i46 has been a mind-blowing experience for all of us lucky enough to attend. We’ve seen some incredible plays, some unbelievable mistakes, some gutsy performances and some absolute non-attenders.
I guess those comments could describe most of the summer i-series events in TF2’s history, but this one was different. Saying that, only one thing really made it different – the Americans.
As long as EU and NA have had established competitive TF2 communities, there has been banter regarding the best scene and the best teams. Thanks to an immense, TF2-esque community effort we’ve finally managed to put a tournament together to put such questions to bed.
The top teams, in reverse order, seeded by Multiplay Admins (presumably Tapley and Firestorm?).
Coming in at eighth seed, nobody really considered NITROSE to be a real contender. I have to be honest though, they impressed me. Although we won’t find them in the top four, I feel like NITROSE really embraced the LAN atmosphere and thrived on it. Their game vs. TCM went to a third map and even that was only won by one point – that’s a huge feat from the eighth-seeded team against the cynically-seeded TCM team. Cyber in particularly appeared to enjoy raping faces.
In recent months Qn have fashioned some incredible PCW results. However, without their powerhouses (read: cheaters) boomeh and Nace, I’m not sure many expected them to place well at this event. As Mike put it however, “I think I played well because I wasn’t being watched”. As underdogs, with some really ballsy performances, Quarantine came closest – of all the EU teams – to beating Classic Mixup on Gullywash with a close-run 2-1 defeat.
Infused faced punchLine as their second opponent in the elimination stages. After glimpsing a 3-map victory, a few derogatory comments were overheard regarding our ability to beat this “lesser” team. In my mind however, punchLine were never a lesser team – they took points from Epsilon, TCM and Infused in ETF2L this season and on certain maps (any that cheaterFlippy can snipe on) they are incredibly difficult to beat. punchLine performed exactly as I expected them to and it was fantastic to see Flippy performing so well in the United Kingdom.
TCM’s tournament could best be described as up and down. Their first true test of the tournament was a trial by fire against American giants Leviathan Gaming. They lost, and although I didn’t get a chance to see it, the scores reflect a close game. From there, they dropped into the lower bracket and, after a straightforward win against Classic Mix Down, they faced NITROSE. For me, TCM should’ve been seeded EU-second rather than overall-fifth and as such eighth-seed NITROSE should’ve been a walkover. This performance epitomised the downside to TCM’s latest lineup – hymzi for one simply can’t focus when playing against “lesser” opponents and that attitude appears to be more prevalent amongst TCM than, for example, Epsilon. TCM proceeded to smash Team Infused – more about that coming soon – and then were unceremoniously dumped out of the tournament, with a margin of 5 caps on both maps, by aforementioned rivals Epsilon.
- Leviathan Gaming
As an aside to their in-game performances, I have to highlight LG as my personal “charisma” favourites of i46. Tyrone and clockwork are an insatiable real-life duo and their flirting – somewhat akin to a married couple – instantly makes LG the team you want to follow (if you have to, because, for instance, all of the European teams have LAN-choked). In game, their ruthlessly consistent approach to teamwork and strategies had them dominating the majority of their opponents. Their one weak spot however appeared to be the other American team, Classic Mixup. It was CM that knocked LG into the lower bracket in the first place then CM that eventually beat LG on the final stage. No part of me believes that CM are consistently the better team, but it feels like LG have a real mental block when it comes to beating them. It was LG’s self-belief that got them as far as they did, but it was their very lack of self-belief that, in my view, lost them the finals.
- Team Infused
Who the fuck seeded us third? Really? Anyone that has followed our recent PCWs will know that we’ve been up and down more than a cheap gypsie rollercoaster. Focused and on form we’ve been capable of beating all on-comers whilst the other end of the spectrum has us losing against opponents that really shouldn’t have come close. This event however we simply never got going. punchLine gave us a close game – as I genuinely expected – but after delays against Classic Mixup we lost any semblance of momentum and motivation. It’s a piss-poor excuse but personally I felt like my tournament was already over after having to wait 45 minutes to fix a broken machine. The recent attitudes in the team meant we had to make changes, and realistically it’s impossible to tell how we would’ve fared with different players, but I have no real regrets. A few more weeks’ preparation however certainly would’ve made a difference.
- Classic Mixup
If the Self Belief and Positive Visualisation company needed a poster-team, CM would certainly fit the bill. They didn’t have a completely smooth road to victory – each map in the final for instance looked close – but you could tell that they always thought they would win the event. There isn’t really much else to say, and their victory over “the rest of the world” will give them the respect they’re more than due, but I’d like to point out TLR as one of my favourite players in the tournament. That guy literally is a machine and makes even Finnish legend hocz look somewhat humble.
- Epsilon eSports
Oh Epsilon, how I hate thee. You were our one true hope! Worst of all, I still genuinely believe that you could’ve beaten either LG or CM on the final stage. Their tournament was generally quite rocky, but the lower-bracket final game against LG was horrifying. A fair-sized group, including loudmouths Darn and myself, were stood behind Epsilon for the entire game, just begging to cheer and support our last hope. On Snakewater, after a single CP3 cap, the support gave them a notable lift which very nearly carried them to a Golden Cap. Unfortunately, the team could’ve done with just a few more minutes – and a complete rerun of Badlands, on which we didn’t have a single positive thing to get behind. Extremer looked decidedly hungover; F2 made unheard of mistakes; knOxXx struggled to keep the team’s motivation up and most surprisingly of all stefan didn’t carry. As players and spectators at the event will have heard me say umpteen times, that simply wasn’t the Epsilon team we’ve all come to know and love. I’ve seen Epsilon go 3 rounds down on more occasions than I’m sure they’d care to count, but I can’t remember a single occasion where they’ve then proceeded to lose the map. Their self-belief and confidence is renowned and their ability to come back from tight situations is legendary. Why, then, did they let LG bend them over and fuck them until they haemorrhaged from every orifice? There’s only one answer in my mind, but you could label it a few different things – Epsilon choked at LAN, or they were intimidated, or they let the pressure get to them. It amounts to the same thing; LG simply believed in themselves where Epsilon didn’t.
i46 Dream Team
Looking at this lineup, you’d probably wonder why CM won the final. That matter has already been discussed, so let’s move on to the individual plays.
PYYYOUR didn’t show too much of his widely (and self) announced ability as a top medic and on Gullywash especially it looked like the LAN nerves were starting to have an effect. None of the EU medics turned up at all and when you see the replays of shade’s double-ubersaw last-point clutch and numerous <10HP escapes, you’ll understand exactly why I’ve picked him.
In this lineup, TLR is my star player. I’m not sure if it’s even physically possible for a soldier to carry a team in TF2, but if it is, I’d apportion a huge amount of credit to TLR for his team’s victory – not just in the final but throughout the tournament. GeaR might appear to be a shock pick here but he played even better than he does online – anticipation, awareness and superb weapon-juggling damage output.
The demoman presented me with my most difficult choice. When numlocked played against punchLine, he had 120 frags over 3 maps. That kind of statistic simply doesn’t lie – despite our team, seb played out of his skin as usual. I’ve never seen a demoman hit pipes so consistently. Similarly, kaidus was found to be top-fragging for TCM in nearly every game, even the ones they lost. Saying all of that, EU demomen are supposed to be the best in the world. Judging by b4nny in the lower-bracket and overall finals I’m no longer sure that’s true. The job he did with the heals he was given was nothing short of spectacular.
When Classic Mixup played vs. TCM online in their recent showmatch, Ruwin completely dominated the game. At LAN he was still a very talented scout, but I’m afraid his online prowess has preceded him and as such he wasn’t as good as I expected. clockwork on the other hand was a complete and utter beast. I like the guy but even more than that I respect his ability. His super-low sensitivity and attentive-looking posture are great to watch but his in-game accuracy makes them both look boring. Online he looked good, in real life he looked like the best scout in the world. My second scout choice is a player that hasn’t had as much coverage running up to or during this event. Some of Enigma’s clutch and utility plays were fantastic and even more enjoyable to watch for the reason that the European teams chose not to wield too many of these classes at i46.
Man of the LAN
There’s only one person that can possibly take this award. His team will probably tell you that it’s nothing to do with his performances, but I’m not even thinking about that. The guy’s charisma, humility and endless positivity made him an instant legend in my book. Please come back soon Tyrone, I miss you already!
A shoutout also goes to the Legend of Harbleu. He made some huge plays but I haven’t laughed so hard recently as when he owned himself on the Gullywash balc while chasing shade.
The future of European TF2…
Rumours are abound about players quitting and teams folding, but I think I’ve got some positive inside gossip. This post is already 17,000 words long though, so I’ll save it for another.. coming soon! (real time, not TF2-is-dead-series time).