Well it finally happened. As you’ve probably already heard, the ESEA-Intermediate division for Team Fortress 2 is dead. As a result, the Open and IM divisions have been merged into one Open division, with most IM teams moving to Open (as well as two moving up to invite to save that division and a few dying as a result of the merge). This will make Open have a much wider skill gap than it previously did, and as a result likely make it harder for newer teams to grow and improve, and eventually become future top teams.
It’s not entirely bad news though. The result of the combined Open and IM makes for a division with quite a few skilled teams. There’s also an increased potential for upsets, making the season all the more exciting. It should be a fun season to follow for everyone involved, I’m sure. Anyway, let’s get onto the top 16 rankings:
Scouts: alder and rikachu
This roster has a ton of experience. However, they do have a few players on their weaker classes (or straight up off-classing), with rikachu on scout and extracrispy on pocket. In addition, turkeylips is quite new to ESEA, with only one season of Open under her belt. Still, she seems to be performing quite well on medic for the team so far. I think the bigger concern is how rikachu and crispy will perform on their classes. As a result of the off-classing, dug1 might be a bit weaker than you’d expect from a team with this amount of experienced players on it.
Indeed, scrims so far have looked a bit weak for dug1. If you were to base what you expected out of them solely on scrims so far, they’d be looking like one of the weaker teams in the top five. Still, I have faith that their players who are more comfortable on their classes such as alder and maelstrom will probably even up the dm gap between this team and other top Open teams once it comes down to matches. As they continue to play together, I think the high individual skill of all the players on this team will lead to growth as a team. Furthermore, rikachu and crispy will probably end up doing better and better on their classes as the season goes on. Taking all this into account, I think this team has a decent chance at taking 1st place this season. It’s not a given – they’ll need to continue improve if they want to get 1st, but I think dug1 has a real good shot at it.
Scouts: yimi and John_Milter
I’m not entirely sure what exactly the roster for this team is. In my defense, I’m not entirely sure they are either. This team will probably do the classic sandbagging team move (despite sandbagging no more) of never quite having a complete roster. Still, if it’s true that yimi and John_Milter are the scout combo for this team, that alone makes a pretty intimidating roster. Exactly how well this team performs will come down to how seriously they take the season, but I think they’re likely to at least find themselves in the semi-finals no matter what.
#3: mind over mongo
Scouts: dflame and n3
A team that formed last minute, mind over mongo is already looking to be quite strong. Dflame and n3 should prove to be a top Open scout combo while max and pops shouldn’t be too far behind as far as the best demos and medics in open go – as they have both done quite well in past IM seasons. How percy and mc will do on the team is slightly more uncertain than the rest of the roster, as they are both playing a class that they have less experience in than others. So far in scrims Percy seems to be taking to her role on the team quite well. Mc was just switched to pocket however, so there’s less to go on there, but I’m confident he’ll manage to hold his own on the team.
As long as they keep playing as well as their roster suggests they should, they’ll continue to be contenders for 1st this season. It will likely prove a challenging season for them, but I’m sure they’ll certainly have many impressive performances throughout the season.
#4: The Sparkle Gang
Scouts: spamfest and split
Sparkle Gang, the guardians of high-IM for the past several seasons, continue on in Open with the death of IM. Somewhat sadly, they look to have a better shot at 1st place than they ever did before. If they finally find themselves in grand finals it will technically be in Open, which would take away some of the accomplishment from it I’m sure. Still, there’s plenty of teams in high-Open this season that would have fit in high-IM all those seasons Sparkle Gang has played. Getting 1st would still be quite impressive.
Whether or not they’ll manage to get 1st, or at least make it to grand finals, is up in the air of course. There’s plenty of other capable high-Open teams. However, even though I’ve ranked Sparkle Gang a bit lower than a few of them, I still wouldn’t be shocked to see Sparkle Gang beat them in a match. A lot of the top five teams feel pretty close in skill currently and the matches could really end up going either way between all the teams I put in the top five.
Sparkle Gang certainly has a roster that can compete. Spamfest has continued to be an impressive scout every season she’s played in IM, oftentimes looking like she could hold her own in low-Invite. Split isn’t that far behind spamfest and should do just fine as the second scout for Sparkle Gang. June has, despite switching classes now and then, often been the roamer for Sparkle Gang and she has always done quite well on it. Dagger has quite a lot of experience in invite and should do quite well on pocket. How mu and stochast1c will perform is a little less certain, as they’re both not playing their main class, but so far in scrims they’ve seemed to work well with the team and do well individually as well. All in all, Sparkle Gang has a solid roster this season that should give them a good shot at finally making their way to grand finals.
#5: Muscle March
Scouts: dippidy and will
Although they don’t have nearly as long a history as Sparkle Gang, they’re in the same boat of coming from a zero-wins-in-playoffs season in IM. Undoubtedly, they’d like to have a strong showing this season. I consider them the least likely to get 1st of the teams I’ve ranked in the top five however.
As far as how scrims have gone so far, they’re actually looking like one of the strongest teams in Open this season. However, scrims only mean so much. Although having a slightly better record than Sparkle Gang last season, they lost their match against Sparkle Gang 2-5 and proceeded to have a much less stronger showing in their playoff match than Sparkle Gang did. I think it’s fairly safe to say that overall Muscle March was weaker than Sparkle Gang last season – and I just don’t feel like Muscle March’s roster seems improved from last season. Odb to demo is a good choice (odb does slam quite hard on demo), but no han on scout and especially not having drake on medic seems like it will overall make the roster a bit weaker than it was previously.
So, that’s a long way to say I think it makes sense that Muscle March is likely to have a weaker season than Sparkle Gang this season based on how things went last season. As far as the other three teams I ranked above Muscle March and Sparkle Gang…well, those teams are a little harder to judge. Time will tell if I’m right on those. Anyway, I did do a lot of talking about why I think Muscle March is likely the weakest of the top five teams this season, but I don’t want to sell them short. They’re still an excellent team and every player on the roster is quite good. Even if it turns out I’m right and Muscle March doesn’t quite make it to semifinals, I’m sure they’ll still perform quite impressively in all their matches. Odb will especially impress I’m sure, and Will and dippidy will make a strong scout combo too.
#6: OBAMACARE DEATHCAMP
Scouts: phone and messiah
Obamacare deathcamp returns this season with a fairly different roster from last. If you’re only keeping a couple players though, phone on scout is definitely a good one to have. I expect phone to be the star of this team, regularly putting up some crazy number of kills – as he did last season. Everyone else on the roster is fairly solid at their class, although I don’t think any of them will stand out as crazy good. Caboose is a mild concern, as I don’t think he has much experience on medic, but he’ll probably be fine. Most likely they’ll likely all play quite well, which should be enough to get this team to top eight.
Scouts: bwelp and link_1012
This team feels like it will be a lot like Obamacare deathcamp, as far as most of the roster being fairly uniform in skill goes. The only difference is moonlightDive doesn’t have a phone, and so I expect them to likely be a bit worse. Still, with everyone on the roster being quite good at their class, I think this team has quite a good shot at finding themselves in top eight.
#8: Coon Platoon
Scouts: troopo and rogue
Troopo definitely stands out on this roster. I’m not super familiar with most of the rest of the roster, but based off of logs they all seem to be fine. Should be a strong team with good potential to make it into top eight.
#9: Space Helicopter
Scouts: mak and legit
Jaguarfiend has created yet another roster full of players I don’t recognize, which seems to be his speciality as of late. Well, last time he did it it worked out quite well, so who am I too judge. I know unskilled is, despite the name, actually quite skilled at roamer. Furthermore, based on scrims so far, their scout combo of mak and legit seems to be quite strong too. Jaguarfiend himself will, I’m sure, do a good job of leading the less experienced players on his roster to victory as he has done in the past. Definitely a team with potential to make top eight, although not for certain.
#10: Power Surge
Scouts: spades and zoey
This team is probably about the last that has potential to make top eight in playoffs. Well, as long as schedules work out relatively fairly. It’s a weird season of Open with some really big skill gaps, so I could see a few teams getting a lucky schedule and screwing more skilled teams out of playoffs as a result. Sitting on the edge of high-Open, Power Surge is definitely one of those teams that is more vulnerable to getting screwed out of playoffs or getting stuck with a terrible seed. We’ll see.
Anyway, right off the bat spades and zoey on scout suggests a fairly solid roster, but one that doesn’t have a ton of potential to upset teams above them. With the rest of the roster also being a mix of high-open or low-IM players, it definitely seems like they’re the type of team that would be guaranteed to get several wins in IM, but never break even. They’ll do just fine in a combined Open and IM though, and should make their way into the first round of playoffs.
#11: MikeMat is a Trashcan
Scouts: uber and ?
Perhaps a bit of a low ranking based on some of the player’s experience, but I think the team might just have overall a bit lower dm than some of the teams above them. How they’ll do in the season partially depends on who they pick up on scout, but right now they’re looking like a first round of playoffs only team to me.
#12: no god just grapeSquad
Scouts: syath and andrew
I have this team ranked lower than their roster would suggest they should be. That’s because they’re a pre-game scrim only team, which will undoubtedly affect their growth as a team throughout the season. The team just doesn’t seem to be particularly motivated, and as a result probably won’t break into the top eight as their roster would suggest they’re capable of doing.
Still, crab_f, syath, andrew* and unicorn_wizard all have great dm. Even trapster, who isn’t quite as good dm wise as the rest, is a perfectly fine demoman. If this team was trying harder I’d see them almost certainly making it to the second round of playoffs. Sadly, they just don’t care a ton, which will almost certainly affect their performance this season.
*At least on sniper, which usually translates to scout after a while for good sniper mains.
#13: no fetus can beat us
Scouts: smashysmashy and trap
Smashysmashy and rightjustify are the players to watch on this team, in my opinion. The whole roster is pretty solid, but those two are the most likely to have some insane performances. Honestly, I can’t exactly put into words why I put these guys at #13 instead of somewhere around #9. For some reason I just have the feeling the team isn’t going to gel together as well as some of the other teams in the lower half of the bottom 16. It’s just a feeling and it might turn out to be totally wrong. Who knows. Not me obviously, since I’m saying I don’t know.
#14: Bens Cafeteria
Scouts: Dyl4n and riot
This is probably the most controversial ranking on this list. CptFABULOUS and Reflecto certainly do have good experience overall, and Dyl4n, riot and Yuno aren’t half bad themselves. I can see a lot of people disagreeing with me putting them right at the bottom of the list. I just don’t think their overall dm is going to match up with a lot of the other rosters in the top 16. Dy4n on scout especially makes me a bit nervous for how this team will do, as I believe he’s a better soldier than scout. Furthermore, despite having good experience, I think Fabulous is a much better medic than soldier. I might be totally wrong. If the team manages to find a medic and lives, I guess we’ll see if I’m wrong.
#15: Ayyylmao Terror Squad
Scouts: LAB8 and ?
Demo: pencil skin
EDIT: I talked with HappyBOB and apparently pinning his roster down was so hard because there are actually two unfilled spots on the roster and one of the four that’s currently on it can’t play. I moved the team down quite a bit in light of that, seeing as the season is about to start and they only have four players.
#16: colton haris fan club
Scouts: n1ght and ?
Jojo’s team is apparently dead, so this team takes the 16th spot instead. Their players have decent experience in Open, with a bit of IM in there as well, so they should be fairly solid. They should do well against most of the regular Open teams, but will probably struggle against most of the IM teams that have been moved down.
Right outside of top 16:
Hotter dads (half of this team is off-classing and they’re not scrimming, hence the lack of placement in top 16), -_-, circle bread and 6 Guys Burgers and Spies