Pre-Season Rundown #1: Pizzagon

First, because Shadowpuppet so graciously wrote it your quick pre-preview.

“When S19 ended and S20 started forming up, it was looking to be a disappointing, low tier experience for all involved. Fortunately for the fans at home, we have been delivered an abundance of teams that will make the race to playoffs look competitive. Sure the top 3-4 are fairly insular, no real challenger looks likely to break into the top of the league, the bottom half of playoff spots are really up for grabs. This season is shaping up to be a thriller for the middle of the road IM teams, with last second playoff dream upsets and usurps entirely possible.”

And now IM’s pre-season number 1 team, PIzzagon cheeeeeeeeesports

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Class Rundown

Scouts: Scizor and EvilMrMuffinz

Pocket: Deathy

Roamer: Rekuso

Demoman: Jarret

Medic: Skye

Analysis

Pizzagon is definitively the prohibitive favorites for this season of IM. On paper, this team is the best in IM and could probably place 6th in Invite. There are just no major weaknesses for Pizzagon as they seem to just have everything.

 

They currently possess the best scout combo in IM with the invite experienced Scizor and EvilMrMuffinz who managed to shine as an incredible scout on Muffin Men despite getting scraps for heals.  With Pizzagon running double Gunboats there will be plenty of room for their  scouts to wreak havoc on opposing teams and carve up space. Neither scout suffer from Bitch or Bait syndrome and both are  able to spot a situation in which they can take advantage of some deficiency in the other team either mid push or even at neutral to blow a game wide open. Scizor was consistently the second or third best sniper in HL when he played Platinum and this ability could  prove extremely valuable in various situations against some of the other High-IM teams. If both scouts heat up for Pizzagon then they may be able to just take over the entire game by themselves and carry their teammates to victory.

 

Not to be outdone by their scout combo, Pizzagon has what is most likely the best “soldier pair” in IM as well with Deathy on pocket and Rekuso on roamer. Rekuso is like scizor, an invite tested player that will have no issues performing in intermediate as he picks apart teams and finds spaces to exploit. He is definitely in the top percentile of DM for soldiers this season and I fully expect him to prove his position as the best in IM. He has a consistent and almost strange affinity for playing Spy whenever he sees the opportunity to win rounds for his team. Rekuso has been recognized as one of the best roamers out there for a long time and I expect this season to only cement this status. Deathy, on the other hand, is far less proven and has far less experience. But what he lacks in game-sense, he makes up for with DM in spades. At the same time, what may be perceived as Deathy’s deficiencies may have partially been the result of the overall skill of his past teams. When you are on a sub-par team, one tends to play in particular ways to make attempts to carry and all it really takes for a player to start to shine and show dramatic improvement is to step up to a better team. In addition, issues he may have early may originate from the change in style that he will have to get used to while playing for Pizzagon this season. For his past seasons, Deathy was receiving a pretty high portion of the heal beam and allowed to make his plays taking fights with 300 health. Expect to see Deathy enter conversations about being the best pocket in IM by the end of this season.

 

Jarret, much like his team, is the pick for pre-season best Demoman in IM. He has the mix of DM and game-sense to prove himself as an exceptional player in any situation. He shows a type of versatility that is fairly rare in IM demos where he is able to play with or without a large share of the heal beam as seen in the contrasting amount of heals and priority he got on the IM Grime compared to the Invite reincarnation of the team (despite both teams sharing the exact same combo players). He is also the main-caller of his team, a role that he has held in both 6s and HL for some seasons now (although he shared calling in HL heavily with Kresnik and Nursey). Him, Chriz Tah Fah, and Habib form a trinity of pill popping demomen who will get far more mileage out their Grenade Launchers than other Demoman around their skill level. He can, and will straight up embarrass people who get overzealous when they see a medic only being protected by a demoman.

 

Skye, their medic, is someone I don’t know very much about, but anyone who survived healing MustardOverlord for an extended time either comes out of the situation with dramatic PTSD or with incredible resilience and medic ability. From what I can tell Skye generally does a fantastic job in surfing damage to safety, making her a difficult medic to grab a pick on and has an extremely solid grasp on when to milk vs. when to just pop the uber. Medic is easily the class for which I know the least about; it’s not a class easy to judge. Medic is the most team-dependent, subjective class in the entire game and can’t just make incredible plays to be noticed. It’s all game-sense and experience.

 

Pizzagon is a team I fully expect to make consistent improvements throughout the season, even though they already stand at number 1. They will accomplish this when the season begins in full as they ramp up demo watching and map reviews in order to get a better sense of identity and put all of their players on the same page. As it stands they rarely lose scrims to any other team in IM, and they should improve at a marginally more substantial rate than their competition. There are no clear weaknesses on this team; they have the mix of playmaking, calling, DM, and game-sense that generally decides “IM winner”.

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