Haunt. Lets never do that again, shall we? The retooled and reskinned vitalism required a lot of practice and organization from teams to discover the single viable strategy. Some teams did better than others but can we really judge a victory or loss as accurately on a more played and refined map? Probably not, but if nothing else this week gave us an idea of what teams have the adaptability and dedication to hang tough in a season filled with some non-conventional map choices. We’re halfway through the season now, but do the standings accurately reflect the strength of each team?
1. Ginyu Force
Ginyu knew this week would bring a big challenge against S8’s runner up Menace to Society. We figured out the flow of the map and the pushes that worked after a couple scrims and spent the next couple of nights trying different things just in case there was a better alternative. Turns out there wasn’t. The style that worked best was what we found pretty early on, and it seemed like we were perhaps the only team to make that discovery. Getting to refine it a bit with a couple extra scrims definitely paid off against an mTs who hadn’t seemed to quite figure it out yet. A convincing 10-2 win over the current first seed pops Ginyu back up to the top this week. We’ll face BPM next week on plbarnblitzpro, another custom(ized) map. They’ve been Ginyu’s greatest competitors in scrims thus far so this should be another great match!
2. Menace to Society
mTs took their first loss tonight after some spectacular performances earlier in the season. While this means losing the first seed, it also means they have their toughest matches out of the way, having been victorious in 2 out of 3. They’ll hit the last top 5 contender in Quality Control on barnblitz and then be able to coast through the next few weeks against mid-low plat teams on more standard maps. Regardless of the limited scrim schedule (3 per week) I was disappointed that the talent on mTs didn’t seem to have a better grasp on how to play Haunt. It’s entirely possible they simply weren’t having fun and didn’t want to put forth the effort to correct any mistakes though. Barnblitz is a little more standard, though less-played than any other payload, but I still expect mTs to return to form after the bump in the road that was Haunt week.
3. Baby Punching Marathon
BPM started the week with a lot of confidence, having been masters of Vitalism in season 7. The changes made to Haunt seemed to be enough to throw off their previous strategy though, as after a couple of scrims, even victorious, a couple BPM players messaged me saying basically “we don’t know what to do on this map”. Things finally came together in their match however, and they pulled off a 5-1 win over The Syndicate. BPM’s been playing well, but still having the occasional issue getting folks to show up. I wanted to put them at number 2 this week as their roster has improved significantly since their first week loss to mTs, but I just can’t bring myself to until they’re more stable and get a big win on a more standard map. The nonstandard play of -ts- likely helped in their match, but it’s still a good win. Like I say every time, if BPM gets a demo, heavy, sniper, and medic to make every scrim and a match some week, they’ll be a tough nut to crack. Until then they’re still sitting strong with the number 3 spot.
4. Quality Control
Quality Control has hung in there through the first half of the season, eeking out a 3-1 record with an impressive overtime win against KLite on Haunt. With an admirably stalematey match against Ginyu on croissant and regular wins over the rest of the pack, QC has consistently proven that they belong above the mid-plat crew. Like Ginyu, they’re about to enter the tougher portion of their schedule, with upcoming matches likely to be against the top half of platinum, starting with mTs. This week they’ve earned a spot in the top 4, but they’ll have to prove themselves in their coming matches if they want to stay put. QC might end up in a fight for 4th seed with The Syndicate, but with their relatively easy schedule so far, that might be looking a bit too far into the future. I expect a solid showing this week against mTs, but it’ll take expert performances out of Different Colors, TMP, Pretzel, and Soap to outdo the constant aggression led by Harbleu and Xalox.
5. The Syndicate
Tapering off a bit this week, -ts- comes off a surprisingly big loss to BPM to continue a now 2-week losing streak. With two big matches ending in loss, some are left wondering exactly what’s going to happen this season. Haunt week started with -ts- running the offense-focus Chargin’ Targe strat (good for sneaking intel out but bad at defending) with limited success. It came as a surprise to many when they stuck with the strategy all week, culminating in a disappointing 1-5 loss to a BPM running last minute backups. Perhaps it was just a case of Haunt-Syndrome and the Syndicate simply didn’t care. If you’re going to lose to a top team it may as well be on Haunt, after all. It appears that -ts- wants to change their tune from the first half of the season now that the craziest of custom maps are almost over with though. I’ve heard that they’re scheduling scrims like crazy this week, so it seems they don’t want to suffer any more losses leading into playoffs. Getting a good seed will still be as important as ever as we’re seeing a lot of mid-plat teams start to perform better and better as the season continues.
Blunderful stays strong in the 6 spot this week after an impressive overtime victory over GG on Haunt. Led by an amazing performance by Noko in the second half, BFL adapted to pushes that simply weren’t working in the 1st. If they continue to recognize and improve upon their mistakes we could see BFL start to creep up the rankings in the coming weeks. Their opponent on Barnblitz will be Ghetto Afterthought, an up-and-coming team who have yet to prove themselves against the top of plat. BFL’s always been known to take rounds and the occasional win off top plat teams, so I’m expecting a close game with BFL generally controlling the flow. If they come away with a victory they’ll begin a run of facing top plat teams heading into playoffs. If any mid-plat team can pull of some upsets it’s Blunderful though.
Maybe next time:
Ghetto Afterthought -- It’s been hard to accurately gauge GA’s talent thus far, but a win this next week over BFL would go a long way!
KLite -- Sitting on the cusp for a few weeks now, they need a string of victories in the coming weeks to ensure a good seed in playoffs.