Cup Catch-up: Experimental Highlander Cup #8
A total of 50 teams signed up and tested their skills against each other last week in ETF2L’s cup, which managed to breathe some new life into the Highlander format.
The clear favourites, Strong Opinions, finished Friday not looking like the dominant, three-time Premiership Champions they are known to be. The team, lead by CeeJaey, started their campaign with a closely fought match against Super Dickmann’s KANNONEN, resulting in a 3–2 victory. (despite technical difficulties during the match). Their next match resulted in a tie on badwater against Budget Toucans, who previously finished their first season of Premiership in the Playoffs. Finally, the team breezed past Stacked for an easy 3–0 win on product.
On top of Strong Opinions underperforming, Super Dickmann’s KANNONEN, a team which in the past have placed 1st in UGC’s Platinum division as well as winning High back in Season 10, saw themselves without a single win after three days of Highlander action. To take into consideration is the fact that in more or less every match, over three players were either mercing or stepping in from their substitute spot in the team. In spite of this, every single team in Premiership advanced to the playoffs.
The semifinals kicked off with Stacked vs. Budget Toucans. In round 2, Budget Toucans managed to secure the payload to the last point of upward in a rapid 5 minutes and 25 seconds, while Stacked struggled to find their footing on the somewhat more tactical map. The second half was somewhat closer, but nonetheless ended in 2–0 to Budget Toucans.
Well-known Beggar’s Bazooka user and Soldier for Stacked, HartzFartz, commented this on their loss against Toucans
- Toucans exploited our weaknesses when they had the opportunity to do so. We tried to do the same but could not pull through at crucial times in the match. It was a close game and considering the score lines in the cup, it is obvious that the skill between the teams are more narrow than ever.
Super Dickmann’s KANNONEN, led by none other than Clark, fell short on upward facing the powerhouse of Strong Opinions after not fully being able to handle the key player, and one of the best Spies to ever play the game, Toast. Super Dickmann’s KANNONEN, once again looking like natural underdogs, had a fair number of surprises and clever pushes throughout the map, but never made a legitimate threat towards the number one team in Highlander, ultimately ending 2–0 to Strong Opinions.
A total of three mercs got a shot at showing what they were made of in the final. Just1s and Spelly joined up with Strong Opinions, due to Raptor and Alle not being able to make it. Against them, Synrise, main Pyro for Tourette’s Chessclub, filled in the role of Vclox.
Upward initially released back in 2010, almost a whopping 7 years ago, sadly did not get used in many creative ways during the final match. In a rather anti-climatic ending, Budget Toucans, in similar fashion to Super Dickmann’s KANNONEN, had difficulties making any cracks in Strong Opinion’s defense. Well-coordinated pushes, together with quick and decisive calls, resulted in many valuable seconds stacking up in the already favoured team’s benefit, leading to Strong Opinions adding yet another 1st place to the team’s impressive record by winning 2–0.
Following Strong Opinions taking home an additional first place medal, we managed to get a hold of a few players: Clark, CeeJaey, and Sniper Jelly from Budget Toucans.
Tell us, Clark, before playing your first official on lakeside, what were your team’s goals playing the cup?
- We weren’t expecting much and just came there to play the game. We had fun and were leading over Strong Opinions by 2 minutes after the 1–1 scoreline, but then the RCON issue happened and, after coming back, we had to replay that round from the scratch. We still won it, but ended up losing the game as a whole anyway.
Throughout the whole cup, your team SDCK looked, to some extent, like a mix team. How do you go about playing with so many players not used to competing together?
- As I previously mentioned, we tried to have fun but, with a mix team, the call-outs are bound to be messy, so you try your best to filter the information as much as possible which affects the general gameplay a great deal.
CeeJaey, successful Highlander teams often value accurate information. How does your team manage the distribution of information between all 9 team members when you are playing fast-paced matches like the one product?
- Mostly it’s about not overcrowding comms, so that the important information gets heard. Things like where the Sniper is, etc. Our team has played together for a long time, so we know who to listen to and when, so that we’re not yelling over each other about things that aren’t important.
Jelly, you are currently playing Sniper for Budget Toucans. With over 70 officials of experience in ETF2L, do you believe the Razorback should be banned at its current state?
- No I think it’s fine
UGC has had the Razorback banned for several seasons in a row, why do you think that is?
- I mainly think UGC still has it banned because of how it disables the Spy to easily focus the Sniper. While I personally don’t see Razorback stopping a good Ambassador-spy from killing Snipers, I do understand why some players find it annoying to play against.
Out of the 50 teams which signed up for the cup, eight were placed into the High division: in two groups of four. The likes of Season 11 High runners-up, opeen_squad, and third place finishers, Team Colonslash: Frosties, were fighting it out, albeit in separate groups.
In group #1, the CIS based Dayn Town, with players from the former WASP, came out on top after securing two Default wins and a comfortable victory against Weed Cake Sellers on product.
Group #2 saw opeen_squad dominate the opposition, going undefeated in the group stages. Much of the team’s success can be found in their coordination, and rational approach: not getting ahead of themselves, coupled with focusing on one match at a time.
In the first semifinal opeen_squad overcame Team Colonslash: Frosties in two closely contested rounds, ending 2–0 in opeen_squad’s favour. Denkra, viewed by many as one of Germany’s best current Snipers, showcased his great aim and decision-making to add another strong performance to his logs bank. He secured the highest number of kills, a total of 39, with Zamparonie and Murpheey slightly below him.
Season 11 Mid champions CRAZYBWAII Clan took on Dayn Town in the second semifinal. After a month of roster upheaval CRAZYBWAII Clan struggled to maintain the fine balance between teamwork and raw individual talent their former roster had shown. Therefore, it came as no surprise when Dayn Town swooped in with countless successful offensive pushes, eventually taking home the game 2–0.
Last but not least, the final game of upward in the High cup took place with opeen_squad trying to display how thorough and effective practice can pay off against the less established mix team of Dayn Town. One crucial factor the Ukrainian-Russian mix failed to carry over from the semifinal was Detoed’s high-risk, high-reward style of playing the Demoman. Not only did Detoed’s damage drop, but his overall impact followed suit. Instead, Murpheey once again dominated the game in terms of damage, kills and executions on the enemy Medic and was one of the deciding factors which led opeen_squad in the end securing the 1st place, with the score 2–0.
We managed to get a hold of the winning team’s main Soldier, I stole your bees (better known simply as “bees”), following the hours after the finals took place.
Starting off, how did your team feel about going into the final against Dayn Town?
- We were very confident we would win as we beat a very similar roster in UGC recently with relative ease.
Was there any player in particular you worried about having a big impact on upward?
- I believe if m0rg or dqz were having good games they could have made a pretty big impact on the final scores.
As a final point I would like to ask you about the whitelist. Is a similar whitelist something you would like to see in future seasons?
- I think both the Razorback and Dead Ringer being banned would be a positive change: the Razorback makes playing Sniper in the combo far too powerful, and the Dead Ringer is far too easy to regen from ammo packs, it allows Spies to take fights on the flank for free, and to take pot shots at valuable picks from afar with zero risk.
Having a total of four groups with slightly varying numbers of teams, the Mid division had many ups and downs regarding upsets and decisive victories.
The team Super Dickmann’s SENSATION! made a forceful showing in group #1, defeating every opponent in strong fashion. Going into the playoffs however, some questioned if they could come out victorious against LobbylordZ, who had Premiership player Nightmare on their roster, amongst other talents.
The clash between the two team’s was inevitable, with the semifinals ending in both teams’ favour. Super Dickmann’s SENSATION! defeated NORLY’s Rockets Love You promptly on upward, at the same time as Lobbylordz edged out Lead Lining Lineup on the same map.
Crowning the champions of Mid was not a walk in the park. Countless players on both sides had massive individual performances, some of which include Sniper Olli and Soldier Kosuke for Super Dickmann’s SENSATION! On the attacking side, the team led by notorious Pyro main Firefly, swiftly pushed the cart to the third point in about 4 minutes. Even with picks on the enemy combo by Sniper Olli and Spy Pajer0, the team struggled to pass the fourth point, eventually ending their side on the blue team with capping the last point after 11 minutes of several failed offensive efforts. The second round contained particularly many big impact plays from Scout mystt and Pyro Thero from LobbylordZ. Together they took control of the sewer-bridge area, catching out and denying Super Dickmann’s SENSATION! from advancing. Racking up many minutes on the third point, the Firefly-led team saw no salvation in the last point, eventually losing out 2–0 to the “fun team”.
After the game, we caught up with LobbylordZ up-and-coming player alba who played Heavy for the victors in Mid.
In the final, you clearly stood out with 53 kills and 17 deaths across both rounds. What went right during the game?
- I think our pushes were pretty decent and we had a solid hold on last in both games.
Do you have any opinion on the banning of the Dead Ringer and Razorback? Is it something you would want to see in Season 12?
- From what I’ve seen, the Razorback ban is kind of stupid since the new Spy meta is just to focus the Sniper. Regarding the Dead Ringer, I don’t really mind.
Possessing the highest number of teams in any division, a surprising number of rosters had Hungarian players competing to take home the 1st place in the Open division.
One of the two all-Hungarian lineups called The Hungarian Cunts, with many former players found in JinJang from Season 11, looked deeply promising with the semi finals around the corner.
However, it came to many as a surprise when The Hungarian Cunts lost to Unassisted e-Sports in their semi-final match 0–2. The expected execution of the team’s pushes deteriorated into needless attempts from lone players, resulting in their pushes having close to no effect. In the other semifinal, Descent won their match against Deseras 2–0 to book their place in the final.
Predicting what team would end up triumphant in the final was far from easy. Inspecting the matches played in the group stages, it would seem as if Unassisted e-Sports most likely had the best individual strength and teamwork. Nonetheless, Deseras rose to the occasion finding several important picks on the Blue team while defending the third point on upward. Unassisted e-Sports’ Scout Barbar on the other hand got to push the cart almost uncontested, and, consequently, tipped it into the pit only one second slower than Budget Toucans did against Stacked, at 5 minutes and 26 seconds. The pressure eventually made Deseras crumble while attacking the third point, collapsing after losing countless skirmishes against the more compact team, eventually ending with 2–0 to Unassisted e-Sports as the winners of Open.
1st Strong Opinions
2nd Budget Toucans
3rd Super Dickmann’s KANNONEN / Stacked
2nd Dayn Town
3rd Team Colonslash: Frosties / CRAZYBWAII Clan
2nd Super Dickmann’s SENSATION!
3rd Lead Lining Lineup / NORLY’s Rockets Love You
1st Unassisted e-Sports
3rd Deseras / The Hungarian Cunts
What was your favourite moment of the tournament? Is the new whitelist better than the old? Comment below.
Special thanks to: Mr British, Dave, Mr. Delval, Georgebaii