Nine weeks have passed since June 1st, the day chosen to bring us into yet another season of Highlander. After a long discussion about Platinum, both in private Mumble channels and chats, and on the forums, the decision was made to test out a Round Robin system, similar to ESEA or ETF2L. This was prompted by a playoff seeding last year that wasn't indicative, in the opinion of the Plat players, the best eight teams in Platinum. So a few custom matches for two of the spots were played, and all was well.
Fast forward through an offseason of debates with Digresser, and the size of Platinum was shrunk to ten teams, maximum. For a while it looked like there weren't even going to be enough for that, with a ton of teams folding or being unable to form, and the two teams that could be moved up to Plat, IFA and .buffalo, could not for their own reasons. Eventually though, IFA took the bullet, had themselves moved up to Plat, and so began the season.
Just as the season began, the first problems occurred. Unable to play in Plat, despite previous belief their schedules and players would be able to, IFA was moved down to Gold and replaced by .buffalo. mTs, now forced to replay their game, were furious. Harbleu took to the forums, calling out anyone involved in the effort and threatening to stop playing – perhaps bringing his team down with him. Thankfully, nothing came of that, and everyone moved on.
A few weeks later, Ginyu Hoops, a team considered unable to contest with the top four teams, dismantled bote on CP_Steel. Quite literally. Following that loss, yosh and muma left, heading over to fill the Soldier and Sniper spots that they were looking for. The decision was made to end the team, with all the players going their separate ways. Thus, the first (and only) team died. Ginyu Hoops found themselves comfortably in a position where they could slip into playoffs, and everyone found themselves with an extra five MP as all their matches against bote were turned into FFWs.
Luckily, that was the end of the major Plat drama. Sure, roster issues were everywhere, with teams like A Million Ways and eHarmony having significant trouble fielding a stable group of nine, at least in the earlier parts of the season. The top of Plat changed very little though, with mTs perhaps going through the most changes over the season, and dK the least.
But finally, here we are. The playoffs have always been the best and most important part of the playoffs, where the best of the best face off against each other week after week until a winner is crowned.
The Dunning-Kruger Effect is the idea that skilled people will underestimate their abilities, and unskilled people will overestimate. Seeing this team go from a Gold moveup team to the first seed is certainly an excellent story, and the players on dK have no doubt experienced both sides of the effect in various opponents. They're smart enough people, however, to avoid the fallacy their name is based off of. They're first seed, and they deserve it.
A look at their matchups list a devastating loss against mTs on Ashville, but with that not being in playoffs outside the ever-present GF pick, they avoid a known bad dice roll and can focus on new matchups. The two maps in playoffs, Viaduct and Gullywash, are both not maps they’ve previously played any of their opponents on in a match. Their opponents for that game were .$$ and ·aMw·, two solid teams but ones with not much of a chance against a team like dK. Meanwhile, unless they show up in the Grand Finals, Upward and Steel are not present anywhere, meaning dK will be forging new ground scenario-wise during these playoffs.
In a perfect scenario, they'd easily take a victory against Ginyu Hoops, and find themselves facing .knd on Gullywash, certainly a winnable game. That'd put them in the upper bracket finals, only having to win a single Best of 3 to secure themselves the first place. While a loss against Ginyu is perhaps nearly impossible, a loss against .knd is far more likely, and then they'd find themselves playing Gullywash against mTs, which could go either way. Facing .knd in the Grand Finals is also less than an ideal scenario, with them likely to pick a map they are solid at, like Upward, and then also pick up Viaduct as the decider. While an upper bracket placement is obviously preferred as it allows them to roll the dice a few more times and pull away with the win, if they find themselves losing to .knd (or mTs) on Gullywash it'll be a tough uphill climb.
Menace To Society
|Menace To Society|
It seems like just last week, mTs was facing .knd---oh yeah. Strange seeding adventures aside, mTs probably has their work cut out for them. With only their game against 20b proving directly relevant to the possible matchups in playoffs, mTs, like the rest of playoffs, will be playing with largely a new hand in the most important matches of the season. While we may never know if mTs would have beaten .knd or dK in the regular season on Viaduct or Gullywash, we'll have a chance to see that now, at least the former.
mTs's best case scenario is entirely an uphill battle, as they'd avoid 20b entirely. A win against .knd is possible yet difficult, and against dK on Gullywash will perhaps be an easier mountain to climb. Doing so will place them in the upper bracket in the Grand Finals, to wait out and see which of dK and .knd will step up to face them. By that point, however, it'll be hard to see anything, as depending on the teams present and the map picks, the scores could go in such a variety of ways.
Should they lose to .knd, they'll find themselves facing 20b, a game which should also be a simple victory for them, and then move on to face either dK or .knd on Gullywash. That match is very losable, and if they fail to pull a victory there, they'll be stuck with a third place finish.
Kids Next Door
|Kids Next Door|
The defending champions return to the playoffs, to the surprise of none. While their roster will look different to previous champions, it's the same group of gamers. With m4risa apparently gone, Axiomatic has focused his attention on yet another person, but this time before the playoffs even started. Kresnik, leader and Heavy for .knd, has found himself in the crosshairs of Axiomatic, but it's unlikely to result in anything more than a more battered ego for the dK Sniper.
Regarding matters with more relevance, their playoff schedule pits them against mTs on Viaduct, a game that could go either way, but with .knd seemingly so solid in general on that map, and KOTH in general, they should feel confident in their chances of staying out of the loser's bracket. Should they lose, however, they'll face 20b, and with the drastically different mindsets the two teams possess, they should be able to put an end to 20b's season. They'll then face the loser of dK vs mTs tto decide the second spot in the Grand Finals, a spot they'll no doubt be very eager to take.
If they do get to the grand finals, they should be fairly confident, having overcome a primed Ginyu Force and mTs in the past. Should they win, they'll find themselves with a new record (again?!) with three straight wins in Platinum. While a second or even third placement is no doubt a fantastic end, .knd have no doubt set their aspirations and the expectations of many very high.
|Ginyu Hoops [Week 9 roster listed]|
With the dropout of bote, 20b finds themselves in a situation that many assumed impossible. There will likely be no underdog story this time around, with Ginyu's mindset and roster both dealing fatal blows to any hopes of a good playoff run for them. They brought in Ma3la to play Heavy last week after the departure of Paragon sent Max back to Sniper, as yet another week they go by without the same nine. Even their game against .knd is perhaps another unplayed match, as the idea of just not playing were thrown around after their Week 9 game.
If their mindset drastically changes now in playoffs, and their roster can stabilize with a group of nine to rival teams that have been preparing all season, then they can pull off some wins and send a team or two home. But if their casual stance continues, they may find themselves taking a quick two losses and without any further matches or a placement medal.
In all likeliness, they'll take a loss against dK tomorrow, and then face the loser of mTs vs .knd and lose there too. Should they win either of those matches they'll be in a good position to ride off the shock and surprise, but with no scrims as of yet, it'll be an uphill battle against teams preparing for the game.
Dunning-Kruger Effect vs Ginyu Hoops
The top seed faces off the fourth seed, so the numbers alone seem to favor dK. Ginyu's roster lends no assistance, with the listed roster being unlikely to be the nine that show up in the server. Ginyu's had troubles finding a consistent group all season, and that's unlikely to end with the beginning of playoffs. Two of their players, Remedy and Ma3la, aren't even on Ginyu's roster – and with the roster locked, they may find themselves forced to use only rostered players should a team force that rule.
While Ginyu Force should be able to put up a good fight, they'll struggle to gain any sort of upper hand and hold it. dK should be in charge for most of the game, perhaps not always on top but always with an advantage. If Ginyu wants to pull another upset like they did back on Steel, they'll have to do it now, else face the perpetual chance of being eliminated in the lower bracket. 4-2 in favor of Dunning-Kruger Effect.
Menace To Society vs Kids Next Door
|Menace To Society|
|Kids Next Door|
It feels like just last week that these two teams faced off, although on a different map. .knd are solid on KOTH and Viaduct, going so far to beat mTs on their own pick, Ashville, last Grand Finals. While the teams and situation are different now, it's easy to find oneself siding with .knd.
The match will no doubt be a lot closer than that implies, however. While a lot will come down to what players show up and perform, it's a safe bet to lean towards .knd. Regardless of how the match does go, however, it should be an excellent game. 4-3 in favor of Kids Next Door.