December 19, 2015
UGC Gold Highlander Offseason
Countdown to Season 18: Twenty Three Days Remain
The countdown continues! Slowly but surely we make our way closer to the season, with a whole new week of roster moves, scrims, and news in the books. This week, we’re looking into some of the strongest contenders this season, including Quail Noises and Social Justice Warriors, keeping with the trend of interviews from players and leaders. I’ve also included summary and analysis of last week’s poll at the bottom so check that out!
(Please note, my questions regarding weapon bans came before the Tough Break update.)
Perhaps a ‘question mark’ this season for Gold is the Papa Peddlers, fondly named after Papa John, Pizza King. Attempting to relive their glory of Season 16 Gold, in which they took 1st place over Bonus! Points, the team formerly known as the Pepe Peddlers intends to go back to Gold with a new roster.
The only returning players will be Teapot and Proto . Note the exclusion of players like Trippa , Sigh , Spades Slick , and MrDoomBunny . Despite these roster moves Tiptoes is not feeling at all discouraged. “I am aiming for placement this season in Gold,” he said, if he gets the players he intends on rostering, although scrims have been off to a slow start.
Vox: How have your scrims and tryouts been going?
tiptoes: Pretty good so far, but I think we can do a lot better especially with the new members joining us.
Vox: How are you feeling about the potential bans or allowances of some weapons this season, like the Machina, Ambassador, and Razorback? Any other weapons you’d like to see come back or go away?
tiptoes: Without a doubt the Machina should be banned this season. As for any weapons that are banned, I feel like the Loose Cannon should be brought back.
Vox: Any opinions on how Gold might be shaping up next season, or down the road? There’s been a fair amount on the forums about letting more players in to lower the skill gap in Silver. Any opinion on that sort of thing?
tiptoes: I just want the predictions thread back without any Silver memes.
Papa Peddlers do pose an interesting challenge in terms of Division placement. On one hand, you can argue that this team is comprised of players with Platinum level talent, on a team that took first place in Gold in the last season with placement. However, the roster is completely different with a group of players only coming together recently.
Personally, I’d rather add more players to High Gold to keep competition in the upper echelon of the division as good as it can get, rather than add a team to Low-Mid Plat who does not believe they are ready to make the jump, an opinion that works just as well for our next team.
The most hyped up team this season are our anime overlords, Quail Noises. I spoke with Train from Quail Noises in Mumble to get her thoughts on the team and this coming season. Scrims have been pretty one-sided so far for this team. Train said that they have been “destroying pretty much every other team,” besides a few Platinum teams that they have scrimmed against, which comes as no surprise. She credits this dominance to the team’s love of anime, “It’s just a pre-game ritual to pump ourselves up for what’s to come. There’s not really much to it.”
The roster was pretty set from the start, as it was made to just have fun with a group of friends rather than to win Gold- that’s just icing on the cake. However, looking objectively, Train does realize the team’s shortcomings. “We don’t really have many players that have much Highlander experience, besides maybe two. But IFA has been a team for a while. IFA has some pretty strong players, so I guess they’ll be the best team [this season.]”
According to Train, their team MVP in the short time they’ve been scrimming has been Pomf . “He’s the true carry here. Probably the best counter sniper/best sniper as spy.”
In regards to the overall state of Gold for the coming season, Train also mentioned that the Machina needs to go, citing, “The fact that I’ve used it in a couple scrims and dominated Snipers beyond my level.”
I did also ask Train her thoughts about how the Silver-Gold transition and skill gap should work. She said, “The jump from Silver to Gold is pretty big. And in terms of High Gold to Mid Gold, the gap is unreal, so I think it would be best to keep Gold a small division so only the top Silver teams, that really excel can move up.”
Quail Noises, like the Papa Peddlers call for a similar question. If a team is clearly burning through all of their proposed competition, should they be moved up? Players like Train, Voll and Pomf alone are enough to scare any team, but when you add in Mae , Yimi , and the rest of the crew, it’s absolutely absurd- especially with their team chemistry. I think their presence would make for an interesting experiment in Gold, but the final say does not rest on my opinion.
Probably my most requested interview thus far has been one with Social Justice Warriors, although I think most of those requests came from the team itself (I see you crab_f.)
However, a write-up of Gold this season can’t be complete without talking about one of the guaranteed top 5 teams.
In a way, they represent Silver in Season 18 as appel and Pay 2 Win represented Silver in Season 17- A team who is out to prove they belong in the top of any division they play.
SJW’s reign started last season without dropping a round in Silver, although ending 7-1 due to a forfeit loss and some shenanigans.
Here is my conversation with DynamoVic , the Leader of SJW.
Vox: So, how have scrims been going?
DynamoVic: Great, we’ve only lost one so far, but we haven’t played some of the really experienced gold teams like IFA. One half of a scrim I should say.
Vox: Speaking of IFA, them and Quail Noises are sounding like the most feared teams in Gold. Any other teams you’ll be on the lookout for?
DynamoVic: Yea, those are probably the two hard teams, but ‘2016 and appel seem to have decent rosters too.
I should mention that Dynamo’s claim about only losing one half of a round is only against Gold teams, as they did play against Corn Ducks and lose on Viaduct, despite every round being about as close as you can get. They’d like to erase Badwater from their mind though. Shameless self-promotion, but you can find a link to that scrim here.
Vox: So I know most of your roster is an update from last season’s tear through silver. Who should we look out for on the improved roster?
DynamoVic: Not to say anyone on our old roster was bad, we just didn’t have chemistry within our combo. We ended up getting Puffalo , who seems to work with us.
DynamoVic: Sadly coffemonster isn’t into TF2 anymore so we are currently trying to get someone of the same skill level as him
Vox: Are you feeling any pressure after not dropping a round in Silver to competing in gold?
DynamoVic: I don’t feel pressure for 2 reasons: 1.) It’s a video game and it’s mainly to have fun and 2.) I feel like we can compete at the highest Gold level.
DynamoVic: Competition is great but in the end, it’s all for fun.
Vox: So, a lot of forum talk about weapon bans/allowances. Any opinions on things you’d like to see come back or go away?
DynamoVic: I say ban the Machina. Although I use it, it’s way too overpowered and congratulates small amounts of skill with basically insta-kills. I feel like everything else should stay the same as S17, but the Machina is way too overpowered.
Vox: I know this will be your first season in Gold, but there’s been a lot of talk about the future state of Gold, who to let in, who to drop etc. Any opinions on how Gold might be shaping up next season? There’s been talk on the forums about letting more players in to lower the skill gap in Silver, which would mean increasing the size of Gold.
DynamoVic: I believe that Silver should stay the same as it has always been. Gold is competitive and should only allow those who are able to get in the top 3 in Silver. In my opinion, the admins should not allow a Silver team to move up unless 1.) They get a placement medal or 2.) They upgrade their roster to the point where they will win silver unfairly.
Vox: Last question. What does the f in crab_f stand for?
There is a lot of support for the mentality to keep Gold smaller/as is. Of course, bias is present as I am talking to Gold players and writing articles about Gold. However, my goal when I put out my survey last week was to find out the opinion of those who play. The survey’s results are at the bottom of the article.
Social Justice Warriors is a team to look out for. Dynamo has been throwing down with some of the best snipers in the league right now, and their team cohesion looks to be improved. Goldfish , provides near-unmatched strength and skill in his class, which will bode well for their aggressive style of play.
Talk about their team has been plentiful and they hope to live up to they hype, as well as put themselves in the position that appel and p2w did for themselves last season- from Top 3 in Silver to Top 3 in Gold.
A lot can be said about taking the record of a “joke season” seriously, but the fact still remains that a team that can play 7 games without losing a single round is outclassing everyone at that division level.
I also spoke with flick , a member of Cadillacs and Dinosaurs. No, that class icon isn’t a mistake, flick will be making the move to Scout for this upcoming season. Flick’s reasoning for the change is, “I needed a break from Demo, and Scout can also do so much in HL. I wanted to play non-combo member.”
Depending on who flick picks up on Demo, this could be a positive change. Flick has a lot of skill on this team as Demo and I’m sure he has great DM on Scout as well. They will definitely be lacking his experience in the role, but as long as they can put someone in there with his level of talent, they should be comfortable with the change.
Also of note missing on the roster is odb, their Soldier from last season.
Vox: So, odb was a big part with your team last season. He brought a lot of experience and DM to the table. Have you found someone to fill his shoes? Was the experience he brought helpful in shaping up your team for this season?
flick: First off, you can’t fill odb’s shoes lol.
flick: Like, his DM is insane but his calls helped the most- what to push off of, when to push.
flick: Also, odb helped us play faster. We would often make the right call but too late to act on it.
flick: We’re currently doing solly tryouts. We’ve had a lot of good soldiers tryout though.
So hope is definitely not lost for cNd, although disappointing that they’ve lost two great soldiers, odb and bunny, this past season with bunny joining appel’s ranks in Week 2.
Vox: How have your scrims been going?
flick: Our scrims have been okay. It’s tough finding scrims pre-season, because teams aren’t real.
flick: They’re either Silver move-ups that swear they’re ready for Gold and plat people off-classing that don’t really care about maining Engie.
Vox: Has your roster stayed similar to what it was last season?
flick: Super similar. We’ve only replaced 3 people. It’s nice being that consistent for our third season.
According to their current roster, those three players are Soldier, Demoman, and Sniper. Three integral roles, and two of which (Soldier and Demo) have a scarce talented player base currently LFT.
Vox: Is there anyone so far you think may be shaping up to be one of these best teams this season?
flick: For sure
flick: appel is always gonna have a strong roster. bunny is a god and blinx is a monster too. I think that was so much of the reason they were so good last season. That and Enrique obviously.
flick: Coco’s team looks strong too. Sherm on Scout and Coco is a monster Demo. I think they’ll be a good team too.
Coco’s team is Shadowball, lead by Jeremy. This is a team that is moving up from Silver (formerly known as Baits Headphones by Dr. Arc) who went 7-1 last season with their only loss coming to Social Justice Warriors.
Vox: Any team MVP so far?
flick: Most people don’t know minti, our Pyro; he’s seriously a monster. We told him to kinda DM a bit more because he was so passive and he dropped like 32 frags in a Viaduct. He’s stupid good
Flick also mentioned Dave and Burt .
flick: like how can your combo lose via when it’s Burt and minti? As a demo, you can’t lose.
Vox: Any opinions on how Gold might be shaping up next season? There’s been a fair amount on the forums about letting more players in to lower the skill gap in Silver.
Vox: Basically, should Gold become a bigger division to allow more High Silver teams in?
flick: Well, the goal is to create competitive games and the top Silver teams will always be able to beat Low Gold. It’s kinda the nature of how divs work with players largely determining where they will play. I think gold will be competitive at the top, like it always is in any division.
flick: Are we wanting to put more teams in gold for the sake of having more teams or to be more competitive? Because if it’s the latter then we should just encourage Silver teams to go Gold.
Cadillacs and Dinosaurs had a scary Season 17. Although they ended with a 5-3 record. It began with a win, followed by a couple losses when they lost bunny, their soldier. However, when odb joined the ranks, they finished out the season 4-1 to bring home 5th place. It will be difficult to fill their remaining slots with top notch talent, but if they can, expect them to be another contender aiming for playoffs in Gold.
Things are starting to come together in regards to rosters for the upcoming season. The blanks are filling in, strong teams are coming out of the woodwork, and the top players looking for teams are starting to find homes.
A lot of talk is on the horizon currently with the Tough Break update introducing dozens of weapon balances including those like the Loose Cannon and Beggar’s Bazooka.
Of note, the Cozy Camper got buffed as well, now a very viable alternative to the Razorback, which may be on the chopping block.
UGC admins have not yet made a decision what they will do for the weapon polls, but one will need to be made within the coming weeks- probably as these weapons are playtested in scrims with Platinum and Gold teams.
I would love to get some more information regarding the changes of the Tough Break update. I’ve included a poll to voice your opinion here. (< Click to view survey.)
(Recent as of 12/19/2015, 10:00am EST)
Last week, I asked about the skill level that Gold should entertain. Is a 5-3 Silver team good enough to compete in Low Gold? If they can, should Low Gold turn into Silver?
I asked here and here’s what we have for our data:
- Of the 35 participants, more than half were Gold players
- Of those 19, 12 already had Gold experience. The other 7 were Silver-Gold move-ups.
- No current Steel or Iron players participated. (Save for the one troll entry which did not vote on any of the questions.)
What does this tell us? Mainly Gold players read Gold articles. Go figure.
- The most popular answer to “What Gold should look like, going forward?” was to Drop Low Gold to Silver with 16 votes, the next being to Keep Gold the same, which had 13.
- Of the 16 voters who wanted Low Gold to get dropped, 12 had Gold experience or greater.
- Of the 13 voters who wanted to keep Gold the same, 8 had Gold experience or greater
- Only 6 voters (17.1%) thought that Gold should encompass High Silver. Of those 6, only one played Gold previously, and a second voter is slated for Gold this season. The other 4 are currently in Silver.
- 20/21 of players with Gold experience or greater want Gold to stay the same or get more exclusive.
- 27/29 players who are currently planning to play Gold or Platinum want Gold to stay the same or get more exclusive.
What does this tell us? People want Gold to be more competitive and a closer skill gap. Whether it’s by dropping Low Gold, or some other method, there’s a definite want for a tighter presence of talent.
- 80% voters said Gold should stay in the 10-20 team range (14 for 10-15, 13 for 16-20, 1 “other” which said 10-20)
- 2 voters would like to see a 9 team Gold played Round Robin style. Only two voters opted to look for a larger Gold, 21+, both have Silver experience.
- Our “other” responses included “However many teams sign up,” “As many as are qualified,” “doesn’t matter,” and “10-20,” as mentioned before.
What does this tell us? People like Gold the way it is in terms of size. Larger than Platinum, smaller than Silver. There’s no reason to normalize division size between Gold and Silver.
I think overall, people want a more competitive Gold. The size of the division is a non-issue, people just want the teams that are there to be able to compete with most of the teams around them. There will always be a skill gap between High and Low Gold- otherwise it would just be “Gold.” Overall, keep Gold the same, maybe try making it slightly more exclusive as time rolls on, rather than one huge cut from ~20 to ~12 participants. People just want to see more close games.
I’d like to thank PlzPuddngPlz for helping me with proof-reading these articles. Without him, I’m a hollow body. Thanks as well to the people who have been so gracious with letting me interview them, this week and last, including DrZoidy, Mini, Arzt Hispanian, tex, tiptoes, DynamoVic, Train, and flick. Also, thank you for everyone who has been so supportive with casting and writing, it means a lot!
Until next week friends, stay spooky.