Well we’re over the hump and over half-way through the season and through with the last of the offensive custom maps. Barnblitz, otherwise known as “Defend Last - The Map”, has come and gone leaving much frustration and quite a few surprising upsets in its wake. Having played in and also cast a few matches it seems like the teams that won most rounds went into last with huge advantages. Otherwise it was a matter of teams throwing themselves at a brick wall until something finally broke. Perhaps that’s why there were so many upsets. Regardless it’s certainly made my deliberations in rankings much more interesting than I ever expected. Playoff seeding is also becoming a clearer picture with the top 4 spots being heavily contested. In an interesting turn of events, UGC’s playoff is still set up for a 4 elimination week, 16-team bracket. With only 13 teams in Platinum this means the top 3 will each get a bye the first week. Will teams who have taken things a bit lightly try to step it up in the coming weeks to get a taste of that sweet off-week action? Lets see!
1. Baby Punching Marathon
Hey, I’ve been saying it every week so far, BPM has the potential to be the strongest team in platinum and this week we finally see them pull a big upset. BPM thrashed Ginyu’s hopes of a perfect record on BARNBLITZ LAST thanks to some aggressive flank play led by Pulse on spy. At this point you really can’t discount what Pulse brings to the table when going up against the Baby Punchers. BPM has one more small bump in the road as they come up against Quality Control this week. If there’s any hope of a second BPM loss it would have to be on Steel, where strats and coordination rule all. I think this finalized roster will hold through this week though and they’ll be a lock for a #1 or #2 seed come playoff time.
2. Ginyu Force
Ginyu finally cracked this week after pounding our faces into BARNBLITZ LAST for over 10 minutes. The defeat means every initial “Top 4” team has taken at least one loss to another. It’s a bit of a rock-paper-scissors right now amongst the top which makes for possibly the most exciting season of Highlander yet! Ginyu’s still holding a 1st place ranking with a measly 0.5 matchpoints more than BPM. That could easily change though as we’re yet to meet up with The Syndicate, but it’s looking like that may not even happen in the regular season. The rest of Ginyu’s season will feature map-types we’ve generally been dominant on. I expect with the right amount of practice Ginyu can hold strong through the rest of the season and stay right next to BPM with a #1 or #2 seed. We’ll first have to get through BFL on Steel where upsets can happen though.
3. Quality Control
Continuing to surprise, QC moves up another slot this week. In an odd 4-round payload game (one round being thrown out due to the TF2 timer expiring because both teams struggled so much pushing BARNBLITZ LAST), QC defeated mTs. QC gets to continue a gauntlet-run, now facing BPM on Steel. This is probably their best bet in pulling an upset as BPM’s strengths would likely just be too much on any other map. They’ve done it once, but can they do it again? It’ll take some very solid coordination between the combo and the flank classes to get it done, but if anyone can surprise us yet again, it’s Quality Control.
4. Menace to Society
Dropping down another peg this week, mTs finds themselves in a rather precarious position. They’ve faced all of the top of Platinum but are now looking to run into some mid-plat teams that have recently started impressing. The last two maps have seemed to harp on mTs’ limited scrim schedule, highlighting an absence of the coordination practice would bring to their play. I’ve heard rumors of the non-standard maps burning out a few players, but hopefully the rest of the season will look brighter. Unfortunately the next trial will be getting through Steel, which requires perhaps the most coordination and understanding to successfully play. They face a revitalized Gangsta Gang, who have finally started scrimming more themselves. This will likely be mTs’ last big test before playoffs, but they need a win to ensure a good seed.
BFL hung strong this week after taking down Ghetto Afterthought on BARNBLITZ LAST. They’re entering the sixth week of the regular season with a 4-1 record, but here is where they’ll start facing the top of Platinum every week. First up is Ginyu and, regardless of a win or loss, they’ll likely face QC or BPM the week after. They come in strong, but will have to be even stronger to knock down this season’s titan teams. They can still come up with a good seeding but it’s a tough road ahead.
6. Gangsta Gang
Here’s a surprise; GG has started putting a bit more effort into practicing and it turns out they’re still a fantastic team. A two week run of forfeit wins has spurred some desire to actually play TF2 back into the Gang and it paid off this week with an upset win against The Syndicate on BARNBLITZ LAST. I’m giving the Gangsta’s their week in the sun because, from what I’ve seen at least, they do appear to be slowly becoming the powerhouse they once were. They get another big ol’ test this week on Steel against Menace to Society. Though both teams have roughly the same practice schedule, GG may have an edge having played this map plenty back in Season 6. This will be TFTV’s showmatch of the week so tune in Monday night at 9:30 to find out if this lovable Gang of Gangstas are truly back to form. Following this week they’ll likely still have to face BPM and Ginyu, so their end-of-season gauntlet has begun!
Maybe next time
The Syndicate -- lack of coordination has shown itself a big problem once again as they dropped 2 rounds that by all rights should have been theirs on BARNBLITZ LAST. Perhaps the season doesn’t matter as much to them though and their positioning themselves to bring in some major carries for some playoff upsets like preseason rumors led everyone to believe.
Kimberlite Council -- KLite has shuffled their roster up a little bit, putting MustardOverlord back on his demoman slot. It’s looking like KLite’s losses have come at the right times this season and they could be poised for a top 6 seeding come playoff time.