3 weeks are behind us, 3 maps have been played, and only 1 team is dead so far. Last week on metalworks we saw some strange results and close games, most notably the match between Hate Being Sober and Champagne and Cocaine. If you want to see some great TF2, I suggest downloading that STV and grabbing some popcorn because it was incredibly entertaining to see. Bearded Clams play with their actual starters this week, and unfortunately they've had their butts kindly served to them by Champagne and Cocaine and the Subspace Emissaries. Subspace picks up their second win of the season, but their rough early start might mean they won't sneak in at 8th seed for the third season in a row. The top 2 will remain unchanged, after having nearly identical results against the same teams last week. Bird up, snail down.
Viaduct week is upon us, the only map of its kind in the map pool. The newest version doesn't have a lot of significant differences to change how most teams play this map, although it might be slightly more difficult for snipers to be super effective. This week is sure to see some upsets, as the map really gives demos time to shine, and any scout player will feel like a god. Maybe this week will present an opportunity for a few teams to grab a win or two that they may not have had on a 5cp map. Sparkle Bunniis, I'm looking to see you guys earn your spot this week after a tough starting schedule!
Big thank you to all the people that added me and sent me their clips last week, it was incredibly helpful! I would like to make it clear that these clips don't necessarily need to be limited to the top 8, as long as its in IM and as long as its during an official match I'll probably throw it in there. Don't be shy!
1. Meat Market (6-0)
This season has been pretty nice to Meat Market; they have only dropped three rounds all season and had some pretty smooth games, but all that will change this week. They will go up against Anteaters Chuckin Chairs, who have had some strange results so far this season. The team hasn't looked too bad, but have yet to really hit a good win streak to show the rest of the division that they could make the cut this season. BroKing and the boys won't be worried too much about this match, but the question mark for everyone is going to be their match against Small and Soft. As impressive as the no-scrim team may look with their 6-0 record right now, it will be interesting to see how these teams match up on a map more dependent on raw DM than on tight team cohesion. Without really thinking about it too hard, I think Meat Market will not be too worried about this week, and instead will look forward to gullywash, where they will take on the only other undefeated team in the division, Cafe Monster.
2. Cafe Monster (6-0)
Cafe Monster had a pretty good week, although they have dropped their first round of the season, allegedly to some connection issues with their medic and pocket during the round they lost. While this is really not that big of a deal, it does mean I couldn't really make any kind of speculation on if this team is significantly better than Meat Market. If I was to go by scrim results, I would say Cafe looks a lot more consistent and could be the stronger team on paper, but the real test of how a team performs is always going to be in an official match. Both of their metalworks matches were pretty much rolls, although the sparkle bunniis match was obviously the closer of the two. This week, they should take a solid 4-0 over Mad Lux BLUE, mostly because I don't see the BLUE scouts to do well against Highfive and Yomps, but also because I think Desca will run a train on the combo this match. Mad Lux BLUE has had a decent start to their season, and a loss won't matter much here. The second match for Cafe will be against Small and Soft, which we'll talk about more during the Match of the Week.
3. MAD LUXURIOUS-GOLD (5-1)
MAD LUX GOLD creeps back into third place after Bearded Clams beefs it hard last week, whereas the GOLD boys came up on two wins this week against Hate Being Sober and Wu Tang Club. The game against Hate Being Sober probably could have gone either way, and with a 5-3 win it seems that Luc and the boys have shaken off their loss during process and bounced back. This week will be against another team that could come up on a win over MAD LUXURIOUS. Champagne and Cocaine had an incredibly close game against Hate Being Sober last week, and stomped bearded clams 5-0 as well. Logic would dictate that because GOLD lost 5-2 to bearded clams that Champagne and Cocaine should be able to take the win, but with the map being viaduct its all going to come down to how well Pamphlet does compared to Muma. I wouldn't count out the Fox sniper plays on this map, however I don't think this would be the most reliable of strategies unless you were holding the point. Even though I want to say there are higher profile matches this week, this match will be one to watch for sure.
4. Hate Being Sober (4-2)
Every single match that Hate Being Sober has played has been pretty close, and while this season has probably been very exciting for them, I almost want to see them really take a win where it doesn't come down to the wire. Last week they had a decent game against MAD LUX GOLD and a nailbiter win over Champagne and Cocaine. Corsa finished this match with a whopping 64 frags to his 37 deaths, a phenomenal performance to say the least. The match was very back and forth, coming down to a golden cap to end the game 5-4. Right up to the very last fight, it felt like each team was struggling to find a way to gain momentum, but in the end Hate Being Sober was able to take the win in what was the most exciting matches I've watched all season. Corsa will have another chance to go huge this week along with his buds Dagger and Farns, as they will be playing teams that they have a somewhat significant DM advantage over. Maybe we'll see some more trickstabs from Corsa, who knows!
5. Champagne and Cocaine (4-2)
Huck plays for the first time on his new team last week, replacing foreverinfallible (whose name feels a little redundant). Huck will be the third roamer they've had this season so far, and hopefully will stay in this role for awhile. Right as the team has secured their 6 however, it seems that Ninjax will also be leaving after viaduct week. Who will be replacing him is unknown, but it seems like they have been trying out a few people recently and there shouldn't be too much time to get a permanent replacement. Despite all of these roster shakeups this season that has kind of hurt other teams (see Pinoy Boys) Champagne and Cocaine stays strong at their core with a very heal heavy pocket and a demo who can hit big pipes on command. This week I actually expect to see a big upset win for Champagne over MAD LUX GOLD, although the match will probably be pretty close. Hopefully the legendary DOLPHIN RIDER will bring his A game, and Ninjax will have his last week be very memorable before he has to call it quits.
6. MAD LUXURIOUS-BLUE (4-2)
MAD LUX BLUE has actually surprised me this season. Of all the teams in the bubble, I would not have expected this team to come out on top of the other teams this early in the season. With four wins already under their belt, they should have no trouble securing their playoff spot as long as they don't lose out against the three other teams around them in record. Meanwhile, teams like Pizzagon and I THOUGHT SHE WAS 18 are starting to creep up on those last two spots, and other teams are seemingly throwing away their opportunities to secure their playoff spot. Last week saw BLUE go up against one of the other bubble teams and take the win 5-3 over phlps and crew although the match was riddled with connection issues and some questionable ethics. After the boys in BLUE paid up a few back ups to just field 6 and were able to play the match after what seemed like hours, BLUE takes the win. Emotions ran high in match comms, but in the end I think everyone came to the same conclusion: ESEA is the real winner here, with two more players paid up to play for like 10 minutes. This week, hopefully all the client issues have been resolved and everyone can play the game, but with matches against cafe monster and sparkle bunniis, MAD LUX BLUE is going to have a difficult time this week. The match against sparkle bunniis is probably winnable, but with such a disparity in DM and experience, I don't see them coming out on top. Shoutout to Lambert for playing his first ESEA match in awhile.
7. Bearded Clams (3-3)
I am honestly so confused by this team, but I guess I really shouldn't be. On paper this roster looks like one that should be doing a lot better than they are, but on the other hand they seem to lose to teams better than the ones they've had solid wins over. Part of this is changing up their starters to satisfy the roster hijack rule, and part of this is because this is literally all foster's fault. Phelon and Paul are both decent soldiers, topshot has a wealth of experience and solid DM, and I've seen Vand do well in quite a few matches already this season. This can only lead to the logical conclusion that Foster is somehow bringing this team down, and that he should be cut right away. I'm joking, obviously, but it is a little alarming to see the team come away from such a great process week only to get stomped on metalworks. Part of me thinks that metalworks just might not be a good map for bearded clams, but that will become obvious after this week. Hopefully Foster can prove me wrong and show us that he's still got it, as they should be able to take two wins this week from I THOUGHT SHE WAS 18 and Pizzagon eSports. Neither team is a push over, and I think that mustard is going to be an animal on this map, but if bearded clams wants a shot at staying in the game they need both of these wins here.
8. sparkle bunniis (1-5)
I ask myself every week why I keep sparkle bunniis in the rankings, and it always comes down to the fact that I don't think there is anyone else ready to take this 8th spot. Sparkle bunniis have probably had the hardest start, playing all of the teams in the top 3 in the first couple weeks. Even though they have a 1-5 record currently, I can see this changing pretty rapidly in the weeks to come. Losing any more games could put them in some serious jeopardy of not making playoffs (some might even say they have already anti-clinched themselves) but as the team plays together more, I would hope they can improve their game and get some decent wins. Heres to hoping for a comeback, boys! Otherwise there are plenty of other teams waiting to see themselves in the top 8.
Match of the Week: Small and Soft vs Cafe Monster
It was incredibly hard to pick this weeks MOTW, seeing how Small and Soft (S&S) is playing both Café Monster and Meat Market. It was practically impossible to pick between these two matches, but I ended up picking S&S versus Café Monster. Both of these teams are currently undefeated, but after this week, only one will remain.
The Café Monster versus S&S game will be extremely close, as previously stated, both teams are 6-0 and this will be the first real test for of them. Since I’ve talked about S&S in a prior write-up I won’t go too in depth to their lineup. They have incredibly strong fragging power on their flank, Lunacide+kev+ringo= death and explosions. Their combo also has been putting up some impressive numbers in their past few matches. However, the scariest part of this team is their roster, they hold the official record for most rostered players in Intermediate with a grand total of 21.
Over on the Café Monster side they have a dominant, well quite honestly, everything. For Café’s flank they have Purpleshirt on roamer and Yomps and Highfive on scout. These three alone are a scary combo. Then we get to their actual combo of Soapy, Desca and the man himself, Goldfish. As if the flank was scary enough, these three offer an incredible amount of raw fragging power to the team. Although Goldfish is fairly new to the scene, considering he started out in IM for Hell Xpress in Season 15, he is arguably the best pocket in IM. With him leading ubercharges in with Desca hot on his heels, they seem to be an unstoppable force.
However, this weeks map is on Viaduct, a KOTH map that some teams have a hard time playing on. In this match up I feel as though it’s going to come down to the calls that both teams have. They are practically evenly matched in their deathmatch skills, but it should all come down to the strategies each team implements to try and take down the other.
Prediction: 4-1 Cafe Monster
Players to Watch: Ringo, Doll, Yomps, GoldfishMatch of the Week: Small and Soft vs Meat Market
Wait what’s this, there’s more? You bet your ass there is. How could I only pick one of these matches for the MOTW? Instead we are having two Matches of the Week this time around. The next match up I’m talking about is Small and Soft versus Meat Market.
Meat Market, like Café and S&S, is 6-0. Therefore, this match is going to decide the positioning of these three for playoffs. I already talked about Goldfish, a contender for best pocket in IM, but the other big name trying to take this title is broKing. Combine BroKing with Jarrett and Jodd and you have a strong combo that can match the fragging power of any other in IM. Their flank isn’t lacking either. Meat Market fields three stellar players with ranga on roamer with Yeegz and Cheesymacgyver on scout. This team is pretty scary with their raw DM ability and will be a top contender for the IM Championship.
Prediction: 4-2 Meat Market
Players to Watch: Ringo, Doll, BroKing, Cheesymacgyver
Once again, I'd like to keep these “very kush, super sick” frags going because its been a lot of fun to do so far, so if you have something you want to see in these videos PM me on tf.tv or just add me on steam. Big thank you to Valkeri and k.L. this week, they've both been doing a fantastic job with their contributions to making these interesting.