Clash of the Titans; i52 intro.

Insomnia LAN is and always will be the biggest tournament Team Fortress 2 has ever had. Once per year, communities world wide chip in and send their teams to England for a showdown and rights to brag with the TF2 champion title. Epsilon eSports, Awsomniacs, Froyotech, Classic Mixup, Team Immunity and an army of smaller (but threatening) teams are all reasons to hop into Ricoh Arena in Coventry during late August, and see how the best Team Fortress 2 players battle each other. None of these team will be satisfied with Haribos, so read on if you are interested in how well they prepared for LAN.

The Sleeping Giant

The high end of European competitive Team Fortress 2 has been quite depressing during the last few seasons of Epsilon dominance. Not a single team could out play the incredibly coordinated pushes and holds, combined with the damage from probably the best players TF2 has seen. The closest someone has ever got to Epsilon (not counting the “American Lesson of i46”) was Broder with their attempt during the i49 LAN finals. In other words, Epsilon was the big Emperor of TF2, whilst all other teams were mere groups of filthy peasants that were trying to get a shower in the royal palace… whilst the emperor slept.

And the emperor overslept a season. Numlocked, for many Epsi’s strongest player, chose the top lanes of a superior MOBA game whilst his former blue & white comrades scrambled to various other teams. In all honesty, who can blame them? The competition was so one sided it’s comparable to the NATO bombing of Serbia. Two planes that the Serbs shot down brought exactly the same consequence as when a certain team stole rounds from Epsilon. We cheered, we yelled, we praised the gaming Gods and we called the underdog teams the saviors of TF2. We were so desperate for a good ETF2L season finale, yet it was always a massacre. Certainly, even the biggest Epsilon fans were bored by that.

Season 17 brought some new/old player collectives into the scene and with Epsilon playing dead for the first time in years, Europeans saw some proper competition at the top level. Season finalists, Made in Germany and The Last Resort, were fairly dominant throughout the season, only to finish it up with a 3 map finale. Despite the great finale, nobody would ever find out how any of those teams would do against the Epsilon in their prime. Quickly after the end of the season, both finalists folded whilst old Epsilon reformed. Whoever thought any of these things wouldn’t happen, was lying himself/herself. None of the finalist teams seemed particularly stable, with evident roster issues and personality clashes. On the other hand, a reformed Epsilon was a matter of time, as once you experience how it feels to play in the best TF2 team in the world, it’s hard to seriously play anywhere else. It’s like a golden shot; once you feel it, all you ever want to do is come back to it and repeat it.

A single golden shot wakes up the dead.

A single golden shot wakes up the dead. (C) Domigorgon

Despite the golden shot effect, this season is quite different for Epsilon. They have been challenged by the strongest and most stable opposing team ETF2L has seen since Broder in S14, Awsomniacs. After six seasons Epsilon lost a map to them, an unfamiliar situation for most in the current roster. Their performance in the latest show match against the NA teams also showed that Epsilon is walking on unfamiliar terrain, where they are the ones who need to catch up.

However, before you Epsilon haters jump on your peasant bandwagon, understand that this is a bit of a double edged sword. Sure, Epsilon lost a map and roster changes brought a few problems, but are a single lost map and roster changes really such a big issue for them? Since the finale with Broder, Epsilon won 45 maps and lost only one. If we put this into points – Epsilon won 138 points and lost only 4 (shoutout to Lazy Pandas!). On top of that, this S18 finale against AwS showed us an improvement fans have been waiting for. Indeed, Awsomniacs played with a merc, but it didn’t seem like a main lineup would solve their current in-game issues. Surely, we can put some blind faith into Epsilon and say they are shaken, but not stirred.

How shaken needs to be seen, as what little information I got from the Epsi guys about the LAN tells me they might not even attend:

TC Reservoir Dog: Considering the LAN itself, what do you think will be your biggest opponents?

Epsilon basH.: If we gonna go then im sure its gonna be Clckwrk’s team

TC Reservoir Dog: You are not sure if you are even going?

Epsilon basH.: Ye kinda shaky atm

Epsilon basH.: We gonna know soon

Epsilon basH.: I guess

It seems their biggest enemy might be themselves. With the Americans and Awsomniacs coming stronger than ever and with annoying problems in their own back yard, Epsilon will have a tough job breaking through to the LAN finals. However, if there is a team that knows how to fight a war on two fronts, it’s Epsilon.

Epsilon are:

  • KnoxXx – Medic
  • WARHURYEAH – Demoman
  • Mike – Soldier (P)
  • Tek36 – Soldier (R)
  • basH – Scout
  • kiler4funn – Scout

The Charging Behemoth

Despite Epsilon casting a long shadow on the European premiership division, a new team formed under the guidance of kaidus and Zebbosai. Epsilon faced teams with those two before and this wouldn’t be such big news if Awsomniacs didn’t finally deliver a close season. Not only did they deliver, but after a lot of invested time, effort and practice they swapped the tables and managed to put a team like Epsilon into the underdog position, at least for a few weeks. Not sure which plants kaidus smoked these past few months, but it’s surely working as AwS definitely showed the initiative during the whole of Season 18.

Apparent change of a main caller might be an additional reason why AwS are playing so well. Zebbosai stepped down from the main calling position and focused on his DM fights, winning his team additional room in pushes. His calling role is currently split across the whole team, which clearly isn’t an issue for them. Even if you don’t believe this token news writer, AwS results speak for themselves. The latest big test of their strength was the second i52 showmatch duel against yet another one of b4nny’s super teams – Froyotech. Due to ping issues, the results of these matches should be taken with a pinch of salt (or maybe a whole spoon), but AwS won convincingly on 2 out of 3 maps.

After 4 weeks of sewing his costume, Jerry was not impressed by 4G performance.

After 4 weeks of sewing his costume, Jerry was not impressed by 4G performance.

TC Reservoir Dog: Last LAN you played for Broder, whilst this time you are leading AwS. Do you think AwS is having a better shot for this LAN then Broder did, or?

AwS Zebbosai: I’d say that Broder from last LAN is stronger then Awsomniacs are at this moment, and that Epsilon is weaker then they where when we played with Broder. But AwS people are a lot more keen so who knows what will happen at Coventry.

TC Reservoir Dog: Any teams you would like to avoid?

AwS Zebbosai: Epsilon. The Americans are probably good too, but we just never beat Epsilon, so I’d like to avoid them.

TC Reservoir Dog: And the Australians? Will a new best demo and a 10 day bootcamp be enough against the top NA and EU teams?

AwS Zebbosai: Well the Australians surprised us all last LAN, so I’m expecting them to be good on this one too. Will they be better or worse it’s hard to say, and I don’t know anything about the new demo they got. It’s not only individual skill, it’s team work and all that, so I don’t know how well he works with the team.

AwS Zebbosai: But yeah, if they are as good as they where last LAN, I definitely think they have a chance winning the whole thing.

Despite a good run so far, Awsomniacs have nothing to prove at this LAN. They can still be considered a young team with a lot of potential, but they might overstretch their team morale by setting their goals a bit too high. Don’t get me wrong, AwS have everything needed for the game of thrones, but a bigger issue is at stake here. August’s LAN is their chance to show they can be a second big EU team, someone who can counter Epsilon locally and NA teams internationally, someone who can bring us Twitch viewership and excitement during huge team clashes, someone who will stay alive no matter the LAN results. I am not saying they won’t win (I’m actually hoping they will) but them staying alive a.k.a. not doing “a Broder” and folding after one of the best finals TF2 has seen, should be a priority.

Awsomniacs are:

  • Mirelin – Medic
  • Kaidus – Demoman
  • Zebbosai – Soldier (P)
  • Knutsson – Soldier (R)
  • Starkie – Scout
  • zappis – Scout

Thunder! Flash!

What happens when you make American superheroes sad? They invade your continent. Bad jokes aside, European TF2 does have a trouble in a form of two super-teams.

If I would need to describe the composition of Froyotech (4G) to someone who doesn’t really follow competitive TF2, I would use an analogy of a Voltron – and I apologise in advance. For those who are unfamiliar with the best animated Mech series in the world, Voltron is a super massive robot powered by several smaller special ones. Together they combine into a super weapon, and that’s precisely what Froyotech is. With practically an uncontested summer season, in which they won all 16 of their matches, Froyotech confirmed their NA dominance in ESEA LAN finals in Dallas where they took the 1st place after a 3 map finale versus Classic Mixup.

During the last several weeks Froyotech showed a few weird roster plays, with b4nny and dummy swapping their Demoman and Scout roles. After ESEA finale, Dummy decided to step down, which forced Froyotech to do a last-minute move by taking on Duwatna as their main Demoman, with b4nny finally setting up on Scout position as Clockwork‘s partner. It seems that Duwatna, a very vocal and aggressive demo, couldn’t resist an offer to jump across the ocean and face the world’s best TF2 players. On top of all that, when you have a Medic whose real life name (Dante Funari) sounds like he is a character from Constantine, you can be certain all Hell will break loose in Coventry:

do what now?: Since joining, we’ve been practising regularly, nothing over the top. One or two scrims Sunday-Thursday. We’re not going as hard as the Aussies as far as arriving early and bootcamping.

TC Reservoir Dog: Any teams you guys would like to avoid?

do what now?: Personally i haven’t watched much of the other scenes (EU, AU) and haven’t played mix^ yet. Its hard to tell at this point where its going to end up. I had the chance to watch Termo’s stream the other night and he was a beast. If i had to say one team, it would be the Aussies.

TC Reservoir Dog: Mixup recently had last-minute roster changes as well with harblu taking ninjanick’s spot. Do you think they are slightly panicking about their LAN performance?

do what now?: Not really, Mix^ has their own way of doing things. They go hard when they need to and chill out when they want. I’m sure we’ll see them in full force coming i52.

With the official response from 4G, we also decided to find out why Dummy left the team and why he thinks the group is in good hands:

dummy: I felt guilty playing for ESEA LAN with little practice, and I didn’t even take community money for that.

dummy: I can’t imagine going to Europe to represent the NA community, I couldn’t do it.

(…)

dummy: I think a lot of euros underestimate how good clckwrk really is, and how much of a difference it was not having him at i49 representing the NA scene.

Froyotech are:

  • Shade – Medic
  • Duwatna – Demoman
  • Lansky – Soldier (P)
  • Blaze – Soldier (R)
  • b4nny – Scout
  • clcwrk – Scout

On the other side of the NA spectrum is perpetum mobile of Team Fortress 2, the never dying giant – Classic Mixup. Seeing these guys play at LAN will be a privilege that will probably bring a lot of bitter taste for Europeans, as they’re the same guys that made us weep by taking the i46 winner title a few years back. Tournament preparations barely started when Platinum’s guys decided to kick their Medic ninjanick and swap him with their old team mate harblu. It’s a clear sign they are trying to gather their former team filled with LAN veterans and the unusually weak community reaction to ninjanick being kicked can be seen as a proof that NA will accept anything, as long as it brings back the i52 crown.

Classic Mixup are:

  • Harblu – Medic
  • Platinum – Demoman
  • TLR – Soldier (P)
  • A Seagull – Soldier (R)
  • Squid – Scout
  • Enigma – Scout

Goliath online

There is another Anglo-Saxon package arriving to England these days, and it’s big, it’s golden and it’s the best Australian TF2 has. After years of avoiding snake bites, ant bites, spider bites, rat bites, crocodile bites, shark bites, dingo bites, space jellyfish burns, space bee stings, scorpion stings, koala punches, kangaroo punches, poor boomerang throws, Mel Gibson, the ozone hole and Tony Abbot reforms – Oz Fortress decided to send us another group of their very best. They call themselves Team Immunity.

During the last summer Insomnia i49 LAN, iM was the first Aussie team that ever attended. Apart from a few well informed individuals, most people had absolutely no idea what to expect from iM. With Oz Fortress being a much, much smaller TF2 community when compared to ETF2L and NA leagues, coming back home with a few honorable defeats wouldn’t be a disgrace for them. However, Aussies didn’t pay a fortune to attend the LAN and come back home with a few pats on the back, they came to kick ass. Although they didn’t end up in finals, iM did show us they can compete with the biggest, and this season they decided to remove every single issue they might encounter on the way.

A typical Oz Fortress member. Europe, beware.

A typical Oz Fortress member. Europe, beware.

Probably the most important decision was to swap their long time Demoman Bulk with Termo, the best that Australia has to offer in the mentioned class. This, yet another last second roster change is a clear sign that iM are gearing up for war, wanting to have the strongest line up possible even at a cost of removing an old team member. Long before this roster change, iM decided to surprise the local Brits and show up early for LAN – ten days early. With enough breathing room to deny any jet lag and time difference issues, Aussies decided to set up a bootcamp and practise as much as they can:

iM snowblind intel: We have been playing every chance we can get, 5 nights a week if possible, which is the maximum that premiership teams over here will play. We’ve also got a 10 day bootcamp planned for before the event, we are really taking it seriously and trying to play as much as possible.

iM snowblind intel: Judging by what I’ve seen around in the community, I still think teams/players still underestimate us a bit, which we prefer. With our roster changes I don’t think the other teams really know what to expect this time around either, so I think that’s an advantage for us. I guess we’ll know soon enough!

TC Reservoir Dog: Are there any teams you consider favourites? Any that you would like to avoid?

iM snowblind intel: We feel really really confident in our lineup this year, and there aren’t any teams that we feel threatened or worried about. We just want to focus on our own game, and we feel that if we all play our best as a team, we can beat anybody.

It seems Team Immunity might be the only team that will be completely calm, focused and ready for i52. Of course, being ready isn’t everything, but it surely brings advantage over other teams. With such a tough battle on top of it, everything counts.

Team Immunity are:

  • Bonobo – Medic
  • Termo – Demoman
  • Yuki – Soldier (P)
  • Aporia – Soldier (R)
  • Snowblind -Scout
  • Sheep – Scout

The Sniveling Davids

There will be several more teams that will attend this event and all of them come with interesting line-ups. Some seem to walk a thin line between top and lower tier of premiership, but most are just young and unproven teams. It would be unrealistic to think any of them will come close to the finals, but after a few talks it’s evident all of them are practising as much as they can. None of these guys will settle with honorary losses, so we might see a few serious upsets at this LAN. A single round win against one of the big guys might just give them enough fuel to take a whole map, especially with the crowd cheering.

Here children, this is what an American looks like.

Here children, this is what an Epsilon player looks like.

Publiclir.se

We’ll open this list with the most laughed at team in the premiership division of ETF2L – Publiclir.se, better known as Saints. The past few seasons have been rough for the Scandinavians. They didn’t manage to achieve any decent results, and roster problems (RIP Hank) seem to haunt them every season. One of the most paraphrased sentences – “we lost motivation” is maybe an ETF2L meme for a good reason, but Saints were a really good and keen team back at last year’s summer LAN, i49. That’s the tournament where they got their motivation in the first place, scored some good results and were a promising young premiership team. If they perform with the same mindset, who knows what they can do. Laugh at them as much as you want, but they are one of the rare teams that approach and “GG” the opposing team after the match.

Publiclir.se are:

  • Ond_kaja – Medic
  • Smirre – Demoman
  • Vani – Soldier (P)
  • cAPS – Soldier (R)
  • Dennia – Scout
  • Alba – Scout

Team Colonslash

I hope no one will mind seeing a bit of local patriotism, but Team Colonslash is looking to send one of it’s own 6v6 teams, this time under the leadership of kr4tos. As a true German, kr4tos embarked on an eternal battle with TF2 casters, in which he promised our organisation that we will never again be called Team ColonDash, ColoNash, ColonSash and many other horrible words. The team is still in-the-making, but they are not wasting time when it comes to trialing and practising. Good luck guys!

Team Colonslash are

  • Ramagan – Medic
  • kr4tos – Demoman
  • Walker – Soldier (R)
  • RazorsEdge – Scout
  • Soldier – *TBA*
  • Scout – *TBA*

Ayogurl

What would Insomnia LAN be without at least one (mostly) English circle jerk team? This year LAN attenders will be honored to see the exquisite performance of Ayogurl, a team whose biggest advantage will be a roster composed of close friends. If they stop lying about the Head and Shoulders sponsorship and if they decide to put up a serious gaming face, we can expect some great plays from them. That said, it’s worth mentioning that no UK team will ever reach gaming stars without 4 A.M. mix god Buttnose.

Ayogurl are:

  • Ace – Medic
  • Permzilla – Demoman
  • kingofsquirrles – Soldier (P)
  • Sideshow – Soldier (R)
  • Hawku – Scout
  • E-Thug – Scout

Reason

Probably the most interesting lineup at this LAN comes from Reason, a recently formed team that almost bore “The Last Resort” banner. However, after HYS suddenly stepped out of the picture, Rising took over and finished the line-up issues. We can say that he did a fine job gathering old time veterans like Herr_P and Huhy, but Rising surprisingly decided to put an important role of a pocket into the hands of Drackk, a Soldier who has been flirting with prem for a long time. As LAN is three weeks away, the apparent three practice days per week might be just enough for these guys to get some proper team working going, given they have a stable main caller to lead the pushes. Without HYS, that role will definitely be hard to fill.

Reason are:

  • Bulle – Medic
  • Huhy – Demoman
  • Drackk – Soldier (P)
  • Rising – Soldier (R)
  • smzi – Scout
  • Herr_P – Scout

Fenneks eSports

Some might argue the reason to put Fenneks with the rest of the lot, but they didn’t show too much result or improvement in fighting the stronger teams. Their qualities seem to be the stable roster and their French super-Scoutgf18_idiot. Ryb and Skeej are also old ETF2L names and should those two step up their games, Fenneks might score better results than those from Season 18. Seeing that both of them are LAN experts, we can expect nothing less.

Fenneks eSports are:

  • Skeej – Medic
  • Ryb – Demoman
  • Salmon – Soldier (P)
  • Killari – Soldier (R)
  • gf18_idiot – Scout
  • wltrs – Scout

Lads on Tour

One of the constant whispers that ETF2L Littlefingers and Spiders spread around, is the Elemental Violence resurrection. Despite Turbomonkey’s best effort, all that was created was a Frankenstein-ish monster with Head Hunter and Shrike410 being the only old eV players. Similar to Drackk’s case, the team’s leaders decided to take a risk and bring in a young Demoman called Spudd. Despite coming from Div 2, Spudd is one of the rare fresh faces on the class and if used properly can be a big problem for most teams at LAN. Seeing as NVC and Pennyfarming are taking care of flank, Spudd might get the space he needs.

Lads on Tour are:

  • Turbomonkey – Medic
  • Spudd – Demoman
  • Head Hunter – Soldier (P)
  • Shrike410 – Soldier (R)
  • NVC – Scout
  • Pennyfarming – Scout

This is it guys, this is the best we’ve got. Certainly, most guys in this article don’t refer to themselves as the best players in the world, but by any standards they truly are. All of them are putting hours into this game, devising strategies or just perfecting their aim. All for this LAN, all for fun and glory. There will be no ping excuses, mothers walking into the room or dads resetting the router, just a lot of clutch plays that will make this LAN special. So if you are not a poor and hatless person, hop to Coventry around the 22nd of August and attend the closest-we’ll-ever-get-to TF2 World Championship.

cu@lan

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusreddittumblr

Comments

Leave a Reply