...is going to be really exciting! Here's the breakdown of my thoughts and where teams might be at the end of Season 12.
As expected, Classic Mixup has pretty much already secured a LAN spot, even if they were to lose all five of their remaining matches (including a forfeit win from the Ducks) due to some offclassing gone horribly wrong - like if the doors destroy Enigma again - they would still be able to make LAN.
Leviathan Gaming is comfortably at 9-2, but with the recent roster shakeup and some subpar performances against the Spacewhalebros and Mixup, things might be a little shaky. LG does have an upcoming free win to bump them up to 10-2, but also two more matches against Mixup. Regardless though, in a worst case scenario they would sit at 10-4 with two more matches to go against the Chess Club and No Need For Names, and I expect b4nny will be just too good to let their Scout situation cost them a spot. And hopefully, their Scout situation is settled soon.
After shaking off some growing pains with Clckwrk, the Spacewhales are currently in third place with a 7-5 record, just a step above the other teams fighting for the LAN spots. Here's the thing though, the br0s just came off a convincing win against the Chess Club last night and will play Going Heavy and No Need For Names. I think they won't have too much trouble against either of those teams now that (a) the growing pains are out for the rematch against HWG and (b) Powah is no longer sniping every single player on Viaduct. Along with that, they pickup two free wins against the Pinball Wizards but I think they are good enough to go 11-5 from here.
The Chess Club are in a peculiar position. They have two easy wins and two very difficult games ahead - forfeit wins vs. the Ducks and Pinball Wizards, matches against the LG and Mix^ giants. Now I wouldn't count out the losses quite just yet but for example we'll say they end up 8-7. They would then need to best No Need For Names on Process to be 9-7. Tri and Kermit, hell pretty much everyone on the team has been playing admirably and if they can shut down nNn's destructive flank with their own it should give them a victory and a LAN spot.
No Need For Names is the "unluckiest," with no forfeit wins and a match against every one of their LAN contenders (even playing HWG twice), so they have their work cut out for them. I was not able to see how their new pickups in Justin and Relic performed against Mixup, but even growing pains aside their opponents have had stable rosters (save LG kinda?) and seem more solid overall. They do not have to play Mixup again, so I guess that's a plus.
But perhaps the unluckiest would be Going Heavy? With a forfeit win they will be 5-7, but face a tough task of playing Mixup and Spacewhales, along with No Need For Names twice. Could they pull it off? Absolutely. Lansky, KBK, and oPlaiD have been playing extremely well the last couple of weeks and Tony Swan has been strong all season. Sweater, however, has to step up his game to help his buddies get to LAN. Expect to see some great ubers coming out of Lansky and tight games overall in the final weeks of the season for this team.
Rest in peace, Pinball Wizards and the Mighty Ducks.
With the crazy roster switchups and unfortunate loss of two teams, the last two weeks of the season are going to be extremely close. You will definitely want to tune into streams / casts as the teams give everything they've got for a chance to go to LAN.
(Sorry for the lengthy "article-esque" nature of the thread, I just wanted to write about this to hopefully get a glimpse / practice of writing TF2 articles, hope you enjoyed.)