How many of you believed that the Tyrone and b4nny union would last until the end of Team Fortress 2?
eMg's power combo viewing Dave__AC's roamer magic
When I started talking to and hanging around with the eMazing Gaming crew, they seemed like a perfect fit – a confident, assertive, charismatic pocket soldier and team leader who could help manage and mold the shy, friendly, non-molded form that was on demoman. B4nny used to believe in Tyrone as a leader, as a teammate, and a pocket soldier. That confidence seemed to diminish over the seasons, as Tyrone found himself with less free time and less ability to keep his gaming ability up to par. When you take time away from TF2, your mechanics get a little worse, your feel for the game gets a little worse, your sense of timing can erode... all three of which hit Tyrone hard. His online play would suffer, but he would show up to LAN and look more like the man of olden days, eMg enoryt instead of LG | enoryt.
The Prophets Ft. Dashner with trophy number two
With the b4nny versus Platinum struggle entering yet another season, and Platinum having gained the upper hand with his perfect season and most recent LAN win, something had to change for Leviathan Gaming to regain their spot as THE dominant TF2 team. And at some point along the way, b4nny decided that the best change would be if Tyrone made his last stand and walked off into the sunset. Most expected that the three time LAN champion, the longest tenured captain in Invite, would accept his fate and let the worms feast on him in the TF2 afterlife. Most people were wrong.
The plot – if you can call it that – came about at some point late in the season. Tyrone was tired of being disrespected, of being trolled, of being on the receiving end of some two-faced behavior, all of which came from his own team. If you were a stream viewer, then no doubt you tuned in to TyreezeTV at some point this season. You got to see Tyrone play pocket soldier with varying degrees of success, got to see some of the backstage drama that comes along with an Invite team, but you also were able to hear. You could hear the constant stream of jokes about Tyrone's skill, or comments about how he was more focused on his stream chat than the scrim they were playing. His priorities were clearly things other than TF2, proven by the long breaks he would take between maps to go for a smoke or when he would make an early night of it to go spend time with his girlfriend. As much a fan of Tyrone as I am, many of the criticisms his team had were legitimate: his time in DM dropped, his lengthy Badlands middle MGE sessions were the past rather than the present, and on the whole, it seemed like Tyrone was just going to coast into LAN and then try to show up and play like it was the year 2009. He knew this would be his last season with b4nny, and probably the last time he pocketed for Shade while cyzer ran the flanks.
Leviathan Gaming's final championship run
What none of them knew was that Tyrone had talked to the Spacewhales, spoken to new LG teammate hero, and had already set his team up for season thirteen. For so long, it looked like Tyrone would be cut and Lansky would take over as the pocket, giving b4nny a partner as dedicated as he was, someone just as willing to learn and improve. The truth was, Tyrone never intended to give up the roster that he had created and lead for so long. And he made sure to give a final tip of the cap to his old team by taking two players who b4nny wanted more than anyone else – clockwork and blaze, the scout and roamer for The Spacewhales, and two of the best players in the game at their positions. When Tyrone told b4nny who he was bringing on to the former-LG roster, b4nny's response was a defeated “oh...”
But it would not be fair if I just painted this entire article about some masterstroke plan that Tyrone pulled off; b4nny has a side to this story as well. Imagine if you will that you start playing TF2 as a demoman who is eager to learn and improve, a Call of Duty professional player from when you were nine years old. You spend a solid eight thousand hours playing the game, the vast majority of it in a competitive format, working on your timing and positioning, finding the microscopic details and smoothing them out. You run through a string of MGE practice partners, all Invite level soldiers and scouts, so that you can find a way to win every one-versus-one you will ever engage in. You know that your team's success depends solely upon your play, and the community puts constant pressure on you by calling you “Jesus” and “The Boy Wonder” and acts of worship become a daily event.
The all-powerful aura imbued by the TF2 community
If you are that person, the bare minimum you expect out of your five teammates is not going to be “don't trip, I'll be good at LAN.” The perfect season, never losing a map, dropping eleven rounds over an entire season – those should be yours, not someone else's. So when things happen like Tyrone biffing an uber and doing zero damage to the enemy and two hundred fifty to himself in the process of cratering, or when Dave__AC comes to middle and gets his colors confused and decides to suicide bomb his own demo instead of the enemy medic – that is not enough. The only thing good enough for b4nny would be every championship.
“I could have all the championships if I wanted.” Those were the words he uttered, b4nny letting everyone know that he could cut Tyrone, cut his way to the top if he wanted. The implication was that he would never sink to Platinum's level, the man who cut Blackymonster, Lansky, Relic, and whatever other bodies have lined the path to Mixup's glory. He said that two weeks ago, after having made plans to cut Tyrone, Dave__AC, and Cyzer to start his run of multiple championships. Just imagine what a dream team consisting of Shrugger and Clockwork on scout, Lansky and Blaze on soldier, b4nny on demo, and Shade on medic could do... but he wound up batting one for three on those replacement players. Particularly awkward must have been the conversation where b4nny asked Cyzer if he would be willing to play on the team, since b4nny's preferred option of Clockwork was no longer in the equation. Nothing seemed to go as plan. How could b4nny have all of the championships if none of the players he wanted to recruit were willing to play with him? The consolation prize for Team b4nny was the acquisition of Taggerung to go along with Shrugger, two players he hopes will be championship caliber players by season's end.
The end of an era
Maybe it will be easy for b4nny to battle his way to several more glass trophies now that Tyrone is gone. It might be hard as hell for Tyrone, who has never walked down the Invite road without b4nny by his side. For the first time, these two top players will have to traverse the same path while going different ways. What used to be the most consistent and dependent combo in TF2 is no more; the Tyrone uber that cleared space and drew attention will never again be followed up by one thousand damage from b4nny's stickies and pipes. The calming influence that Tyrone brought to the team is gone, and it has to be asked if Lansky can replace it. B4nny's superb positioning and perfect reads and predictions are gone, and we know that Dummy has always been one or two steps behind his fellow demoman; will this season change that?. The little questions will pile up for both of these players as they try to replicate their prior team's success, and on LAN weekend, there will be only one thing left to ask of Tyrone and b4nny – what does it take to be a LAN champion, and do you still have it?
All photos courtesy of ESEA News.