The first week of ESEA IM has passed and the usual client issues caused a few reschedules, along with the config changes to allow explosive movement before the round stars. Last week’s games went in fairly unexpected directions at the end, but almost all of the games were very good and close. Because of the way turned out, I had to make the strangest batch of changes possible in order to fit teams around. It will iron itself out later in the season and should make more sense as the teams on this list player each other, but for now I’ve made dramatic changes. For the sake of qualifying it, let’s call this week the over-reaction week.
Next up to bat is everyone’s favorite CP interlude, koth_viaduct_pro. There are a few centerpiece matches this week as Dog1 continues to play contenders for the IM throne. I expect this season’s viaduct to be the least coordinated in a few seasons because of how early it falls in the rotation this time around, most teams have not had the time to iron out their synergy and tactics. This week may devolve in disconnected fights where DM wins the day.
Micah and Saam
Dog1 came out of snakewater week battered, but still alive and kicking. They maintain their spot at one despite almost dropping a game because of the fact that they pulled through in the end. There is something to be said about a team that will just not die no matter how many times you make them bleed, and Toothmas came for blood in their match at one point holding a 4-1 lead over Dog1 and looking to euthanize the bunch. A lot of what was expected came to fruition in that game. The Dog1 power classes came into the game throwing their weight in ever y direction possible, dropping an obscene amount of damage and dominating the frags for the game. Of the power classes, Rikachu had the least frags with 25 but that number matches their higher fragging scout in Saam. But one of my main worries came into play because the Dog1 scouts suffered against a superior pair of Toothmas. It mostly showed itself as Pie_Hero dropped a sickening 47 frags with the third highest damage in the entire server. There is something to be said about the fact that Pie_Hero is easily the best scout in the division, but Saam and Micah came out of the gate struggling mightily. They began to recover somewhat in the second half but as they come up against some of the stronger scout combos in the division, the Dog1 squad will have to be more balanced, or at least coax a stronger performance out of their scouts.
Last Week’s MVP: Ranga
#2: Salty Spitoon
Tri and Ringo
Salty Spitoon makes a two spot jump from 4th to 2nd based almost entirely off the fact that they made it out of Snakewater undefeated. They actually only played Sparkle Gang last week in a game that was surprisingly close considering the difference in expectations between the two. But in the end the bar hoppers were just too much as Tri_ immediately lived up to the expectations that he may just be entirely too much for the IM division dropping 39 frags in a 45 minute game, almost reaching 1 frag a minute. The soldiers of Spitoon definitely lived up to expectations bring the 2nd and 3rd most amount of frags on the team and bringing a game swaying amount of damage, though giving Sureshot Mustard level heals in the game. The most confident Carl seems to be having a small amount of difficulty making the transition to demo, but that can be as much a result of his dearth of heals as any struggles he can be having with the class itself. The Brightside is that he basically wins the hard to kill award, having the least deaths in the game and 3 less than his own medic so he seems to have a good idea of the value of his life. Salty Spitoon will be playing a strong team in Toothmas in the upcoming week on Viaduct, a map that Sneaky himself has historically played very well on. The matchup of that game I’m most looking forward to is obviously Tri_ versus Pie_Hero; we’ll see whose underscore is stronger.
Last Week’s MVP: Tri_
#3: Snailed It
Skag and Skeez
Another two spot jump up the IM rankings comes from Snailed it as they managed to conquer Freakin Awesome Gamers in a marathon game that saw close fights all over the map. Ultimately the Snail boys proved just too much with the amount of obscene plays coming from Rolling in the most important moments in the game. Skeez put out a fairly strong game playing aggressive at the right moments and cleaning up fight after fight working off the damage created by his teammates, however Skag struggled in the game dying more than he fragged. Ultimately the Gamers showed why their scouts are highly valued (by me) as Dflame pulled 40 frags and they both only died 18 times. Glider showed himself to be an extremely astute pickup for the Snail boys as he left a trail of destruction in his wake at every fight, dropping the most damage in the server at 302 by 21 DPM over the next highest. Shiki was a solid producer for the team, creating space and working in tandem with Rolling to open up the pushes. The game came down to dirty fights and mids where Snailed It just managed to pull off the victory. It seems the Snailer Moon forces consistently showed the ability to adjust to the mids of the Gamers having an answer for the slow, trench warfare-esque plan that they employed. The Snailed It squad showed difficulties finishing some pushes and rushing others, but in a game this close that came down to the wire some mistakes can be expected of a team adjusting to the environment. If Snailed It irons out some of their missteps expect to seem them stay within the top 3.
Last Week’s MVP: Rolling
#4: Netflix n Chill Yourself
Air and Wrech
Now we are arriving at the possible over-reaction part of the rankings as some teams make incredible jumps while others drop far. Netflix N Chill took care of Blanc Esports before winning a long game that looked very much like the Dog1 vs. Snailed It game coming out of the bloodbath with a 5-4 victory. As expected, the Netflix N Chill team turned out to be very combo dominant as Mustard ended up with more heals than his entire flank combined and Chriz came out with more than his scouts combined. In that environment where the scouts seemed to be lacking heals one would think that the strong scouts of YHSC could turn that into a victory but that fell to the side as only Blues seemed up to the opportunity. Wrech seems to be getting relegated to a Mr.Owl-esque role where he is the resident cap prisoner racking up 20 CPCs while his counterpart Air seemed to chase kills. Being relegated to cap prisoner did not prevent Wrech from matching his partner in Air in frags, both topping the team with 24. The overall damage for the game is fairly misleading as a good amount of the game was YHSC sitting on last turning away push after push. After asking Chriz whether or not he will continue playing with Mustarsquad, he responded with an emphatic “Yeah, probably” so for the time being we’ll expect him to be a fixture on the roster.
Last Week’s MVP: Chriz_Tah_Fah
#5: A Very Merry Toothmas
Pie_hero and Split
In what will probably be the most controversial movement on the power ranking this week, Toothmas actually moves up after a lost instead of down or staying in place. Toothmas came out of the gate swinging against Dog1 on Sunday, managing to grab lead before slowly losing it as Dog1 grinded out a victory. While it’s disappointing that they were unable to close the deal, even refusing to park the bus with 1:30 left on the clock and a 1 round lead, this is overall an extremely strong showing for the merry-makers. They showed that even though this variation of the roster has not been playing together very much they are to be taken seriously as the team have sharp teeth that will rip through teams that are not careful. Dog1 almost found out the hard way, and teams will have to contend with them as the season moves forward. It was already discussed earlier, but Pie_Hero had his cape on almost all game swooping in throughout the game to rescue the team from bad situations and lost fights. His partner in crime for this game was actually Mae, who put out an extremely strong game going tit-for-tat with Rikachu in fights even outdamaging the almost invite experienced demoman despite getting much less heals throughout the game. Split played a surprisingly strong game, being the passive scout that attempted to protect his own team while Pie_Hero stormed the enemy base. Outside of those 3, tooth and Fragg alternatively struggled at moments not quite bringing the damage or frags to match their counterparts on Dog1. Overall Toothmas is trending up from expectations and have the “best loss”, a dubious statement that I’ll try to stay away from as the season goes on.
Last Week’s MVP: Pie_hero
#6: Frickin Awesome Gamers
Yimi and dFlame
Dropping three spots from 3rd to 6th, the Freakin Awesome Gamers lost a game that demonstrated inexperience along some of the members of the team. Despite that the team overall played extremely well, ODB and dflame showed up to play this game but they just could not edge out the Snail Squad. Odb second damaged in the server while dealing less than his own medic. Yimi played fairly well but struggled at times. The team showed the expected level of DM but they had missteps in the coordination department. But the largest nail in the coffin that buried the gamers was the fact that they decided to just keep using the same type of mid over and over again. They came into every mid attempting to play passively at first before throwing Froot into the other team as a sacrificial lamb for Trippa and the rest of the team to try and win the mid but it just didn’t come to fruition. In trench warfare, the first one to go into the no man’s land is usually massacred and normally this was no exception as Froot was repeatedly gunned down by the Snailed It scouts when he got aggressive. One could see what the Gamers were going for in the situations where Froot was able to jump out andexchange aggression with Trippa but sometimes, even when that part of the design went well the Gamers could not close out mids. The Gamers seem to have a gameplan that they default to repeatedly and when it fails, they tend to just keep going back to the same strategy. If the Gamers can show a growing diversity of strategy, they can ascend back up the power rankings but for now they drop down to six. Ultimately this was a strong performance for the members of the team new to IM and their role on the team, they should improve in leaps and bounds.
Last Week’s MVP: Odb
#7: Young Hunters SocialClub
Ex and Blues
This placement has to be by far the biggest issue people will take, the YHSC drop five spots from the 2nd ranking to the 7th. They lost a close game to Netflix N’ Chill, but it must be stated that they lost to a team that barely played together in the form that showed up to the match. The Chill team played with Marxist on medic in the first game before switching to their ostensible starter in Bear, and Chriz only really began to play with them shortly before the match night. The YHSC dropped a game to a team hastily put together shortly before the season began and with members playing out of their normal role. This is not to say they played abysmally, in fact that played fairly well across the board, but they did not quite play up to the expectations placed on them coming into the season. Photon struggled the entire game seeming to play a role that resulted in a racking up of deaths without a lot of returns, having the least frags in the server and only 4 assists meaning that whatever damage he did he had to clean up himself most of the time. This should honestly just be a bump in the road for the YHSC squad and they should recover, making a climb up the rankings to be where they were expected to be but such a loss early in the season has lead me to overreact and drop them low.
Last Week’s MVP: Blues
#8: Sparkle Gang
Spamfest and Fuzion
Just maintaining their spot on the power rankings this week, but dropping 1 place due to the performances of the other teams and Netflix, the Sparkle Gang comes in at 8th due to forcing a tough game out of Salty Spitoon and various issues of teams below them (such as one teams issues with a demoman). The Sparkle Gang played surprisingly well against the toughest bar-goers in Bikini Bottom, with Penguin and June both out-damaging their counterparts. It just seemed that in the end Tri_ proved to be too much for the Sparklers accruing a ridiculous amount of frags. Spamfest and Fuzion both played very well in their own respects, though magical girl Spamefest-chan could look to reign in the deaths by going for less heroic sacrifices. In an interesting turn of events, the Sparkle gang actually out-damaged the Salty Spitoon boys by two thousand but has 12 less frags. This kind of discrepancy normally stems from a lack of focus in fights, people holding in poor places only to get picked off, or going for too many plays and getting picked off in bad moments. It would seem that the Sparklers can drop the damage, but they need to iron out their overall team play in order to successfully pull an upset against some of the better teams in the division. For now they settle into the Subspace Special 8th spot.
Last Week’s MVP: P3nguin
Outside the window looking in: Ziggurat Complex and Flipper Skippers
Biggest Jump: Netflix N’ Chill4
Furthest Fall: Young Hunters Social Club 5