- Many people think that the Season 12 LAN is going to be a quick affair with Classic Mixup taking the title at the end of it all. But before they, or anyone, can claim their glass trophy, they need to go through the Chess Club Youth Defense Force and as long as Kermit comes along for the ride, they just might make it close. Enjoy this first LAN preview article! There are three more to come over the next week, so I hope you read and enjoy.
THE STORY OF REDEMPTION
All four teams attending this season's ESEA LAN under the Team Fortress 2 banner have their own set of expectations and a set of expectations put upon them by the community. My best guess is that The Chess Club plan to attend LAN, make fun of their medic Stultus as he walks around the venue wearing a suit and tie while awkwardly stroking the arms of whatever random girls he happens upon. The community expects Taggerung, Stultus, Tri and Omar to be left sad and alone in the cold dark night as Kermit and Weeble sit at home playing video games on alternate Steam accounts while cackling about the money wasted on their plane tickets and accommodations. Notice how none of those words are related to their actual LAN performance; that's a little worrisome. Chess Club managed to rise to the top of shit mountain this season, the lifeless stiff cream that your poet-to-be Starbucks server plopped on top of the cold day-old coffee. They survived the cascade of folds that hit the lower half of Invite, pulling off notable wins against... well, nobody really.
Chess Club's season started off with some commendable performances as they trounced nNn in Gullywash week, then took rounds off of LG and made Viaduct a fairly close game. From there, it wasn't so much a downhill tumble as it was an up-and-down bumpy ride, the kind Stultus hopes to see a fair maiden take in his hotel room this upcoming LAN weekend. Not a single one of their seven losses was against the bottom four Invite teams, which was great! But not a single one of their wins came against the top three Invite teams. In fact, they took exactly six round wins in their seven losses against the top three and most of those teams have undergone roster shifts since then. So let's get to the heart of this article already: who is Chess Club and what can we expect from each of them?
The most watched man of the weekend will no doubt be the aforementioned Stultus. Since Chess Club needed a little community aid to get to LAN, he put up a series of benchmarks to encourage donation. Since people chipped in $500, we get to see the whole shebang: Stultus will be bringing along a video camera and attempting to pull off the impossible dream of being the cub to a local bar's cougar, and he will “act in character” for the LAN. Feel free to check out this abomination if you want to know what that means: http://teamfortress.tv/forum/thread/1708...
God help us all. On the TF2 side of things, Stultus only seemed to get better as the season went on... until his team stopped practicing, at least. He was once considered the best medic not in Invite, and many thought he was better than most of the Invite medics of the time anyway. The mechanical skill is still there, the game knowledge is still there, it's just a matter of his team having not practiced that makes me wary of his LAN performance.
The team's scouts will be the youth combo, with old man-slash-internet predator SonmyChest having departed for the land of water cooler discussions and hour long bathroom breaks just to kill the hours of the work week. Replacing him will be Weeble, who had previously departed and was replaced by Omar. We got to see Omar flash his swag a few seasons ago when he showed up to play with High Rollers Gaming, as he displayed some pretty solid scout play after a bad start and whipped out his highly regarded spy play often. This will be the first ESEA LAN for the man who quit TF2 in hot pursuit of pussy, and despite his lack of recent practice, many people expect to see him whip out his sniper rifle and go to town on some unsuspecting medic's heads. The sad truth about these two, who I personally think would be the most exciting part of Chess Club to watch, is that they just have not played the game much lately and that they have not played together. Weeble's attendance should at least dispel the cries for blood from the TF2 community, who were ready to hogtie him and drag him behind a car for his insolence in quitting his team to have a fun time at college.
Playing the soldier class for the team will be Tri_ and Taggerung. One of these men is a roamer with loads of personality, a collection of funny hats, an insatiable lust for Lugaru, and so many other things. Tagg has put himself out there and become one of the most interesting and entertaining streams in TF2. The other guy... I still do not have a clue what Tri sounds like. I feel like even if he were to speak to me directly, the sound would attack the deepest parts of my brain and deny me of the ability to remember the tone and pitch and melody behind his voice. How in the Lord's name can the other teams contend with an eldritch abomination on pocket??? Tri played with HRG and Omar at LAN in season ten, and although the rust has shone through this season, he still clearly possesses the same skill and aim that got him recognized during his other LAN performance. It will probably help him greatly to be playing on a LAN server instead of his usual Canada-to-Texas ping, so expect to see some flashes of brilliance and airshotuuuuuus out of Mister Wang. Tagg put on the typical roamer show this season, where sometimes he looks like the greatest player to have ever played the game, and at other times he looked like a newborn puppy who learned about efficiency when he discovered that he could poop while running. That is the roamer's curse and 'tis a sad one that no man shall ever escape.
The final slot in the Chess Club Youth Movement belongs to the much maligned Kermit, the king of all LAN dodgers. Enigma always threw out his Bubble Boy excuse, but Kermit has not even given us that much. He claims to have explained in private to former teammates TheFragile and Justin where he disappeared to, but based on the negative energy traveling his way, I find that hard to believe. For Kermit, redemption is the act of freeing oneself of the bondage of LAN dodging and he will hopefully redeem himself this LAN. Many in the community have said they would donate money to help Chess Club cover the costs of attending, since they are a group of mostly poor Ramen-loving college kids... but those donations will come only after Kermit appears in Dallas, Texas to play two days of LAN environment video games. If (when?) he does arrive, he will no doubt put on a show as his demoman play this season was generally fantastic. Kermit was second in the league in damage per minute and had the second lowest deaths per minute, behind only LG's b4nny. Nobody has ever doubted Kermit's skill – they have doubted whether or not he has a hunchback or other crippling deformity that scares him from attending LAN. Maybe if Chess Club pull off a first place prize, they can shave that bad boy down with a buzzsaw or something.