Russian Guyovich — Looming in the shadow of the intercontinental 6v6 cup this year, i52 is playing host to another tournament dedicated to the 9v9 enthusiasts this side of the globe sponsored by the Team Awesome community and run by its very own Rob as a parting gift to all as he attends his final LAN before becoming pussywhipped getting married. While it is not the first 9v9 tournament featured at the i-series, it may well and truly be the debut of a LAN tournment in which the majority of participants are attending to primarily play highlander (after a casual, cannon fodder-like approach to the 6v6 group stages have come to an end).

Logistically speaking, it has been considered that 9v9 in a offline setting is not feasible in regards to competitive TF2 growth and quantity of LAN tournaments due to the additional 3 players required for each team. While in most part I agree with this, up until this point the highlander tournaments have always been a purely casual affair, with matches only being played if each team had sober Pyro and Spy mains, drunk 6v6 enthusiasts willing to play Heavy or Engineer, and enough players who hadn’t already began their journey home after the 6v6 final on the Sunday. With well-known members of the EU highlander scene such as Fenrir, Grenjabob, Hildreth, Kkaltuu, Qnai, Quintosh, Scissors (and even Yak) in attendance at i52, and Rob overseeing things after the highly successful Awesome Cup went down a treat earlier this year, we could be in for quite the nifty wee tournament.

The Prizes

The stakes are high, with some impressive REAL medals and a pizza for the winners. Who will be permitted to consume the culinary treat with a metallic symbol of victory hung sturdily over their well-honed pecs, and who is leaving the server on an empty stomach and must seek out an alternative source of salty nutrition?

Eyes on the prize  - the dream is real!

Eyes on the prize – the dream is real!

The Maps

Group Stage
Round 1: Lakeside / Gullywash
Round 2: Badwater
Round 3: Intermodal / Pro Viaduct


Finals Map Pool
Payload: Badwater and Upward
Control Points: Gullywash, Intermodal, Process
KOTH: Lakeside, Pro Viaduct
Attack/Defence: Gravelpit

The Teams

At the time of writing, signups are still open for the tournament. However, 10 teams have so far put their names down. While rosters have yet to be completed for some of them, I will try my best to cover each of them with the information (AKA speculation) I have:

Team Awesome
Hoping to take the crown and be accused of rigging the tournament is the Team Awesome community’s main highlander team (commonly referred to as Team 1 by insiders).

Also led by Rob, they’ve hired a couple folks from the T-A community which are attending LAN to make up for the absence of several members from their online roster. Borderline Scotsman Xearo will fill in as Demoman for MDNZ, other Scot Fenrir is on Engineer duties, TheFriendlyCow clicking heads for Bonecrusher, Spy LazyLuk filling in the spot for Sneaky and a rotation of Lars, Sweeck and Bolly on the Scout and Pyro classes in the unfortunate absence of alcohol tanker Wasted Prime and i49 skirt flaunter Tanuki. Rob the career heavy will lead Belgian Medic Crazyman into an inevitable 0:20+ K/D and Daniel completes the roster on Soldier.

Predictions: I’m expecting a strong performance particularly on the 5cp and king of the hill maps if Rob is able to keep his flank calm and collected. Other teams are likely to have the upper hand on the Payload maps (both established and mix teams with strong highlander players), but I hope to be proven wrong when the Scots on the roster pick up the slack!

Team Nein!
On paper, German powerhouse Team Nein are the likely favourites to win the cup, having the highest divisional experience out of all the the other established teams entering the tournament. However, some may question this after a 2-map loss to mix team and other cup contenders Gunther & the Gang during the pre-i52 showmatch, despite Team Nein taking the opportunity to attempt some innovative use of the Vaccinator during the game (or they were just having fun, ask leader MARS).

Predictions: I’d be surprised if these guys didn’t make the final, with the only possible obstacle in their way how strong Hildreth’s makeshift team end up becoming. I heard Team Nein plan on smelting down their medals and making a Mercedes out of it to drive them all home.

Team Colonslash
Another TF2 centric and long-standing community, Team Colonslash are entering this cup with a roster unlike their flagship highlander team, TC Crash.

Led by Will , it consists of the i52 TC Community 6v6 team ( Avinil, Fallen, hpqoeu, Spike Himself, TurboTabs, Will) along with 3 mysterious players who have only been referred to as “anyone sitting near us that wants to play”. What this 6+3 team may lack in experience will be compensated with strong DM and 6v6 experience, and they are more than capable of causing a few upsets and catching other teams off-guard, especially on 5cp and king of the hill.

Predictions: Depending on how keen these guys are, you’re either going to have onclassing for the common 6v6 classes or offclassing to have fun. This is something which will be affected by both how late in the afternoon the group stages begin, and how early Team Colonslash members start drinking.

After Dark
DA, Clanda. AD, After Dark.

Led by Wireplay TF2 admin b0nes, After Dark have been around the EU highlander scene for as long as I can remember. After many roster changes and surprising performances throughout several seasons of ETF2L, UGC and Wireplay itself, After Dark will be looking to at least progress through the group stages on this one and possibly eliminate one or several of the favourites to win. Any long-standing highlander team deserves respect in my eyes, but up until now I’ve always felt AD have never fulfilled their true potential. Hopefully we will see this during i52. After Dark’s roster will consist of b0nes, tpm, Bury, Black_Bob, Asso, Maggles!, Wlkr, CeeGee, Blue.Eagle, Sneakeh and “there will be others”.

Predictions: These guys should at least make the playoffs relatively easily, provided they can nail performances on king of the hill and 5cp maps as they did in the pre-i52 showmatch against Team Awesome (totally not pouring whisky into T-A wounds).

Gunther & the Gang
Also known as Scissors’ mix team, Gunther & the Gang will be at the top of many a predictions list.

Retaining their roster from an impressive performance against Team Nein in the showmatch with the exception of unlock and crutch weapon enthusiast Hartz on Soldier, Gunther look set to tra la la over most teams in this cup. Boasting an impressive roster of Uli on Scout, NotHartz/? on Soldier, Scissors on Pyro, Foungi on Demo, JoeNufc on Heavy, bijlol on Engineer, Mr. Palmsky on Medic, Qnai on Sniper and Khazul on Spy, the large quantity of premier division highlander experience should overshadow any downsides to being only a mix team.

Predictions: Final contenders for sure. It may be possible for other teams to take rounds off them in 5cp and king of the hill, but Gravelpit and the payload maps should be fairly comfortable wins.

Timon leads this band of community members into the cup, which consists of players except Timon as he’s AFK tomorrow! (Sorry, I have no other information)

Predictions: This mix team is capable of taking a couple points and potentially causing an upset, but getting through the groups may prove to be a challenge. Make me eat my words!

I Love Beer
Here’s a team I have very little information on, except that their leader James isn’t registered on ETF2L. These guys are likely looking to have fun and don’t appear to have much competitive TF2 experience, so let’s hope they are able to enjoy the cup as close games don’t seem likely.

Predictions: Group stage exit. Unorthodox weapons will make an experience which has potential for entertainment if they can use them effectively.

Also stepping into the arena being led by Dutch Heavy extraordinaire Kkaltuu are some of the guys responsible for keeping TF2Center ticking along, including the infamous Masternoob, Sookie Doin’ Work veteran Foxy_dave and Fair Enough/former Tourettes Chessclub Heavy Marty. After much probing of their leader about the possible roster they will have, he’s just too busy enjoying i52 to be talking to some flakey LAN dodger. It’s either that or he’s being secretive about the roster until it’s time for games. Only time will tell how these lads will fare, but they have a fair bit of highlander experience in the mix which is a big plus.

Predictions: This team definitely some potential to make it out of the groups and are more than likely to take points off a team or two on Gravelpit and Badwater at the very least.

Team Hildreth
Oh Henry

Where to Watch

Luckily for all you flakes and non-attendees, you can watch the action as it unfolds over on BlackoutTV, casted by HeavyIsGPS and Ceejaey, starting from around 1pm CEST onwards!