As the seventh major intercontinental Team Fortress 2 competitive LAN event, Esports Arena’s Rewind II needed at least one team from another continent, and that came with Se7en, the representatives of European TF2 at the North American LAN event. As the runners-up at the Rewind 2017 Invitational and the sole non-American team at the event, Se7en were a fan-favorite and seemed to have a guaranteed Grand Finals appearance as a result. Adding to that, Se7en also had a boot camp in North America days before the LAN event, sponsored by Cooler Master. With the big LAN event coming up and a boot camp to fire up the all-star roster, Se7en looked to represent their homeland and challenge the North Americans once again.
The Group Stage started off strong for the Europeans, with a clean 2-0 against black swan. However, their encounter with Ascent proved to be dirtier; while Se7en won the first map with a two round surplus, a close loss on the second map on a one point deficit was a shock and a slip-up from the dominant European team. Nonetheless, with a forfeit-win from Big Chips, Se7en proceeded to the Playoffs with a high seed.
Despite the fluke in the Group Stage, Se7en were still a strong contender going into the Playoffs (picture by Ness "uberchain" Delacroix and Jasmine "Jasbutts" Ho)
Their first opponent in the Upper Round of 6 was SVIFT NA, a team who had been turning heads in the North American scene, contesting Ascent online and dominating Velocity eSports on LAN. Similar to the last time Se7en beat SVIFT in Birmingham, Se7en brushed by SVIFT NA 2-0, the first map going to a golden cap and the second time a win with a one-point advantage in regulation.
After the threat of SVIFT NA was dealt with, Se7en moved onto the Upper Bracket Final, where they met their intercontinental nemesis: froyotech. After the closely fought series in the Grand Finals at last year’s Rewind Invitational, the Upper Bracket Final looked to be a preview of the Grand Finals, with the titans of the two major continents duking it out. After the first few minutes of the first map however, a pause was called and kaptain left the venue, reportedly due to his sickness, returning to his hotel room and was replaced by Permzilla in-game. With a stand-in, Se7en struggled to gain a foothold against froyotech and ultimately were unable to convert a push into a point. Se7en were crushed in the series, losing 0-2 with two 5-0 losses.
Se7en’s problems compounded more and more as other members began to come down with the symptoms of food poisoning. Without their Pocket Soldier and with multiple players coming down with symptoms, Se7en were severely crippled. However, they kept a stiff upper lip and continued playing in the Lower Bracket Finals, where they waited for Ascent to arrive. Considering how close the series between Se7en and Ascent had been in the Group Stage, it seemed like Se7en might be able to pull it off and turn their bad luck around. Alas, such was not the case. While the Europeans were able to fend off against Ascent, they were unable to overtake the Americans and were unable to convert rounds. After two maps, Se7en were out 2-0, unable to take any rounds for themselves in the series. With that last series lost, Se7en were knocked out of Rewind II, placing in third and missing out on a Grand Finals appearance.
Rewind II marked Kaidus’ sixth international LAN appearance in his competitive career (picture by Ness "uberchain" Delacroix and Jasmine "Jasbutts" Ho)
Since the end of Rewind II, Se7en has revamped their roster, with some old players going inactive and new talent coming in. With Rewind II two months gone, we got in touch with kaidus, who acts as the leader for Se7en, to discuss the unfortunate event for Se7en and what he thought about the tournament in retrospect.
What were your thoughts on Rewind II?
Mostly positive, obviously my view is tainted slightly by the food poisoning incident but even after eight years playing this game, it's my first time travelling to America to play TF2 so it's difficult to look back on it as anything other than a good experience.
How well did your team perform at Rewind II?
The tournament was pretty disastrous. We were performing "okay" up until the food poisoning incident, but not to the level I would have desired. The map we lost to Ascent in groups was incredibly disappointing for me; we were in control but made several large mistakes that ended up costing us a map that we should have won in my opinion. Overall I was not satisfied with our performance regardless of food poisoning, even before that incident our level was not where it should have been. In truth that lineup was probably past its sell-by date, however we were a very tightly knit group and wanted to see things through together. Compromises were made that probably should not have been made, but I will learn from this for the future.
How would you rate your own personal performance at Rewind II?
It's difficult to judge given all that happened. There were some games where I felt I played incredibly well, and others that were more mediocre. Given the circumstances under which the second half of the tournament were played, I was not able to step up when we really needed it and that is all that really matters. I could list several grievances surrounding the tournament that made it difficult to perform, as well as endless frustrations with tournament PC configurations and insufficient time to rectify them, but ultimately given all that happened I see it as a learning experience and will do better next time.
How confident were you going into Rewind II, considering you had a boot camp sponsored by Cooler Master and you placed second at the Rewind 2017 Invitational last year?
It is nobody's fault, but I would be lying if I said I didn't think the boot camp was actually counter-productive in the end. I appreciate all the effort that was expended on making it happen, however ultimately due to numerous difficulties, technical and non-technical, it was almost impossible to get much out of it and ended up draining several of the players mentally. The Internet was the main issue, it simply could not cope with both the stream and the six people playing at the same time. As a result of this, we were not able to get remotely decent playing conditions until the Thursday evening when the stream was forced to shut down due to the production talent having to attend preparations at the arena. Personally I think the way we did it in 2017 would have been far better for us as a team. Living in a nice house for a week with tons of great people from TF2 was definitely a fun experience though. In the end, going into the tournament I expected to place second; I'm sure we would have if not for having to change lineup halfway through the tournament, however for both myself and Se7en, an expectation to place second is not good enough. It was realistic, however in the future I will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure we don't settle for that again.
How badly did your team's ailments affect their performance?
I can't speak for individuals, only they know to what extent they were affected, but losing kaptain and not having a suitable replacement available speaks for itself. If I could go back again, I would keep AMS on scout to preserve team play even if we were then at a skill deficit. I felt this at the time however for several reasons we decided to move him to soldier. I feel like these reasons were sentimentally based though, and not rooted in simply trying to obtain the best outcome of a bad situation. It was an incredibly bad situation though, ultimately I don't think it would have made much difference, and I think my teammates deserve credit for their dedication even if we were not able to convert that into results on this occasion.
How well did Permzilla perform as a stand-in?
Aside from going to the wrong CP2, I think he did well! He's never played any class other than Medic at a top level, so you have to give him credit for doing as well as he did. Overall it was not an ideal situation, but I am incredibly grateful to him for standing in for us. It takes guts to sit in front of a crowd that want you to lose, with thousands watching online, playing a role you have never played before knowing full well what the likely outcome is.
Do you think your team could've gotten to the Grand Finals were it not for your team's afflictions?
Definitely. We lost a map to Ascent in groups which might suggest otherwise for some people, however it was a complete throw in my opinion and we wouldn't have let it happen again. They were a good team for sure, don't get me wrong, but even losing that one map in groups required really big mistakes from us and some luck for them. Paddie made a couple of nice calls that I have to give him credit for, however we would have been fully prepared for these sorts of plays a second time around and I think our quality would have shown. In the end you can never say anything for sure, and Ascent deserve credit for performing as well as they did without their online roster.
What are your thoughts on your team's newly formed roster?
Since reforming the roster we have been doing well. It's the start of a new chapter for sure. There have been some bumps in the road while we got things off the ground, however things are beginning to settle now and the future looks promising. We have won everything there is to win since taking adysky, Thaigrr and seeds (ETF2L + Essentials), now that has to continue.
What do you think about the current state of the European Team Fortress 2 scene?
I have mixed feelings about the European scene. There are a lot of talented individuals, however due to the lack of resources we have available in the scene there is very little incentive for these talents to form into cohesive teams. It seems that any promising team only lasts one season right now. I've heard good things about tournaments that may occur in the future, so let's hope these come to fruition. Even still though, change takes time and Europe has operated in a more laid-back fashion (compared to NA with ESEA) for a long time now, so I think it will take a while before we really see developments. We have talent though, so anything is possible.
What are your thoughts on Essentials.TF's Monthly Cups now that they've been happening regularly for a few months now?
I think the format could do with some work, however overall I think the value that they offer to the scene cannot be understated. The sign up numbers are improving now that they are properly advertised, but I really hope they make some slight adaptations with the format so that teams who are not winning money from them still feel like they want to participate. If not then I feel like the numbers may begin to dwindle, but I know that Essentials are working hard to find the best solutions so I am optimistic.