January 8th, 2016
UGC Gold Highlander Offseason
Countdown to Season 18: 3 (+7) Days Remain
Here I am again folks. Can you believe that the last article was posted on December 19th!? For shame. In an effort to make it up to everyone, this week I wrote up a Midweek Update to fill everyone in on some events around the league. Not only that, but you get the pleasure of reading two articles. So how’s that for a slice of fried gold?
We were just days away from a new season of Highlander, but to the dismay of many, the season was pushed out a week. Overall, this is a positive move by UGC to allow more teams to get ready and get scheduled to prevent future nightmares. However, a lot of teams were feeling the hype, which has now stagnated a bit.
This week, we’re looking into appel, Shadowball, DOES IT and IFA. The survey from the last article will have a brief look over, however participation was lacking due to some errors on my part.
Without further ado…
Coming into this season as the #2 team in Gold in Season 17, appel is on the way to another strong season, lead by American . A comparison between their old roster and the proposed one for this season reveals some rather large changes and a fear that they may not live up to their potential after a monster 7-1 record last season. However, if you looked at it that way, you would be wrong. Although they lost a top-tier Sniper with Enrique Iglesias no longer starting, they filled the gap with the ever-improving Smilez, who has done nothing but exceed my expectations. Appel continues to be the best team when it comes to team cohesion and pickups season after season, which explains their jumps through Steel, Silver and into High Gold with ease. Although the names may not look as scary, American always comes through with players that fit the team better than anyone, and their dominance speaks to that.
Vox: So, after a long struggle appel finally finds its way into Gold. How are you feeling?
american: I feel pretty good because I guarantee we would’ve 1. gotten raped 2. died as a result or 3. died before the season even started because no one wants to commit to a whole season of getting raped as a result of being in Plat.
(Shoutout Tiptoes, team litigator.)
Vox: So, last season, you guys were 7-1, only losing to vG, (now EVL.) I’ve always commented on how your offseason pickups have allowed you guys to climb through divisions each season. What can we expect and from whom for season 18?
american: I think that losing carcin, Enrique, and spork was pretty big for us. Pearl was a blow to morale. He always made mumble atmosphere very light and fun. It’s always pretty laid back and fun, even against Tension (EVL) when we lost we were all still having fun
american: As for this season our pickups are zz on demo, brulee on medic, zaku on engie and smilez on sniper. I honestly believe that zz, zaku and smilez are best in their class in the whole division.
Vox: How have scrims been going? Which team has been your go-to or your biggest challenge?
american: Scrims haven’t been that great, we’ve been missing a lot of people. However, our favorite scrim partners are probably Bv, we’ve had a weekly with them going on since last season, and the scrims always end up going both ways so that’s great.
Vox: What’s a team that’s shaping up to be some of the best competition this season?
american: Everyone fears quail noises, so definitely them. Papa’s Peddlers are going to be very good. I fear my friends whymeo and heisen on the flank, and of course watterson sniping.
Vox: Who’s your team MVP so far?
american: ZZ fucking owned EVL the other night on Upward. Like if he didn’t get a clutch killstreak at the end on low health by himself, we would’ve lost. And blinx and smilez are almost always top fragging.
american: Out of game, it’s blinx and uncle for playing classes that are not their mains that they don’t really enjoy as much. But they do it for the good of the team and I appreciate that.
You can easily tell why appel does so well— there’s a strong bond between the players who join up on the appel roster, and it starts with the decisions of American himself.
Next, I spoke to Jeremy from Shadowball. This team distinguished themselves at the top of Silver last season, ending with a 7-1 record. There was not much doubt about letting them move up along with Social Justice Warriors, as their skill outweighed their division.
Vox: How have your scrims been going during the offseason?
Jeremy: Pretty good, we’ve been competing well with most of the Gold teams, however we have yet to scrim high Gold yet.
Vox: Who are some teams so far that have impressed you during scrims?
Jeremy: So far as we were scrimming mid Gold the one that has impressed us most, would be Baited by Rhy as we have had some really good scrims against them. Overall looking at other teams scrimming, Quail Noises and Papa’s Peddlers seem to be wrecking Gold.
Vox: So, you guys are coming up from a pretty solid 7-1 season in silver, what have you changed in the offseason to prepare for Gold?
Jeremy: We upgraded our pick classes and combo with new players, like I would say we definitely got a better Heavy, Pyro and Spy. We also improved our coordination due to our team being a merger of 2 teams from Silver (Retirement Plan and Shadowball.)
Vox: Do you have a team MVP so far?
Jeremy: I would say our Scout and Demo, Sherm and Coco, are definitely doing a lot of our work but then again Coco should be in Steel *insert pun here*
Vox: How are you feeling about the whitelist for the season?
Jeremy: Our demo who complains about the Machina is glad it got banned, as for other weapons Short Circuit might make some maps interesting, especially payload maps. Loose Cannon I still think is a bit overpowered, but overall an interesting whitelist
Vox: Any other shoutouts?
Jeremy: Sinister sucks at this game, as does unicorn wizard 😀
Shadowball is definitely ready for a season in Gold with the way they’ve been playing and the pickups they’ve acquired. They look to contend on par with the upper tier of mid Gold, so they could find their way into playoffs in the 6-8 seed. Matches with teams like The Syndicate: Reborn, Appel and the likes will prove very difficult if they are not able to adjust their play style to counter the skill of those teams.
Rhy of DOES IT was next on the hit list for interviews. Big thanks to American for doing this interview for me. Because of him this article was able to hit the page a day early.
DOES IT is a team that will be able to perform a lot better than people think if a few elements align for them. Their roster has the ability to jump above the mid-Gold teams around them with players like June , Triiiple , and Water . If their combo can stay in sync, they will surprise a lot of teams.
American: How have your scrims been going?
Rhy: Well, our main heavy has been on vacation, and our demo’s ping has been very inconsistent, so scrims haven’t been going too well. However, we’ll have the full team scrimming this weekend, so my answer may change.
American: So the extra week that Fornaught gave everyone worked out for your team then?
Rhy: Yeah, the extra week was a blessing to our team.
American: So how do you feel coming into this season, as a team?
Rhy: We’re feeling pretty alright, we’re not taking the season too seriously, but we feel as we finally ease into our full roster that we can go even or even sneak into playoffs.
American: Speaking of playoffs, what are some teams you’re looking out for this season?
Rhy: We know to look out for Quails, -ts-, appel and IFA if they ever scrim with their full roster. We have not scrimmed SJW so I’m unsure about them.
American: Seems like that’s pretty much the consensus from everyone. What are your thoughts on the whitelist/map rotation this season?
Rhy: My team has historically has been fairly bad at Payload maps, so the 3 payload maps in the rotation don’t help us here, but having the 3 koth maps definitely helps. The Machina ban is great for us, as Conner never used the weapon as much, so the SvS will be a lot better for him.
American: Yeah, I think we’re all pretty happy that the Machina was banned. Lastly, do you guys have a Team MVP, in or out of game?
Rhy: Our team MVP would be Super, as he helps keeps us together in and out of game, and perform consistently in scrims as well.
American: Thanks for your time friend! Good luck this season.
Rhy: Thanks man!
(Side note: American is 100x better than me at interviews.)
As Rhy mentioned himself, the team will have a fair shot at pulling an even record, and may even find their way into a low playoff seed if everyone stays on track.
I also got the opportunity to speak to TERRY CREWS for Independent Fighters Alliance and pick his brain about what IFA is up to for this season. IFA is no stranger to being viewed as one of the better teams season after season (after season) as they are on their way to their 14th straight. Although a revolving door of players have come and gone, the overall high standard of quality has remained constant. Recent seasons have seen a bit of a decline of the motivation of the team, but if IFA choose to play hard, you can expect a run for your money any match day.
(There’s been an edit to Terry Crews’ original interview. This now includes RAW and UNCUT words.)
Vox: Have you guys been scrimming? How has it gone?
TERRY CREWS: We’ve scrimmed maybe 3-4 times, I’ve only made one of them as I decided rather spur of the moment to play ESEA again. Going off logs, it hasn’t been too great given that we’ve had anywhere between 1-5 ringers every time, but it’s been rather competitive.
The end goal is to be scrimming and competitive with the lower half of Platinum.
Vox: How do you feel coming into this season already being called contenders?
TERRY CREWS: I think it’s a fair estimate, given that our starting lineup is probably in its best rendition yet.
Vox: What are your thoughts on the map rotation?
TERRY CREWS: I’ve never particularly cared about what maps are played during the season, and most of the older IFA players are like that as well. I’m a little grateful that there are no weird maps though, since Pharaoh hasn’t played too much HL to be familiar with them.
Vox: Any teams you’re looking out for?
TERRY CREWS: I haven’t kept up to date with the teams, but the only ones I’m keeping an eye out for are Mae’s team and Tiptoes’ team – they’re the only teams that can keep up with us DM-wise I think. Overall though, our biggest contender is really ourselves. We’re supposed to take this season seriously, but we’re also really good at throwing (especially Purge) if we’re not on the same page. If we focus and play to win, we’ll be pretty even with them, but if we don’t then we’d probably be low playoffs ranking.
Vox: Any team MVP, in or out of game?
TERRY CREWS: Back at the end of last season I told everyone that I wasn’t willing to do any leader work at all since it took up too much of my time, and that Purge would be leading. Up until now though, he’s done next to nothing so I really have to commend Wish for handling scrims and finding ringers for when we’re not around. Plus he’s serious in scrims and performs well basically all the time.
It’s hard not to approach fitting IFA into a spot without a bit of apprehension. As previously mentioned, it’s not easy to tell which IFA is going to show up. We have only seen scrims, which are notoriously misleading when sizing up a team, but we will know soon enough just how dominant they will be.
The season is almost upon us, as of the 17 teams readied, only 5 slots have yet to be filled. As mentioned in the Midweek Update there are two other teams on the horizon for Gold. BBL is back to regain some control of his team, which got moved to Silver after last season’s disappointing performance. Whether he will be applying for Gold with the current Wu Tang team or creating a new team, there is the hope to stay at the same division of play. It will depend on how the roster, which is still in progress, adds up. The other team is AlphabetAlliterations, which in its current state, is not ready for Gold in my opinion. Although, their level of play remains to be seen, scrims are coming up for this weekend and will show a pretty strong indication as to where they lie in the spectrum of Gold talent.
The not-very-telling data of last article’s survey:
- 4 out of 6 respondents liked the weapons balances introduced in Tough Break
- 4 out of 6 respondents would be willing to play koth_highpass in Highlander (Pug anyone???)
- 3 out of 6 respondents felt that the Crusader’s Crossbow got the biggest buff of the update.
Nothing else is particularly important due to the low sample size. 😦
So, anyone who has been checking in on UGC knows that Platinum will have a Pick/Ban map format for Grand Finals. From what we understand right now, this is only going to be in effect for Platinum. My thought is, is this to give Platinum an additional perk or reward, or do we not trust Gold to be able to easily go through this process? If it’s the latter, how can we not have faith in two teams that are (supposed to be) at the same level as the lower half of Platinum to properly go through the simplicity of saying “This map is picked, this map is banned,” when (presumably) the process would happen in match comms, with admin discretion.
That much is speculation, and the truth is, it’s more likely that it is an incentive for being able to reach UGC’s highest level, but with such a great addition to make Grand Finals so much less stale (no more playing Viaduct twice in Finals) why not roll it out for Gold as well?
Here’s a brief survey regarding this: http://goo.gl/forms/5nqn3RlOFW
It’s much shorter! I’m learning from past mistakes!
As always, thank you so much for the support and for reading.
Special thanks this week to American for interviewing Rhy and helping me out with stuff this week. You are a champion. Thanks as well to Terry Crews, Rhy, and Jeremy.
Cheers my friends