex-demo for Subspace Emissaries. The flank for MadLux has just as much experience as the combo. Both Fox and DanceNumber are fearsome scouts to play against, hardly missing shots and putting up consistently good numbers each game. The last member of their flank, Hellbent, has huge bombs and hits the shots when needed. As a medic who’s played against Hellbent, he’s one of the most annoying roamers to be up against.
On the other side, Hate Being Sober also brings quite a bit of experience together with the IM SUPER COMBO OF KIGBARIOM AND FARNSWORTH. Both of these guys were the sole survivors of the Grime, a team that played IM last season. Combine them with Corsa, Rummy and Dagger and they become a formidable force that should place decently in playoffs this season. Kig has told me that this will be the first time they have played with their full roster, which means that Walka is finally returning. Rummy and Corsa will be dominating the flank on scout with Walka to support them. Corsa a Platinum sniper for Bote, should be looking to abuse the sightlines that Metalworks has to offer and will be a threat to MadLux every time they try to push into last. Farns will shoot the ground well, Kig will heal him and Dagger will put up some big damage for his scouts to clean up on.
This should be a fairly close match as both teams are 3-1 this season, so getting this win could possibly help one of them get the better playoff secede. As previously stated, the flank is key on this match and I feel as though MadLux Gold pulls ahead in this aspect due to the fact that Walka has been missing for these first two weeks. However, it should still be a really close match and I’m going to give the victory to MadLuxurious Gold, 5-4.
Prediction: 5-4 MadLux Gold
Players to Watch: Hellbent, Pamphlet, Corsa, Farns
P.S. Do you have a preference on the MotW write-ups length? I can do a longer article like this one or a smaller one like the previous. Let me know!
Bonus video for this week: Bloopers with this stupid clown song! Enjoy.
Thank you all for reading, any comments/criticisms are appreciated!