June 30th, 2017
We’re halfway through the regular season, and we’ve already had a number of exciting matches in ESEA-Open. Sparkle Gang clashed with other former high-IM teams dug1 and mind over mongo and came out on top. Popo and pals also have faced off against dug1 and grabbed a win in a close match, and power surge came within one round of upsetting popo and pals in a 4-3 on viaduct.
There’s certainly already been a lot going in Open this season and we’re just getting to the second half of the regular season. With teams’ records beginning to more closely resemble their skill as the season goes on (although not perfectly, with such a wide-skill gap and large number of teams in Open), we’ll be seeing more and more matches between high-Open teams. There’s certain to be many more good games before playoffs and perhaps an upset or two. Until then, however, here’s my mid-season top 16 rankings:
#1: popo and pals
Scouts: John_Milter and yimi
I have a bit of trepidation putting these guys at the number one spot. It’s true that their roster looks really strong, with the scout combo of John_Milter and yimi looking especially intimidating, but they recently had a very rough match against Power Surge – barely managing to win 4-3. However, this match appears to only have been close due to an uncharacteristically bad performance from yimi, with 17 kills and 27 deaths in the first half. After yimi picked it up in the second half (going 41 and 37 by the game’s end) popo and pals were able to win 3 straight rounds to barely net the win. Not only did yimi’s poor performance at the start make this match close, but viaduct played to Power Surge’s strengths – with plat sniper main zoey getting some time on sniper and spades slick contributing greatly on scout. Overall, I think popo and pals struggling to beat power surge was a bit of a fluke, and for now I still think they deserve the number one spot. They did beat dug1 4-2 earlier on snakewater, after all.
Oh, and as a side note, in that match against Power Surge John_Milter went 70 and 31 with 408 dpm…jeez.
#2: Muscle March
Scouts: dippidy and will
In my pre-season article I noted that Muscle March looked like the strongest team based solely on scrim results, but I thought teams with more experienced players would catch up as the season went on. However, we’re four weeks in and Muscle March still looks like the strongest Open team in scrims. They’ve yet to play any other top 5 team in a match, but so far in matches they’ve absolutely decimated lower ranked Open teams. I’m not entirely sure why this iteration seems so much stronger than last season Muscle March (perhaps odb is just that good at demo?), but unless the matches go differently Muscle March is looking like a shoe-in for top 4 and a potential 1st place team.
#3: The Sparkle Gang
Scouts: spamfest and split
Much like Muscle March, Sparkle Gang has quickly outdone my expectations that I had for them in my pre-season article. They’ve already beaten two teams I ranked above them, mind over mongo and dug1, in a 5-2 and 4-2. In these two matches spamfest has continued to look like the strongest player on the Sparkle Gang roster, as she did last season, top fragging in both matches. Mind over mongo’s roamer, percy, was apparently lagging quite badly in their match against Sparkle Gang, but considering she still was able to contribute somewhat based off of stats I don’t think a better connection would have made the difference considering the scoreline was 5-2. So, based off these two match results I think it’s fair to say Sparkle Gang is looking like a serious contender for 1st this season. Beating Muscle March and popo and pals might be a tall order, but they’re one of the few teams who seem capable to do it. We’ll see soon enough if they can!
Also, sparkle gang easily has the worst team avatar in Open. I thought the last one was bad…yikes.
Scouts: rikachu and morsca
Having lost to both Sparkle Gang and popo and pals, dug1 seems like they just can’t quite keep up with the top 3 teams this season. They have a lot of experience, which I predicted would lead to a more successful season than they’ve had so far, but it appears that raw dm has kept other teams above them. They did manage to keep both their losses relatively close however, with a scoreline of 4-2 each time, so you can’t entirely count them out yet. However, it’s looking like an uphill battle for dug1.
#5: mind over mongo
Scouts: dflame and n3
Admittedly, there’s not a ton to go off of for mind over mongo’s ranking. As already mentioned, their 5-2 loss over Sparkle Gang isn’t entirely conclusive – as percy did have quite terrible connection to the ESEA server during that match (plus you can’t base everything off of one match anyway). Still, a 5-2 scoreline suggests that mind over mongo are weaker than Sparkle Gang. There’s some other hints to suggest they’re the weaker of the top 5 teams, such as them dropping one round against kronge realm on viaduct while Muscle March won 4-0. It’s all far from painting a certain picture that mind over mongo isn’t top 4 material, but it’s my best guess at the moment.
#6: Gibby Gaming
Scouts: troopo and riot
Gibby Gaming’s success this season largely depends on what they do with their roster. Their last match they barely managed to scrape by with a 5-4 win over Power Surge, but this was likely a result of them putting Fabulous on soldier and moving Reflecto to medic. If Fabulous is willing to stick with med for the season, the team should easily make top 8, and perhaps even give some of the bottom top 5 teams a run for their money. If they keep putting players off of their mains however, I’m not sure the team will remain top 8. They still have potential too however, troopo is quite a strong scout, Dyl4n is a strong soldier and Fabulous isn’t bad at pocket either. It will just be a lot harder if they switch their roster around from what it was previously.
#7: Free Real Estate
Scouts: midas and bwelp
With the pickup of midas on scout, this team looks stronger than ever. They did lose to 5-3 to Colton Harris Fan Club, but this was before they cut link for midas (sorry link). Beyond that match, this team has actually had a fairly easy schedule, so it’s hard to place them with much accuracy. They continue to look quite strong in scrims however, and I furthermore stick by my assessment that this team has no weak points on their roster – with everyone perfectly capable of pulling their weight on the team. Plus, with midas now on scout, midas + bwelp looks like one of the stronger scout combos this season.
#8: Colton Harris Fan Club
Scouts: cukei and keith
This team has the best scout combo outside of top 5, hands down. Cukei is absolutely terrifying on scout and keith is no slouch either. ScrewB is also one of the stronger pockets in Open this season, decidedly top 8. However, despite an extremely strong scout combo and good pocket, the team appears to be just on the edge of top 8.
There’s even less to go off of for this team than normal, as they completely switched their roster around mid-season. However, they did drop 3 rounds to Free Real Estate minus midas and one round to a team that is currently 2-6. Likely, their less experienced players mean that, despite some extremely high-dm overall, the team is a little bit weaker than you might expect. Still, they definitely have a good shot at top 8 and perhaps even better than that, if their coordination improves.
#9: The Brogrammers
Scouts: phone and messiah
Too be honest, I expected this team to be a bit more competitive with the top teams this season. However, in their last match they lost to mind over mongo 4-0. If I’m correct that mind over mongo is the weakest of the top 5 teams, this doesn’t bode well for The Brogrammers ability to keep things close with the top teams. Starting with only a 5-4 win over Power Surge for their first match has definitely set the tone for The Brogrammers. They’re a strong team, but they’re decidedly below the top of Open in skill.
#10: Power Surge
Scouts: spades and zoey
Power Surge has had a weird season, and a tough schedule, so far. They started off by losing 5-4 to The Brogrammers and went on to lose 5-0 to Hot Dads and 5-4 to Gibby Gaming. However, last match they did manage to take three rounds off of popo and pals. Plus, 5-4 losses to The Brogrammer and Gibby Gaming aren’t exactly anything to sneeze at. The 5-0 loss to Hot Dads is part of what makes me concerned, but it is true that when Hot Dads has their absolute ideal roster they’re quite strong. It’s just that Hot Dads has random people playing each match. So, I still think Power Surge is a capable team despite some rough matches. Spades and zoey continue to look quite strong for the team and as long as everyone plays decently the team should continue to contest teams even in the top eight.
#11: Coon Platoon
Scouts: Rogue and lavableman
I honestly didn’t expect much from this team after they lost troopo early on in the season, but they’ve proven to be a strong team even without her. They’ve beaten jojo’s bizarre adventure 5-2 and Space Helicopter 4-1, as well as taken 2 rounds off of dug1 in a 4-2 loss. Rogue has done quite well on scout for the team and kiosk looks like quite a strong pocket as well. The whole team has been doing well in matches so far, and if they keep it up they might potentially make top 8 in playoffs this season.
#12: Hotter Dads
This team would be much higher ranked if they had a stable roster. Not only do they not scrim, but they also have different people playing each match. Change will usually be on scout, and has been instrumental in the team’s successes, but you can’t count on anything when it comes to their roster. As a result, the team’s results have been inconsistent to say the least. Although they did beat Power Surge 5-0, they also had a 2-4 loss to Pancake-Waffle Rifle and were unable to take a round off of popo and pals. They’ll likely continue to have some shocking wins over good teams, but in the end probably won’t get past the first round of playoffs.
#13: kronge realm
Scouts: nomi and nkey
Kronge realm is a bit of a wildcard. I don’t recognize the players on the roster, and have been informed that many of the players are regulars on tf2center. They seem to have the making of an up-and-coming team of newer players however, as they have had good results so far in the season – with a 5-1 win over MikeMat is a Trashcan, a 5-0 win over no fetus can beat us, and a 3-2 win over crashed out. They’re definitely a team to keep an eye on, as new players that are up-and-coming tend to improve quickly.
#14: Space Helicopter
Scouts: mak and legit
This team has so far looked a bit weaker than I expected. They’ve had a fairly easy schedule, but dropped two rounds to National Bank of Makka and three rounds to -_-, two teams that aren’t bad, but are decidedly not in the top 16. In addition, they recently lost a match 4-1 to coon platoon on viaduct. All the players of Space Helicopter are good, but it seems their dm is just not enough to keep up with most of the top 16. I think their strongest player is unskilled, who is actually one of the trickiest roamers to play against in Open this season based on my experience against him in scrims. Unfortunately, having your strongest player be your roamer simply isn’t particularly great in today’s scout-dominated meta.
#15: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
Scouts: coughy and jamie
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure has had a rough start to the season, having had to play many teams in the top 16 of Open. They’ve performed admirably even in their losses however, managing to take two rounds off of coon platoon, two rounds off of Free Real Estate and three off of power surge. They’ve also had some solid wins, such as a 4-1 over crashed out and a 5-2 over circle bread. Overall the team has a number of players with quite a bit of Open experience and good match results so far. However, they’ve recently had to change around their roster a bit, with polar no longer being able to play pocket and ragor potentially having to quit roamer as well. Their recent pickup of coughy on scout seems to be a boon for the team however, and may mean the roster changes end up being a net positive.
#16: crashed out
Scouts: market and yukari
Crashed out has some decent experience on the roster, most notably air on demo and market on scout. Honestly it’s a bit odd that this team is near the bottom of high-Open this season, considering the experience their roster has overall, but sometimes a team just isn’t as good as you might expect it to be. Not all rosters end up working well together. Who knows however, maybe they’ll make a comeback as the season goes on. There’s still time to do that.
Right outside of top 16:
Pancake-Waffle Rifle, 6 guys burgers and spies, -_-, aubrey plaza fanclub, National Bank of Makka, and MikeMat is a Trashcan