In the aftermath of AsiaFortress Mercenary Cup 7 back in early 2016, the competitive Asian TF2 scene has been facing a crisis: Nearly every veteran and top-tier talent either left for Overwatch, went abroad, or simply quit the game. The result was a scene devoid of any experienced players to coach new up-and-coming talents and nurture a new era of competitive players.
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It’s taken nearly 3 years of nigh-uncontested domination from a single team, Xiao, to finally produce AFC 15, which looks to be the best and most competitive season of Asian TF2 in nearly three years. It’s taken this long to see the return of dinosaur fossils, the creation of a caste of elite-tier players, and the introduction of some fresh talent. And all this will hopefully culminate in an incredible season with memorable matches and competitive match-ups.
- Scout: AiShou
- Scout: tommy
- Roamer: Nasi
- Pocket: 26
- Demoman: floaty
- Medic: v4na
Despite attaining a respectable 2nd place at AFLAN 18 after losing to The Chess Foundation in the grand finals, the result was no less than a major disappointment for Xiao. After all, their dominance of Asian TF2 rivaled that of froyotech’s in North America and Se7en’s in Europe; over the course of last three seasons, the core of this lineup dropped less than five maps in total. Thus, a major rehauling of Xiao was imminent, resulting in a new lineup with some new flair and a different look.
However, the core identity of the team remains intact with star Scout AiShou leading the charge as ever. He needs little introduction, for his immense natural talent has slowly and gradually been honed and he has officially transitioned into being unquestionably the best Scout in Asia. A veteran in both AsiaFortress and ozfortress, AiShou is the main carry of Xiao and is more than capable of performing.
Losing core players fwishy and hsr might’ve been worrying, but their substitutes are more than makeup for the loss. On flank comes tommy, making his return to his trademark class after previously being put on Medic. He is the complete package: With his great deathmatching ability and game sense, as well as good comms, he is an absolute menace on the flank. Replacing hsr, who historically has played Medic for Xiao, is v4na, an ozfortress veteran who’s played multiple classes on teams like xenophobia. While he is playing on upwards of 100+ ping, he’s still able to surf and milk ubercharges extremely well. And adding his ability to maincall and introduce new ideas to this old core, under his helm, Xiao looks to be a very coordinated and disciplined team.
Xiao’s Soldiers are no less dangerous, 26 and Nasi being some of the best Soldiers Asia has ever produced. 26 has been renowned as the best pocket in Asia for a long time and it shows clearly in his gameplay. His mechanically proficient aim and jumping translates into huge impact and space created for his Scouts to clean-up and win games. AFLAN 18 champion Nasi joins Xiao on roamer, having historically been the pocket of The Chess Foundation. His high-energy gameplay, along with his propensity for insane airshots makes him and Tommy an extremely dangerous flank.
Lastly is a legendary jumper and historical Roamer in floaty, who will be put on Demoman. While there were initially certain questions raised about his ability to transition well to his new role, he has silenced all opposition through his gameplay. Fast rollouts, creative sticky-jumps and all-around good decision-making have resulted in Xiao having a very competent Demoman at their disposal, rounding out what looks to be one of the strongest squads in Asia.
- Scout: Teejay
- Scout: fwishy
- Roamer: banana
- Pocket: hsr
- Demoman: Ry4n
- Medic: AND
AFLAN 18 marked the official return of legendary Scout and Soldier Teejay after having played exclusively in ozfortress since 2016 — and he wants no less than the coveted gold medal. Thus, Teejay was the one who initiated the roster shuffle that saw players from many different teams, countries, and cultures come together to firmly challenge the reign of Xiao.
The base and foundation of SVIFT AS lies in old veteran Ry4n on Demoman. His ability to consistently output damage and impact in team fights while taking heals and protecting his Medic cannot be understated as SVIFT AS plays a more traditional Scout-Demo centric playstyle. Ry4n's years of high-level experience in teams like AMC will be needed to fuel SVIFT AS forward.
Of course, though, the heart of the team lies primarily in Teejay. Widely considered to be the best player in Asia alongside AiShou, Teejay will have to be SVIFT AS’ primary win condition. The core identity and playstyle lies with him and it shows, as the entire team seems to be built around how he sees the game and how he wants to play. Ridiculous deathmatching ability, in addition to being the best main caller Asia has ever produced, has produced a player who will go down in history. And yet, his tendencies to tilt and rage at his team is infamously well-known. Teejay needs to prove that his days off toxicity are well behind him.
But even Teejay needs great pieces to be able to play his best and that's the reason flank Scout fwishy was picked up. While he had always been capable of being a carry, a pocket Scout in his own right, fwishy has dedicated himself to playing a more supportive-style role for his team. Over the course of many seasons, fwishy has shaped a unique playstyle for himself, one that sees him play for the team with taking few heals, while simultaneously being a thorn in the enemy's side, ready to strike and pincer the enemy at any time. His impact simply cannot be understated.
Another player that Teejay brought over from Xiao is star Pocket king hsr. As someone who's been featured prominently in many of his frag movies, hsr's raw aim and talent is simply astonishing. Years of MGE have produced a player more than capable of dishing out copious amounts of damage while still creating space for his team. Not only that, but his abilities on Sniper also create a unique dynamic where he could offclass at any moment in time.
Joining him on Soldier will be banana, who will be working for SVIFT AS. As seen from his performance at AFLAN 18, his versatility cannot be understated. He is not only a very dangerous roamer in his own right, banana is quite possibly the best sniper Asia has ever produced. Time and time again his teams have relied on him solely to get impact picks and more often than not, he delivers.
And finally, we see the return of AND to Asian TF2 after 3 years of inactivity. Thus, an important question has to be asked though: how quickly can he de-rust and become not just a competent Medic, but a top tier Medic as well? One thing AND does have going for him is his synergy and chemistry with team captain Teejay. Given the importance of the speed at which SVIFT AS reacts and executes Teejay's calls, this intangible benefit may just be the one thing that pushes SVIFT AS over the edge.
Will Teejay tilt his team into oblivion? We'll have to wait and see.
- Scout: strelka
- Scout: baxter
- Roamer: daylight
- Pocket: shocky
- Demoman: tibet
- Medic: larky
Along with the questionable team name, AFC 15's new Korean side features a roster that does raise a few questions. While the names on paper all scream tenure, quality, and experience, the classes these names are playing are not their historical mains. That being said, after a 2-0 upset loss to R%% in AFC 14, changes had to be made and POTATO PHOTO seeks to rectify past failures.
Returning from his absence on this roster in AFC 14 is larky, who will be transitioning from Scout to Medic. And arguably, an invaluable quality that last season's Korean side, Luminaire lacked was a maincaller who provides clear direction and focus for the team. Luminaire saw an incredibly skill-stacked roster who played the classic Korean style of pure, unbridled aggression and even beat Xiao on a map in the group stage. However, strangely their aggression seemed extremely overzealous at times and their lack of discipline and fundamentals resulted in their 4th place finish. larky's ability to maincall and focus his team's aggression into round wins will be absolutely necessary for POTATO PHOTO to come out on top this season.
Pairing with larky will be shocky, who will be playing Pocket instead of Scout this season. This move is probably the most shocking class swap for POTATO PHOTO, as shocky is well-known as one of the most talented Scouts in Asia. His natural ability and feel for the game made him so dangerous in his heyday that it's questionable how smoothly shocky can transition into the Pocket role and still maintain a strong playstyle.
strelka is potentially the most underrated player in Asia. His talent and ability on Scout is such that he has quietly and gradually evolved into an amazing player in his own right. A crucial piece to any Korean team, him leaving partway through last season was retrospectively one of the biggest roster moves that were made. They went from a team that 3-0’d Xiao on Product to a team that lost 0-2 in series to R%%. strelka is needed for any chance of a top finish for POTATO PHOTO and competing against the other teams on this list.
Another seemingly odd move is long-time Soldier baxter moving into the Scout role for POTATO PHOTO. His timing and jumping ability have always been top-class, especially when coupled with his natural talent for the game. But it begs the question: if the team already has shocky, so why not put shocky on Scout and baxter on Soldier? If recent scrim results are anything to go by, baxter has proven that his natural ability easily transitions to Scout with him top-damaging and top-fragging in the server. An interesting roster choice might be just what POTATO PHOTO needs to capture unrealized potential in their team..
On Demoman is tibet, who will be playing his second season of Division 1. His relative inexperience is compensated by his rapid growth playing alongside living legends. As the youngest player in terms of experience and up against some of the best Demoman mains that Asia has to offer, this season will be the toughest for tibet, whose season will be pivotal in his future as a Division 1 player.
Finally, daylight rounds out the roster, returning to Roamer after playing Medic last season, and for good reason: He has played an integral role in every top-tier Korean side throughout history. daylight is well-known for his consistency in decision making and deathmatching ability, but most incredible of all: his playmaking ability. At the whim of his team, daylight always seemingly gets a crucial Medic pick or force whenever his team desperately needs a play to gain the upper hand. Keep a lookout for daylight because he’s shown time and time again why he’s regarded as one of the best roamers in Asia.
POTATO PHOTO is here to prove that they can still remain relevant in the current meta by devastatingly farming their opponents.
AsiaFortress Cup 15 is already underway, with the league currently in their second week of play. You can catch up with the action live with Rednaxela, TFLIVE, and CappingTV, who will be providing regular coverage of AsiaFortress Cup 15 throughout the season.