Hello! I thought I wasn't writing for TFTV this season but apparently here I am with the ESEA Intermediate Playoffs Preview. For the next 2 weeks, the best of IM will compete for the IM crown and a free ticket to Invite for Season 20. We'll once again see the division's top 8 teams battle it out in a best-of-3 double elimination bracket. UR1's maps comprise of Snakewater, Granary, and Metalworks.
#1. Luca Goers vs. #8. Egyptian Flamingos
[Regular Season Matchup (W1): Luca Goers: 5-2]
Unscrupulous Asian man
Jew admin, Mana" - Avast, Grains of Rice Vol. 2
Luca Goers (formerly Getawhale Fanclub) come into playoffs at the #1 seed, only dropping one match in the regular season to Mad Luxurious Blue. This may turn out as a blessing in disguise, as history has not been kind to the 16-0 IM teams of old. That curse aside, it's easy to see why this team has been and will continue being so dominant. Linkuser and arekk have been nothing short of a deadly Scout pair, and the damage and space created by their combo is no joke either. Nursey plays an outstanding Medic and has been far above the other Medics in the division, the calling and advantages provided for these Getawhale fanatics will be key. Also of note is that they will be without arekk for a bit, with Scizor stepping in from his backup role. Scizor is still a very proven Scout, having played in Invite with the Yomies. At worst he'll be a sidegrade until arekk returns from vacation.
"I'm not super confident going against them. I think our teams core is in our scouts, arekk & Linkuser. Arekk is gone 'till the 21st on vacation, and Linkuser is going to be playing with a fluctuating 50-200 ping. Scizor is playing for arekk, but playing with Scizor there's a different feel on the team. Arekk talks more and arekk and I have been together 3 seasons, Scizor talks less and is the only person on the team not to trash on Connor as we play. I think we have a pretty decent chance at egyptian flamingoes, it'll be really unfortunate to lose the first round of playoffs (as I usually do) after all the hard work my team (except Connor) put in. Egyptian Flamingoes is the team that improved the most I'd say througout the whole season, so if we can take them out early I'm pretty confident in our team getting finals." - Nursey
It's easy to see that every member on Luca Goers outclasses their Egyptian counterpart. After all this is the #1 seed up against the #8 seed. However, Egyptian Flamingos have some talent of their own. Blackdott and xattuu have a few seasons of IM experience under their belts, along with S15 IM Champion dflame. Hassassin is definitely capable of matching the damage output from Avast, and will likely be the lynchpin of his team. They've put in valiant efforts towards the last few weeks, including a 5-3 win over Part Time Fraggers and a 4-5 loss to Pizzagon eSports. Despite the hard work of the Flamingos this season, I think the disparity between both rosters will be too much for them and they'll find themselves exiting playoffs in 2 maps.
"We've been scrimming often, rarely with out full 6 however; work and other obligations have been cutting our scrim time shorter than we wanted. We haven't played against Luca much recently, but our results against other top teams have steadily been getting better with our demo reviews. If we all play smart and don't lose our heads halfway through I think we have a very good chance of making it to the second round, but we are definately going to take rounds and be making it a close game." - xattuu
Prediction: 2-0 Luca Goers [5-2, 5-1]
#2. Meat Market vs. #7. Part Time Fraggers
[Regular Season Matchup (W5): Meat Market: 4-0]
Meat Market are an IM staple. Previous endeavors by the team ended in an IM Championship in S16 and what most considered a surprising early exit in S18 playoffs. This team started out as an offclassing variant of Meat Market, sporting jodd and oobii on Soldier, bl4nk and broKing on Scouts, and Yeeegz on Medic. However, as of the last regular season week they switched to (most of) their mains as the roster above shows. The IM leader in frags, bl4nk, puts up disgustingly good numbers and is hungry to eat up another championship crown.
"I'm 4-0 at sandbagging. <|8O)" - bl4nk
Surprisingly, 2 out of their 3 losses came from that final week, albeit to Muffin Men and Pizzagon eSports, AKA the other top 4. Still, they'll be up against a cozen-less Part Time Fraggers, who weren't able to put up a challenge in their regular season matchup even with cozen. Needless to say, Meat Market are heavily favored here.
Who is playing what for Part Time Fraggers? Apparently they don't even know (yet).
"We'll figure it out once we are in the server." - Upio
Here's what we do know: the players are some lineup of cosa, schnell, Upio, vacationer, Benk, and alec. Somehow someway, the boys on showstopper's fanclub will field a roster for their match against the Meat Market. At least we can only hope. Honestly, even with a set roster I'd have a difficult time gauging this team's ability. PTF's season has been heavily littered with forfeits, accumulating 7 of them throughout the weeks (though one of them was an overturn, bit more on that later). However, the aftermath of Invite shenanigans took cozen away from them as he left to rejoin his Street Hoops brethren. Cozen did a lot for the team on Pocket, leading them in frags even though he didn't play the last 3 matches of the season. As mentioned earlier, they weren't able to get a round against Meat Market with cozen, so these boys will have to step up and go huge otherwise their playoff run will be just part time.
Prediction: 2-0 Meat Market [5-0. 5-1]
#3. Pizzagon eSports vs. #6. Mad Luxurious Gold
- cloudmaker sucks
[Regular Season Matchup (W4): Pizzagon eSports: 5-0]
Pizzagon eSports have had an excellent rebound season from their 6-10 debut in S18 IM. Newcomers Raytek and Rolling have been doing well, and nakeee has also impressed given his first season of Medic (though he does have a handful of dropsies). While known for being...less than aggressive in their play, this team seems to center around botmode and cloudmaker and the damage (and heals) they provide. If they slow the game down to their liking, Pizzagon will likely have a field day. But the opposing team's aggression can disrupt them, like in their games against Luca Goers.
We're pretty confident we'll be able to beat our first round opponents but we're still practicing as though it will be one of the toughest matches we've ever played. The last match we played against Mad Lux Gold we played on Granary and we won 5-0. They made some huge errors in use of their ubers and they have changed out some of their players since then and have definitely changed their playstyle for the better at least a bit. They will be a tougher opponent this time but everyone on my team has improved quite a bit, especially Rolling who has moreso come into proper form. We've learned a lot about playing the game individually and as a team and I think we still haven't really hit our potential for this playoff. We think we might have a shot at winning the whole thing but for obvious reasons we aren't the favorite to do so and we realize that." - botmode
Crowns and kings, vicious with bling, Mad Luxurious Gold are looking to better their previous playoffs performance, where they fell S18 in UR1 to eventual champions Cafe Monster in 3 maps. Pauldogg and DanceNumber have had stable to strong performances all-around, along with joshuawn, who joined later on in the season after the departure of NateRivers. Lucrative interestingly enough leads IM Medics in drops with 19. Obviously if one of these Medics drop significantly more than the other it'll be a massive momentum swing on any map. Kuestif has performed admirably considering his jump from low-IM but I feel the disparity between him and cloudmaker will be most evident in this matchup. This is probably the closest matchup in UR1, but with the natural slower pace of Snakewater and Metalworks (even Granary to an extent), Pizzagon has the edge. They will also be without Dance for UR1, having JavaB AKA Jaybenaduchi play Roamer, while shifting phelon and pauldogg to Pocket and Scout respectively.
"Well honestly, I'm not even trying to toot my own teams horn (and it's really cliche sounding) but I feel like we are our toughest competition, we have proven we can take games off all the teams in playoffs (Luca Goers are consistently on another level though) but we just aren't consistent enough to know how we will perform on a day-to-day basis. Our biggest concern with preparation for playoffs is getting a playstyle we can just do at the snap of a finger and just rely on to keep that consistency and success rate high. It's not helpful that we have had to have a role shuffle due to use having to use a backup player, but, we are optimistic that if we come into the match positive and confident in our defined playstyle that we have a really good shot of winning. I'm really excited to play Pizzagon as well, credit to their players for a massive amount of improvement between all of them and they really are a fun group to play against so should be an entertaining match (hopefully)." - lucrative
Prediction: 2-0 Pizzagon eSports [5-3, 5-2]
#4. Muffin Men vs. #5. Mad Luxurious Blue
- Evil MrMuffinz
[Regular Season Matchup (W7): The Muffin Men: 5-1]
Do you know the Muffin Men? They're the Open Champions from S18 and carved their way to a 12-4 record this season, only dropping matches to the top 3 seeds. The backbone of this team at a glance has been their Scouts, as Blues and Evil MrMuffinz both rank in the top 10 of frags and caps. Clearly a job well done there. However all is not happy for these men, as they will be without their starting Pocket trippa (due to complications), and will likely be replaced for playoffs by jumping extraordinaire EXC0. Now, trip was really good at his role and the sudden need to sub for him will disrupt the team dynamic and chemistry. They will need to make the most of the short break to scrim hard and not give their opponents any openings.
"It's one thing to not play with your Pocket for the postseason, but it's another being taken down a seed to a far less desirable playoff position. However I still think we can take the cake against Mad Lux Blue." - Evil MrMuffinz
Crowns and kings, vicious with bling, Mad Luxur--wait didn't I just write about this team? Jokes aside, Mad Lux Blue enters playoffs for the first time. As the higher seeded and better(?) Mad Lux team, they have made waves this season with upset victories against Pizzagon and more notably Luca Goers. However, they also had curious losses to not-as-strong teams like Satan Take The Wheel and Mr. Owl's TF2 Legacy (perhaps an allergy to Viaduct?). Still, slemnish is going nuts for his IM debut and mustardoverlord has been dishing out the damage since week 1 on Pocket. Something that stood out in their regular season matchup with Muffin Men was the ineffectiveness of crossfire, who went 7-20 with sub-200 DPM. This goes without saying but a repeat performance of that will be disastrous for MLB.
Prediction: 2-1 Muffin Men [5-2, 2-5, 5-1]
I don't know why I bothered predicting specific map scores, because they're practically arbitrary for me but whatever. Somewhat surprisingly there were no repeat matchups from the 8 teams in the regular season, perhaps that will change for the next round. It's also quite a shame so many shenanigans have occurred (right) before playoffs. Players going on vacation, getting banned, etc. Regardless, after this week only 4 teams will remain in the race for the Intermediate crown. I'm not sure if TeamFortressTV will be providing any IM coverage but if not, I'm sure the boys at EVL will put together some casts.
Hopefully you enjoyed this scrapped together preview of the IM playoffs. Good luck and have fun, gamers.
Editor's Note: This post was written with the correct seedings in mind (I.E. the Mad Lux swap). If the seeds get corrected, awesome. If they don't. fuck you ESEA for not following your own rules. The rules clearly say "head-to-head record then regulation rounds."