- Three down, one to go. The time until LAN is tick tock on the clock but the party don't stop make it pop DJ blow my speakers up and with only five days to go until game time, it's time to take a look at Leviathan Gaming!
THE DYING DAYS OF THE WANG DYNASTY
Mao Zedong. Sun Yat-sen. Deng Xiaoping. Chiang Kai-shek. Lee Kuan Yew.
Perhaps on November 18th, the list of greatest Chinese leaders will add the name “Tyrone Wang.” Uniting the country, contributing to the state of Singapore, raising the employment rates... can any of it truly compare to winning a fourth LAN title? That is precisely what Chairman Wang will attempt to do this coming weekend in Dallas. It used to be that if you mentioned eMazing Gaming, Quantic Gaming, or Leviathan Gaming, everyone in TF2 knew who you meant: Tyrone, b4nny, and Mackey. That group would team up with players like Yz50, Clockwork, Reptile, Raf – some of the greatest to ever play the game. And unfortunately, it looks like that group will meet its end after season twelve. Mackey has already gone, making a brief comeback to travel to Europe and defend our nation's honor on the virtual battlefield. Now b4nny and Tyrone are all but certain to part ways, the obvious tensions in the team growing and bulging over this past season. For b4nny, the future seems to hold young Lansky as his pocket, with long-time teammates Cyzer and Shade walking beside him hand-in-hand. Nobody really knows where Tyrone will go: is he going to continue playing in UGC 6v6 as “Tofu,” will he band together with the Spacewhales after having played for them in several scrims using an alternate Steam account? It seems like this is one union that just will not hold, with Tyrone's increasing amount of real life duties infringing on the rest of Leviathan Gaming's dreams of victory. The future seems to be lacking in certainty, but the present is certainly not.
Leviathan Gaming will field a stronger six at Dallas than anyone could have imagined possible when Clockwork left the team during the middle of the season. People were looking at the available scouts and imagining a world where LG | flame was a reality, until Hero showed up. Everyone knows what to expect out of Shade, b4nny, Cyzer, Dave__AC but nobody has a clue what Mad Chad will bring to the table. The last time I saw him play at a LAN, he was dancing around in PYYYOUR's face at Atlanta LANfest and earning himself some TF2 swag, but that's a different environment and a different skill level and a level of seriousness that cannot rival the grand finals of ESEA. But the fact is that a man who sings “Relax, Take Your Queef” over Mumble while playing is probably not too concerned with the field of spectators behind him. His match performances have been rather whelming, but he was thrown into the fire pretty quickly as he went against Classic Mixup in his second match of the season. In scrims, Hero looks pretty damn good, often top fragging while maintaining good aggressive positioning. Since Clockwork's departure, Cyzer has stepped his game up more than a few notches, and he even outplayed Ruwin in that last match with Mixup. Hero took some time to get his wrist back into gaming shape, but he and the Brown Bomber's reunion makes LG look just as strong as they were with Clockwork.
What definitely helps with that is the presence of b4nny. Not sure what I can ultimately say about him that I and every other TF2 caster has not said before – he does more damage than anyone, he dies less than anyone except for the rare medic performance out of Shade and PYYYOUR, and he keeps LG dangerous even when nobody else in the game is playing well. It is kind of a joke that he is this good at the game. The truly great players in TF2 are capable of making everyone around them better, and b4nny is definitely of that ilk. Doling out the heals to that trio of players is Team Fortress 2's number one lady killer, Shade. He had precisely one bad game this season, and while it was a pretty bad game with four uber drops, it was a blip on the radar that is now long out of range. He surfs out of danger while keeping himself engaged in the fight and his healbeam active, his uber management is pretty much built around the roster LG has (strategy: ignore Tyrone, win game), and Shade gets probably the biggest benefit of any player going to LAN in that he goes from having twenty FPS to two hundred.
Dave__AC is his usual roamer self; during most LG games I got to watch/cast, it honestly felt like he was carrying harder than anyone on the team. He has the most varied set of roamer mids in the game, with most revolving around getting in behind the enemy team and building up a nice pincer attack. All of his plays are so precise and crisp, too, probably due in part to the fact that once TF2 loads up all of his internal systems seem to shut down and he becomes dead inside, functioning purely on gamer fuel. Whatever the hell he does, more roamers should emulate it. As for his soldier partner, Tyrone... Shade was on Fully Charged last week and was basically calling Tyrone a bitch for not being around to scrim more, the team has said in many places that they had more fun playing with Lansky than Tyrone, and all indications are that at season's end, the lovable master Wang will be made into chop suey and kicked to the curb while LG moves on without him. As life has taken a stronger grip on Tyrone, and he spends most of his time reminiscing with his girlfriend about how they fuuuuuuuuucked and the rest of his time trying to get fat stacks of cash, his TF2 ability has just fallen to the wayside. His aim is not quite what it used to be, and he was never known for his aim in the first place. B4nny has taken a stronger hold on the team's calls and direction and all Tyrone really does now is defend Shade and keep the Mumble atmosphere light. Last season, he showed up to LAN and brought as much of an A-game as he could. This season, knowing that his time in this team is done – how much game does he have left?