Power Rankings: Week 3 Snakewater
Sunshine has come and gone, and with it some major matches in high IM as teams with a claim to win the IM clashing. Pizzagon Esports simply took care of business in against Kill Zill in a game that revealed some worrying deficiencies for Botmode and friends. There were a few upsets this week with Rocked By the Dragon toppling Exultance TF2. A few not so convincing wins by teams in mid-IM shows that either IM has more parity than ever, or that I simply overrated a few.
Next map up is Snakewater, a n extremely familiar map that has been in the rotation for quite a few seasons. This week features a few big games across the different tiers of IM that can produce close, competitive matches. I skipped power rankings for last week because I wanted to give these teams some extra time to have watchable results (and because most of the granary demos weren’t completely functional). Either way, power rankings from now on will be Top 8 instead of 10.
Sadly I have not figured out a fancy formatting to make this not look like a wall of text so, HERE IS YOUR WALL OF TEXT.
8. Mad Marx Revolution Road
Xan Sucks, Yeeegz is the best. Chriz Tah Fah is clearly some demoman ancient. Marxist is busy putting together a coup of Guatemala. Stochast1c plays from the Andromeda system. Gatanater is there. I may have copped out with my analysis there.
7. The Happy Schnapps Combo
Essentially Happy Schnapps is performing exactly as expected by gatekeeping mid-IM. They are beating the teams just below them in the power rankings while putting up a fight, but ultimately falling to the higher ranked teams. They have beaten the 8th seed but lost to the 6th seed. They are an extremely solid team with a pocket/medic combo capable of challenging most of the division. In the words of a great diplomat, “I have on strong feelings one way or another” regarding Happy Schnapps. Happy Schnapps moving up the power rankings will be more reliant on Six Guys Off and Gorillion Dollars succumbing to roster issues rather than an increase on skill on the Schnapps side.
The Happy Schnapps Combo will get a relatively lax Snakewater week as they play against Mad Lugubrious and Dildo Gaggins (formerly Afro Magnums). If Happy Schnapps continue to perform at their expected level, they will beat Lugubrious 5-0 and Gaggins 5-3.
6. A Gorillion Dollars
They are on the opposite side of the roster change spectrum compared to Six Guys Off where they just can’t find a sixth. Gorillion Dollars needs a demoman and they need one fast, Conductor was one week pick up that only played one game against dddddd that was far closer than one would expect. Gorillion Dollars as a team started out the season rather strong with a quality victory over Syops TF2 and taking Pizzagon to the brink before falling 5-4. Ever since then they have been on the downturn as they no longer have a consistent roster. There are some whispers of a Mustard return to demoman if they can find a sufficient pocket, but so far nothing has really come of it. As for the rest of the team, Ex and Knuckles are both having a rough season where they are taking turns turning in sub-par games against teams they should be exploiting. Liko is doing okay, but not particularly amazing. Honestly Cookiejake is the highlight and surprise of this team, at least to me, constantly avoiding death despite having to chase Mustard deep into enemy territory during ubers as well has staying alive despite alternating poor performances from his scouts.
Gorillion Dollars play Mumble Robots and Kill Zill this week. Both games seem rather set in stone as even with roster issues they are much better than Mumble Robots, similarly Kill Zill completely outclasses Gorillion Dollars.
5. Six Guys Off
Don’t let Six Guy’s record and round wins deceive you, their 4-0 has come at the expense of teams far below than them. Their biggest win came over the likes of Happy Schnapps Combo in a game where Tooth made his return to pocket and Ringo made his single appearance for Six Guys. Despite this configuration of classes that arguably presented the strongest Six Guys Off seen this season they only came away with a 4-1 timeout. The biggest question mark regarding Six Guys is who is playing for them and what class. They have yet to play two games with the same roster let alone same class setup. The result is that they have given up rounds to teams that they should be rolling in 30 minutes. This is extremely troubling for Six Guys Off moving forward, they dropped three rounds to a severely inferior Pie_Hero’s bakery. Luckily Six Guys Off have benefitted with the easiest schedule in IM, their extreme roster turmoil has not cost them any games.
The easy road continues on for Six Guys Off as they play against Mumble Robots and Bandits (who have made the pickup of someone who aliased as Bullet, probably nothing). Six Guys Off will continue having time to figure things out before they eventually played Rocked by the Dragon on process.
4. Exultance TF2
Exultance drops down to #4 on the power rankings due to losing their head-to-head game with Rocked by the Dragon. They exhibited similar issues to Kill Zill at the Sunshine mids where their soldiers just jumped different parts of the map and would get mulched in no man’s land. They managed to actually put it together on a couple of mids, crushing the Dragon boys when Trip and Kanon would drop damage on the same area. Yet they would promptly forget what won them the mid in the next round, falling back into coordination mistakes. The team seems to have positioning issues across half of the team, Exultance suffered major picks from their flank to overextensions in Flower or were slow to back up which would cost them Safrix at times they could not afford to lose a demo. Sal- is continuing to make some strange decisions in terms of when he decides to go for highly aggressive flanks, most notably on a few mids where he decided to go for a flank on Matt instead of retreating to Saam to escort him out. It worked in Exultance’s favor a couple of times when he did kill Matt, but when it failed Exultance lost position and advantage to a team that plays a type of measured advantage based style you do not want to donate to. The team seems to increasingly rely on the strength of their Pocket/Medic combo as well as on Dflame who to their credit are performing extraordinarily well, but Exultance needs to become more rounded to once again breach the top 3.
Exultance has a fairly tough week on Snakewater as they play Syops.TF2 and Pizzagon. While I expect them to summarily dispatch Syops as they are simply stronger in the positions that Syops relies on, Pizzagon will present an incredible challenge. Pizzagon’s flank is absolutely devastating if given space to operate and their combo is strong enough to break even in fights putting more pressure on a far weaker flank of Exultance to succeed against an objectively better Pizzagon flank.
3. Rocked By the Dragon
The first mixup of my power rankings season comes in the form of –Rocked By the Dragon- soaring up two spots to the 3rd place in IM. They grinded out a close game against Exultance, that by all measures should not have been so close. –Rocked by the Dragon- constantly outplayed and out-positioned Exultance on uber pushes and in transition fights, but what could have been major victories turned into Pyrrhic victories when they would lose Matt at the end of fights to the last surviving member of Exultance. It cost Rocked By the Dragon one too many free pushes and isn’t the kind of openings they can allow players like Muffinz, Scizor, and Rekuso. Sigh turned in a fantastic game against Exultance where it seemed as if there was no answer to his damage as he turned in kill after kill in big fights. Vand and Train both showed up fairly large as expected. Overall this team plays similar to Japanifest Destiny of a few seasons ago or 6Cuties from S14 of IM where they would sell out their soldiers on aggressive jumps in order to make space for their scouts and demoman to ravage other teams.
Rocked by the Dragon should not get overconfident despite what appears to be an off week against fairly weak looking teams in The Cattle and ddddddddd. However they have already dispatched the Cattle as of Sunday in a game that showcases both the Cattle’s reliance on Pie_Hero and Rocked By The Dragon’s ability to get production out of all membes of the team. Ddddddddd is a team with a strange roster that features Ranga as their centerpiece, I don’t think this team can really turn an upset in over Bird Noises unless they come out flat and unprepared. This is unlikely as Snakewater mids really play into the Rocked By the Dragon’s strengths as a team. I expect Rocked by the Dragon to be 6-0 by the end of this week.
2. Kill Zill
Despite a pretty big loss suffered to Pizzagon esports, I’m willing to chalk some of the game up to the limited amount of time played together with their current class setup. The stats of the game show that the damage was actually pretty tight for a 26 minute 5-1, but defenders can rack up damage stats as teams try to force their way in so one can attribute that to what is essentially artificial inflation. Most of what went wrong from Kill Zill came to teamplay as their soldiers jumped to different parts of mid, depriving their scouts and demo of the space they needed to go to work. It wasn’t just the fault of the soldiers that they lost mids, Kill Zill repeatedly opted into 1v1s and 1v2s when they simply needed to return to heals opening up the window for Pizzagon to turn around seemingly lost mids. Kill Zill seemed to have a general lack of planning for Sunshine as their flank overextended just to get picked off in flower one too many times and the positioning on their 2nd hold was faulty leaving Hassassin on the low ground compared to any entrance by Pizzagon. Issues of kill focus carried over from mids to all parts of the map as they would lose track of Pizzagon players, allowing them to stick around at red life before coming back to turn fights around. Overall Kill Zill keeps 2nd because I expect dramatic improvement, and they are only 1 class switch from an incredible roster on paper. At the same time Sen is on the way to proving me to be WILDLY incorrect with his performance in the early games.
Kill Zill plays Bandits and A Gorillion Dollars. Gorillion Dollars is still looking for a demoman and so their roster is fairly suspect, and while they will definitely be the tougher of the two teams I expect Kill Zill to win this game rather comfortably.
To no one’s surprise, Pizzagon maintains their spot atop IM as they turned in a convincing victory over their nearest competitor in Kill Zill. Pizzagon burst out the gate with aggressive mids where Jarrett would take as much ground as conceivably possible early on to drop damage onto members of Kill Zill arriving through choke. Overall Pizzagon showed off all of the reasons why I’ve listed them at #1 before, they had excellent coordination between their players (for where we are in the season) while still exhibiting the type of individual playmaking you’d expect from players like MrMuffinz and Rekuso. The flank of Pizzagon is absolutely deadly and Deathy is already settling in to his role to put up great production for Pizzagon. Up until Pizzagon’s game with Rocked by the Dragon, I don’t expect anyone to challenge Pizzagon’s IM dominance. My worry from their Sunshine game comes down to the fact that they were relatively slow on some pushes giving Kill Zill time to set up.
Pizzagon gets essentially a bye game against Mad Lugubrious before entering into the Match of the Week against Exultance.