Snakewater has come and gone, and it has left a trail of bodies that murks up my power rankings quite a bit. “Bloody Thursday” as I am going to call it had almost every single IM and Invite match played go to the maximum amount of time and end with a single round victory. Teams were upset, others were nearly upset, and finally some games led me to scratch my head at the result.
Up next is Process, one of the subjectively best maps in the entire rotation. On process every class has the ability to shine and exert a heavy amount of influence on the result of a game. There are not any huge blockbuster matchups for the week, but there are quite a few that I would characterize as “trap games”.
1. Pizzagon Esports (5-1)
Immediately I know what you are thinking. Just last week I said that I HAD to put -Rocked By the Dragon- above Exultance because they won the head-2-head matchup. But somehow I am ignoring that line of reasoning just for Pizzagon. Basically my answer is a non-committal shrug. Watching that game was strange, it really seemed that Pizzagon came into that game completely flat. I don’t know if they began to overestimate themsevles coming into the week after such a convincing win over what was supposed to be their closest competitor in Kill Zill or what. Either way they started to make ridiculous mistakes, mostly on the flank. In the same way that they managed to repeatedly catch out members of Kill Zill in Flower, Exultance repeatedly were able to pick of Rekuso or one of the scouts overextending into lower. Rekuso seemed particularly intent on standing on the awning above lower to 2nd, only to get peaked and spammed down by a soldier from window. In addition they did not exhibit the type of control over the aggression Exultance put out that -Rocked By the Dragon- normally did. This may have come down to a stylisitc matchup, but it seemed that Pizzagon was ill-equipped to matchup with the play of Exultance. In the end, my decision to keep them at number one comes down to the fact that most of the mistakes that they made were rather simple and easily fixed. Outside of those strange positioning errors and a stunning lack of focus on mids, Pizzagon still exhibited the type of strengths in areas that aren’t so easily attained that made me put them at first in the beginning. I expect Pizzagon to be completely prepared for every game from now on.
Pizzagon has a week that seems easy at face value, but may be a trap week. They against a Ice Road Terror HD Remix( formerly DDDDDDDDD, what a great set of names) team that tends to play everyone rather close and will be making an improvement after arguably their worst player leaves the active roster. If he is replaced by a paid up MGIB, expect Ice Road Terror to make a run at the 8th place in IM to squeak into playoffs. Mad Marx sux tho.
2. Rocked By the Dragon (5-1)
It sincerely looks like -Rocked by the Dragon- has reached a stride that they carry into each and every game. They play by far the most controlled style in IM, where they value positioning and advantages over the opportunistic playmaking of an Exultance or a focused aggression of Pizzagon. Once this team digs in to hold a particular area, teams tend to just get roadblocked for minutes at a time. They like to bring out a sniper if they are currently holding mid to make pushing into the area completely unattractive for opposing teams, and they are skilled at pulling out the Highlander holds on last. The loss against Kill Zill still sticks out at me but I’m unable to watch that game so I can’t make any kind of diagnosis as to why they lost. Are we looking at some IM stylistic clashes where the controlled aggression of a few other teams are able to take advantage of the small calling mistakes that -Rocked By the Dragon- make on occassion? Yet their ability to control areas is too much for teams like Exultance? I don’t know, but what I do know is that they are a very good team filled mostly with people who have little to no prior IM experience. The last few seasons have shown a trend that new to IM teams do surprisingly amazing in the season. I’m waiting on a Dragon v. Pizzagon matchup which has not yet been scheduled.
They have a pretty easy schedule, relative to their skill, this week in games against Six Guys Off and Bandits. The Bandits look to be entirely a two man team with a lot of fragging power, but little to no good follow-up whereas Six Guys Off has been struggling in the last few weeks in scrims as they go from winning against, to tying, to losing against teams that they should be better than.
3. Exultance TF2 (5-1)
Exultance grabbed an extremely tough win over Pizzagon esports. This team is highly dangerous in dry pushes, they tend to cover each other extremely well if one person takes one step too far or just needs help. They operate like the old Roman buzzsaw of the late Republic Era where maybe you’ll win the fight, but you will barely come out of it any better than they will. Exultance is entirely unafraid of taking trades with teams and will turn one loss of a player into an even trade or more. Quite often they may lose Safrix early on a push, only to take four people out in the upcoming fight. To really place into the top two, they need to do a few things. One, they need to figure out how to play mids. They seem to come into every game with a few variations, only to switch seemingly at random. They will have a particular mid plan fail twice in a row, switch to a different mid that works perfectly, only to fall back to the mid strat that failed twice. If they fix their issues at mid, they won’t be forced to constantly fight uphill and it can really let their game shine. Two, they need to either communicate better or have someone dedicated to protecting Safrix. There are moments in pushes where someone will simply walk over from a flank to +1 right into Safrix’s side. One particular moment stood out as they lost their flank at Lower, but decided to push up the ramp to lobby anyway. Safrix was promptly loss to a flanking scout that he didn’t seem to know was coming. Three, they need to rein in some of Sal’s deep flanks. There are still moments where he goes for these DEEP flanks to go for a play, where he would be better served grouping with his team to provide that extra damage during a push. Either way, Exultance appears to be coming together quite nicely and pulled off an impressive win against Pizzagon.
This week they play Gorillion Dollars and Mumble Robots. I don’t expect Mumble Robots to put up much of a fight, but Gorillion Dollars may be tougher than their recent results may let on.
4. Kill Zill (5-1)
Easily my most controversial decision, I decided I have to move Exultance up the rankings following their win against Pizzagon. However, I couldn’t move them above Rocked by The Dragon. So I had to make a dramatic shift. They seem to be rebounding in scrims and finding a form more similar to their pre-season strength, but it appears that this has come along with roster changes. They have been playing with Zilly on pocket for about a week now, and I’m not completely sure whether this is a permanent or temporary change. A roster in flux will normally lead to some drop-off of effectiveness but they seem to be able to beat Exultance in scrims. This may be misleading becuase Exultance seem to not do consistently weel in scrims, they fluctuate rather heavily scrim to scrim where they may beat extremely good teams only to turn around and lose to teams like Mad Lux Gold (ew). Basing Kill Zill’s placement off scrim results is impossible, but the third pocket in as many weeks on the ESEA season can lead to some issues. The final component that lead to my decision to drop Kill Zill to fourth came from just the sheer magnitude of their loss to Pizzagon where they were simply wiped off the map repeatedly. In the end I expect Kill Zill to pick it up and make a solid run at the top 3 as they get settled into their positions and make the top 4 of power rankings that much more difficult to put together.
They have alreadyp played one of their Process games, a quick 5-0 over Bruiser Brigade. They still have their game against Gorillion Dollars from Snakewater week and they have to play Mad Marx as their remaining process match. Both games can either go astoundingly smoothly, or can be a painful tredge. It’s basically a a coin flip as to which way these games will go, but I do expect Kill Zill to win both.
5. A Gorillion Dollars (4-1)
Gorillion Dollars has not played a match in ESEA since Sept. 16. They look to have sured up their demoman position with experienced HL Gold Demoman Carolina. Carolina is honestly a highly promising talent that with some experience may become an extremely good demoman, he already has the raw DM to play in mid-high IM. Hopefully the Carolina pickup will provide the final stability that Gorillion Dollars needs in order to thrive. There isn’t much to say about their past matches as they simply haven’t played in a while. Their Snakewater match with Kill Zill seems like it will be played today, it should be a rather good game. Gorillion Dollars seem to be walking into a difficult time in their schedule as they have to play Kill Zill, Exultance, and -Rocked By the Dragon- in 3 of their next 4 games. If Gorillion Dollars can come out of any of those games with a win, then it will be a testament to the extreme parity that exists in this season of IM.
6. The Happy Schnapps Combo (4-2)
The Happy Schnapps Combo continue to be the ultimate mid-IM gatekeepers, none below them shall come out of a game with Schnapps victorious but they are unable to upset teams above them. Their vast, incredible one rank ascension comes at the pushdown of Six Guys Off lower in the Power Rankings. They actually barely edged out a game against Dildo Gaggins (formerly Afro Magnums) that was filled to the absolute brim with shenangians and disappointing mistakes across the board. I do in fact believe that watching that game, as well as the game I played against ddddddd led to the virus which left me bedridden these past few days. They do not seem to be liable to make any dramatic changes, so I expect Happy Schnapps to continue being the perfect bar for mid-IM.
7. Mad Marx Revolution Road (4-2)
I’m going to find someone else to write these eventually. Until then I’m going to copy and paste random things.
Timur’s Capture of Delhi
The battle took place on 17 December 1398. Sultan Nasir-ud-Din Mahmud Shah Tughluq and Mallu Iqbal’s army had war elephants armored with chain mail and poison on their tusks. With his Tatar forces afraid of the elephants, Timur ordered his men to dig a trench in front of their positions. Timur then loaded his camels with as much wood and hay as they could carry. When the war elephants charged, Timur set the hay on fire and prodded the camels with iron sticks, causing them to charge at the elephants howling in pain: Timur had understood that elephants were easily panicked. Faced with the strange spectacle of camels flying straight at them with flames leaping from their backs, the elephants turned around and stampeded back toward their own lines. Timur capitalized on the subsequent disruption in Nasir-ud-Din Mahmud Shah Tughluq’s forces, securing an easy victory. Nasir-ud-Din Mahmud Shah Tughluq fled with remnants of his forces.
8. Six Guys Off (5-0)
Still the only undefeated team in IM, but I have elected to drop them all the way down to eigth (from as high as 4th in my pre-season rundown). They seem to continue to use the old dice roll mechanic to decide who plays at all and what class they are going to play for each scrim. Six Guys Off have to figure something out and they have to do it very soon. Their easy ride looks to end this week where they have to play a -Rocked By the Dragon- squad CLEARLY yearning to take first place on these illustrious power rankings. The sheer thought of them attaining that first place igniting a flame in their hearts that will carry them to victory like friendship, or different kinds of friendship. Seemingly the only consistency for Six Guys Off is that Phlps looks to always be their Scout, and he is extremely good at his role. He put the Bandits to task in the only game that Six Guys Off had on snakewater. This week Six Guys Off will play Mumble Robots first which could potentially give Six Guys that powderpuff game they need to test out some sort of finalized roster they plan to bring against -Rocked By the Bird Noise Dragons-.