Note: Qualifier rankings taken before games on the 31st
With a new season of Highlander just around the corner (first match on Monday, February 1st), there’s a fair bit to look forward to for NA Challenger Highlander. 4 teams are currently vying for a spot in Invite: Impostors, Division Dysphoria, somebody help, and My RGL Profits Have Declined. These teams are playing matches over the course of January 30th and 31st to decide the winners of the Invite Qualifiers. Only two teams will qualify, with the remaining teams left to play in Challenger.
Also trying to qualify into Challenger are four teams who will also be playing matches over the course of the 30th and 31st to try and earn their spot. These teams are: Gorilla Warfare, @yo_grrt, Need Tips, and can i get $20 on pump uhhh. Of these four contenders, only one will be able to move up into Challenger, with the remaining teams left to play in Advanced.
This article will cover all Invite Qualifier and currently-placed Challenger teams in order of Power Ranking. I am excited to see the results of the first match of the Challenger qualifying team so that they can be more accurately placed against their peers in Challenger. Being the best team in Advanced does not necessarily mean being a strong team in Challenger.
Now without further ado, here are the teams:
1: somebody help (Invite Qualifier)
- Scout: whymeo
- Soldier: bffl
- Pyro: american
- Demoman: Robin
- Heavy: caboose
- Engineer: sonny
- Medic: Gamma Orionis
- Sniper: Timeless
- Spy: emibug
Boasting many of the main players for legacy UGC Platinum, and then RGL Invite team Chill Penguins, somebody help has a generous helping of very solid players with a substantial amount of seasons playing together. They boast strong contenders for the best Sniper and Spy in the division with Timeless and emibug respectively. These pick classes are supported wonderfully by a combo composed of one the best Heavies in caboose and the one of the best Pyros in the division: american. That is not to say, however, that Medic Gamma Orionis, or Demo Robin are slackers; with both consistently having solid performances against other Challenger and Invite Qualifier teams. On the flank you have the seasoned veteran whymeo on Scout, alongside Soldier bffl. While I do not believe bffl has played many seasons of Soldier in Highlander, he is already showing himself to be the best Soldiers in the division. With so many top-of-the-division players, it seems obvious that somebody help will stand tall; although they will likely qualify out of it, leaving the number 1 spot come the season to the number 2 team.
2: Desperado Crash Mambo Combo
- Scout: RPC_33
- Soldier: Bliztank
- Pyro: Pyrrhus
- Demoman: DZCreeper
- Heavy: Luigi
- Engineer: Micahlele
- Medic: Q
- Sniper: cinder
- Spy: Jak
A bold guess, but one I think is borne out by their results in preseason. DCMC has many established Challenger players as well as some Invite talent; most notably in Demoman DZCreeper, Engineer Micahlele, and Sniper cinder. However, the rest of their team are no slouches. Scout RPC_33 and Soldier Bliztank have shown themselves to be an incredibly strong flank, perhaps even stronger than that of somebody help. While Heavy Luigi and Medic Q have little experience in high Advanced, they are also showing themselves to be more than capable of competing with not only challenger teams, but also Invite qualifiers & Invite level teams. As long as they do not collapse over the course of the season, I have high hopes for this team taking the crown.
3: division dysphoria (Invite Qualifier)
- Scout: yumyum
- Soldier: Voyager
- Pyro: cookie
- Demoman: Brandon
- Heavy: beanie
- Engineer: itsyAcore
- Medic: gobitoe
- Sniper: cloudshade
- Spy: Zero
While I originally planned for this team to be fourth with Impostors second, a dominant performance against Impostors in the Invite qualifiers has almost guaranteed that division dysphoria will qualify for Invite. With yet another contestant for best Sniper in the division, Sniper cloudshade is an incredibly proficient player who already secured second in Advanced for himself last season along with a storied history in UGC Platinum. Complimenting Cloudshade is Spy Zero who has some of the best comms and pick ability of any Spy in the division and is more than capable of acting as free wallhacks for their head-shooter.
Scout yumyum has a substantial amount of 6s experience and DM ability, and Soldier Voyager has very solid mechanics, but I think that they fall short of the flank of DCMC in terms of raw ability. The combo is the biggest question mark for this team. Demo brandon has shown himself to be able to do well, but he doesn't always perform when he needs to. This leaves a lot of work for beanie and cookie to do, potentially exposing Medic gobitoe open for picks. Congratulations to DD for probably making it into Invite, but if they somehow do not make it, it will be interesting to see how well they compete with DCMC.
4: Impostors (Invite Qualifier)
- Scout: XBS
- Soldier: Daffodil
- Pyro: Spanish Inquisition
- Demoman: NicKk
- Heavy: nurkz
- Engineer: Starfruit66
- Medic: ZoomxZe
- Sniper: MichaelPC1
- Spy: Dave
The flip side of DD, Impostors on paper seemed almost guaranteed to make it into Invite, but as I mentioned earlier, with their loss against division dysphoria, that is now cast into doubt. This leaves them a very strong team in Challenger, with few other teams left to compete with them. Given the likely placement of DD and help!, Impostors will be the team to overcome in any Challenger team’s battle for placement.
Spy Dave will likely be the best Spy in the division, and Sniper MichaelPC1 will be very strong in Challenger. Impostors have historically relied upon strong performances of their pick classes to succeed and now that they are in a lower division, it only means that these classes have more space to work with and do work. Scout XBS and Soldier Daffodil are both established 6s players and have performed well against other Invite teams; likely looking to continue their strong performances against the flank of DCMC, who I believe are likely better than.
While the combo has many experienced players, it will purely be a matter of cohesion that decides whether this will be an easy or tough season for them. I expect that Demoman NicKk will be the second best demo in the division behind DZCreeper for DCMC. Complimenting him is Heavy nurkz and Pyro Spanish Inquisition, both competent players in their own right. Also not to be counted out are Medic ZoomxZe and Engineer Starfruit66, who will likely not get a lot of time in the sun, but are both more-than-capable Invite-level players on their classes.
5: My RGL Profits Have Declined (Invite Qualifier)
- Scout: mankut
- Soldier: ?
- Pyro: TK
- Demoman: TeatsMcGee
- Heavy: Moist Master
- Engineer: GreenKing
- Medic: reigh
- Sniper: TheS4rr
- Spy: Shido
[Note: Roster probably Subject to Change, Potentially on Multiple Classes]
The only team currently who cannot qualify into Invite, and the only team in the qualifiers without a full roster, Profit still has a bit of work to do before their true strength shows through. I have little doubt, however, that the team led by Sniper TheS4rr will do a lot of work in Challenger, after proving his potential on last season's Invite move-up. Heavy Moist Master, Medic reigh, and Pyro TK are the best players on their class (provided that the teams expected to qualify do qualify) which already gives the team a leg-up with a very strong combo. Demo TeatsMcGee has had success over the last two seasons in Advanced and will likely be a strong player, although a lot will ride on his ability to contest the stronger demos of the DCMC and Impostors.
Spy Shido is a very competent player, but Sniper TheS4rr is not as strong as other strong snipers in the division. Scout mankut is solid but it will depend on the as-of-now unclear Soldier pickup whether the flank of Profit will be able to compete with the rest of the division. With a bit more practice and a locked-in roster, Profit have plenty of room for their graph to trend up or down depending on how their season goes.
6: Break The Meta
- Scout: valikyr
- Soldier: Aad
- Pyro: Joey
- Demoman: norphel08
- Heavy: Jinzo
- Engineer: Buttface
- Medic: Ness
- Sniper: Markers
- Spy: Steaklington
While Demoman norphel08 might think that his team is a bit of a mess, I actually think that Break the Meta is an incredibly solid team. Sniper Markers, Heavy Jinzo, and norphel08 are the stars of this roster; but they are backed up by incredibly solid and experienced Pyro in Joey, as well as seasoned Medic Ness. While Scout valikyr does not have as much experience, both he and Soldier Aad are very solid players, who can certainly hold their own, but perhaps not much more than that, against some of the top flanks in the division. This team is very dependent on the ability of their combo to do work, but I think that they more than have the potential to do so, and are in a good position to vie for playoffs, if not placement, come the season. This will only come to fruition, however, if they ensure they continue along their upward trajectory.
7: Seductive Nine
- Scout: Bonesaw
- Soldier: ?
- Pyro: Tom Servo
- Demoman: MiG-21
- Heavy: civ
- Engineer: Lasky
- Medic: Jerr
- Sniper: WiLLmaTiC
- Spy: ?
My personal team, dragged down by me being bad, is currently looking uncertain. Despite historically strong performances against teams below them on this list, the lack of a certified roster following the departure of Spy and Soldier mains leaves a fair few question marks about the ability of the Seductive Nine to achieve playoffs.
Demoman MiG-21 lacks a lot of HL experience and it is not entirely clear that he has worked out how to play around Pyro Tom Servo and Heavy civ, or vice versa. Both civ and Medic Jerr have prior Invite experience and will likely be solid players on their classes; and both Scout Bonesaw and Engineer Lasky have experience winning Advanced, as well as varying levels of Invite experience. While Sniper WiLLmaTiC might not be the biggest playmaker in the division, his ability to consistently perform, especially with a strong Spy pickup; will make a big difference in the ability of S9 to make playoffs or placement.
- Scout: dotwet
- Soldier: Toss
- Pyro: moxie
- Demoman: chase
- Heavy: yeye
- Engineer: Constantly
- Medic: sakura
- Sniper: homeless
- Spy: jayeezy
As the Main winners from last season, yeye has shown themselves not only to be far better than the Advanced teams, but also solid competition for most of the teams in Challenger. These players all have room to grow a lot over the season and will benefit a lot from the experience of Sniper homeless, as well as seasoned high-Advanced Pyro moxie.
Their newer players in combo are all solid, especially Demo chase and Medic sakura, whose ability to perform exceptionally makes a big difference in their team’s ability to win. Spy jayeezy and Soldier Toss are the biggest sleepers on the team, with the ability to make explosive picks that carry their team’s momentum forward, being able to capitalize on the solid DM of Scout dotwet. If the players on this team become more consistent and continue to improve, they almost certainly have the ability to punch-up against other Challenger teams; especially those outside of the top 3.
- Scout: patches
- Soldier: Wubs
- Pyro: Raptoir
- Demoman: dt
- Heavy: Chocc
- Engineer: High Impact Dolphin
- Medic: rona
- Sniper: tua
- Spy: Zokie0
A team of extremes, podgy713 has a lot of competent players but has been plagued by poor coordination and inconsistency in the preseason. Heavy Chocc is a close second to Moist Master for best on his class in the division. But Medic rona, Demo dt, and Pyro Raptoir fall far lower on the totem pole for their classes. The skill gap leaves it uncertain as to if they are worse enough to be the reason they lose.
The biggest question mark for the team’s success is the ability of Sniper tua and Spy Zokie0 to perform. Both have placed high in Advanced in past seasons and have shown their ability to do well against good teams, but they are not able to carry their team on their back if they are performing poorly on a given day. Soldier Wubs and Scout patches have experience playing together and are competent players, but they too will have to rely on their combo having a good day for them to be able to be deciding factors.
The splitting of Advanced into Challenger and Advanced has left a cleft where many Advanced teams this season would have been low-Advanced or high-Main teams last season. That being said I suspect that any team moving up will have difficulty doing anything in the season, but I would not be terribly surprised if they wound up getting 6th or 7th rather than last. The most likely team for qualifying at this point is @yo_grrt, who has had some success contesting Challenger teams in the past. However, their ability to do so will rely largely on Sniper eagle’s ability to keep performing, as well as their flank and combo continuing to be able to contest that of more-solid Challenger teams. There will be a more -thorough analysis of the Challenger Qualifier team following their Week 1 match once it is clearer who is, and who isn’t qualified.
Theoretical Best and Second-Best Roster
In order to drive clicks, I feel it valuable to create some feeling of injustice. Therefore, I will now give a theoretical best and second-best roster. That is, the best players and second-best players on their respective classes in the division. For now, it will include Invite Qualifying teams because they are better and I have already had to write about them. Expect changes next week, expect bold placements every week.
- Scout: XBS - Impostors
- Soldier: bffl - somebody help
- Pyro: american -somebody help
- Demoman: DZCreeper - Desperado Crash Mambo Combo
- Heavy: caboose - somebody help
- Engineer: Micahlele
- Medic: reigh - My RGL Profits Have Declined
- Sniper: timeless - somebody help
- Spy: Dave - Impostors
- Scout: RPC_33 - Desperado Crash Mambo Combo
- Soldier: Daffodil - Impostors
- Pyro: TK - My RGL Profits Have Declined
- Demoman: Robin - somebody help
- Heavy: Moist Master - My RGL Profits Have Declined
- Engineer: Starfruit66 - Impostors
- Medic: sakura - Yeye
- Sniper: cinder - Desperado Crash Mambo Combo
- Spy: emibug - somebody help
That's all for this week, check back next week (and maybe even the next after that) for the highest quality Challenger takes across Season 8.