June 14, 2014
In what was originally meant to be an article promoting the Highlander Season 6 Awards Show on Sunday, it became evident, unfortunately, when I broke 3000 words that it was unsuitable as a general news post and was destined to be its own singular entity. Fortunately however, it has allowed me more time to write an article which managed to outdo the infamously long post-i49 article I wrote. Before Highlander-lovers inadvertently engage in an abundant serving copious enough to appease their appetites until the HL Nations Cup, for reference purposes, I wrote a marginally controversial article three months ago (which I would shamelessly implore you to read alongside an article that I was prohibited to publish on ETF2L regarding the start of the season, merely for the purposes of recap), regarding affairs in certain Premiership teams. In it was a graph visualising predictions for Season 6. I caught up with each of the team leaders about how their teams are faring post-season and their plans (if any) for Season 7.
The Electric Temptations
Let’s start with the team predicted to win Prem and UGC NA Plat and ironically, after all the hype, did neither. After a disappointing ETF2L season in which they turned up with PUG teams to matches, it seems as if it is unlikely that they will participate again after placing bottom of the table with only two points out of a possible 42, only managing to take one round off Fair Enough in week 3. I spoke to team leader Argo about what The Electric Temptations intend to do now:
Mia: How are the electric temptations doing recently?
λrgo: We’re doing well. The UGC season its third week so we’re just taking it easy at this point.
Mia: Would you consider participating in ETF2L again?
λrgo: Only if we had the people and time to actually do it correctly. I think we underestimated how difficult would be to successfully play in Prem. If I thought we would have to throw together pug rosters every weekend because people weren’t motivated enough to show up again then I wouldn’t do it, but I do think that an American team could play in Prem and do well if they had a consistent roster and a dedicated group of players so hopefully a team will make a stab at playing in Prem again, even if its not us.
λrgo: To answer your question: yes we’d definately consider playing again. Every interaction I had with a player or admin was great, so I really like the league. It’s just that to play against the super good teams in Prem and not get smoked every game takes a sizeable commitment. Maybe if/when we can finally win a UGC season outright we’ll take a stab at ETF2L again as opposed to trying to juggle both.
Fair Enough sponsored by Flood eSports
After a hectic start to the season for the former Splendid-Gaming, with their leader quitting TF2 for the third time in a year, this time with the rationale of a broken computer, real life and new-found love, the team struggled to adapt for the the first few weeks after being bumped up to Prem at their leader’s last wishes to replace the dropped DAROUTOUTOU. After an admirable show of friendship in which many players stepped up to split leadership between themselves cohesively and renamed their team after their former leader, where other teams might have folded, they placed second-from bottom on the tables and managed to fend off PremTech in the relegation playoffs to preserve their spot in Prem for next season. I spoke to the leader and Medic, jakeowaty, regarding Fair Enough sponsored by TF2Pickup.net‘s prospects:
Mia: How is Fe doing right now? I know you guys are participating in Wireplay division 1 at the moment
jakeowaty: I’d say that we have finally figured stuff out and stabilized after a rocky season 6. We started with a massive handicap of not having a proper leader and continued to play without one for over half a season. After the season though, and, most importantly, relegation match we’ve managed to pick up a few very strong subs, as well as we let some people go. Main goal of current Fe is to make a team of people who enjoy playing with each other on a high level, with the same goal: compete for a placement medal :)
Mia: How did not having a proper leader go?
Mia: I understand Flood suddenly disappeared under the pretense of his computer breaking down and left you as main medic after you initially joined as sub
jakeowaty: Yeah, exactly what happened. I was intended to be a sub and play a few scrims every now and then, after he suddenly left without any explanation a day before our first official. Since I just joined the team, more seasoned players picked up – Zimmer, Swi, Ascendary and Qnai all did a good job in keeping the team afloat, getting us scrims, matches, submitting scores and getting the server. But it only was a temporary solution and we needed to think of something else to fix some of the problems we had within the team.
Mia: What sort of problems were these?
jakeowaty: I’ll try to reveal only those that I know won’t harm anyone: Basically we didn’t have anyone proper to turn to if someone had a problem. That including some of the players getting tired of the game or the team, especially synergy and roster issues. No one wanted to pick up that aspect of leading the team, so I kinda stepped up since I had some experience from my previous team in dealing with team’s morale and atmosphere as a whole. Seemed to help a lot and we set ourselves a clear goal since the start: stay in Prem.
jakeowaty: Which we achieved, so the team is happy with the result and we want to fight for the gold upcoming ETF2L season. :)
Mia: Indeed you did
Mia: So do you have a solid roster at the moment or do some classes need to be filled in?
jakeowaty: I’d say our roster is much stronger than before, including team’s synergy and very strong sub roster. Wireplay roster is definetly sorted out, still working on ETF2L’s roster, but since there is a whole summer ahead of us, it’s very hard to properly estimate what the final roster for S7 is going to look like. I personally hope that Blooddrunk that we picked up a few weeks ago, who unfortunately had to leave TF2 world for a few months, will come back in the end of the summer and snipe for us, replacing M4rk playing only for the duration of Wireplay (as far as I know, he’s leaving to USA for good, so I wish him best of luck out there).
Mia: So carnifex is not playing sniper for you anymore?
jakeowaty: He is. He’s been very helpful whenever our main sniper Rev couldn’t play, providing us with a lot of Sniper trivia, as well as he has been a good matchup against Tseini. Unfortunately, he wants to stay as a sub, leaving us with 2 very capable Sniper/Scout subs: Him and Tommi.
Mia: Are there going to be any more roster changes before next season?
jakeowaty: I’m not going to confirm, neither deny. With the amount of players we have confirmed as of today, we are pretty safe in that main roster department.
Mia: What was the highlight of your season?
jakeowaty: Personal highlight or team’s highlight? :)
Mia: Either one or both!
jakeowaty: My personal highlight, excluding the drops (there weren’t that many of them, fuck off Zimmer), would be the first game of the season, where after a long break of playing the dentist, 2 hours till the official Ascendary asked me to play instead of Flood. Scored 2 kills there with my Crossbow! And both were on b33p. Team’s highlight was also our first game against Stacked, where we beat them 6-0. Turned out that we are pretty good on Steel, which also proved to be an actual thing in our last game of the season against Premtech with no preparation apart from one maptalk. Life goes in circles, doesn’t it?
jakeowaty: Oh, don’t forget: shoutout to Ascendary for not only being an awesome Pyro, but also for helping me out all the time. Without him we wouldn’t be able to get such a strong roster together.
SNS- Jamais Vu
The SNSD remake had an interesting season, after Linus made a team to sort out the roster issues of last season, replacing old players for more involved ones, they were plighted with roster issues again. After a strong start to the season, in which they took a round off bronze medalists, Tourettes Chessclub, they ended up using all-round sub Thalash more than expected and finished mid-table. I spoke with Linus regarding the prospects of the former Highlander superteam:
Mia: How are you guys doing at the moment?
Linus: We have gone on a break as soon as the season finished. We have been tainted with roster issues since the start which we couldn’t sort out, so it’s fair to say we are rather exhausted and won’t play till closer to the next ETF2L season.
Mia: what sort of roster issues were these?
Linus: The main problem we had was with our medic, TheSucker who didn’t really feel like committing to the game, so he left mid-season, and we couldn’t find a stable replacement. oodles, our beloved James Bond also had to go away for several weeks due to real life reasons, and we failed to secure a “proper” spy merc. Permzilla also returned to playing from his kitchen from halfway into the season, so he was also missing out a lot of games due to his family probably cooking right next to his computer..
Mia: Do you think you could have done better in the season if you had a more stable roster?
Linus: Yeah, to be honest the roster we had initially was rock solid and we felt we can do really well in the season. The pre-season pcws have gone great and we have actually showed some clear dominance over teams that later beat us in officials. That being said, we had a fun season as a team, so there’s no hard feelings
Mia: So which classes would you have to recruit for next etf2l season?
Linus: To be honest the next season is a huge question mark for us. The truth is that some of us have been playing highlander for a VERY long time – I have personally been playing it since the community challenge has been announced and so we have grown a little tired of tryharding. Depending on what people want and the skill level of the people we can get, we may either try to go for the gold again, or just go offclass and drop down a division.
Mia: Last question: what was the highlight of your season?
Linus: Any game with oodles and Buttnose in it. I am pretty sure that the ingame banter was far more enjoyable than the actual gameplay when those 2 were both around, shame that we didn’t have consistent streams this time around.
Stacked sponsored by Samsung Galaxy
After a rough start to the season losing their first official to Fair Enough alongside their star Sniper, tracker, Stacked have had a rollercoaster ride, taking a round off Highpander on Gravelpit then defaulting to itsallgood amidst cries of default hunting and/or admin abuse from the Highlander community. I spoke with their Pyro and leader, b33p, about what will happen to the Irish-led team:
Mia: So how are Stacked doing right now?
Mia: You guys aren’t playing UGC or Wireplay, I believe?
b33p: We’re taking a break until next season. Not sure what will happen due to the extremely long period in between highlander seasons. In UGC we’re all doing our own thing because UGC is aids now. We were quite disappointed with our season.
Mia: Where did you expect to finish in season 6?
b33p: We should have made the playoffs. We were the most wildcarded team in Prem, and due to only having 1 wildcard to respond to being wildcarded 3 times messed with us big time. Playing without main roster in 2 games we lost had a big impact. We should have made playoffs, but that’s how it goes.
Mia: Did you have a lot of roster issues mid-season then, aside from the wildcarded games?
b33p: Our demoman fucked us around a lot, by not showing up to scrims on about 5 occasions and ultimately forcing us to use a merc in the game against chess which we lost 2-1. so mainly demoman issues
b33p: He does his own thing and suits himself. Excellent demoman but does his own thing, though we took him under the impression he wanted to play for a more serious hl team (than legolas). But we had upsides too, you know, picking up smzii for example was a fantastic move. So it’s not all bad, we can’t blame roster issues, we played badly in officials and that’s what the league’s all about!
Mia: I heard he played for Kill Switch when Emilio left just before roster lock
b33p: Yeah it’s funny, Emilio instead of huhy and we lost our game, and huhy instead of Emilio and they lost their game! Demomen aren’t as easy to switch around in Prem it seems. They’re integral.
b33p: Also tracker rage quitting and ultimately joining chess was disruptive, as rouHe didn’t want to play but basically did us a favour by playing.
Mia: So do you know why tracker ragequitted exactly?
b33p: Yes – we lost to Splendid
b33p: He’s one of the biggest ragers in Prem, but it has been a bit of a secret as he only rages to a few people. but he goes crazy when he rages.
b33p: Fuck ‘im.
Mia: So what roster changes would you need for next season?
b33p: It’s far too early to say.
b33p: Ask again in September!
Mia: So rouhe and huhy would still be good to play regardless?
b33p: I don’t know who would play another season, and since there isn’t another one in sight I don’t think the 6s players in particular will catch the hl bug again until there’s a season about to start. But some of our 6s players, namely sorex for example wish we had not stopped playing, but too many people wanted to skip ugc. So we’ll have to wait until there is an upcoming season to see who we’ll play with.
b33p: But I’d play another season with huhy and rouHe for sure.
Mia: How did you feel regarding the outcome of the itsallgood match situation?
b33p: If it were the other way round I reckon you’d hear “haha fuck stacked” but since the more popular, established team is the team which broke the rules they were bent to avoid admins making an unpopular decision. The majority of the guys in the team wanted to take a default, and I won’t throw anybody under the bus, but that’s what we went with. I don’t care about the result, but all the sadacts chiming in and trying to stir up drama was sad to see.
Mia: After admins ruled the match to be replayed, why did stacked default to itsallgood?
b33p: We’re not going to follow admin’s derpy decision
Mia: Where will you aim for next season?
b33p: It was our prem debut, can’t really complain with finishing low-mid Prem.
Mia: Last question: what was the highlight of your season?
b33p: Honestly it was playing competitively at the highest level of play. division 1 was basically easy, playing in the premier division was much more exciting because it’s competitive as fuck. It was really enjoyable.
I do not think that a team had it rougher than Kill Switch this season, the change of two core players: Hegee and it's Mint hit them hard at the start of season and with the mid-season drama as some of the team ragequit after a PCW loss against Jamais Vu, the team had been suffering from synergy and atmosphere issues all season, with their maincaller and star Demoman, EmilioEstevez, suffering from declining interest in the game. After a strong season 5, in which they took the crown, it looks as if the Highlander community, many of whom (myself included) expected them to defend their crown, were left a tad disappointed. After a conversation with their superstar pyro, Candle, upon finding out that some of the team had not spoken to each other since the playoff game, I talked to leader pancake to investigate:
Mia: How are Kill Switch doing at the moment?
Pancake: Not sure – I haven’t been online much ’cause of work and Emilio left TF2
Pancake: So we will only know if we will play next season when it starts, if everyone is interested – otherwise we won’t.
Pancake: That’s my opinion I don’t know if someone else wants to continue or not
Mia: Why did Emilio leave TF2?
Pancake: Lost interest in TF2
Pancake: And to be honest, before week 1, we had to make like 5-6 changes in the team, so it wasn’t the same team as before
Mia: What were these changes, if I may ask?
Pancake: Scout, Engie, Medic and Spy
Pancake: Then Emilio left, so demo too
Pancake: You should ask him why he left
Mia: When he left mid-season you mean?
Mia: And then rejoined?
Pancake: He rejoined because I wanted them to finish the season at least and not to drop
Mia: Do Kill Switch intend to play UGC or Wireplay in between now and next ETF2L HL season?
Pancake: No I don’t think so, not sure about ETF2L either – it depends if others want to as I won’t be here
Mia: which players would you have to recruit if you were to play next ETF2L season?
Pancake: Haha I’m not sure, I don’t even follow TF2 anymore
Pancake: But if i have to, then same team as we won ETF2L
Mia: And which classes would you need for next etf2l season? Has anyone bar Emilio left the team and needs to be filled in?
Pancake: I haven’t talked to anyone
Pancake: I think jamal left the roster
Mia: If you aren’t leading Kill Switch for next season, who would be the best on the team for a potential leader?
Pancake: I don’t think anyone will, most will be busy with 6s, so it won’t be a good idea in my opinion
Mia: Last question: What was the highlight of your season?
Pancake: Well we finished the season and didn’t drop even when nobody wanted to play.
People had high hopes for Tourettes Chessclub, after seeing the team tryhard for a year together, many expected them to do well. After a rough point mid-season with roster-issues, coinciding with the UGC Grand finals, in which their combo had disputes with the team, involving Atomicus denouncing the team to his stream, their scout disappearing off the face of TF2 temporarily and their Sniper and Engineer, TheElysium and this is evil evil, leaving to focus on real life, things took a turn for the better when Scissors picked up quintosh to perma-merc (i.e. do a JoeNufc) for Chessclub during playoffs, alongside BreakfasT_Jr and snow on Sniper (who at the time of writing was main, but now seems to have fallen to his infamous curse of unreliability). I caught up with him about what the team intend to do:
Mia: So how is Chessclub doing so far, you guys are playing UGC too right now, one of the few high-level teams left which do?
Scissors: Chess is not playing UGC, it’s just a mix of random people Sprayer got together, but the name is locked. Most of our players are spread out on different funteams, and I and Khazul are mentoring a team in silver. Only 3 Chess players play for the Chess team in UGC.
Mia: Are you planning on playing any other leagues as a whole team in the future bar ETF2L?
Scissors: I don’t know, too early to tell now, but if the new team is as active as the old one, (which they seem to be) we will be playing in multiple leagues. I’d like to play Wireplay again personally.
Mia: And how are the new roster changes settling in?
Mia: I understand you have a new demo, heavy and sniper
Mia: What happened to the old ones?
Scissors: We haven’t really played since we lost in the semi-finals, but back then it worked out exactly how I wanted it to. Quintosh was the kind of demo I wanted, and breakfast was a perfect pick-up, their playstyles compliment each other really well, like I had hoped.
Scissors: And a lot of stuff happened. Some people may know we had some difficulties with Kaylus along the way, so it was bound to happen at some point. Not really a surprise there. On the heavy part, Ruskeydoo hurt his wrist (I think), and had to step down for some time, to allow it to heal. During that time, we used Atomicus, which didn’t really work out at all. But just as Ruskey was due to return, he told me that he wanted to play for another team, so we had to be looking again. Luckily breakfast, our first trial, was just the kind of guy I was looking for. And Elysium, he basically just decided to step down. He was too handsome to play this much anyways. Snow has been a little unreliable, but I know he is good, so I don’t have any worries.
Mia: You finished third this season, was it what you were aiming for or did you want to go higher?
Scissors: The ambition was to finish within the top 3, so we did succeed despite all the problems we had along the way. And I think that was where we belonged as well, we definately did get outplayed by highpander in the semi-finals, so fully deserving to them.
Scissors: + we are official pro gamers now
Mia: Haha. So what was the highlight of your season?
Scissors: Definitely the first map against Killswitch in the quarter-finals, which we ended up winning on a golden cap. We haven’t had this much emotion in our mumble since we played steel, which was really nice. It felt pretty fucking good beating stacked on badwater in the regular season as well, to be honest. But the KS victory was the biggest.
After finishing third last season and powering through the main season, it seemed as if no one could stop itsallgood. With relatively few roster issues during the season and a legendarily strong flank consisting of some of the best of their class nominated in the S6 Awards, I caught up with Bulow about how things are going and whether itsallgood plan on adding the first place medal to complete their collection:
Mia: So how are things with itsallgood recently?
Bulow: After the final of season 6 most of us were feeling pretty burnt out from highlander/playing our particular classes, and Lazy and Muuki had their prem 6s campaign to worry about. We haven’t really played since the final, but apart from Chess (and they’re not the same team) I don’t think any of the top teams have either.
Mia: Are you gonna have the same roster for next season, or does the burning out means there will be a some changes?
Bulow: We won’t be playing UGC or Wireplay between now and the next ETF2L season, and that’s a pretty long way away yet. If we play then I can’t see us making too many changes; no one has said they definitely won’t be playing and we have never cut anyone – I won’t be starting now.
Mia: There were rumours that you did not want to play anymore, but your answer is different – where did the rumours come from?
Bulow: Probably from me, since I have at various times said “I’ll quit in a blaze of glory after we win the finals” or “I’ll quit if we lose the final”! Next season is a long way off and I may have other commitments by then. I’ll probably end up playing though, if the rest of the team is up for it.
Mia: Haha. Where did you think you’d end up this season at the start of season?
Bulow: I expected to place in the top three along with Kill Switch and Highpander. We finished first in the regular season so it was disappointing to lose to Highpander in the final, but I’m not sure if things would have played out the same way if Kill Switch hadn’t lost interest. Last season we could scrim both those teams regularly, and it really drove up the quality of play; this season there were fewer teams who could really force you to think more and play better. We ended up playing Highpander a whole bunch of times after the end of the regular season, and maybe we were a little too familiar with them by the time the final took place.
Mia: What has been the highlight of the season?
Bulow: Killing Hildoge in the final on Badwater, and not giving in to the temptation to taunt him.
Bulow: Oh, and B33p’s video, of course.
And now we finish on the team that won the season and the €500 as well as the nine gaming mice. After being led by Hildreth to Silver last season, Highpander refurbished their roster, more determined to win this season and beating the leaders of the main season, itsallgood, on their home turf – Badwater – in an exciting final casted by Admirable and Heavy Is GPS. I spoke to MVP of the season, Hildreth, for a few words about Highpander and next season:
Mia: So how are Highpander doing at the moment?
Hildreth: Since we’ve won ETF2L, we’ve decided to take a hiatus, core of the team is focusing on 6’s or exams, some of the other people doing other things….we intend to return for Season 7 to defend our title. We definitely won’t play UGC, unlikely we’ll play in Wireplay again unless timing is good for us, we may not play Highlander for 3 or 4 months to be honest.
Hildreth: That is as a team
Mia: Are you worried that the hiatus would affect your team?
Hildreth: It’s likely to effect some people, who knows what happens over time, I myself may even stop playing depends on real life but I still intend to come back and I hope to bring as much of the core of my team with me. Zoob, Steve, Nigel, Piddox, Kissakala, Phoblem though other quality players like Solid and Fool are unlikely to return, but I’d love to stick to more or less the same roster. I honestly don’t know, the team has top quality players but our focuses are elsewhere right now, I don’t doubt when the time comes if I can get the core of the team back we just need to pick up the right people and we’ll be stronger than ever.
Mia: Why are Solid and Fool leaving?
Hildreth: Loss of interest in the format/game, though both really enjoyed the Final, but Solid already made his intentions to focus on 6’s whilst Fool’s interest had been waning past couple of months. Both of them are big team players though and never wanted to jump ship before the season ended, something I am grateful for and if they do want to come back for S7 we’d love to have them if their hearts are in it.
Mia: Awww. Where did you think you’d end up this season?
Mia: I remember asking you near the end of the main season whether you thought you’d win and you told me that itsallgood looked unbeatable at the moment
Mia: And now your team have won
Hildreth: I never doubted we were good enough to beat itsallgood, we dominated the season outside of officials, it was a case of performing when it mattered, we had the best team in my opinion and we were good on every map. Compared to last season, we had some weaknesses in our roster and on certain gamemodes which affected our confidence, this season we were so much more solid all around, good morale was the key.
Mia: What gamemodes or weaknesses were these last season that you improved on?
Hildreth: We were infamously dreadful at KOTH, despite us winning regular season in S5, we spent a long period struggling on KOTH maps and when the final came around we focused so much on practicing KOTH we never really focused on 5cp or Steel, maps we traditionally had dominated up until that point.
Mia: Speaking of last season’s finals, what did you think of kill switch this season?
Hildreth: They lost the will to play, it’s sad. Emilio lost interest, I heard rumours of inter-team squabbles and all sorts. In the end they ended up filling team with high level 6’s players to replace the gaps, good as they were individually none of them could call like Emilio Estevez and they were picked apart by Chessclub’s new roster.
Mia: Which teams do you think you have to watch out for next season?
Hildreth: We don’t know at this point, itsallgood if they decide to continue will be big rivals as always. Really though there are 4 months between now and Season 7, you got teams that will play UGC and Wireplay and keep practicing whilst we will not so it depends who sticks together, who steps their game up, which quality players stand up and be counted. Also depends on how many people from our roster stick around, I hope we keep the core but some people are unreplaceable so despite us being able to attract the best talent (like we did last season) we may be weaker as a result.
Mia: Last question: what was the highlight of your season?
Hildreth: There were a lot of high points, personally though when we defended a time of 12+ minutes versus IAG in the final, being a map up at the time there was this sense of relief that came across me as I knew from that point we’d win.
So with the last ovation of Prem teams this season, players are left to speculate about their own place in the next. With the The Electric Temptations dropping to be replaced by Momentum eSports, winners of Division 1, next ETF2L Highlander season, I would not be surprised to see another Premiership team from this season leave to make space for the super-keen PremTech who deserve the chance to live up to their name, or perhaps for a promised DAROUTOUTOU return? With four and a half months until Highlander Season 7 starts in late October, we have the Highlander Nations Cup to satiate our appetites until then. The state of Highlander now looks better than ever, with better teams and a stronger, more committed community to put wind in its sails and give it a voice as a respected gamemode of its own. Furthermore, The Highlander Open has had over 110 teams of new players sign-up by themselves with experienced Highlander players guiding them as “buddies” and signups open for another two weeks yet! Season 7 will have an injection of new players, new life and a reinvigorated community. I am hardly one to miss out on the prospect of next season and neither should you.