From the Dawn of Time we came, moving silently down through the centuries, living many secret lives…or so we were until ETF2L announced its inaugural Highlander season! Now we are all out there proudly, with our chests pumped outwards with vanity and our thoughts entwined on the purest form of Team Fortress 2 – Yes my fellow TF2 players, I am talking about Highlander; with cart-pushing festivals played under the sombre tune of Spy knives and Pyro flames, wearing unusual hats and packing unlockable weapons so absurd you would think us deranged to have not disallowed them. Welcome to ETF2L Season 1 of Highlander, I am formally inviting every single TF2 player on the planet to join in and play your favourite class with your best e-buddies because in all honesty, nothing is more important than just playing the game no matter how good you are. Read on for a preview of the first season.
Holding a league for the very first time means you have little to base judgement on where teams should be placed. I can imagine a similar strenuous task for those in charge of placement of the first ever ETF2L 6v6 season. In the history of Highlander we have 3 tournaments we could use to judge the level of a team (well 5 if you count the ancient HL cups of ETF2L past, only those who live forever will remember them). The ETF2L Community Highlander challenge being the first base, though that happened almost a year ago with that competition followed by the formation of UGC Highlander which is primarily North American league with a smaller European sub-division as well as the Community Fortress Highlander tournament, which had both NA and EU brackets. These 3 tournaments alone provided too little evidence to judge skill level so we were stuck with having to use the experience of 6v6 teams to place teams. With our league we felt we should at least attempt to include a worldwide participation of teams, especially since the UGC Highlander league in America is very active with its own generation of great 9v9 teams, some of which have signed up to compete alongside European teams. Being a European league of course we can’t promise them anything except the chance to participate though we have put most of them (and Russians) in the same divisions but the few that have been left in predominantly European divisions, we ask the leaders of the teams to be reasonable and understand each other’s position and hope you can arrange the match without any disputes.
The other factors contributing to where teams were placed were the teams themselves requesting a division. Like us, each team leader could not have known the finer details of the skill hierarchy when they signed up a team, we felt we could justify using our limited tools of experience where certain teams stack up in comparison to move teams up and down from their requested division. We also have the sweet granulated variable that is motivation; as I stated earlier this league is about playing the game and I am delighted to see so many big names participating. However a lot of these High level teams request to play in Division 2 or 3 presented itself to me as a more casual approach to the format, which in itself is fantastic but for the top level of our league competition we wanted to have teams with standards towards taking every game seriously. This is why it may be argued that Division 2 looks as strong, if not stronger than Division 1 in terms of 6v6 skill and understanding. But it was only fair to those who enjoy Highlander with as much passion and competitive initiative as we enjoy 6v6 to have the ‘big’ Highlander team names fighting for the top prize.
Division 1 preview
Now that I have bigged up these teams I might as well talk a little about them for the courtesy of those who are unfamiliar. Though first off I would like to give a special mention to the 100 or so teams (1500 or so players) who are new to competitive TF2 and this will be their first taste of playing the ‘War’ part of this War-themed Hat Simulator. May you stick around and help this game grow for as long as Valve release hats. Anyway onto the teams:
SNSD – Highlander Community Challenge winners with a Gold medal proudly attached to the breast of each player, CommFT European bracket champions to show that the HCC win was no fluke and the heart of the team forming the upcoming Division 1 6v6 team, Yoyotech. There can be no doubt that SNSD are the team to beat, having never lost an official match. TheSucker’s sex slaves have an impressive batch of talent with ALX on Heavy, Tviq running his main class (Sniper) and Cyber ‘stolen’ from his community team on Demoman. With a score of new players including Sentry air-shotting maniac Cube on Engineer, SNSD look every bit as likely to retain their tag as ‘best HL team ever’. Prediction – 1st
KUKKO – As far as Highlander experience goes, I don’t think there is much in this side but being a High level 6v6 mix team with players from CKRAS and Illegal there is more than enough talent and experience to make them real contenders. Assuming they are dedicated and learn some strategy needed to survive in Highlander I can see KUKKO being the team to beat for SNSD, though I think SNSD’s experience will be too much for them at the end of the season. Prediction – 2nd
May Contain Nuts – Not just an allergy warning, this team is serious business when it comes to Highlander. Led by the “inspirational” beef, they defied the odds to finish third place in the HCC, their big strength is their teamwork and strategy which leaves opponents even of a higher skill level scratching their heads. In my opinion Nuts have the best Pyro in HL with Jack, dealing so much damage with flares and chaos with airblasts he can swing a pushes in the favour of the pubstars from Trigger Happy Gamers. Prediction – 3rd
Cube’frag video masterpiece.
Comunidade Portuguesa TF2 – An all Portuguese side possessing the big names like Coinz and Haunter plus most of Premiership participant’s equilibrium. Mixing that high level TF2 experience with some of the team that played in the HCC could be the winning formula for Comunidade although I must confess I know little about them though I expect Haunter to be calling and running Heavy, that I assume will be enough to see them finish mid-table. Prediction – 4th
Colony - This mostly Finnish community team came a long way from pub stars to HL big shots, missing out on the Gold medal in the HCC in a close best of 3 maps series with SNSD. A less glorious 6th place in the CommFT tournament saw Colony start to break apart with their key man J0rmund (pubstar Demo deluxe) go off to the Army and the team leader Zoob focusing on 6v6. But the team have rejuvenated upon the announcement of the HL league, practising once more with the aim of knocking SNSD off their perch. SabaSaba is still in my opinion the best HL spy in the game, a lot this season will depend on him making those clutch backstabs although I can’t see them pressuring the top 3. Prediction – 5th
Turbopoop eSports – Representing Ruskieland we have TP.eSports packing some big name Russian TF2 players with the likes of Rubikon, Trox, Diegos, hamster and many others with Division 1 6v6 experience. But the team aren’t in Division 1 because they are good 6v6 players but rather because they are the only other team to win a ‘big’ Highlander competition as they emerged triumphant in the UGC European platinum division. Despite this accolade, they are In my opinion the weakest Highlander team and don’t match up to the top teams and will be fighting it out to avoid relegation. Prediction – 6th
That will wrap up this Highlander preview, I hope to get some coverage via VanillaTV open mic cast and hopefully bring a new generation of TF2 players into competitive TF2. Stay tuned also to check out the impressive rosters fighting it out in Division 2 and you will see why the competition will be as fierce as the top division.