Week 7.2 vs UR Gaming (16-5)
Highlights: A late played cache match against (at the time) 12-1 UR yielded yet another Pmd highlight reel. In Rd 7, UR Caveman started out with a 3k and his teammates picked up 1 more on an A take, in UR's first real chance of the match. Pmd Jay had other ideas however, and he managed to grab the first T in site to bring the round to a 1 v 1 with bomb planted and one final UR member hiding in site. Jay faked the defuse and walked around the box, catching the T off-guard, landing the shot, and defusing the bomb with time running out.
Lowlight: This was a pretty dominating performance over a good team, and the only real downside was Rd 19, when Pmd decided to straight rush B. One UR player with a famas and some friendly fire later, Pmd bodies piled up at the entrance.
MVP: Periphery just locked down B site, whether it was with the awp, or the m4, he made life miserable for UR every time they tried to take it.
Week 8.1 vs. Ingenuity CS:GO (16-8)
Highlights: KTX had a few clutch rounds of note. In Rd4, despite Ingenuity Dioko getting a 4k, KTX managed to win the 1 v 2 with bomb planted at A and rotating through CT spawn. Gnome missed a wide open shot flanking from mid, dooming a low health Dioko in site and KTX defused before Gnome could reach him. In Rd. 23, KTX was in another tense standoff, this time with Ingenuity Rags. KTX found himself trapped in B site with bomb down outside of doors, and Rags posted up waiting for him. KTX took a deep breath....and charged right out! Rags missed his initial burst, and KTX didn't.
Lowlight: Some funny moments had me laughing in this match, such as Rd. 6, where KTX, trapped on B platform and out of ammo, managed to dodge what must have been 10-15 point blank glock shots by Klutch and applied some pointy steel in return. Then, Tam started out the second half T pistols with a typical Pmd shot, glocking Gnome in the face from spawn to CT mid. I groaned just watching it.
MVP: KTX had 22 frags to lead his team, but his clutch rounds helped keep momentum in Pmd's favor and prevented Ingenuity from making the match any closer.
Week 8.2 vs Frenchies Mute Mumble (16-8)
Highlights: In Rd 6, Periphery decided to flex the fragging muscles by completely shutting down a FMM cat push with three quick AK frags, then found the final T in the back of mid with his P2000.
Lowlight: Sometimes, I have to be watching the right person at the right time for lowlights or I miss them. Sometimes, little things tip me off like someone laughing in game or making a comment. And sometimes? Sometimes teams make it oh-so-easy for me. In Rd3, attempting to retake A after a plant, KTX tried to chuck a grenade onto platform from CT spawn, only he bounced it off the ceiling right back into his face...at the exact moment an FMM nade came crashing down. Seeing the grenade come right back at him followed by him getting blown sky high was priceless, even more so when I realized that not only had the double nade kiled him, but he had taken a fellow teammate with him. Two very nice grenade frags for KTX!
MVP: Periphery had a beast match against FMM, playing A site/long and basically shutting down pushes everywhere.
Analysis: Every since the demise of Noobiez early into the season, Powermode ascended to the top spot with a combination of firepower, great teamwork, and some great preparation week in and week out. I kept waiting for a team to push them to the edge, or for them to stumble, but they never did. In fact, with the exception of a decently close match on train against Mouse4, no one ever really came within true striking distance of them. Sure, people had good ROUNDS against them, sandwiched in between 3-4 all Pmd rounds every time, but no one strung rounds together, and no one played a complete match against them. Aside from DB9K, Powermode was the only team I watched where I never felt as if they were in any danger of losing, or coming close to a loss. Ever. Their late cache match against a one-loss UR gaming was a destruction, with Pmd just shutting UR down on CT side, then steamrolling their way to the few rounds they needed on T side. On Dust2, Powermode's CT side showed some slight cracks in both of their matches. In each match, teams were able to win on Pmd's CT pistol round, and then Pmd lost some gun rounds with some uncharacteristic mistakes and some sloppy holds and retakes. Their players also had a bit of a stubborn streak, like Tam against Ingenuity, who was determined to get an AWP pick from the bottom of cat stairs no matter what, but each time he tried it cost Pmd the round. Both FMM and Ingen won rounds the only way you can against Pmd: Smoking out all rotating angles, massing at a spot, flashing the living crap out of a player, and overwhelming him. And the most important, hitting their first shots. When they did ALL of this, they won rounds...barely, and generally because someone was wisely slow flanking, catching quick footed Pmd members off guard as they hustled to the affected site. But there were other rounds where those rotators, or site holders, or the entry men MISSED their first shots, and then it was game over. Pmd is just too good to give opportunities too, or to get into one on one picking wars. Not only do they win most of those, it's never just one. There's alway one or two more lurking around waiting for the tiniest opening/mistake. Their T side on dust two? 1 lost round of eighteen played. They had the usual great smokes and flashes, and crisp teamwork, and as I watched them I found myself thinking, "Sure, you can overwhelm these guys on CT side, but when they are Ts and have free reign, how the hell do you stop them?" The short answer? You can't. Or at least no one has been able to thus far. They alternated between quick pinches and all out blitzes, and had the first 2 or 3 entries almost every time. To shut down their T side, it's going to take a co-ordinated CT side with some great counterflashing and some amazing shots, because it's a tough task to ask anyone to go up against 2-3 of these guys by themselves. Some may point to their CT side struggles as a weakness, but I tend to think that was more a product of it being Dust2. Everyone knows Dust2 and can play, or pug it, as necessary. Powermode has always been the more prepared team in every map they've played, so that was negated slightly this week. Basically, it's been a lot of fun to watch Pmd this season, and they've consistently crushed all challengers. One player on another top team told me that Powermode was so difficult compared to everyone else not just because of their skill, but because their spontaneity and the random (but always with a purpose) element to their pushes/strats makes them impossible to find a groove against. I think the Open title is theirs to lose.
The DestructionBox 9000
Week 8.1 vs. Ubinited (16-6)
Highlights: In Rd 4, after losing pistol rounds, Yayo got DB9K back on the winning track playing up close to long with an M4. The first three Ubinited members out the door were dropped in short order to put DB9K in the driver seat for the round, which they ultimately won.
Lowlights: The very first round, it was almost as if DB9K read Ubinited's minds, stacking three CTs at long as Ubi sent all five Ts there early. Despite racking up a great deal of damage, DB9K couldn't secure frags, and when Ubi retreated back into the doors and stayed quiet, DB9K second guessed their setup and 2 players left to go B. Ubinited then flooded out doors, overwhelming the one player long and taking A site, ultimately winning pistols. Disappointing considering that DB9K did 50+ damage to each Ubi player to start the round.
MVP: Yayo saw a lot of action at long, and while Ubi gave as good as they got early on, he managed to swing a lot of rounds in DB9K's favor more often than not.
Week 7.2 vs #8 Mayans (16-7)
Highlights: Rd 2: After losing pistols, DB9K played a very smart eco round, drawing Mayans into overextending at both sites, whittling them down one at a time and securing the round.
Rd. 11 - Medic found himself in a 1v1 with Drok, who was at the back of B platform with medic at B doors. With bomb ticking down, medic managed to land the shot on Drok and secure the defuse, ensuring that Mayans did not win another clutch round.
Lowlights: Aside from giving up a number of clutch rounds, one of the funnier moments was Rd8. With Mayans flooding into B site on a quick push, Tman battled the Ts in site from doorway. I suppose he thought Statutory_Ape was watching his back, seeing as he was rotating up from CT spawn to help. I guess Ape missed the Mayan member running around with the glock, but the Mayan didn't miss Tman, running up and basically placing his glock against the back of his skull. A surprised Ape promptly dropped the offending T, but it made me laugh.
MVP: Yayo had two great matches on Dust2, and his efforts at long and assisting at A helped DB9K stem bleeding a number of rounds to Mayans.
Analysis: Ever since week 1, when I watched them blitzkrieg teams on Mirage, I've had a lot of fun watching DB9K use their signature blend of speed and firepower each week. With the one or two exceptions, its basically like watching a ticker when they start CT side. In my head, i am thinking "3...4....5 rounds, Ok yep, their opponent's f***** now." Their T side is beastly, and whereas at the beginning of the season it was simply speed and ferocity, over the past few weeks, they've tempered that speed with patience, which is a really, really bad sign for everyone. They CAN blitz their way to victory, but now I see them working setups, probing weak spots, and performing splits and co-ordinated takes that harness their speed WITH great smokes and flashes, and it's near unstoppable. Match in and match out, these guys turned in a clinic on how to storm a site, and it never really seemed to matter what their opponents tried in terms of stacking, unless DB9K managed to screw up something or someone on the opponents made some ridiculous shots, DB9K steamrolled opponents. In fact, of 16 matches, only twice did DB9K lose more rounds on T side than they won, once on train, and most recently against Grundle, in a match where they were apparently up 15-6 or 7 before letting Grundle back in late. In both cases, they also shut down CT side, and that's what makes DB9K just so hard to beat. On Dust 2 their CT was a little shaky, and as I watched I think I pinpointed why, and the answer surprised me. Against Mayans and Ubinited, DB9K played two veteran, prepared teams that work well together and tend to isolate particular spots. DB9K uncharacteristically let their T side personas creep into their normally tight CT side play. They got caught leaving players exposed at times, or getting a bit aggressive on their initial peeks, and those teams made them pay for it. When they started playing passively at mid and catwalk, funneling the Ts there (or being able to stack elsewhere if needed) and supporting each other, taking sites from them became extremely, extremely difficult. Each one of their players can take 2-3 opponents with them on any given round, but what makes them even more difficult is they are all very smart players to boot. They play good angles, they have well timed counter flashes and smokes, they have a great sense of when to peek, and, most importantly, they support each other. So many teams get caught chasing down a DB9K member only to get fragged by the second player setup to catch them doing exactly that, covering the first and basically presenting opponents with a no win scenario. On T side, they had a devastating A split that must have felt like getting carpet bombed for CTs on catwalk, and, while I advocate their new-found patience to a degree, it made me smile to see them just steamroll B whenever they pretty much felt like it. DB9K is chock full of talent, a great team that I've really enjoyed watching all season long. They come in as a slight second to Powermode only because, if put to the test, I think Pmd can squeak out 1 or 2 more rounds against DB9K's CT side, and shut down DB9K on one or two needed rounds on their T side. DB9K is also more clinical (and perhaps therefore more predictable) than Pmd, but even if you KNOW whats coming, no one has been able to stop it. I fully expect to see DB9K in the finals against Pmd, and they've got the talent and teamwork to do it, and to pull off the (minor) upset.
Week 8.1 vs. #8 Mayans (16-8)
Highlights: Raven spent the match trying to make amends for the round discussed in the lowlights below. In Rd9 he made good progress, mowing down Mayans as they flooded out long doors on an eco push, using the AK spray to its fullest at the close range.
Lowlights: Aside from listening to Fish moan about how bad he was playing up to that point (to be fair, he WAS playing....not so well), Grundle had a couple of eye-rolling moments. The biggest was in Rd. 5, with Fish playing in pit and Raven up close to doors against the wall, to catch the Ts in a crossfire. Mayans flashed over long, and 2 players pushed out, Spaayder running right past a blind Raven to get behind box, and Fish and Raven killing the second T through the doors. Spayder didn't realize that Raven was right next to him, and Raven didn't realize spayder was right behind. Poor Fish gets killed by Spayderrr and must have made a surprised (rightly so!) call in mumble like "OMFG HES RIGHT BEHIND YOUDFKJDWJNRF!!!" because Raven did a spinning 360 AK spray that connected with nothing, finally spotting a still clueless Spayder who had no idea where Raven was, and killed him.
MVP: Despite letting his teammate die from a heart attack (and an AK burst), Raven was a beast the rest of the match, dropping 27 frags on a good Mayans team and helping lock down long a bunch of rounds.
Week 8.2 versus Ubinited (16-5)
Highlight In Rd2, after winning pistols, Ubinited decided to rush long quickly and hopefully catch Grundle off guard. They caught something, but unfortunately, it was Fish's grenade, which blew two of the Ts sky high, and he cleaned up two more with his famas before the final Ubi member spoiled his ace with a glock to the face.
Lowlight : You know what made me laugh? After the lowlight from the first match, on the very first round, Raven and Fish are back at long, only this time it's FISH against the long wall with Raven playing the pit area. And, of course, Fish was just too slow to stop those Ts from shooting Raven in the face before killing two of them. I'm sure he was very, very sorry about that too.
Rd19 - With game point, Grundle got a bit TOO cocky in their ability to take sites, opting to split B without bothering to check spots or run their normal strats. They DID get the three opening picks, but then Ali and Missharvey decided they'd spotted Grundle enough frags, yanking the rug out from under them with 5 quick frags between the two.
MVP: Fish and Raven were a dynamic duo at long, but Fish especially had a great match, probably to remind me that, yes, there were TWO people at long in the first match.
Analysis: Grundle is a team that I watched climb through the ranks each week in the early part of the season, but waited until about Week 4 before I really analyzing them as a potential contender. I'll be the first to admit, four weeks in, I thought they were a solid team prone to mistakes but good nonetheless. I never thought that they'd occupy my top 3 by the end of the season. They've been a team that's really evolved and, while they still look incredibly shaky at times, they've gutted out wins against one quality team after another, and they refuse to lose. Grundle loves playing with fire, almost every week I watched them they started slow and got themselves in a hole in the first half. And then, they'd start chipping away. They usually ended the first half with some good plays, and then they'd carry the momentum right on to the second half and before you know it, they've won the match. The only team that they couldn't manage the feat against was the team above them on this list: DB9K, and from what I've heard from various people, one or two break on that final round and Grundle may be talking about an OT thriller or a OT win. Other teams came close, they came oh so very close, and you could argue that maybe if there hadn't been a lagout Mobility might have won that cache match. But they didn't, despite having numerous chances to close Grundle out. And interestingly enough, I thought it would be on Dust2 where Grundle would stumble, against two teams that play great as a unit and punish mistakes. I thought that Grundle could beat them both, but if they found themselves in a hole this time, these teams weren't going to let them come back. Fair enough, Grundle just blew them out instead. Their T side was well executed, and they took a page out of DB9K's books, turning on the jets in both of their matches in fast B takes and quick A splits, with the occasional slower picking strat. And their CT side was extremely efficient and focused on stacking long and B, funneling Ts up cat by leaving it open a number of rounds and playing the retake. And that passive setup was extremely effective, even more so because they have such great shots. They manhandled two top teams with relative ease, and they had a dash of Powermode on their retakes and rotates, swarming quickly to overwhelm Ts from all angles. Grundle had one last chance to show me how they could play, and they capped off the season in style and head into playoffs with a lot of confidence and momentum. They get the nod over PoV due to their tougher final week, and BECAUSE, not despite of their near misses during the season. That's what I love about these guys. It can be ugly at times, but they find a way to win and make the big plays when they need to be made. Grundle has been in tight, contested matches all season long, and is used to playing from behind. While that could be their downfall if they run into someone who just shuts them down in the second half, it also means that they won't be flustered if it happens to them in playoffs against a good team. I think, the way Grundle is playing right now, the semi-finals is achievable, and they have a high upside. I also think, of my top 4, they have the biggest chance of being upset....
Point of View
|4.|| Week 8.1 vs. Frenchies Mute Mumble (16-8) |
Highlights: In Rd 20, with a chance to pull the score to 9-11, Frenchies Mute Mumble had the advantage with four men up and bomb down in CT mid, with the final two PoV players trapped in B site. Lilman and Rooroo weren't fazed in the slightest, dropping all 4 members on the CT team as they inexplicably tried to push them in site. Lilman racked up four quick AK kills that round, shutting down the CTs and pushing PoV's lead. They never looked back.
Lowlights: Rooroo with pistols. Or perhaps with a P250. In Rd16, during T pistols, Rooroo managed to trade a CT on cat after he dropped Lilman, then emptied his clip at a CT rotating from spawn. Despite the CT not looking at him and at fairly close range, he proved to be a bullet sponge, turning around and dropping a less than amused Rooroo to complete the humiliation. The very next round, he whiffed yet another P250 clip on catwalk again. It just wasn't his night with the P250.
MVP: In a fairly balanced match, Lilman had some big rounds at key moments to help lead his team to a final victory.
Week 8.2 vs. UR Gaming (16-0 FFW)
Analysis First off, I'm not sure what happened with the match against UR, whether PoV forced the FF or whether UR couldn't field 5 at the last minute and decided they just didn't care enough to reschedule. If PoV was willing to reschedule or worked with UR and it just didn't happen, good for them. If not, well.... PoV rose up the ranks fairly quickly in the last few weeks of the power rankings. Despite some good early wins against Perfectionvore and Mutants, they were sprinkled in with some forfeits and a close match against Energized. And then Nuke rolled around and PoV simply found another level from what I had seen previously. They crushed PR member CyberRev 16-2, destroyed former PR member Singes 16-1 and held off fellow top10 power Her Majestys Five, and dispatched two playoff bound teams in ZSM and Frenchies Mute Mumble with ease. In fact, their only stumbling block all season was a drubbing at the hands of #1 Powermode, but they had chances in that match that they failed to capitalize on. A combination of teamwork and firepower elevated this team to a top spot and has me thinking Semi-Finals the way they are playing right now. On Dust2, they played a pretty standard 1-1-3 setup on CT side, with the third A player floating as necessary and stacking a spot at random depending on the call that particular round. PoV looked good on CT side, and getting into a picking war was a mistake on FMM's part, as PoV's talented players shut that down rather quickly. If anything, PoV showed some cracks that also appeared in their sole loss to Powermode, namely that they can get overwhelmed by a concerted T attack. The difference between them and a Powermode on CT side is the number of chances they give you and second opportunities. They certainly capitalize on mistakes well enough, and when FMM tried quick rushes without much smoke/flash cover, it was a massacre. Their T side was patient, working picks and probing spots for weaknesses in FMM's armor. I almost felt at times that smokes and flashes were almost an afterthought for PoV. They'd be moving into a spot, and then belatedly toss a smoke for cover. For example, a couple of times they were about to cross long and didn't even bother to wait for smoke to bloom, just piling ahead after tossing the smoke. And with their fragging power, they had some nasty entries. FMM actually had some decent CT rounds, and if their initial pushes were contained PoV struggled a bit, but a lot of rounds they got some great entry picks that FMM really could do nothing about. PoV is a team that's riding a lot of momentum into playoffs, finishing the season with four straight wins over some tough, tough competition. As with Grundle, I've enjoyed watching this team progress over the season, and they've certainly proven that it's going to take a very good team to beat them (given that they blasted every team except HM5 and Powermode). They were at least competitive against Pmd, and their convincing wins over 5 playoff teams leads me to believe these guys are going to do very well in the postseason. It will be a huge upset in my book if they lose in the first round or two, but against a high octane team like BOT or perhaps a disciplined squad that moves in unison liked Torqued in later rounds, it could be very interesting. And that's the thing, aside from HM5, I haven't seen this team tested. Powermode, despite them competing, basically blew them out, and everyone else they've jumped on quickly. If they get pushed back, how will they respond. My guess is: really, really well.
almost extreme na
|5.|| Week 8.1 vs. Illicit Gaming (16-9) |
Highlight It won't show up as impressive rounds for either player from a stastistic perspective, but watching the demo revealed two key rounds for BOT in their victory against Illicit.
Rd. 11: Illicit was on a roll at this point, up 7-3. On the eco, BOT took a chance and stacked Long and B site, and illicit obliged by spreading out and working those spots. Roca picked up three frags that round, two with the pistol, and caught sleek by surprise in the 1v1, hiding behind the boxes in A site and catching sleek unprepared planting.
Rd 13: After promptly losing round 12, BOT found themselves on another eco round, and yet again, they prevailed, this time due to Rekaholic grabbing 3 P2000 kills from site boxes as Illicit pushed up from cat one by one. Roca cleaned up the other two players for the win. With Illicit rolling through T side at this point, these rounds were crucial wins for BOT.
Lowlights: This just had me laughing on the floor after I figured out what happened. Loldefuse was boosted on Cat box looking down at lower B with his awp. In smoking off mid, Illicit also smoked his view out, and they began to rain flashes over in preparation for their take. Half blind, Loldefuse drilled the first Illicit player that came around the corner....and a second frag popped up on the screen. Because of his downward angle, the shot had not only killed the cat player, but gone through the wall and headshotted Illicit Daps in lower B. I was crying with laughter.
Also, I can't help but mention the stupidity that was the 150 comment battle in Matchcom resulting from the rescheduling of the match due to lag. Neither team looked good in this exchange, and while it ultimately worked out in the end, lets avoid this in the future ok?
MVP: Roca struggled early holding B site, and while part of it was due to Illicit landing some great opening entries, he just was off his game. Then, he flipped a switch about 10 rounds in, and turned into BOT's weapon, turning in 39 frags and some big rounds.
Week 8.2 vs. Play4Fun (16-13)
Highlight Two highlight rounds right off the bat. Loldefuse stacked with a fellow BOT player next to mid doors in order to see cat during pistols, and P4F decided to split B, sending 3 people out mid doors. Despite his teammate getting fragged and Ts in his face, Defuse managed to get all 3 to shut down the mid portion of the split. The very next round P4F rushed Long, where Takibo sat with his Bizon. 64 bullets of fury resulted in the quick ace.
Lowlights: A lot of struggles on T side due to some really sloppy play on BOT's part, and it all started with the T pistol round in Rd. 16. In a 4 v 3, BOT decided that the best manner to cross from long to platform was one at a time. This set up a turkey shoot for the P4F players at CT spawn and cat, and granted they did hit some impressive P2000 shots from distance, but BOT made their life a LOT easier, and a lot of their gun rounds went the same way early on.
MVP: Loldefuse came up with some big frags this match, and when he is playing well BOT is tough to beat given their talent.
Analysis: Best Open Team is a lineup that really didn't come together until the second half of the season, after some early initial struggles. Picking up some key additions throughout the season, their only stumblings have been a 4v5 loss to perennial PR member L2P, and a forced ff loss to In Sequence. Other than that, this team has done nothing but win, and while it's been shaky and not the prettiest or crispest at times, they've managed to get the job done. They are a fragging team with some "strategy" window dressing. Don't get me wrong, they know the smokes and flashes for a map, and they run strats just fine, as well as play crisp CT setups most rounds. But this team's strength is their firepower, and they know it. As I've watched them evolve over the season and face stiffer and stiffer competition, I saw them start to utilize the weapons they have to the fullest, playing to their member's strengths and doing a pretty good job of covering the weaknesses. And those weaknesses were on full display on Dust2, with Illicit working them during the CT half, and Play4Fun finding all of the flaws on their T setups. BOT's aggressiveness on CT side cost them a lot of rounds early to Illicit, especially given that their normal shot makers were struggling to land anything. They left their players exposed because they relied on them to outshoot the other team, and when it didn't work, it was ugly. But, credit BOT for adjusting mid-match, playing passively until they got into a flow, and their second match against P4F was light years better on CT side. Their T side in both matches was suspect in terms of execution and some of their decision making, but it was P4F who really put them to the test, capitalizing on mistakes and really shutting down BOT's initial pushes. Again, BOT managed to frag their way to the four rounds needed, but it was a lot closer than it needed to be, because all BOT seemed to have in the bag was a quick site split or a mass rush B. Granted, when they got entries, it was pretty much game over (they didn't give up much against retakes) but it was getting those entries that proved to be a problem. BUT, they won. They gutted it out and won the rounds they needed, and no one has beat this lineup yet, despite them playing playoff team after playoff team. And never underestimate this team in any round, or their ability to get hot at a given moment. I've said it ever since I started including them in the predictions, this team can change rounds in a heartbeat. All of their players are fraggers, and if they are confident and landing shots, it's very possible this team could ride them to a championship. But, I just don't think they can consistently do it against the top teams on this list. I think BOT is top8, and if they get the right matchup, maybe semis, but it would take a great effort from all 5 members for them to overcome the teams ahead of them on this list. BOT can be streaky, and they've managed to outshoot everyone they've played when push came to shove and they needed big rounds. There are teams out there that can match them in that regard, and that capitalize on the mistakes that BOT makes, and ultimately what may doom this team are those little mistakes and streaky nature. That being said, they have a punchers chance no matter who they play.
Slow Motion GO
|6.|| Week 8.1 vs. #17 The Good Guys (16-9) |
Highlight Despite this match starting at 10-0 T side for FT (due to a reschedule on update day), there were some great rounds on both sides. Ironically, the best one that came to mind as I reviewed the notes was the very first gun round Torqued executed that I was able to watch in Rd.11. They calmly worked themselves up to mid and cat, executed smokes and flashes and timed their take perfectly, storming into A site, clearing it, planting, and then cleaning up rotators. All without losing a man and no heroic plays, just great teamwork and execution. This round was Torqued in a nutshell, was great to see.
Lowlights: Torqued lost some clutch rounds they probably should have had, but then again Good Guys made some great plays. Probably the lowlight was the bickering back and forth in pre-game because I guess no one from FT had ever used match doctor before? It sounded as if they were accusing GG of trying to start the match without the 10-0 agreed score or money, not realizing the match had to go live for match doctor to work. I haven't seen Torqued get that worked up all season, and was a bit out of character and disappointing.
MVP: Dumore has been playing extremely well ever since his pickup after Train. He was on point this match, with 29 total frags and some well played rounds.
Week 8.2 vs. Learn2Play (16-13)
Highlight: In a round that may have saved the match, Situazn and Devo found themselves in a 2v4 with A site lost. Either someone heard L2P taking the bomb B or they made an educated guess when they didn't hear the plant, but they quietly rotated back into site and caught the L2P members completely by surprise as they came in through tunnels. Instead of an 8-13 deficit and a save, it was 9-12 with the ability to buy. And the very next round, with long down after two opening picks by L2P, vanacker came up huge with 3 frags to shut down L2P's long push (despite being completely exposed in the middle of long). Those two rounds were the key to FT's win.
Lowlight: Round 5 was just too funny. Situazn found himself in a 2 v 4, and despite L2P being set up to watch site, he ran from long to ramp and as he was doing so managed three amazing AK shots to suddenly turn the round around and ultimately got bomb down and found himself in a 1 v 1 versus Chubby. He heard chubby coming up from spawn, knew where he was, and in the middle of the firefight.....lagged out. Aaaaargh!
MVP: Dumore again, who has been stepping up big lately in matches, and has provided Torqued
Analysis: People questioned me all season long if I was over-rating Fully Torqued. Each week, I felt that, despite me moving them up week after week, a spot here, a spot there, that I wasn't giving them the respect they deserved. Time and time again, they found ways to beat opponents that on paper looked as if they should have lost to by a wide margin. Early into the season, I stopped waiting for them to lose, and started wondering just who was going to beat them. As I watched them dismantle one team after the next, each time relying on great teamwork and hard work over star power and raw fragging, I became a FT believer. Basically, FT has defined the word "solid" for me as a benchmark for all other teams. When I've watched them, they have great players, and yes, on a given round they are capable of making some stellar plays and putting up a highlight reel frag clip. But that's not their game, and to their credit, they seem to know it. They have some great strats, and all of their players are individually talented to hold their spots and smart enough to win the important clutch rounds when called upon to do so. But most importantly? They make you beat them. Every. Single. Round. Rarely, very very, rarely does FT make egregious mistakes, and they force other teams to step up to the plate and hit home runs for 16 rounds. Only two teams, Grundle and Pmd, have managed to do that. Which was why Dust2 was so surprising to watch. FT's T side was solid in the L2P match, but phenomenal in the Good Guys match. I watched only 5 rounds, but I essentially got a snapshot of how well co-ordinated their A takes were, and especially against L2P they showed some speed that I hadn't seen before. Their CT side, most notably with L2P and to a lesser extent against Good Guys, was a struggle, and that's what the biggest shocker this week was when I watched their matches. They played a very sloppy CT side in both matches, peeking and re-peeking pretty common spots, getting caught out of position on rotates, and too often getting killed trying to peek a spot that had fallen against numbers and exposed themselves. Torqued had a lot better success when they used their heads and their teammates to the fullest, and those rounds where they avoided the early man down and covered each other with some passive play, it was much harder for their opponents to take either site. Granted, that passive play was a double edged sword, because losing a spot meant you lost more than one person, but on the whole it worked far better than FT's picking wars went. But again, FT did what they did all season. L2P was up and looked to be in control, in the same position Illicit found themselves on Nuke, and just like the Illicit match, FT won a close round....and then another.....and another.....then shut down an eco....then a gun round and another and another and before you know it, they are ready to close out the match. Both Good Guys and L2P had the opportunities and couldn't outplay FT when it mattered, or couldn't close out. Torqued is going to be a really tough match for whomever they play, and I'm looking for them to go deep into playoffs.
Week 8.1 vs. Bloodline (16-0 FFW)
Week 8.2 vs. High Velocity(16-2)
Highlight: In a fairly one sided affair, Wabbitorious added some flair to SMG rounds in Rd. 17, as he went charging into lower B tunnels with his (i think) MP7 just as the Ts were flooding into lower B themselves. I don't think he even slowed, mowing down 5 Ts for the ace.
Lowlight: Remember how I was saying earlier that sometimes teams make it really easy for me from a lowlight standpoint? That would be Rd. 4, when Valens decided to be a smart player and molly window during a B take, to prevent any CT from venturing in for a period of time. Too bad for Hades that Valens apparently FAILED his physics classes, because instead of mollying just outside of window, the molly bounced and exploded on the top of boxes and the immediate planting area....which is where hades was sitting in the middle of planting. Because he had low health and was already mid-plant, Hades took one for the team, finishing the plant right before expiring.
MVP: Yes yes, he had the ace. But Wabbit also had a really nice match overall and helped Savage cruise fairly comfortably in their last match of the season.
Analysis: The West, for being so small as a conference, has had some great teams rise up over the weeks and each one of them is going to be a force come playoff time. But, with the season ending, if I had to pick just one to put my money on to reach the quarterfinals, I kept coming back to Savage. Much like Fully Torqued, this team has just been so consistent week in and week out every match, playing a brutal schedule early on, gaining momentum as the season progressed and they had more and more time to play and build chemistry. This team practices almost as much as any 2 teams combined, and they are always prepared for any given map and it shows. They have great shots and some really great teamwork, and you can tell this group works well as a unit. If you look at their three losses, they were early to playoff teams and top contenders like Statsme (14-16), SK (17-19), and Scrape Squad (14-16) and each match they had their opportunities to win. As the season wore on, they beat other playoff teams like Table Shakers, NSX, and Spacemen convincingly and they've just seemed to get better and better with each week. They had somewhat of a softer schedule to close out the season on Dust2, with a FFW over bloodline and a fairly easy win over High Velocity, although that's potentially ANOTHER playoff team that Savage made look ordinary. Dust2 was pretty much vintage Savage: Obvious preparation and teamwork on T side, with a nice mix of speedy takes and working splits/picks, and they won the even strength encounters, locked down the man-up rounds, and consistently brought back the man-down rounds effectively. They were just better than High Velocity in almost every aspect in this particular match, and one of the things I was really struck by was how fluid they were mid-round. They'd work picks on Cat and/or Long, and then cycle back to B once they drew rotators or felt they wouldn't be able to take the spot, and they did the same at B site before working back to A. When I watch Savage play, I basically nicknamed them Fully Torqued-West at various points because their playstyles are so similar. I think FT is a BIT slower and more controlled, whereas Savage has a BIT more firepower and speed from top to bottom, but basically, they feel like almost carbon copies of each other. Also to consider: Their close losses came in the first half of the season, and they've had over a month of practicing and match experience to get even better for playoffs, and they beat a reloaded NSX team in their final true test before playoffs. I really like the way this team is playing with playoffs coming up, and I know that of the flaws they do have, preparation will not be one of them. Just like FT, this team could potentially just get outshot or steamrolled by a true powerhouse like Pmd or DB9K, but it's going to take a team like that or a team clicking on all cylinders to beat these guys because they play consistently good almost every round. They've give you chances, and they'll make the occasional mistake, but their combination of tenacity, smarts, and consistency has me thinking quarterfinals at the very least. If you haven't been following them this season, don't overlook them in the playoffs.
|8.|| Week 8.1 vs. #3 Grundle (8-16) |
Highlight Mayans had some really good rounds, and the match was actually fairly close with a lot of contested rounds that Grundle pulled out. One of the highlights was Rd 20, where Drok found himself in a 1 v 2 with bomb planted at A. Drok managed to kill the first T as he peeked from CT spawn to ramp, then worked back to cat and battled the second T in site, managing to get the frag despite having low health and securing the defuse.
Lowlights: Go see the lowlight I discussed in the Grundle portion. Mayans just seemed to have mental lapses like that the entire week, in both matches. They either didn't make or didn't hear calls, they failed to check and clear spots, and generally just made a number of mental mistakes that you don't see them prone to making.
MVP: Kinky was doing work this match, piling up frags and trying to keep his team within striking distance.
Week 8.2 vs. #2 DB9K (7-16)
Highlight Mayans had a number of chances that they converted on (and a number they didn't). In the first gun round, they had an extremely well executed B split that pinched DB9K and saw the site taken with some good rifle work. Viko found himself in a 1 v 1 with Statutory as he sat in tunnels with the AWP and time ticked away. Peeking out, he saw the CT just inside doors, flicking and landing the shot to win the round. Viko had a bunch of clutch frags, but this one got Mayans back into the game after giving up an second round eco.
Lowlights: Did I mention they gave up a second round eco? Yea. This round, and so many like it, never should have happened. Mayans got an early pick, and overextended themselves without working as a group, and as such DB9K picked them off one by one and took the momentum right back for the next two rounds. Mayans blew some golden opportunities and early picks by getting ahead of themselves.
MVP: As I mentioned above, Viko had some really nice clutches and his awp helped Mayans hang around and be competitive for a good portion of the first half.
Analysis: People are going to look at this with a raised eyebrow and say: Mayans? 12-4? Really at #8? As I looked through the list of teams and sat back to ponder who was deserving of this spot, I kept coming back to this talented bunch of spanish speaking GO players, and their unique mixture of aggressiveness and teamwork, sick rifle work, and talent. Lets review those 4 losses shall we? One was early against a Good Guys team that had a different lineup and was playing exceptionally at the time (and the match was closer than the 16-11 shows), a 20-22 double OT loss to #6 FT, and losses to #3 Grundle and #2 DB9K in matches that were well played, but look one sided because little mistakes cost Mayans a lot of rounds they had chances in. Mayans is just good, and their players have some of the most consistent rifles I've seen, and Viko is, in my opinion, an under-rated lead awper in the open scene. But even more so, they have an odd style that mixes a lot of aggressiveness with some super passive play that has teams looking over their shoulder constantly to make sure a Mayan's player isn't lurking in the shadows or breathing down their neck. Their great teamwork, co-ordination, and preparation allows them to use this style effectively, and in the cases where it lands them into trouble, they can often dig themselves out because of the talent/gamesmarts combo. And it's worked all season...right up until Dust2 when they played two of the top 3 teams to close the season out. In both matches, it wasn't like Mayans were crushed, a lot of rounds they got opening picks, or took sites with minimal losses. But all to often, they squandered those advantages by mis-timing pushes ever so slightly, or getting a bit too eager and one person would outdistance his teammates ever so slightly on T side, and BAM! Against well oiled machines like Grundle and DB9K, those mistakes cost you, and they don't give second chances like many of the other teams Mayans played. And while they very smartly left slow flankers in place for their takes to catch rotators, Mayans just couldn't hit shots this week on Dust2, blowing wide open opportunities and losing men and rounds as a result. Had Mayans been hitting their shots? A lot more rounds (maybe even a match) would have been in their favor because, as I said, their T side strats were well done and they HAD sites taken and people set up. Their CT side was a bit of an aberration I believe. Normally so strong, this group just couldn't land their shots on the initial holds, to the point where I wondered if they were having lag problems, because it was just uncharacteristic of them, and they held relatively well in terms of counterflashing and playing smart, they just couldn't land the shot. Basically, I think they had a bad week on D2 against two teams you can't have bad weeks against. But, Mayans has been great all season long, they were competitive in all their losses (and almost won against FT without two starters), and they've beaten every other team put in their path in a fairly convincing manner. Also telling: I've been getting a number of questionairres back from teams, and one of the questions is a team you'd rather not see in your draw. You know the team I've been seeing the most? Not DB9K, not PMD, Grundle or PoV. Mayans. One playoff player said for his team that the team they'd rather not play "would 100% be the Mayans, because they are so different and random with their play style." And he's not alone. Mayans may not have enough to beat the top teams, but they are going to be a handful for everyone else.
Week 8.1 vs. UR Gaming (16-7)
Highlight: This was a match that restored a lot of my early confidence in HM5, not because they had been doing horribly in the past weeks, but because they finally showed some life on T side, while keeping up their trademark stinginess on CT side. One great round was actually the last one, Rd 23, where HM5 found themselves in a 2 v 4 with bomb planted A. After downing two members but losing one of their own, Sype found himself a 1 v 2 as he attempted to retake site from cat. Some great rifle work and not-so-smart UR peeks later, Sype secured the defuse, the clutch, and the match.
Lowlight: You know, I was all excited about the new look HM5 on the very first round! They looked like they had a plan, and they began to execute a delayed B split 2 members pushing out mid. However, a enterprising CT was sitting right behind double doors waiting for them. Whatever, easy trade right? Despite both guys emptying their pistols....nothing. Thankfully, their teammates managed to make up for their pistol woes by bringing back the round for HM5. I like watching Del. He's Mr. Consistent for providing me with at least one nutso round, and one complete whiff fest per match. It's guaranteed!
MVP: Besides Del though, chances are good if Dragon's got an awp in his hands, I'm in for a show, and like many previous matches, he didn't disappoint in this one, with 27 frags and some really nice 3k rounds. And man, he was so consistent at hitting the mid crosser...
Week 8.2 vs. Monkey Express (16-11)
Highlight: On an eco, Monkey Express basically threw all their chips into stacking B site with everyone they had. And it looked like it was going to pay off as they managed to drop HM5 members who got a little too brave early on. It was probably called in mumble that "They have a million men in B", or at least that's what I would have said. Dragon doesn't much care for odds, he's too boss for something like that, especially when he's got a glock. Charging into site by himself he racked up 3 quick glock frags before MX could put an end to him. The sheer brazenness of the move was fun to watch. "He's not really going...what a dumb moOMG!" Pretty much sums up my thoughts at the time.
Lowlight: I'm not sure what Sype and Del were thinking at the time in Rd6. Maybe they were super blind. Maybe they thought they had an immunity to fire. Maybe they didn't realize what the smoke and decreasing health bars meant. Or maybe they just stood in a molly in B tunnels until Sype was burned to a crisp and and del was 90% toasted. Whatever it was, it cost HM5 their round of the match.
MVP: You know, he had the least number of frags by far for his team, but down 7-8 at the start of the second half, Del's really well played CT pistol round, where he picked of Ts at A site from double stack, was huge and those pistol and SMG rounds proved to be crucial.
Analysis: Her Majestys Five has provided me with almost as many headaches as Cyber Revolution has over the season. Not because they yell or complain or threaten me with an untimely demise, but because I sit there and watch them play so well against good teams, then they toss in a completely head-scratching performances against top level competitions where they don't even look like they are playing the same game. This team is loaded with talented players, all of whom are experienced, and when you watch them play, more so than any team I watch, you see that experience manifested in how methodically they play situations, especially in the clutch. They've beaten a number of playoff bound teams simply by outsmarting them when it mattered, and winning the key rounds. Their CT side has been rock solid all season long, with some of the more passive setups I've watched on every map, utilizing their gamesense and teamwork strengths to their fullest. Their biggest letdowns have always come on the other half, because while this team is competent and talented, they haven't been able to put the time in that other teams have, and it shows up in the big matches. They lost against Pmd in a complete shellacking on Nuke, mostly resulting from an abysmal CT side, and while they actually played great matches against #4 PoV on Cache and PR member CyberRev, they gave themselves almost no cushion with their T sides. They just looked tentative and uncertain about what they wanted to do and where to go if things weren't working, and that left them with little margin for error on their CT side. If they struggled on CT (which they did) it was game over. In last week's PRs, I commented that sometimes I think this team needs to just believe in their fragging power a bit more and let themselves rock and roll at times. And I don't know if they listened to me, or came to that realization themselves, but their T work on Dust2 was refreshing to say the least. They still had rounds that were essentially just working picks, but even then, I could tell that they had a mindset of where they ultimately wanted to end up, and they mixed in some fast splits and B takes that provided some much needed contrast to their normally slower takes. They still tend to be a bit slow committing and rely heavily on individual picks, and their flashes/smokes sometimes miss the mark or they mis-time their pushes, but in both matches they gave themselves breathing room to work on CT side. Because of that, while they did get sloppy at times on CT with some over-aggressive peeks or getting caught out of position on the rotates, they could AFFORD those mistakes and still have opportunities to make up ground or not have their backs against the wall immediately. Perhaps it was BECAUSE of that breathing room that they played a bit more loosely than normal, perhaps it was the map. Either way, despite their losses late to PoV and Crev, I would stack this team up against most of the playoff teams and give them higher than 50-50 odds. It looks like they're practicing a bit more consistently now too, and with their experience and talent, and the ability of Dragon to shut down portions of the map with his awp, I like this group's chances to do damage far into the post-season.
Week 8.1 vs. Landeskog (16-11)
Highlight: I SHOULD include Rd 10 as a lowlight, seeing as Table Shakers blew an anti-eco round to Landeskog and Masta found himself in a 1v2 (despite getting two frags earlier in the round). Somehow though, he managed to sneak the bomb to A, plant, and then patiently waited on ramp without peeking once, forcing both remaining CTs to make the first move. He managed to frag the first, and then wisely forced the second to waste too much time chasing him, and unable to secure the defuse. Well played round by Masta to prevent TS from blowing a round.
Lowlight: Sometimes the example you set can have unintended, and dangerous, side effects. For example: In round 6, Faust found himself trapped in A site in a 1v4 and CTs everywhere, and one of them decided to be a dick and toss a molly, coating faust in fire. Instead of giving the CTs a free shot, he decided to man up and burn. Apparently his teammates are big into solidarity, because on the very next round, his team eco rushed B, and the site of a blazing molly did nothing to deter them. The 250+ combined damage it caused probably did that. As I said, some examples are best not followed....
MVP: Kylski had some great rounds, not only leading his team in frags with 27 but with some great clutches to boot.
Week 8.2 vs. Crux (16-12)
Highlight: In Rd.12, Masta hitched up his clutched pants yet again, doing to work in a 1v2 with bomb planted B. Pushing into the site, he managed to frag the first T and was fairly certain that the second T was right outside the site by doors. With time running down, it looked as if he'd have to expose himself to make a play, but for some reason the T obliged him by peeking first, allowing Masta to land a nice HS and secure the defuse with time running down. With CT rounds hard to come by at this point, it was a big pickup.
Lowlight: I tell you what, this Crux team was super dangerous on Dust2, as both TS and SK learned this week. And they were absolutely steamrolling TS on their T side until Lopez, who was having a great game, lagged out. Table Shakers capitalized, winning four of their six rounds to close out the half with some much needed breathing room. I would have been interested to see how this would have turned out otherwise. Granted, their T side was dominant, but still...
MVP: Most of Gerald's 23 frags were in key situations, and while BRL also had a great match, I think Gerald's contributions were a bit more timely.
Analysis: Table Shakers was a team I had watched early in the season and dismissed as a good, but not yet ready team with an early first week lost to FingerBlasters in ugly fashion, and then two straight nuke losses to NSX and Savage. Granted, both of those Nuke losses came during the reign of the now infamous insta-kill deagle, and it may have been just a lack of practice on Nuke or even that Nuke was just not Table Shaker's best map. And to be fair, they played two top teams in NSX and Savage, and both matches were not one sided affairs by any stretch of the imagination. But it was on inferno, and the last half of the season, where Table Shakers found another gear and really started to impress me with their play, turning themselves into a top contender out of the west conference. With beatdowns over west powers Statsme and SK on Inferno, they proved they belong among the big boys, and based on the way the West looks right now, I think they have a slight edge over NSX's still fluctuating roster, especially given that Table Shakers has been practicing and NSX looks to be a bit in stasis until Illusion gets back. It was really close between the two, and given the way NSX looked against Savage on Cache, heading into this week, TS needed to show me they deserved to be in consideration. They beat a very good, very under-rated Landeskog team in a closely contested first match on D2, and then had a great comeback against Crux (despite being assisted by a timely lagout for a few rounds). First off, let me say, Crux's record may not be the best at 9-7, but the team I watched play TS and SK, their Dust2 play could have matched up against almost any team I watched this week. They looked amazing and unbeatable at times. And Table Shakers didn't help themselves in either matches, making some really silly mistakes that cost them winnable rounds. I really liked their variety on T side, and they were near-unstoppable upon getting the first pick, which gave them a lot of mobility to work. And one of their best moves was consistently leaving people on takes to deal with rotators. Every time I watched a take or a split, someone was peeling off to sit and catch rotators unawares. Sometimes this hurt them because they ended up failing on the actual take because they had too few team members/couldn't get the pick, but more often than not they swung rounds heavily in their favor by catching early rotates with their pants down. But they did having some timing issues, especially against Ecos, where their initial spread out style left them susceptible to getting overwhelmed. It was a similar story on their CT side, especially against Crux. They have some great shots, and when they decide to work as a group or in pairs, they do a lot of damage. But all to often they left themselves isolated and were dropped in short order, or went for an aggressive peek and put their team in a bad spot. Even when they stacked spots, they got overwhelmed at times, partially due to Crux hitting some ridiculous shot, but also because they missed some of their own. Either way however, they eeked out two strong wins to close the season out, having their strength tested right to the end, which I think they needed. After some fairly one sided blowouts the previous two weeks, this team needed some pressure to shake off any complacency and prove to themselves that they could perform when the going got tough. And that's why they take my number ten spot. They've played the top contenders close or beaten them, blown out who they should have blown out, and finished the season out with 5 wins against playoff bound teams or (in Crux's case) teams playing extremely well. Table Shakers has been looking for respect all season, and I think with a favorable draw, the Sweet Sixteen is easily attainable. From there? It depend's which Table Shakers shows up. If it's anything like the past 3 weeks? Then we're in for a show.