ETF2L Premiership qualifiers are rarely a dull affair, as ambitious projects and returning veterans battle it out for a spot among Europe’s elite. Over the seasons, those qualifying matches have taken a wide variety of forms to accommodate always-changing situations; group stages, different brackets, single or double eliminations all have featured in the past. This season will eschew complexity in favor of a classic Thunderdome format, with two teams playing just one best-of-three. So, before they fight for our entertainment let’s meet the twelve brave keyboard warriors.
The League Of Shadows
- Pocket Scout: flick
- Flank Scout: hemp
- Roamer: troy
- Pocket: chris
- Demoman: zambz
- Medic: seeds
First into the Winter Showdown 2023 qualifiers are The League Of Shadows, returning from an unexpected second place in Autumn 2022 with a slew of new faces. Last season they defeated both CSG and tf2easy before falling to recently crowned RCADIA Fortress champions Witness Gaming, but have now rebuilt around Pocket Scout flick and their RCADIA stand-in Demo zambz.
After first becoming known as one of Europe's most memed-upon players, flick is now sitting on a streak of four consecutive appearances in Prem playoffs and has become one of Europe’s top scouts. The only full-time member of last season’s silver medallists to return, he has built a team around himself with the intention of continuing that streak and not only making it into Premiership but going all the way. Demo zambz also deserves an honorary mention as a returning The League Of Shadows player, after standing in for them on short notice at RCADIA Fortress. He has never played Prem before but he is the one player who most deserves to be there: in their final match at RCADIA he out-damaged the rest of the server in both maps, thoroughly impressing despite their 5th - 6th place finish. Now a full-time member with all the extra practice this implies, it’s time to see if mechanics plus synergy equals success.
On Flank Scout, hemp is making yet another attempt to qualify for Prem. She deserves to be there; her teams were put directly into Prem twice, but in the past two years she has played three Prem qualifiers and made it through none of them. The Soldier duo of troy and chris are both returning from extended breaks: the former last played on S40’s The League Of Shadows in their playoffs run, but since then has played only five matches in any ETF2L tournament or division. Similarly, chris has only played two seasons in two years, but made Premiership playoffs in both and was shouted out by papi as a veteran with the potential to be one of the best. Every one of these three has proven that their ceiling is sky-high and that they can win fights and matches for their team, but the onus is on them to live up to these expectations.
Finally, the standout player of this roster is multiple ETF2L champion seeds, on Medic. Undeniably the most experienced player on this roster, he arrives with a reputation as the hardest Medic to kill in the game, and knowing that he can dodge whatever’s thrown at him might just be the key to The League Of Shadows’ success. Allowed to focus forwards, this roster's raw DM can be unleashed and could easily overwhelm opponents, and without seasons spent practising together that could be their route into Premiership.
- Pocket Scout: zinnsoldat
- Flank Scout: hexerii
- Roamer: Ryfourn
- Pocket: Nati Noot
- Demoman: playgrey
- Medic: Faust
Nati Noot, named after team captain Nati Noot, is much more raw and unproven at the top level compared to The League Of Shadows, but do possess some explosive players who have already played with one another in the past. Two of their players have Prem experience as well, Faust and playgrey. A versatile Soldier and Medic player, Faust debuted in Premiership on the medicinal man on Stevie Wonder’s Aim School during Season 41, and hopefully gained a strong mental from that experience. playgrey debuted during the same season with a very short stint on DEATH AND DESTRUCTION but most of their experience comes from playing for the Czech national team (also known as street debils) the following season.
The rest of the team is made up of zinnsoldat and hexerii on Scout, and Ryfourn as well as the eponymous Nati Noot on Soldier. Ryfourn, Nati Noot and hexerii will be attempting to skip a division, having never set foot in Division 1. All four players are fresh off a strong season in Division 2, reaching the Grand Final but settling for second place after a closely-fought match. zinnsoldat will also re-unite with both playgrey and Faust, having played together for The Fellowship in Division 1.
Nati of the Noot clan answered our burning questions:
TEAMFORTRESS.TV: Was this team created with the hope of making it into Prem or did you decide later on?
originally we just wanted to play d1 after our d2 season, but we realized that there was nothing to lose if we were to attempt the prem qualifiers. in the worst case we get d1 like we wanted to from the start, and if we're very lucky we could get into prem.
TEAMFORTRESS.TV: Most people have you as the underdog in your qualifier game. Would you agree, and if yes, do you think that this will be positive or negative?
we are clearly the underdogs in this matchup, but i believe it will have a positive impact by giving us a tough challenge to overcome. despite the large skill difference we won't be pessimistic and we will instead try our best to win. i hope we can give our enemies a reason to try as well.
TEAMFORTRESS.TV: What do you think of your opponents for the last spot? Do you train with their weaknesses in mind, or would you rather not overthink it before the game?
"The opposing team are slow and uncoordinated". we will of course try to exploit any weaknesses we find, but unfortunately we haven't been able to practice as much as we would like recently. our pocket scout's alarm clocks have been unable to wake him up in time for scrims which has reduced the quality of our practice significantly.
TEAMFORTRESS.TV: Any closing words?
shoutout to my boys dave, padux, ympo, ascend, cenabolt, and gold
shoutout to jesus christ
that's about all
i forgot to mention we'll probably cut our pocket scout (ikidu) after the match due to him prioritizing sleep over scrims
We also reached out to flick, whose answers made me think of someone else but I'm not sure who:
TEAMFORTRESS.TV: Can you walk us through how this new iteration of the League came to be?
hi aelkyr, me flick here, well to answer these questions i need to bring you back, in around 2014 when i was going to school i used to get chocolate buttons in the newsagents across the road and whenever i had them i just thought to myself, imagine if i became the best chocolate button eater in britain, so i trained and trained and entered competitions of people who were like minded, i started off weak, only consuming 1 packet in my first attempt, then i started to train more by visiting the cadbury factory atleast 3 times a day, i would sit on the conveyor belt and scoff them up by the hundreds which impressed onlookers and my competition started to see what potential i could reach with the right amount of dedication. after increasing my way through the ranks of choccy buttons i was approached by a young lad from yorkshire who was interested in making a team to compete in the big leagues, i jumped on the idea of working alongside like minded people, after coming dead last in my first competition anything was an improvement, we climbed to 5th place which was outstanding for us and we were all happy with the result but the game wasnt over, we could improve, we would improve. the next competition rolled around and we shot into 4th which was howeemama was that a rush. after running with those guys for a while i decided that they simply werent good enough to be up to my standard so i looked for others who wanted to go a step further, who were more talented, who could, eat buttons. after jumping from team to team, i saw the results increasing, more buttons being consumed, until last year, we came second, we beat the buttoners2000 who everyone said were destined for glory, but we beat them, like i mean we fucking beat them god damn. after all the hype and afterparties we had a little talk about were we wanted to take it next, i was STRIVING to improve the amount of buttons i could eat, but the team did not share that ambition, some wanted to take it more chill and leave it on a high note, some wanted to look for other squads with people theyve known for a long time and some ended up joining the buttoners2000, so i was left all alone, right were i was right after i came last, but from the ashes rises the phoenix right, i saw some up and coming button eaters who no one would give a chance, i saw their ambition and motivation to be the best so i picked them up, i saw one of the guys from the buttoners2000 was down to button up so he was in immediately, then the hard part, when all looked dire, these 2 top dogs came out of retirement, just as it was looking bleak, just as we were about to call it quits and i was gonna pursue mars bar consumption instead, we tried one round of cadburies with them and it was heaven, it was, my dream team.
TEAMFORTRESS.TV: Despite being one of two teams in Prem qualifiers, when you look at the other teams do you think you can make a fifth consecutive season in playoffs?
i am literally flick, dont you know what fl1ck stands for, Forever - Level - 1 - Contract - Killer. now dont ask how that relates to if we will get playoffs or if that is my side hustle you cant ask that question, but yes, flick believes we, the league of shadows, the family of darkness, the troublemakers, the hellbringers, the thing of nightmares, will indeed, make premiership playoffs this season, as its kinda just a normal thing for me now, also we have seeds lol.
TEAMFORTRESS.TV: Any closing words?
shout out pancake tuesday too
troy, the self-proclaimed "roamer on the league of the shadows flick team" also had some words for Nati Noot:
hello Mr jmaxwell chill, well what have I got to say to these little nati boots or whatever the hell those guys are called. simple, let me just compose a sentence of 3 or so words nothing more as I'm sure they are well aware of who me and the league of shadows are who the notoriety we have. we were put on this earth to do one thing and one thing only, cause havock, we are going to cause noyi nought pain, we are going to make them wish they were never born, we are going to be ruthless.
I've recently contacted my good friend charlie and have had my stand in Paul play on my account, you might ask what this has to do with anything but me and charlie have been living the luxurious life in the most famous city in the world, Birmingham, we've been going to so many asdas and Greg's and been staying at only the most expensive and romantic hostels all over the city, I'm telling you this because it showcases my level of fear that the noti nays have over me but I will tell you they should be ready, I have recently purchased an Alienware laptop and I'm going to take over from Paul and play this official game in an internet cafe, they should be scared,, who wouldn't be, I'm coming for you Faust.
With both teams talking a strong game and ready to fight tooth and nail for that coveted Premiership spot, this is not a match to be missed. Catch it live at 21:15 CET on February 22nd over on twitch.tv/teamfortresstv!
Article contributed to by Aelkyr