Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Pyros, welcome to Season 18 of UGC Platinum Highlander. It’s been a little while, but an off-season tournament by Daynife wet that Highlander appetite just enough to hold us through the extension. Everything certainly looks different, having parted ways with TeamFortressTV on this project. Welcome to The Killer Exclusive for those new!
Joining me this season will be Jacob of Kids Next Door. He’ll be contributing to various parts of the articles for this season, so if you see something that seems particularly intelligent, that’d be him.
With the ‘fun season’ coming to a conclusion, a huge discussion on the potentiality of using the round robin tournament system was brought up again, with it seemingly being unfeasible to do. At the last second, with no other teams looking to play in Platinum, the decision was made to do a 10-team round robin, with an extra week added on and the playoffs being downsized from eight teams to four.
Of those ten teams, four of them have returned under the same banner, with three more being connected to a team from last season. Kids Next Door is the only returning team, with Gold winner EVL Gaming and old Plat team Route From Smoking Trees rounding out the ten.
The top of Platinum is slowly changing as well, with Menace To Society likely closing its doors for the last time, with leader Harbleu quitting TF2 completely to play Overwatch. Kids Next Door and Dunning Kruger are present as always, but have new teams nipping their heels eager to bust into High Plat and finally be one of the ‘cool kids’.
With an incredibly solid map pool and a nice level of competition between all of the sections of Platinum, this season should be pretty authoritative on the highest level of Highlander going forward after the recent season.
1: Dunning Kruger Effect [b4nny / Muma / Huey Lewis / Xan / Karl / Jordan / phorofor / corsa / Acooma]
Dunning-Kruger, always a solid team, have assembled what could honestly be the all-star Platinum team. It’s hard not to mention half of Froyotech playing on the team, and another as a substitute. While none of them are playing the class they would play on Froyotech, it’s hard to deny that in Highlander, they’re all known for the class they are playing. The rest of their team lives up to the standard set there, with players like Huey Lewis, Karl, and Acooma well known for their abilities. Dunning Kruger should easily be able to secure a comfy seed, while barely breaking a sweat.
2: Kids Next Door [Scizor / Etney / Katsy / Jarrett / Kresnik / Ender / Nursey / yosh / Jacob]
Kids Next Door have long since secured themselves in the Highlander Hall of Fame, and now simply seek out to more trophies for their wall. After falling just short of a would-be record-breaking three victories in a row, the team took an offseason to play with others in the non-serious season. But, with the return of playoffs, good maps and medals to fight for, knd, have returned. Their roster, despite changing very little in general, bears a much larger resemblance to their Season 14 roster as opposed to their most recent. The only missing members are Ibby and Storm Erion, replaced by yosh (as Scizor moved to Scout) and Jacob. yosh had been .knd’s opponent last Grand Finals, playing on mTs and being a significant part of mTs’s victory then. With such a fantastic balance of camaraderie and sheer skill, it’s hard to see Kids Next Door not live up to expectations.
3: $ilver $avages [OddWash / Jackster / Lazy / Invader / Trelan / Angryofficer / Skeez / Feroaffer / Rolls Royce]
Invader has returned, retiring his shield and gathering a scary set of starters to continue the savage destruction of Platinum. While their whole team is solid, it’s hard not to point out Feroaffer as perhaps the scariest player on this team. Though, depending on which story you believe, Oddwash may or may not be scarier. Trelan’s also another new name in this level of Platinum, having some experience on other FPS games before wanting to try his hand on Heavy, and has not disappointed. The $avages have yet to disappoint, and should be able to contest for a placement seed at the very least.
4: ’92 Dream Team [Slemnish / trippah / Satan / odb / Vanilla Love / LittleDeath / saam / SGC / Scruff McGruff]
Perhaps the next success story, ‘92 Dream Team started out as a fairly weak Platinum team, slowly rising through the division. Their roster is a mix of highly regarded players and unproven ones, with a few others thrown in between. Their pick classes, Space Ghost’s Coffee and Scruff McGruff have made quite a reputation for themselves as a set, bringing back memories of the corsa and dogfloaties duo. While some players on ‘92 have little experience at the top of Platinum, others like Satan and odb are some of the scariest on their classes. They should be able to easily iron out any kinks in their armor, and provide a tough fight for any team below them that would want to slip into playoffs.
5: Route From Smoking Trees [Syath / tickzf; / Brandy / DC / brick / SailsAway / Coldster / barycenter / Deaft]
Route From Smoking Trees, known as mtn., returns to Platinum, with a distinct lack of either Route or Jackster on the starting lineup. There’s a fair amount of discrepancy in the amount of experience on this team, with some players like Syath and SailsAway having little to no experience in Platinum, and others like Coldster and brick having played on teams in the higher levels of Platinum in the past. The pick classes of barycenter and Deaft (with a shoutout to tickzf;) are downright terrifying, and will ensure that their opponents will never have a full nine players alive at any given point.
6: Memento Mori [? / SneakyPolarBear / Geosus / Giraffe / Eerie person / Spades Slick / Apple / Bagel / Triton]
Memento Mori took Platinum by storm last season, with a team completely devoid of any Platinum experience getting to 3-0 before their eventual loss to Acoomuma, but remained near the top of the scoreboard for the remainder of the season. With a handful of roster changes since then, most notably the addition of Giraffe, Geosus, and SneakyPolarBear, m|M should hopefully be able to keep up with the surge of powerful teams all around them. They’ll have to prove themselves over again, because even after a successful last season, the landscape has changed around them. The addition of the previously mentioned players will certainly help them, but with Spades Slick playing, they’ve got a long way to go.
7: Corn Ducks [fUZION / p3nguin / Deejay / Rightjustify / Civ / Sigafoo / Drake / Jesus / Daynife]
Corn Ducks are back for their second season in Platinum, but their first serious one. They played previously in the ‘fun season’ we just finished, placing fourth with a respectable 5-3. Though with titans such as Dunning Kruger and Kids Next Door returning to the field, Corn Ducks will need to make sure they make improvements to avoid being left behind in the dust. And they most certainly did make changes, with a majority being either entirely or mostly new to the team. With Heavy, Engineer, Medic, and Sniper being entirely brand new, and Deejaey only having played for the last handful of matches last season, Corn Ducks may find themselves either propelling further up the Platinum food chain, or come crashing down. The lack of changes in Scout and Soldier will benefit them, as fUZION and p3nguin were powerful players and always brought in a lot of kills for Corn Ducks. Losing Timeless, however, is a huge loss. Jesus will replace him, but it’s yet to be seen if the son of God can fill the shoes of God himself. With Civ, Sigafoo, and Drake filling out the roster, it provides Corn Ducks with some further infusion of both proven and unproven talent, allowing Corn Ducks full control of their destiny and impact in Platinum this season.
8: A Million Ways [Madoff / Fire / Digresser / Split_ / Fireshaker / Spamfest / Spork / vlad / feint]
The famous Digresser team is back again, in the form of the familiar A Million Ways from Season 16. They’ve made some changes from that line-up, however, with one of the Season 17 The One Moment players notably returning after a stunning performance. Vlad, a previously-unknown player, had a huge impact for The One Moment, and returns to continue building up a reputation as one of the Snipers set to be one of the best in the division down the line. Feint joins the team, bringing legendary capabilities to the other pick class, further inspiring fear in opponents at any possible moment. Until about a week before the season it was unknown who would play Engineer, with aMw’s Jordan signed on to Dunning Kruger, and moment.’s Spamfest looking to create a team with some 6s pals. In the end, that team fell through, and while a sad event for the division as a whole, gave aMw their three-time Platinum winner Spamfest. A final note to point out is that Split_, one of the team’s players who would often be carted around to different classes when needed, has settled back into the Demoman role he had back in Season 16. While aMw as a team may have an uphill battle, those players and more should set A Million Ways to new heights.
9: Chill Penguins [Seer / Dreadnought / HA Johnny / Monkey66 / IssGonRain / SilentDom / GammaOrionis / Bo4r / Danish]
Chill Penguins are quickly becoming a staple of Platinum, though they find themselves slipping further and further down the list as they change and improve little as teams around them polish their roster and pick up high level players. While HA Johnny and Bo4r are certainly capable players, it’ll be difficult for Chill Penguins to have any effect on the higher levels of Platinum. They’ll certainly be a formidable opponent for most of the lower level teams, but unless they suddenly find themselves in a position that players on .$$ and m|M did in past seasons, they’ll struggle to leave an impact on any of the higher level teams.
10: EVL Gaming [Linkuser / Cap$ize / Billysaurus / Avast / Bonesaw / kNyne / ROGUE / bowswer5 / stabby]
With such a powerful roster, it’s a bit surprising to see EVL Gaming so low down. Maybe it’s the Gold move-up effect or maybe it’s a few loose strings that really need to be tightened, but EVL is very much in control of their own destiny, but aren’t starting in the most favorable position. It’s hard to claim that players like Linkuser, bowswer5, and stabby are the bottom of the division, but unless EVL start showing the higher Platinum teams that they mean business, especially with a Week 1 game against knd., EVL may find themselves unable to properly get the ball rolling and prove that they’re not #10.
Corn Ducks vs Route From Smoking Trees
Route From Smoking Trees were the final addition to Platinum, after spending a little while in the rumor mill, with little indication of whether they’d pull together nine or not. With the nine they did get together, including an even more last-minute brick, they quickly propelled themselves above most Platinum teams on the rankings, two above their opponents, Corn Ducks. This season is unique in the fact that many of these rankings are mostly based on potential, as any of these teams could easily be two or three ranks higher or lower. This matchup will set the precedent for most of the future mid-level matches and teams, providing a baseline to go off of for the rest of the teams. While Corn Ducks certainly are more powerful than their last season appearance, mtn. may just be a little bit too much to handle. Sigafoo and Jesus will have be the two Ducks to lead the flock to victory, but it’s certainly not going to be a simple one. 2-1 in favor of Route From Smoking Trees.
EVL Gaming vs Kids Next Door
Gold winner EVL Gaming find themselves with a secured spot in the Platinum Round Robin, and after a handful of quality pickups to boost experience and provide some amount of in-game mentorship, they’re looking to have the potential to take Platinum by storm. However, they’ve got quite possibly the worst possibility for their first match, facing consistent Grand Finals participant Kids Next Door on their best map. Even if Linkuser wins every fight, and the pick classes get amazing kills, it will be a severely uphill battle for EVL Gaming to pull off a round here. 2-0 in favor of Kids Next Door.
Chill Penguins vs $ilver $avages
Week One always sets the tone for the early season, either sowing serious doubt in the losers or providing momentum for weeks forward for the winner. While Chill Penguins would love to be able to pull off a victory and upstage .$$, with Bv being outclassed at arguably every position, they’ll have to roll with the punch and hope their next handful of opponents are more their size. 2-1 in favor of $ilver $avages.
‘92 Dream Team vs A Million Ways
‘92 Dream Team was very hyped up in the offseason, only improving their roster after a successful last season. That hype has slowly dissipated however, less due to their own individual skill, more so as teams like .$$ and Memento Mori had some headliner roster changes. A Million Ways, and by extension ‘the Digresser Team’, has always been a bit hit or miss, either managing to (kill DRS and) nip the heels of the top of Platinum, or struggle week to week with a roster and give up games that the players individually shouldn’t be. The result of this match will settle a lot of questions about the potential of both teams. 2-1 in favor of ‘92 Dream Team.
Memento Mori vs Dunning Kruger Effect v3
While Memento Mori were a formidable team last season, and have only since polished up their roster, with such a huge change in landscape in the general Platinum teams, it may be too little. Dunning Kruger are looking to have one of their better seasons, with an award-winning roster and little of their traditional opposition. A loss here would be devastating for dK, and despite m|M’s potential against anyone not named dK or knd., Week 1 is perhaps too early for m|M to have gotten themselves together to upset dK. 2-1 in favor of Dunning-Kruger Effect.