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poLANd.tf Qualifier Review
posted in News
February 18, 2024

poLANd.tf #winter 2024 is almost upon us, so let’s take a look at the process that lead to determining the 16 teams who will be taking the trip to Łódź later this month.

The announcement of poLANd.tf #winter 2024 in September resulted in unprecedented interest from Europe’s top teams, all excited to prove themselves on the highest stage in the first top tier European LAN since 2022. Hence, due to a strict limited capacity at the event, an open qualifier needed to be held to determine which teams would be travelling to Poland to attend the event.

Before the qualifier began, nine teams were given direct invites to the main event, based on their recent results and experience. This left the sixteen other budding teams to battle it out for the remaining seven LAN spots in the open qualifier. These teams were split up into four groups of four teams, who played a round robin of best-of-threes. The winner of each group qualified to LAN directly, whilst the second place teams from each group were placed into the “Knockout Stage”, another best-of-three round robin group to determine the final three qualifying teams.

Group 1

  • NANDEM (9)
  • POUNDLAN (6)
  • Oracle Fire (3)
  • foop club (0)

At the time of the qualifiers, NANDEM had just won 14 maps out of 14 in their ETF2L Division 1 regular season, and were about to enter the playoffs as top seeds. This winning streak extended throughout their qualifier run, as they powered through with three 2-0 wins, losing only a single round in the process. POUNDLAN were the ones to take this round, and despite being somewhat outclassed by NANDEM in their round 3 game, they proved to be a cut above Oracle Fire and foop club, and wins in these series earned them second place in the group and entry into the Knockout Stage.

Group 2

  • George (9)
  • Bloking Hazard (6)
  • Kay’s Good Cooking (3)
  • Oracle Ice (0)

Oracle Ice were not able to improve on their sister team’s Group 1 performance, as they and Kay’s Good Cooking were both out of the running after each being swept by the other two teams. This left Bloking Hazard and George tied on 6 points apiece to face off in the final deciding game. First up was Process, where after a frantic start the teams were tied at 2-2 with less than 7 minutes played, however once the game settled down, George were able to slowly grind out a close 3-2 win. Bloking Hazard bounced back quickly on Bagel by taking a 2-0 lead, but then it all fell apart as George were able to reverse-sweep their way to LAN qualification in two maps.

Group 3

  • Toilet Cleaner Masters (9)
  • Saints (6)
  • Midnight 6s (3)
  • Polandia’s Bravest (0)

TCM came into Group 3 with a team core consisting of ALOV, dosu and xio, who are poLANd.tf’s reigning champions from their victory with Napierdalana last summer. Midnight 6s and Polandia’s Bravest proved no trouble for TCM, as they were able to set up a final round deciding tie against the strong Swedish stack Saints. Despite the wealth of experience among the Swedes, they were no match for the rampant Poles, who were able to complete a clean sweep with a 5-0 win on Process and a 3-0 win on Bagel, earning the reigning champs a chance to defend their title on home soil.

Group 4

  • alien workshop (9)
  • 3 Steps Back (6)
  • Local Issues (3)
  • Fritz Fan Club (0)

Some attentive readers may be beginning to notice a theme emerging: after 2 rounds of play there are two teams tied at the top of the table on 6 points, and that the final game between these two teams decides the whole outcome of the group. Group 4 was no different. Local Issues and Fritz Fan Club fell behind early, leaving alien workshop and 3 Steps Back to battle it out for the top spot in what promised to be one of the closest matchups of the whole qualifier so far. 3 Steps Back were clearly confident coming into the fixture, so much so that pocket scout LFBeans said that he would shave his head if his team came out victorious. This confidence served 3 Steps Back well on Sunshine in map 1, where they were able to take a 5-2 victory in just 16 minutes. However, it was at this point when a fire lit within the bellies of alien workshop, as the i71 bronze medalists swept 3-0 on both of the KOTH maps to take the series 2-1, securing their LAN qualification and a number 1 trim for LFBeans.

Knockout Stage

  • 3 Steps Back
  • Bloking Hazard
  • Saints

The knockout stage gave a final opportunity for the second placed teams to bounce back from their group stage mishaps and earn one of the final spots at LAN. Bloking Hazard were arguably the closest of these four teams to winning their group, and they kept up this strong form into the knockout stage by beating Saints and POUNDLAN in their first fixtures, guaranteeing LAN qualification with a round to spare. Meanwhile POUNDLAN snuck past 3 Steps Back with a 2-1 victory, who joined them on 3 points soon after with a somewhat comfortable 2-0 win against Saints despite a short lived comeback attempt from the Swedes on Bagel. So after 2 rounds played, Bloking Hazard stood as sole leaders with 6 points, POUNDLAN and 3 Steps Back tied for second with 3 points, and Saints sat alone in last place with zero.

The first of the two round 3 games to be played was POUNDLAN vs Saints. Saints came into this knowing that nothing short of a win would be enough to qualify, but POUNDLAN also had plenty to play for as a loss for them could result in their own elimination via tiebreakers. This resulted in the highest stakes match of the whole qualifier, but this pressure seemed to work in the Swedes’ favour as they rose to the challenge and took the series 2-0, so with one game to play, and nobody truly confident in the tiebreaker rules, there was potential for a three-way tie to determine the eliminated team. But 3 Steps Back, knowing they could still be at risk of elimination, managed to prevent the need for anyone to reach for their calculators by pulling off a clean 2-0 victory against Bloking Hazard, which bumped them up to 6 points and into safety. This left POUNDLAN to be eliminated in last place on 3 points, due to their head-to-head tiebreaker against Saints.

Final standings:

  • 3 Steps Back (6)
  • Bloking Hazard (6)
  • Saints (3)
  • POUNDLAN (3)

After a qualifier full of twists and turns, there was one final plot twist that came after all of the games had been completed. On February 1st 2024, it was officially announced that tf2easy BLACK would have to drop out from the tournament, creating one extra spot for a team to qualify. This spot was given to POUNDLAN, due to their eighth place finish in the qualifier, who are now hurrying to book flights and accommodation in time for the event later this month.

And so, with the qualifiers completed, we have the full list of the 16 teams who will be battling it out in Łódź on 23rd-25th February, all hoping to win Europe’s LAN crown.

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