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The Nations Cup is making a return to ETF2L, almost three years after its last iteration. 32 teams have been split into 8 groups of 4 and will be battling for the first two spots in each group over the next three weeks or so. The 16 teams that managed to reach those spots will then enter a single elimination bracket, culminating into a single team being crowned champions. To help guide newer spectators, we at teamfortress.tv have opted to go in-depth with 8 teams that we think are all going to win their group. Our readers either get to either learn who the favorites are, or mock us if we are wrong. Expect a follow-up article less based on speculation once the group stage is over too.
- Combo Scout: paparazi
- Flank Scout: S4m
- Roamer: Bonkers
- Pocket: SOLAR
- Demoman: stan
- Medic: fisjnvca
Starting in Group A, Poland is represented by the team formerly known as KRITZBERG FOR DEFENCE, who ended S37 at 6th place in Premiership, before falling to Garda Panteri and The Bus Crew in the following season’s qualifiers. As a country, Poland has appeared in every Nations Cup but has never made it past the quarterfinals; armed with Prem experience they will be gunning to break this streak.
The team is a mixed bag of experiences, with Roamer Bonkers recently celebrating nine years of competition in ETF2L, while flank partner S4m has only just finished a second. In the combo, KRITZBERG’s stan, SOLAR (formerly known as Wonszu), and paparazi reprise their S37 roles, joined by comparative newcomer fisjnvca on Medic after a successful showing together in Division 2. Combined, they have a wealth of high tier experience and synergy, and after lacklustre Prem campaigns they will be looking to reach new heights here and prove the power of Polish TF2.
- Combo Scout: voxtec
- Flank Scout: stefaaan
- Roamer: Rising
- Pocket: Gazy
- Demoman: Brego
- Medic: Aaron
Germany, Deutschland, die Mannschaft, die Nationalsechs. Germany has been a powerhouse for international TF2 since ETF2L began, being one of the only teams to be involved in every Nations Cups’ playoff stage. Coming back around for the 8th Nations Cup, Germany will be looking to make it into the semifinals at least, or potentially even take it all the way.
Germany has some of the best players currently around in European TF2. voxtec and Gazy are both participating in this season’s Grand Finals, although playing against each other. Despite being two of the best scouts in Europe, they’re no one-trick-ponies, Gazy will be looking to impress on Pocket Solly. Rising and Brego are also two well established top tier players, but with less recent experience.
Rising was rostered on FAINT Gaming for this season, alongside voxtec, but didn’t get a chance at any official playtime. His most recent full Premiership season is Season 36, which is nothing compared to Brego’s Season 24! Brego is one of those old-school players who comes out of the woodwork every so often to play in the Nations Cup. With his earliest Prem experience dating back to Season 12, Brego’s going to try and prove he’s still got it.
Finally to round off the roster, we have stefaaan and Aaron: two of the currently lower tier players in the team, which shows how strong this team is. stefaaan was a well established Prem player, but has been playing in some lower divisions recently and could have some rust to shake off. And Aaron is a strong, although relatively unknown, Division 2 Scout. These players could be the final key in the roster, or the final nail in the coffin.
- Combo Scout: Néo
- Flank Scout: Cuby / AlienSmiley/ Ama
- Roamer: dwo69 / dmoule
- Pocket: Corbac
- Demoman: dmoule / AlienSmiley
- Medic: mulaa
Most likely one of the heaviest-hitters of this Nations Cup, the French National Team is lined with talent, enough in fact to have some very strong rotation options available for almost every class. With most of the team also being a part of top5rocket, who recently finished in 3rd during S38, this team could have the perfect blend of experience and familiarity to clinch their 3rd title.
The combo is almost entirely lifted from the current top5rocket squad, with mulaa, Corbac and Néo on Medic, Pocket Soldier and Combo Scout, respectively. They are also the only stable members of the lineup, and will help create a cohesive atmosphere among all the different combinations available. The experienced dmoule will be present on either Demoman or Roaming soldier, with dwo69 ready to step in on Roamer should the need arise. AlienSmiley will also be eager to deliver some out of his world performances on either Demo or Flank Scout, with Cuby and Ama able to fill in as Capping Scout as well.
- Combo Scout: moralexei
- Flank Scout: Yeehaw / Thaigrr
- Roamer: toemas / Thaigrr
- Pocket: papi
- Demoman: Eemes
- Medic: Domo
The returning champions, England are in Group D and will be hoping to make it a hat-trick with their third Nations Cup victory. They have never previously fielded this exact roster, but various players have been seen together on the server and with six Premiership winners in their seven player lineup, this is a team to be respected and feared in equal measure. Anyone doubting papi’s squadron need only rewatch the S37 Grand Finals to be reminded what these players can do (or alternatively the S36 finals, or the Lockdown Throwdown 2 finals, or really any TF2 from the past several years).
The only untested quantity is part-time Roamer Thaigrr, with one map recorded on the class, but with 9 airshots hit in 18 minutes England trust that he will continue his one-man reign of terror, alternating with Roamer toemas_ and Flank Scout YeeHaw. The combo, meanwhile, revolves around Medic Domo, fresh from a hiatus of several months, and Demoman Eemes, joined by papi, moralexei, and their many awards
With such a star-studded roster they will naturally have a target on their back, and face an immediate challenge in returning runners-up Finland (albeit with a much changed roster). Anything less than playoffs success would be a clear upset, and although the champions are not invincible anyone wanting to dethrone them will have to come and get it.
- Combo Scout: biohazard
- Flank Scout: Spanns
- Roamer: 31
- Pocket: Haunts
- Demoman: Wild_Piggie
- Medic: tXX
Portugal, as a team, seem to consistently slip into the playoffs stage, just to be reminded of how strong the other countries are and get knocked back out. That’s not to say Portugal aren’t a strong team, because they truly are. Spanns and Wild_Piggie are arguably the two most well-known players on this roster. With a reputation for strong potential and DM ability, they’ll be dragging this roster as far into the playoffs stage as they can.
Although no one on the Portuguese roster is a well-established Prem player, they do have the advantage by having seemingly no weak links. All of the players for Portugal are well established Division 2 players, except for biohazard who’s a hard-stuck middie. Although with a reputation as a strong Division 1 Highlander sniper, biohazard might catch some players off-guard with some headshots. 31 and __Haunts are both well-established Division 2 soldiers, even accounting for Haunts’ rocket-speed launch through the divisions.
With another solid player to round off the roster with tXX on Medic, this roster is looking bulletproof. The only potential weak-link in the roster seems to be Wild_Piggie. Although a strong Scout and long-standing member of the community, this seems a good chance for him to show-off his Demo gameplay.
- Combo Scout: croix
- Flank Scout: ixy
- Roamer: mèx
- Pocket: 20grams
- Demoman: fluo
- Medic: robin
Italy have seemed to struggle in the Nations Cups in the past, when you consider how 4/6 of their players have Premiership experience, you’d expect them to roll through groups into playoffs every time. Historically, this hasn’t been the case. Maybe it has something to do with Italy changing captains every Nations Cup, but this will be the first time that Italy actually has the same core roster two seasons in a row.
croix, one of the returning players, will be leading the team on Combo Scout into battle. After making his way into Premiership through the qualifiers in Season 33, croix has never managed to reach the top level of the game since. Nevertheless, him and ixy (who is a current Premiership Scout with Global Clan EU), will be a formidable anti-air unit for any soldier that dares bomb them.
Finishing up the combo we have another returning duo, we have robin on Medic and fluo on Demoman. Both players with some Premiership experience in the past, but no real results to speak of in recent times. Both robin and fluo made it to the Premiership Grand Finals at one point in their career, now it's time to see if the magic is still alive. It’s hard to say exactly whether these players will come to the fray entirely ready, or if they’ll get caught out by a newer generation of players.
Finally, mèx and 20grams on Soldier. mèx will be returning again this season as Roamer, but with no experience during the last two years, it'll be up to him to show the sands of time haven't marched over him. mèx may have no experience in the last two years, but 20grams just has overall no experience. The Premiership Spy has already made his mark in Highlander, and now he's moving onto 6s. These soldiers could be their ace in the hole, or proof that Italy's inexperience might catch up to them.
- Combo Scout: daga
- Flank Scout: Osero
- Roamer?: barni
- Pocket?: nubbi
- Demoman: Reoccurring
- Medic: trum
Hungary is a familiar sight in the Nations Cups, with the Magyars featuring in every single edition of it. Their previous performances have never been more than a footnote as they never managed to progress out of the groups. But for their 8th appearance, they are lining up with 3 Premiership players, and will be looking to advance for the first time in their history.
The trio of Prem players is made up of: daga, nubbi, and trum. They all recently participated in the playoffs of Season 38, with daga and trum playing for quater-finalists GlobalClan.EU and nubbi still competing for a gold medal over on nerdRage. Nations Cups are often synonymous with people drifting away from their mains, and Hungary is no exception, with daga moving from Demoman to Scout and nubbi possibly playing closer to the healing beam of trum. The other half of this team is made up of Reoccurring, Osero, and barni. Three players that might not be familiar to 6’s viewers, but who featured alongside the previous 3 in Hell.Next.Door: an all-Hungarian Highlander team that played in Division 1. With their team coordination (as well as Osero’s sniping skills) boosted by this experience, Hungary look poised to win their group and finally reach the promised land of playoffs.
- Combo Scout: snh
- Flank Scout: misha
- Roamer: Breez
- Pocket: milkyeu
- Demoman: LUKASTANK
- Medic: koling
The Czech National Team is also one to look for, as they possess two qualities that often are the difference-makers in this sometimes hectic tournament: experience playing together, and Prem players. Most of the members of this roster have been playing in Division 1 for the last couple of seasons or so, where carried by nation even clinched 3rd place during Season 36.
LUKASTANK is the obvious standout here, having won more awards than most people win games in a Season, and will be reprising his role as the Demoman once more. This means that milkyeu, currently the Demoman for Garda Panteri, will be moving to Pocket. If his ability to hit airshots can remain unaffected, he should be doing just fine. Breez, koling and misha (also known as nation) are all regulars of carried by nation. Breez and koling have not managed to breakthrough the Premiership barrier yet, but misha has had his fair share of success at the top level, from Danger Dogs to The Bus Crew. snh will be rounding up the roster as one of the more unknown quantities, that are a common sight during Nations (no correlation) Cups, and he will surely be excited to show what he can do at this level.
This article was written in collaboration with dempsey and JMaxchill.