Welcome to the Badlands, where the Oregon trail and untold riches await. But also an exceedingly brown map that is almost as synonymous with competitive 6s as pain is with Highlander. Because of ESEA delays, almost all of the games important to the power rankings on Gullywash were forced into Metalworks week. Then this was followed up my Metalworks gifting the select chosen teams to only play one game on what is almost the most disliked map in the rotation. Finally the factor which lead me to delay power rankings into this point is the fact that a couple of the Metalworks games were pushed into this week. So clearly, I am entirely blameless for the delay in the power rankings and made my decision through logic and doing what is best for the community. Praise me.
- Bird Noises
They’ve done it, the Bird Noises team has finally reached the number one spot in the Standings and MY FAR MORE IMPORTANT POWER RANKINGS. Had I actually finished my final power rankings for Metalworks week, I probably would have put them in first even before their game against Pizzagon. In the big game against Pizzagon, they just seemed like they prepared for Metalworks far more than any other team. They came out the gate with a very slow and measured mid, they valued positioning on the point and picking off people who got too aggressive solo. They kept their composure as the mid went on, letting it develop in their favor and allowing Sigh to take an incredible amount of space across the point. The Bird Noises squad is simply the most complete in IM right now. It isn’t that they can do every single type of gameplan and switch on a dime, it is that they have a very distinct style of play and they make every team play their way. Nobody has managed to crack the measured style of Bird Noises in a full game except Fat Gaming, but I’m willing to excuse losses early in the season as teams are gelling and finding a gameplan. Bird Noises seem to be able force teams into a lull before finally cracking the shell so that Bird Noises can finally push. They don’t rush into bad pushes or over-estimate the amount of advantage they have. Bird Noises play exceedingly safe, but because they play slow does not mean they can’t play aggressive. Bird Noises possess an abundance of DM across the board and if they really need to (mostly if they lose Matt), they can collectively hold W and put teams through the meat grinder. Bird Noises look to continue the spree of teams composed of mostly new to IM players being extraordinarily good. On Badlands they play Syops and Sparkle Gang, and while neither team is bad I fully expect Bird Noises to plow through them.
- Pizzagon eSports
Pizzagon suffered a tough loss to Bird Noises on metalworks last week. It was a fairly close game, Pizzagon went down early and it seemed as if they couldn’t crack the mids of Bird Noises but that all changed with the 2nd half. Pizzagon came out swinging and refused to just lie down and die, but in the end they succumbed from too many wounds. This game really came down to one combo class and one scout having an absolutely insane game while the rest of the players tried to keep up. Sigh and Train versus Deathy and Muffinz. Neither side wanted to give in but in the end Sigh only died 10 times in 48 minutes and so Bird Noises were able to outlast the PizzaBoys. The game ended with Pizzagon actually doing more damage overall than Noises, but conceding 16 more frags. The damage was there for Pizzagon, but they just didn’t have the consistent frag focusing to finish pushes. Pizzagon still appears to a definite top two team, but for now have lost their spot atop IM. I think that Pizzagon will bounce back and face Bird Noises in IM finals, but that is for later. Pizzagon does have the calling power and they definitely have the DM, but they sometimes seem to be lacking some cohesion and presence at times. The Pizzagon team gets a fairly easy week on Badlands playing Sparkle Gang and THE GREAT COSMIC LANDFILL. Unfortunately it seems that the Landfill’s dream of hitting that beautiful 0-16 mark has died out and they will be giving away forfeit wins.
- FAT Gaming
Gullywash week for FAT Gaming was a one match roll for the FAT Gaming boys against Shekel Shakedown. They simply outgunned the Shakedown team at every turn, having far too much of a DM advantage on most their classes to be stood up to. Later they won a grindfest, in the only match on Metalworks they have played at the time of writing, against Six Guys Off. Hassassin proved himself to be both unkillable and able to punish people consistently for getting too aggressive in pushes. The notorious F.A.T gang had Zilly and H5 play in this match, a mixup that I assume is temporary. I would have liked to use this moment in the season to check up on the progress of the class switches that have been made over the season. Unfortunately, for the purpose of my incredibly unfair evaluation of their skill, since their week two game against Pizzagon, FAT Gaming have not even been remotely challenged in a match. They have only played Liko and the Manlets (Gorillion Dollars) and they dispatched them with ease in a 34 minute 5-0 on Snakewater. The next game that could pose a challenge was supposed to be Exultance, but they are supposed to play that game today and so I could not include that in this power ranking.
This temporary break from the easiest road known to IM gets back on track when the Fatties play against Dildo Gaggins and MAD Lugubrious on Badlands. Even if they lose every game to another Top 8 team for the rest of the season, they will only have 3 losses. They do have the not so spectacular privilege to play Pizzagon again later, but that is fairly far off.
- Gorillion Dollars (Liko and the Manlets)
The Rich Boys cruised through their Metalworks week without dropping a single round. They have made another new pickup, with Slemnish opting into joining his old team. Clearly Slemnish is suffering from acute Stockholm syndrome, as he is returning to the equivalent of North Korea. Here Mustardoverlord is more like Mustard, Overlord. It seems that Knuckles just could not fix his internet issues and Slemnish being freed from the Hindenberg R-5 was just too attractive a draw. This new pickup is pretty large for Gorillion Dollars for their future playoff hopes. Right now Gorillion Dollars are tied with Exultance, Pizzagon, and FAT Gaming for game wins. However, FAT Gaming will at most lose one game from the currently scheduled games but win out otherwise putting them out of Gorillion’s reach at 14-2. Pizzagon I expect to see no more losses for the rest of the season and also end their season at 14-2. It seems like the highest seed the Gorillion boys can get is 4th, but they are 4 rounds behind Exultance currently with one more game played. They may need to rely on an upset to get into the top half of the playoff seeding (assuming 8 teams make it in)
- Six Guys Off
I was most conflicted about how to order these next two teams in the power rankings. Six Guys Off lost to Exultance in ESEA on Gullywash, but beat them just the day before on Gullywash as part of the Razer Tourney. The final factors that led me to put Six Guys Off above Exultance is the fact that Exultance just started to give rounds away to teams far below them and that Six Guys Off are starting to gel together the most recent rendition of their team. The biggest wildcard for the team is Mae currently, playing demoman, who is playing in his first season in high IM. The more Six Guys scrim, the more chances that Mae will become acclimated to playing at this level. If Mae shows up and plays well, then Six Guys Off can overcome both Exultance and Gorillion Dollars but otherwise they are just a half step behind. Six Guys Off passed through their easy part of the schedule and has been suffering from exceedingly difficult matches against the top teams in IM. They have shown up and put up a fight in each game, but fell short each time.
They continue having a fairly difficult schedule on Badlands where they play more teams from the Top 8 in Syops and Gorillion Dollars. If Six Guys Off can conquer Gorillion, then they will basically prove to themselves they can challenge the upper half of IM. Also if they win, they bring Gorillion Dollars down to 4 losses and can force a Round Wins tiebreaker for playoff seeding that will award the winner with most likely the 5th seed in playoffs and avoid having to play the 3rd seed as the 6th. Six Guys Off should be able to take care of Syops in their game on Badlands later in the week, beginning a spree of pretty easy games against low-mid IM teams.
- Exultance TF2
Exultance is a mystery team to me. I never expected them to drop out of Top 4, I at best suspected Bird Noises may move up past them and force them into 4th. Exultance looks like they should be an extremely strong team, but they seem to suffer sometimes from a lack of strong calling. They sometimes just make a series of mistakes that can cost entire rounds against teams that should be below them. They had two close games on Gullywash, overcoming a Six Guys Off that beat them just the day before in a best of 3 getting their revenge of the Topshotta boys. Before that even, they somehow managed to drop 3 rounds the other team they played. This team seems to suffer from tilt decisions, where they all have confidence to believe they should beat every single team. But when things do not work out at times, they just start to make poor decisions all across the board. If they want to force their way up to Top 4 IM, and get an invite position by sabotaging (or paying off I suspect) the teams above them then the Exultance team will need to make large strides forward.
Exultance get a fairly easy win against Bruiser Brigade before going to face the Brawling Shakedowners. They should come out of this week 2-0, but they need to watch the amount of rounds they give up should they end up tied in the other categories with Gorillion Dollars in the standings.
- Syops TF2
Syops is a team that honestly should have been on the Top 8 the entire season, but I just did not give enough credit to most of their players outside of KTB and Cheeriss. But they have pretty consistently proven me wrong with the performances of Tatuwah and Senior Alberto. The scouts for Syops have been surprisingly stout and have created issues for some teams stronger than them. Sideways Whoopi Goldberg seems to be fairly unstable turning in some strong games but following them up with struggle time. At this point the upper 6 spots of the rankings are impenetrable for Syops and Shekel. They are stuck on the outside of the party sipping the Top 8 juice, but not quite being cool enough to hang around the rest of the party. They face a mountainous week in playing both Six Guys Off and Bird Noises. Bird Noises have shown no quarter for the week, and I fully expect them to continue that policy through the rest of the season. Good luck, Syops
- Shekel Shakedown
The Shakedown Crew fell on some difficult times on Gullywash week. They lost two fairly quick games against FAT gaming and Bird Noises but those are two of the top 4 teams in IM and so that is nothing to be ashamed of. On the bright side for the shakedowners they managed to completely avoid Metalworks getting a forfeit against the Steaks. Because I miss it, I’m going to gift Shekel Shakedown their status as gatekeepers again. They still guard the gates to Mid-IM, the gate just moved down a little bit and is actually better suited sitting at the 8th position. With nothing to work with on Metalworks, and them being simply outgunned on Gullywash there is not much to say. It seems that their super secret strategy they wanted to utilize has failed to utilize any major results. It looks like Shekdowners will just guard the gates until playoffs, where they’ll most likely get pecked to death by Bird Noises.
This week they play against Exultance and Ice Road Terror on Badlands. I expect Exultance to beat them handily, though Exultance have been giving up a ridiculous amount of rounds to teams they should be beating 5-0. Ice Road Terror may or may not even show up fully, Ranga missed the last game but that appears to be a one time occurrence.