August 29th, 2016
UGC Plat Highlander Season 19
Sorry for the late article this week! It’s been a long, crazy weekend with i58 and real life responsibilities pulling me every which way. If you didn’t get a chance to watch the i58 games, I urge you to take some time and skim the VODs at least. It was one hell of a tournament.
Predicted Outcome: 2-0 The Kids
Final result + Match Length + Logs: 2-1 The Kids
Product: 3-0 The Kids // 16:02 // http://logs.tf/1503735
Upward: 1-0 bote // 16:45 // http://logs.tf/1503760
Vanguard: 3-0 The Kids // 30:46 // http://logs.tf/1503776
Hats off to not giving up Thursday night and really pushing .knd to earn the victory. It’s hard for me to say that bote kept this particularly close. Forcing a 3rd map would make it seem that way, but they were shut out in both of their map losses. Let’s go through a breakdown for each.
This map wasn’t even close. .knd left no chance for bote to get their foot in the door and rolled them in just 16 minutes. They set the tone with a 4 minute first round, doubling botes frags with Slemnish leading the charge getting over 25% of his teams kills that round. Bote wasn’t really able to recover after beating. Despite a closer second round they dropped the remaining two off the back of yosh’s excellent performance. Yosh would finish the map 26-8, taking the SvS 3-0 in SmileZ’s rough performance. As if SmileZ wasn’t scared enough to peek sightlines with yosh on a hot streak, Slemnish also had a great game pressuring the bote Sniper, taking him down 5 times.
As anticipated, the bote flank performed best for their team, but after that no one really had a game to remember. fuzion and p3nguin, try as they may, could not get on a solid streak with Ender, Etney, and yosh combining for half of the flank deaths. P3nguin had the biggest blow of the game with a huge drop against Nursey which breathed some life into the bote crew, but ultimately was not enough to keep the current strong.
Mustardoverlord said it best in the cast. One half of Payload is too volatile to really make a perfect prediction. I’d believe that in a full game, .knd should win the game, but losing a half is not out of the realm of possibilty. With that it mind, bote’s map pick worked to perfection. .knd had been struggling on the map against dK and in scrims and with only one round being played, bote knew they’d be able to capitalize.
bote came out of the gate on fire managing to take the first 3 points in just 3:30 before stalling for almost 4 minutes on last. A ~7:30 time is still a solid offense, despite being a slower pace than initially set, but it ended up being enough to defend against .knd.
fuzion was finally able to hit his stride on Upward and managed to tie with yosh for 20 frags, slightly edging out Slemnish. Of fuzion’s 20 frags, 6 were on the enemy combo and 8 on the flank of Slemnish and Etney so he did a lot of work keeping some of the big players down.
In terms of the Sniper battle, SmileZ was able to push the SvS 4-2 but still had a relatively lackluster half as compared to yosh statistically. I mention this because SmileZ performance is the sole example that sits outside of a strange dichotomy of play in this half. Very few players on either team performed “okay” most either had an impactful game, or were rather incidental.
A huge mention needs to go to the other players on bote with big halves including Carcin, Rj, and most importantly p3nguin. If you were able to catch the Upward game, you should be aware that p3nguin played the game of his life, saving bote from disaster on several occassions and forcing a 3rd map. This definitely bodes well for p3nguins future stock value next season, especially against players like bunny in MGE.
The game went long but it wasn’t really close. In fact, until the 4th round, bote had only capped .knd’s 2nd point once. The logs (in terms of individual performances) make it seem less one-sided, but from a gameplay standpoint, I don’t think .knd broke a sweat at all. Despite a slow final round, bote stayed on the defensive for the majority of the game, where .knd was content to just park the bus. Every so often we’d see bote hint at a push, but it would quickly be squashed out by the superior .knd team.
As mentioned, there were some relatively close statlines toward the middle of the board. Giraffe and Carcin, and Rj performed around the same statistically, 8 people managed to get within 20-25 frags, but then there was Slemnish. Continuing his fantastic game from the previous maps, Slemnish put up a huge 361DPM as Scout capped off by a 44-23 game. He continued to keep down bote’s flank and prevented SmileZ from heating up, managing 6 Sniper picks.
Overall, it was awesome to see bote putting forth maximum effort and not just mailing it in, resigning themselves to 3rd place. As mentioned, .knd still had to earn their way to Grand Finals and weren’t just handed the opportunity with no resistance. Still, an excellent season by bote, despite going out on decrescendo moreso than a climax, but big things are said to be in store for next season.
Grand Finals Preview
So, we’ve learned of our 3 map picks for the Grand Finals, although in a small twist, cp_steel, the first map will be played as a full map, rather than just one half. This is likely to prevent an “all or nothing” type strategy or the irregularity of stopwatch maps crowning the “better team” in just one half.
(Home team vs Visiting Team)
Predicted Outcome: 2-1 dK
Maps: Steel (full map), Vanguard, Product (if needed)
Steel: dK wins 2-1
Is it any surprise that Karl came out of the gate with this choice? If you’re familiar with these two teams, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Although I can’t remember if it was Karl or someone else who said it, I remember reading before that only two teams know how to play this map in UGC. We’re about to see who gets the better end between the two.
As you can see, my money’s on dK. Although we’re not seeing The Kids or dK of yesteryear, this is still a battle between the minds of two highly strategic teams. Although it’s been a while, these two teams did matchup on Steel in S16 where dK took the game 2-0. There’s an unfair comparison to be drawn considering the changes each team has gone through since then, but that advantage should still lie in dK’s favor.
The flank battle will be pretty awesome to see, as Steel has huge opportunities for flanks (+ Pyro) and Spies to blindside enemy gamers. Slemnish is coming off of his monster game against bote on Thursday, but can he keep up the momentum going up against Vand and (likely) Bobby? I believe the .knd flank to be superior in this duel, but dK’s will have more support behind them which may tilt things in the favor. One thing remains certain for me though, if .knd’s flank gets denied, then the wheels will come off the tracks early on for the underdogs. This will be exacerbated by Deaft who should be able to pick apart the .knd combo should this happen.
2-1 dK is my prediction, but I expect dK’s round victories to be cleaner than .knd’s.
Vanguard: The Kids win 4-2
Although the spectators in this match are probably cursing .knd for the choice, it’s not a bad map pick from them, and one they’ve had some solid success on throughout the season. .knd have been hurt before on 5CP maps, mainly Gullywash, but I don’t see that same struggle on Vanguard, which perhaps they feel more comfortable on. They took a narrow 5-4 victory against dK earlier in the season, which ended up being dK’s only loss so far, and I’m seeing another one headed their way.
The rosters weren’t totally different than what we’re going to see tonight, in fact only dK has had some shakeups since then. Karl was notably absent from the match and dK had not yet picked up bo4r and Deaft, who are arguably the scariest pick classes on any team in recent memory. Despite their improvements, the one piece they’ll be missing is b4nny [*]. During their week 4 match, b4nny put up a huge 61-20 performance with 500DPM over the course of 70 minutes. That is a monster-level of damage production. In his stead will be Corsa, who has proved he’s not to be ignored on Demo, but can he really match that kind of performance?
Of course, bo4r will be stepping in for Timeless who had a pretty solid game himself. I’m expecting yosh and bo4r to keep relatively even in terms of stats, or even edge in yosh’s favor after seeing his ability to keep bo4r down during the Upper Bracket finals.
Again, the flanks will perform a huge role in a 5CP map as well, and I’m going to continue with my belief that .knd’s flank should perform better. It will be important to watch if Giraffe can stay alive and keep his team moving and if Blues can get out of the rut he’s been in since the start of playoffs.
4-2 for .knd, but the map time may expire before then.
(If necessary) Product: dK wins 3-2
We come to a conclusion on Product, a map which can often be as volatile as stopwatch when it comes to Playoffs. It’s a scary map to only play a half on, because it suffers from the same issue as mentioned before. Very commonly teams will come back and win after losing one half. A 3-2 means a victory here, instead of a regroup and a chance to take 2 straight rounds.
Hopefully, we’re going to see this map play out and it will be a lot better than some of the matches we’ve seen in playoffs so far. dK played bote on this map where they took an easy 4-1 victory, and .knd played it just last week against the very same team and hardly broke a sweat during their 3-0.
It’s clear that this bodes well for our spectating pleasure as we see two powerhouses fight for a title (or a second chance in the case of .knd) on a map they’re both so dominant on.
The 3-2 scoreline isn’t something I’m 100% sure about. I don’t think there’s any way we see a 3-0, but a 3-1 isn’t out of the realm of possibility considering we’ll likely see multiple double-overtimes throughout the map.
It’s hard not to repeat myself from the last two map writeups, so I’ll keep this pretty short.
Vand and Bobby have a better chance at keeping even with Slemnish and Etney on this map. Both flanks are going to be a common thorn in the enemy side, with both Soldiers constantly diving for the enemy Med- look up.
In my opinion, Giraffe is the better Demo in the matchup, but Karl is the superior Heavy. With the combo game dead-even it will be up to the rest of their team members to win uber fights and jockey for better positioning on the map.
Yosh vs bo4r on Product is going to be an amazing show for anyone who loves a good Sniper duel, so we’ll see the team who can keep the enemy Sniper down succeed. It doesn’t just have to do with kills, but the mindset of being able to take more risks in sightlines when the enemy Sniper is down.
What I think turns the tide for dK here is Deaft. As we saw last week (and seasons before) feint is no slouch when it comes to Spy, but Deaft had such a huge impact during the Upper Bracket final game and in so many matches during this season with other teams. Nursey is going to have her hands full with Bobby’s bombs, bo4r’s sightlines, and Deaft lurking in the backfield. Truly the only way to keep her safe will be
in spawn passive positioning and striking quickly when you know you have an opening. To add to this, if Deaft can keep yosh down more often than not, it will grant dK freer reign on and across the point during their title bout.