beach — Having got back from LAN pretty late last night, I was still taking in the events of an amazing weekend that ended in European victory (owned, America/Australia). The TF2 Community has once again pulled off an amazing effort to get HRG, TCM-Gaming/broder, Team Immunity and the Frenchies to LAN by contributing their own hard-earned cash to various fundraising campaigns.

And what a LAN it has been: after a shaky week of PCWs (probably due to BoneS’ shoddy PCs…) Team Immunity surprised many fans of TF2 by putting up a great fight against the best the rest of the world had to offer, beating HRG during the Invite Group stage, along with TCM-Gaming and a struggling Team Infused. It was during this game that I started to realise how much of a great LAN this would turn out to be: the Americans were showing that they weren’t untouchable, leaving the top prize very much open for any of the top 4 teams to claim. We also saw Epsilon eSports continue their domination of TF2 since this time last year by not losing a single game throughout the group stages, and indeed until the Grand Final they were again yet to lose a single map. Even the lower groups stages for us noobs were somewhat more exciting: we no longer had to waste the pros’ time by standing in their way for 10 minutes and could give getting into the knockouts a real shot, as opposed to resigning to the fact that “oh, Epsilon are in our group along with that pretty good Div 1-2 mix, we’re out already”.

Going into the knockout stages, Epsilon continued their domination, and the good results kept coming for TCM, HRG and Immunity. The action definitely heated up in the Upper Bracket Final, which saw Epsilon take revenge for last year, knocking HRG into the Lower Bracket. Round 5 of the Lower Bracket was equally entertaining, eliminating Infused and the Frenchies out of the tournament, and leaving TCM to face HRG in the Consolation Final, with Immunity out at the hands of Zebbosai and his broders.

The Consolation Final was honestly one of the most exciting games of TF2 I think I’ve watched in a long time. TCM pulled out all the stops: exceptional sniping from Jukebox that will no doubt go down in the history of TF2 at the i-series won the day for them, along with solid, confident performances across the rest of the team (despite Byte’s prediction that TCM would lose the deciding map, cp_badlands, due to the execution, aim and gamesense of legendary demoman B4nny). It was clear that TCM were not afraid of the Americans, giving them no respect whatsoever: they played their usual aggressive style and it paid off for them, earning them a spot in the Grand Final.

And if the Consolation Final was one of the most exciting games of TF2 I’ve witnessed, the Grand Final was certainly one of the most tense. Epsilon set the record on Gullywash, taking the map 3-0. However, TCM came back with an amazing reply, taking Badlands to 4-0 within the first 12 minutes of the game. It eventually became much closer, going to a Golden Cap at 5-5, but spurred on by the will of the crowd, TCM executed an impressive mid fight and took the Golden Cap round in approximately 2 minutes. So it came down to Granary: Epsilon had beaten TCM on Granary earlier in the tournament; the crowd was with TCM, but Epsilon recovered from their loss in the second map to win Granary 5-2 and take away 6x Aquatuning Watercooling Kits and the Grand Prize of £2500, along with the pride of becoming the TF2 World Champions.

Epsilon eSports

Epsilon eSports on the Finals Stage

TCM-Gaming on the Finals Stage

TCM-Gaming on the Finals Stage

So, why do we love TF2? I think LAN speaks for itself – the massive effort involved in getting these teams to compete for the title of TF2 World Champions, the number of gamers turning up to play TF2, the support shown for teams and players during the tournament, the hard work of all the staff behind the scenes at VanillaTV and Multiplay to put on the best show possible for the fans: all of these factors and more are just a small indication of how much this game has become a sensation within a small community such as our own, and may it continue to next year and beyond.

Lastly, congratulations to Epsilon eSports, and commiserations to TCM-Gaming who came so close and to HRG and Immunity for travelling half way round the world just to be shown how to play TF2! Hopefully they will be back to compete once more for TF2 glory on a world stage, because I think I speak for all of us, whether we were at LAN or watching at home, when I say that i49 showed us how exciting, tense and uniting TF2 can be.