September 17th, 2016
UGC Gold Highlander Season 20
Pre-Season Power Rankings
Thanks to Gabe for his S20 Gold teams spreadsheet, which I used to review rosters for this season.
Well, another season of highlander is almost upon us. Sadly it may be one of the last, as the highlander player base continues to dwindle. Still, despite these troubles, we have what looks to be another interesting season of Gold coming up. There’s a good mix of established talent, such as Dedoris, Fast Forward and Suicide Watch as well as teams coming up from Silver that are looking quite strong as well such as Shooting Blanks and The Slammin’ Jammers. All of these teams, and more, are all contenders for placement this season and it will be exciting seeing which ones come out on top in the end. For now, here’s a ranking of the teams based on tier. Just to be 100% clear order within tiers is purely alphabetical. It would be impossible to do a complete ranking before even a single match has happened, so this is just a rough tier list of the teams. Anyway, onto the rankings:
While trying to narrow down Tier I, for a while I was stuck at five teams. I wanted to try and get Tier I down to three or four teams and as I looked over the spreadsheet I actually twice said to myself “Oh, dedoris totally belongs in Tier II -” right before reaching the sniper spot and remembering that zoey is on door this season. Why she’s not playing in plat is anybody’s guess, as zoey has certainly shown herself to be one of the top snipers in the current highlander player base. I think a lot will be required of zoey if door is going to place this season, but I think she should be able to deliver.
Furthermore, Zoey is far from the only experienced player on door this season. The thing is, most of them aren’t playing on their strongest class: such as syath on demo and kainoa on scout. Still, this team has quite a lot of overall experience which will do a lot for them even if individually a lot of players might not be the best in the div for the class they’re playing. This, combined with zoey almost certainly being the best sniper in Gold this season, should allow door to grab a top three finish.
I’m a little uncertain about Fast Forward. Looking at their roster, you’d perhaps expect this team to roll through Gold uncontested. Keith and yipyapper should individually be much better than most other scouts or engineers in Gold and pretty much the entirety of the team is made up of very strong players for Gold. However, when my team scrimmed against Fast Forward I was shocked to find that they seemed a lot weaker than I would have expected based on their roster. Still, it still seems to me that there isn’t any other team that could contest them for their top three spot – and their scrims against Shooting Blanks in the off-season so far seem to back this up. The team might be having some cohesion issues so far, but even if they don’t manage to work them out I’d still expect to see them in the top three this season. If they do manage to improve more as a team these guys will be serious contenders for first.
Shooting Blanks is so far the only Gold team we’ve lost a scrim to*, so I’m immediately a bit biased towards them. Their sniper of fallen lord and scout of triiiple should prove to be some of the best in the division, which is immediately a huge advantage for them. Uber is also a solid demo. Besides that, I’m relatively unfamiliar with most of the team, but they were a solid Silver team last season and they’ve infused their roster with a lot of talent since then. I expect a top three finish out of these guys, but it’s definitely possible I’m under-ranking some team I put below them – like I always manage to do.
* We haven’t scrimmed door however. Or any of the solid looking no-scrim teams…obviously.
Another no-scrim team made up of experienced Gold players, DOES IT may be the worst of the no-scrim teams this season. Although wish on scout is obviously a huge advantage and rhy on demo isn’t too shabby either, this team has some notable weak points. Most importantly, conner was a highly unremarkable sniper last time he played on DOES IT. Conner isn’t the only weak point on this team however, as DOES IT has a lot players who skirted the line between low and mid-Gold last time they played such as orga on heavy, capekid on engineer and tenna on soldier. Combine this with the fact that they don’t plan to scrim and I expect DOES IT to fall somewhere around the middle of Gold this season.
Galaxy Swim Team
Galaxy Swim Team is one of the numerous teams made up of experienced Gold players that plans to not scrim this season. On top of their experienced highlander players, like teapot on heavy, pomf on spy and tiptoes on soldier, they also have a surprisingly large number of off-classing mid-level 6’s (ranging from high-Open to high-IM) players. I really have no clue how players like pops, vari and mc will do on the highlander classes they’re playing for this team. At least all the 6’s players are competent in 6’s, so they shouldn’t be that bad at whatever class they’re playing for this team. However, all the off-classing combined with this being a no-scrim team would lead me to think that a top three finish for this team is completely out of the question, and top five might even be a bit iffy.
Secretly We Are Kawaii
I’m rather uncertain about how well Secretly We Are Kawaii is going to do this season. First of all, they’ve made it clear they wanted to play in Silver plus they also appear to be a no-scrim team. This definitely suggests they’re not going to be the most motivated team, however there’s no denying they have a few really good players on their team. Mae has already played soldier in Gold briefly, and did quite well at it, so he should definitely perform well for this team. I’ve never seen froot play scout before, but most top 6’s players that main a dm class tend to be at least decent at the other 6’s dm classes. Froot should at least be a mid-Gold scout and perhaps even better. Lastly, zabi is a solid hl demo from what I remember. Besides those three, I’m not really sure how the rest of the team will perform on the classes they’re on, so it’s hard to say exactly how this team will do. It’s really a question of how much the rest of their team bogs them down.
The Slammin’ Jammers
The Slammin’ Jammers gave us more trouble than a lot of other Gold teams we have scrimmed against so far this offseason. Of course, scrims are just scrims and it’s impossible to be sure how things are going to turn out based off of them, but I simply can’t ignore just how scary the pick classes of The Jammers looked in our two scrims against them. The Jammer’s sniper, andrew, outplayed (an admittedly very rusty) timeless on viaduct and mondrago, The Jammer’s spy, repeatedly headshot our medic practically across the map. The team also has some other notable names from silver, such as mirrorman on soldier and grandislayer on heavy.
I fully admit that this team might not be able to remain a top team as teams that recently formed out of experienced Gold players start to gain coordination as a team. However, The Jammers certainly looks quite good so far. I’d bet on a top five finish for them, but time will tell if they’re able to continue to hold their own against experienced Gold players.
Suicide Watch is kind of a weaker version of Fast Forward, in that they’re the two teams this season made up almost entirely of players that have played in Gold or higher and are actually going to scrim this season. However, while Fast Forward had a lot of plat talent like keith and yipyapper, Suicide Watch is almost entirely mid-Gold talent from seasons past. Having a team made up entirely of players that have played in Gold previously will be a huge boon for this team and I wouldn’t be surprised if the fact that they scrim lead to them having a better season than some of the no scrim teams like DOES IT, SWAK and Galaxy Swim Team. My prediction is that Suicide Watch will be in contention with The Slammin’ Jammers for the 4th spot in playoffs this season. If they do make it to playoffs however, I don’t really expect them to be able to beat whatever teams turn out to be the top three, whoever teams those may be.
DAT’s roster is still largely empty, so it’s hard to judge exactly how they’ll stack up to the rest of Gold this season. Still, I think saying they’ll go 4-4 at best is probably a safe bet. I mean, this is a team made up of players that lost to abridge. That’s simply not a good show.
The New Generation Crew
I’m not particularly familiar with most of the players on this team, however they did manage to make it to the Gold bracket last season which has to count for something. Duke is a decent mid/high Open scout and he appears to do well, at least in scrims, for this team so that’s also something going for them. However, since they didn’t pick up any Gold talent to fill out weak points on their roster, I’m not expecting a whole lot from them. Like Roadkill, they might possibly be able to best some of the no-scrim teams, but I’m not expecting a top four finish from them by any means.
This team has potential to be a bit better than I’m expecting out of them, but I don’t think they’ll do anything crazy like beat Suicide Watch or The Slammin’ Jammers. However, this team does have both a solid sniper and demo in milk and wxy, which does mean a lot for a team. Still, even they are outclassed by a lot of snipers and demos in the upper half of Gold. I expect this team to put up a good fight in a lot of their matches, but in the end they’ll still probably border on low-Gold.
Roadkill did look like a rather promising team last season in Silver. However, unlike the other notable Silver move up team, Shooting Blanks, Roadkill has not improved their roster with any Gold talent. Furthermore, they lost their best player, Fallen Lord, to Shooting Blanks. Without Fallen Lord on sniper and no top tier players on dm classes, I expect roadkill to struggle a bit this season. I might be wrong in placing them in Tier III, it’s entirely possible they might be able to overcome some of no-scrim teams, but I don’t see them being contenders for top four. Who knows, they might prove me wrong though. I definitely think they’re at least the best team that I put in Tier III.
9 Angry Men
After going 6-4 in Silver 9 Angry Men was moved up to Gold due to the…well, the severely declining highlander player base. These guys will likely struggle this season, but they might at least be able to beat one or two of the other low-Gold teams.
Once again, I’m not familiar with most of the players on this team. Scrim results for them so far look rather discouraging and they don’t appear to have any standout players. They’re probably looking at a 2-6 or 1-7 finish.
I’m not going to lie, I’m not familiar with anyone on this team except phorofor…who is on spy. Furthermore, this team appears to be a no-scrim team on top of being mostly Steel/Silver players, so I’m not going to lie, their chances don’t exactly look good.