Well, tonight Exultance has managed to upset another top 3 team in FAT Gaming. I have not been able to watch this game just yet so I can not quite ascertain just how Exultance pulled it off. My immediate reaction was that this game was a realization of their wildcard status, that a team has such incredible highs and lows game to game and even round to round. Now, it would seem that some people have taken up issue with that designation. Someone does not seem to quite understand the English Language in regards to rhetoric. I understand, rhetoric isn’t the easiest thing to grasp sometimes. For some, it was years ago but for others who haven’t quite reached the eleventh grade yet it can be a mysterious entity beyond their understanding. You see, sometimes Rhetoric spreads around and creates its own storylines. Maybe I intended for Exultance to be considered a wildcard time because it may be more interesting than alternatives. Refer to the term “Clemonsing” which has got out of hand, I’ll explain what that is. Clemsoning refers to the phenomena that the Clemson Tigers (a college football team) suffered as a highly ranked team losing to veritable nobodies. They haven’t actually done that in about 3 years now so it is fading away. But you see, you get rid of these stigmas by proving them wrong. Exultance hasn’t done it. But some people don’t like me using “wildcard” ,mostly one person in particular but I’m not a name dropper so let’s just refer to them as Azuls.
Now the crux of this article is about the designation of Exultance as a “Wildcard” team. Now it is partially my fault for not adequately defining what I mean by Wildcard and what it generally means. What wildcard normally means is “a determining or important person or thing whose qualities are unknown, indeterminate, or unpredictable”. Now, how does this apply to Exultance. Well, sometimes Exultance looks like the strongest team in the entire league. Othertimes they struggle and throw away large advantages or even rounds. So, my definition of the wildcard in this occasion is that Exultance can either beat the best teams in the entire division or fall to teams that should be far far below them. Now, another word that could be used for that would be inconsistent (lacking in harmony between the different parts or elements; self-contradictory). But normally, and here is where common ideas of rhetoric comes in handy, inconsistent is more negative than wildcard. In a normal situation, inconsistent being applied to a team would mean that they either play up to their average level or below this. That isn’t true for Exultance. Exultance can go way beyond what I have normally determined to be their ceiling, and put out incredible games where they force the game to be played at their pace. Or they can implode as they did against Gorillion, or they can make big mistakes against teams far below them.
Now, other teams may make these same types of issues. It all makes sense right? Pizzagon struggles from time to time, Bird Noises ascension on up and their earlier loss compounded with them giving up a couple of rounds to Ranga squad makes them look sloppy at times. An attribute that I have commented on a few times in regards to their performances against better teams, but generally they simply take care of business. It takes until you get to a team with 4 losses (Six Guys Off) before you have a team with more Rounds Allowed then them. They have actually only given up one less round that Syops sitting at 7-4, sure Syops has played one less game but the point still stands. So, comparatively (I shouldn’t need to define this), they give up far more rounds than the other teams at their level. What is their level? I thought in the pre-season rankings that they would hover around 3rd, but I considered Bird Noises may rise above them (they did). But they don’t always play like it, and I had to drop them down somewhat. Mystery child has said their games against the top teams have been so close. And I understand he has some vitriol (anger) about this, using language far beyond what is necessary. So lets look at some of these close games.
4-3 Loss Against Bird Noises
9/17 on Sunshine
So I watched this game twice. I actually caught most of it the day of, then I watched it on stream. I actually visited it again later but only in pieces to find particular things. Well lets look at this game. Bird Noises had not quite found the way that they played yet, and they made some mistakes throughout the game that didn’t always make sense. Bird Noises didn’t quit exhibit the profoundly measured playstyle they would fully adopt, there were definite signs of it but not concretely padded out. Meanwhile Train had one of his worst games of the season, and they made the argument that he didn’t know or understand Sunshine all that well. Sometimes it showed when he didn’t quite take the best route. At this time Voll was still playing Roamer, he has since switched over to Pocket now.
Now, that is the Bird Noises side. Let’s look at Exultance this game. So they seem to have come to Sunshine with about 3 different variations of their mids. Put simply, their mids didn’t make sense all the time. Their soliders would jump to different places at exactly half the mids and do nothing, then the other mids they would blob up and destroy Bird Noises off of mid. Then you took a look at their positioning on 2nd holds, it wasn’t the best. They held Safrix below the rim of the lighthouse with a scout on the rim. Well this could work well, but a soldier could definitely continue to fall on Safrix and kill him especially considering he didn’t always have the buff to survive two rockets and didn’t have the space to easily surf away. This was also Kanon’s worst game, he got picked off quite a bunch on the flank and didn’t quite show the clean type of play that he can normally show. As a whole, they seemed disconnected. Sal’s 8 picks on the medic are explained by Bird Noises’ inability to protect Matt at some times in addition to the fact with the fact that Sal sometimes sacrificed a team play to go for plays hurt the team. Then most profoundly, they didn’t focus down targets consistently. Sometimes they pounced all over the combo of Bird Noises, then at other times they would let Sigh sit on the porch outside of cafe and drop damage on their combo without any protection. Then came the big moment near the end of the game where a dropoff in communication cost them a game-changing Kritz play.
Finally, the rounds were not as indicative of how close the game was. Bird Noises was pretty firmly in control from the end of the 1st half to the end of the game. There was a 12k damage difference and a 37 Frag differential. That game was not as close as it seems.
5-4 Victory over Pizzagon
So this game was very interesting and really shows what I mean when I talk about Exultance. I was incredibly impressed with their ability to string together an inextricably (surprisingly, surprise means not expected) tough 2nd half and beat Pizzagon. In the power Rankings post that game, I exalted their ability to lose someone during a push then take away 3 from Pizzagon. No matter what Pizzagon tried, Exultance would give them no quarter and refused to let them maintain a foothold. This was definitely a game that showed off Trip’s strength as a pocket to sometimes dictate an entire game, even if it costs some heals to other people, as well the ability of Dflame to do exactly what his team needed him to do in vital situations.
It wasn’t all good for Exultance and it wasn’t their own merits 24/7 that won them the game. They continued their inconsistency on Mids. A veritable wildcard status, if you will. Again they would come to the mids and win some extremely convincingly. Then the next mid they would just forget what worked and throw themselves at Pizzagon haphazardly. Sometimes they look Rekuso do whatever he wanted, othertimes they exploited his decisions to their advantage. Not just on mid, they quickly learned and began to shutdown Rekuso when he wanted to hold on the awning above lower. Now, why would they just keep switching mids when one worked perfectly? Are they trying to mind-game themselves, are rounds just so long that they forgot? Who knows, that is exactly what makes them a wildcard. Pizzagon again, like they sometimes do falter in their focus and show some cracks. I watched this game a couple of times. Exultance showed a very scrappy nature that hurt Pizzagon. But Exultance does not always show this side of their game.
The Six Guys Off issue
So, they beat Six Guys Off in another grindfest. When Exultance beats good teams, the games are drawn out and won by inches. What happens a lot is a couple of the Exultance players play either beyond expectations, or with Trip up to expectations and beyond. Normally, I rank Exultance beyond SGO. But a loss to Six Guys off in a BO3 where they got rolled on Sunshine but played them close each other team has led me to believe SGO has it what takes to beat them. They have lost multiple times on Sunshine, so maybe they are a bad Sunshine team but a good Gullywash team. Dropping 3 rounds to a pitiful Mad Marx, regardless of the performance of one or two players early does not show this. You can not be entirely map dependent and be considered consistently good. The fact that they may fluctuate so wildly map to map makes them (guess what) a wildcard team (bet you didn’t guess it). But hey Azul, you’re basing your critique of my evaluation on the end score. So, going exclusively off results SGO is either tied or better. I direct you to my earlier post.
They are tied in total Map wins in matches, and also 1-1 head to head overall in matches. BUT if we go to tiebreakers (that is what you used when you want to break a tie) it goes to rounds won. Guess what, SGO edges them out by 4 round wins. I watched this game but it has some fluctuating factors. First they had a sub at Roamer instead of Kanon which should of thrown off some of their coordination but they he played very well. This was Dflame’s worst game, but Safrix and Sal showed up playing very strong games. Again Trip looked like the battering ram of the team making space, getting frags, and winning fights. Trip is consistent. Trip is an excellent pocket. Trip and Saam were my #1 Pocket/Medic combo. Yes they beat SGO this time, but this was Pie_Hero’s 3rd game with the team.
Exultance is a team that can on any given game, round, or even push look like the best team in the entirety of IM. But other times it doesn’t look like it. Sometimes Trip looks like the avatar of death with Dflame driving the chariot. Sometimes everyone on the team if focusing on targets and systematically picking teams a part. Other times they just forget what worked and do whatever. Not being consistent, but being good enough to beat the best while giving up things to the weak is a wildcard issue. Also, I don’t care how bad your night is. One night of awful play against a team breaking in a new demoman and being generally below you should result in a still close game. That isn’t what happened. I don’t care who you are, you can not shit the bed to the extent that Exultance did and not hear about it. You can not tilt off the face of the Earth because of an “unfair push”. Most of my evaluation comes from their performances against the other good teams but I have watched more than 3 games. I actually watched Exultance play about 6 times and played them once. I know what I’ve seen. I’m basing my evaluation of their from watching them play a lot. You seem to just be looking at the end score. Frankly I recommend that instead of dropping to your knees and consuming the collective load of your circle jerk buddies and going to white knight for them (your white because of the Semen, I knew you wouldn’t get it so I helped you out), you stop and watch these games. I did.
If I thought that for a second that people whining and bunching up their panties over my power rankings would actually affect me negatively, I wouldn’t have done it.
One final thing. I used the word Enigma in a title. I’m not actually saying that Exultance is some impossible to figure out monstrosity, they are inconsistent. You see, I used Enigma for the alliteration. Alliteration makes things easier to remember, and it is a little catchy. Having that kind of eye grabber is very good for paper writing (just a tip for you essay writers in college). I want to make it clear that I don’t actually hate anyone. Different people see the game differently. Different strokes, just don’t go overboard stroking your homies bud.