Scouts: -Sal and dFlame
First things first with Exultance is that they have the most volatile scout combo in IM. If both Sal and dFlame are hitting their shots and keep a level head continuing to communicate with their team then they have the DM to be the best scout combo in IM but both players are known to be susceptible to tilting which may cloud their decision making. So on a good day the two can out-DM entire enemy teams and carry Exultance to victory, or they may falter and cost them a game against teams a rank or two below them. Despite this I doubt that Exultance will live and die with their scouts as I expect the combo to be able to hold them together. The combination of Trippa and Saam can potentially lead the two to play better than they ever have. dFlame has proven before that playing with the right players that he can trust to not drag him down, he can play extremely cleanly and show up large on the stat screen. -Sal has not quite proven this, but he has played well on some very good teams before. Time will tell if they can shed this “volatility label”.
Moving on, Trip is the closest challenger to the title of “Best Pocket in IM” which Botmode holds coming into the season. He definitely has the right mix of DM and game-sense to put himself in the right place to do damage, and when he gets there could be a destroyer of worlds in IM. However, he tends to play what may be referred to as the “Final Boss” pocket where he grabs the lions share of the heals for his team and may be the last one alive to clean up the enemy team. Trip does a ton of work for his team, but he takes up resources that may otherwise be used to the greater advantage of his teammates. The Final Boss pocket can cost a team if the Pocket can’t pull it off, but Trip has proved the last few seasons that he has the ability to actually do it. Kanon the roamer is someone who didn’t get a lot of shine nor attention the past few seasons despite ostensibly being the team leader. He tends to play his role and do it exceptionally well, the very definition of a role player. Despite that not sounding like a compliment, no teams win without people willing to defer in some situations and simply do what they are needed to when it is needed. The Mario Chalmers/Norris Cole of Exultance.
Safrix the sub 25% heal demoman is most likely the 4th best demoman in IM right now. He isn’t given a large share of resources to work with, but seems to do more than enough with what he has. (If I had the time and the stats, I could maybe try to put together some sort of stats per heal as stolen from the Gentleman Jon I could prove this point better). But again, on a team that has centerpieces elsewhere he does what he is needed to do. The Chris Bosh of exultance.
Saam the new medic for this combo is a medic that has a lot of experience staring at one or two butts in particular for the course of a match and he does his job remarkably well. He gets heals where they need to be and surfs damage to save himself from aggression. Despite Dable’s skill, he isn’t one to opt into attempting to force widespread changes on a team but if Saam feels that it may be necessary he may be more likely to. Overall the addition of Saam is a good one that could possibly add more versatility to a team that was very Trip focused.
It seems that Muffin Men may be making a lateral move from their last season of IM. If they come together and hit shots at the right time, they can potentially make a run at the title but barring that they are just underneath the top two teams. They made very smart pickups in Sal and dFlame who are very much able to play low-eco scouts while still exerting a considerable influence on the course of a game. Depending on how things go internally, they could be an incredible team.
The way I see it is that these next three teams are pretty evenly matched in that they are teams that may threaten the top 3 and take scrims off of them, maybe even a match, but at full power in a long set the top 3 are just a slight tier above. 4-6 Could really be in any order, the order in which I place them is due to factors which can change over time.