Tokido Halts Smug’s Losers Bracket run to win ELEAGUE

It took every ounce of focus from Tokido, but he found a way to slow Smug after he rattled off five straight wins over legends of the game. After losing to Smug on set one of the Grand Finals,  beating Smug almost felt out of the question and majority of the time the player winning that first final set to reset the bracket leads to a win. This was not the case for Tokido.

For Tokido, handily beating Punk and Daigo in the quarter and semifinals looked and felt like the first part to Tokido easily taking home the ELEAGUE title. Arguably the scariest player with some momentum is Tokido and early on it looked like he would not be denied. Even against a player like Smug who was on an even hotter streak of wins, beating five of the top-10 including Tokido in the first set.

The fact that Tokido was able to calm his nerves, refocus, and win against Smug’s Balrog which was running feverishly downhill on his opponents is unbelievably impressive. It basically came down to outplaying Smug in those clutch, low-health scenarios and Tokido ended the second set landing all the kill combos. It was a combination of methodical offense and not leaving himself open to counter-attacks.

Tokido continues to revolutionize the game with his incredible Akuma play.  SMug was the only player able to contend with his damage output on every given neutral exchange today, but it still wasn’t enough to beat the monster that is Tokido.

Top 8 Results

1. FOX|Tokido (Akuma)
2. Rise|Smug (Balrog)
3. CYG|Daigo (Guile)
4. Mouz|Problem X (Abigail, M. Bison)
5. FOX|Punk (Cammy, Karin)
5. FOX|Momochi (Cody, Kolin)
7. CO|Dogura (Urien)
7. FD|Fujimura (Ibuki)

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Fujimura Looks to Replicate CEO Performance in the ELEAGUE Playoffs

Fujimura Atsushi went on a losers bracket tear to win one of the most prestigious events of the Capcom Cup circuit in CEO 2018. His Ibuki showed up in key moments against the likes of Zhoujun “XiaoHai” Zang, as he turned a losers bracket deficit into a tournament victory. He was the steamroller at CEO, now he looks to come out firing at the ELEAGUE finals.

And similarly to his run at CEO, Fujimura will be fighting directly out of the losers bracket after finishing second in his group behind Daigo Umehara who had a great group stage. The run begins against Smug and will quickly turn to one of two killers in the next round as Tokido faces Punk in round one winners, Fujimura getting the loser.

It’s clear that Fujimura, playing a momentum base character, will look to build on that losers bracket mentality and gain some momentum heading into losers round two. Obviously beating Smug is no easy ride, and could end his day early, but the current number one globally ranked player coming off a hot CEO week should bring more preparedness into the playoffs.

Daigo Umehara’s Path

Whenever Daigo is in serious contention for a tournament win, it’s the same effect Tiger Woods has on golf. The world of fighting games stops and witnesses what this legend is doing on screen. After taking his group, Daigo’s put himself in a prime position to make some waves. He starts off with a friendly draw against Problem X, and if he wins, will face either Punk or Tokido.

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It’s safe to assume that most eyes will be on Fujimura and Daigo as the tournament wraps up. In terms of the tournament favorites, I’d start there with these two players. Tokido is also a scary threat, but with how these two have looked recently it feels as if one of the two will take it home. However, all eight players are capable of pulling it off and winning it all.

Serral gets the comeback win over Scarlett at WCS Valencia

Two of the better players in the entire event faced off early in round one of the playoffs and it went the distance to a game five, with an impressive comeback. Joona ‘Serral’ Sotala, the best European SC2 player, fell down 2-1 off a suffocating aggressive style from Sasha ‘Scarlett’ Hostyn, that ultimately was her downfall on game five

It was a back-and-forth affair from two of the most exciting Zerg players, who approach the game differently. For Serral, it’s all about acquiring enough of the economy to feel safe in moving out. In Scarlett’s case, at least in the loss today, she would constantly try and cripple that economy. Unfortunately for Scarlett, if early aggression was held then it was a complete uphill battle to try and recover compared to Serral’s economy.

Losing in the macro-game forced Scarlett into whole scale changes to her gameplan. It wasn’t a move to cheese or gimmicks, but a notice to win the game before Serral can amass any type of big, macro army. And on a map like Redshift, where the normal second hatch for Zerg is ridiculously close to their opponents allowed for some fantastic early Zergling, Baneling, and even some spine crawler aggression. In these micro-intensive moments is when Scarlett shines and that’s how she worked her way to a 2-1 lead.

On the third map, Scarlett really showed her technical prowess and ability to read the situation. Switching into early muta’s and using them to pick off Serral units moving out of the home base. And once she was able to impact the Serral economy with Muta run-by’s, the zerling and baneling all-in came to finish the job. Killing off all Hydralisk with the baneling’s allowing the muta’s to pick off queens and the rest of the army ended the fight swiftly. Unfortunately, Serral adjusted to Scarlett’s adjustments just in time to save the series.

Scarlett did her job by winning the smaller, two-player maps, but switching to the bigger maps flipped the advantage back over to Serral. He wasn’t able to hold off the early-game unit aggression, but turning away Roach’s and stifling Zergling attacks on hatcheries and the main-base kept pushing Serral farther and farther ahead. Scarlett wasn’t able to gain any sort of advantage, meaning she has to fight a full-supplied Serral army.

Looking at the last map, after a tough loss on Darkness Sanctuary where Scarlett played more standard, she once again tried to catch Serral with an all-in on Catalyst, a medium-sized map. However, the attempt was sniffed out early and by the time the all-in took place, Serral had already acquired more roaches. Scarlett was one map win away from being the first person in forever to beat Serral at consecutive tournaments. Her style is somewhat of a yin-and-yang type feel with Serral, and after a glorious set today, these look two of the best Zerg’s by a long shot.

Featured photo courtesy of StarCraft 2

WCS Valencia could pin Reynor and Serral against each other in round two of the Playoffs

WCS Valencia playoffs are here and our attention turns once again to the European slayer, Joona ‘Serral’ Sotala, in his quest to win another WCS title. His last win came only a month prior to Valencia at WCS Austin and he’s now got his sights set on winning four of his past five WCS events.

However, the path to another title will already be layered with the worlds best non-Korean talent. He not only has to start off against one of the most threatening opponents in the entire event, Sasha ‘Scarlett’ Hostyn, and play a Zerg vs. Zerg in round one, but will have to follow it up with a likely matchup against GSL Code S wunderkind, Riccardo ‘Reynor’ Romiti, who looks like the next big player at the ripe age of only 16-years old.

The potential faceoff between two of the perceived most talented players in Europe will be a big moment. Serral’s essentially taken over Europe without any issues and now Reynor could bring in his heavy harass Zerg style and make things more interesting in the SC2 Europe landscape.

In fact, this would be one of the few times the two have actually played at an event. The only recorded match I could find was from Assembly where Serral swept him 3-0. That match dates back to two years ago, so by the looks of it, both players will come in almost blind to the others traits and playstyle. But with all the data on Serral, Reynor enters as more of a mystery.

Rest of the Bracket

While most of the attention will be focused on the top half of the bracket, the bottom half also will provide some excellent matchups. Starting Neeb facing Bly in round one, a matchup that could come down to the wire. Neeb will be looked at as the odds-on favorite to make all the way through to winners finals. Secondly, Nerchio, who’s had a recent resurgence in play will be a threat. He will potentially get Has in the second round.

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Looking back to Scarlett, she has a massive opportunity to beat Serral and get momentum heading deep into the bracket. This entire article could be moot if she brings her best Zerg vs Zerg micro and builds to the table.  It could be Scarlett vs Reynor that would steal the show, but obviously getting through the European champ won’t be easy.

It’s the most stacked WCS event I’ve seen all year and should provide not only great StarCraft 2, but upsets. Expecting the unexpected as Serral eyes back-to-back titles. Reynor is clearly a player to watch after beating the likes of Classic in Code S just last week, but Serral is also an entirely different beast. Either way, Serral will have to earn his victories against two of the worlds best Zerg players.

Featured photo courtesy of WCS

 

Breaking Down the 9,000 IQ Play from the Los Angeles Gladiators on Kings Row

So, the Los Angeles Gladiators took care of business in game one of the Overwatch League playoffs over the London Spitfire despite some odd roster decisions and vague explanations of those decisions. It was one of the Gladiators easier sweeps of the season, as Surefour went absolutely off on hitscan, but that’s not the important part of this match.

The important part was on Kings Row when the Gladiators ran an unforgettable set-play to secure the map win. Now, this type of play has been run before on Kings Row for the attacking side: run through the left side apartments to behind the point, then circle all the way around to the back, head up the staircase and then fight near the point on high-ground. Simple enough to understand, but the Gladiators took it even one step further.

Running three tank, two support, and the one damage main in Surefour on Widow allowed for this to happen. First off, the Gladiators had to stay together the entire time through the apartment as to not alert the Spitfire that a member of their team wasn’t in the death ball. The Spitfire didn’t recognize that only five players made the journey to behind the point.

Secondly, using the quickest set of support heroes in Lucio with the speed boost and Moira’s shift and fast walk speed. Using these two, especially BigGoose on Lucio, clumped them up together and allowed for more AOE healing from both supports and easily pushed them through to the back. Once that was secured, it was simply a waiting game for Surefour.

Lastly is the subtleties the Gladiators added to this strategy by deceptively keeping Surefour at spawn. Deception is certainly a strong tactic in Overwatch, but it’s not often an entire set-up is focused around the deception. In a situation where the Gladiators only needed one point, running this seemingly routine strategy with a heavy-tank composition through the apartment, led the Spitfire to believe that all was required was to re-setup off the high-ground and fight on the point. Unfortunately, Surefour standing in spawn got free and easy shots onto Mercy and instantly turned the fight.

The extra month off since stage four ended has to lead to some interesting new set plays and compositions, as we saw today with HOTBA and the Philadelphia Fusion going triple-DPS. It’s allowed teams more experimentation and now we are seeing refined strategies in this current Widowmaker-focused meta. The Gladiators are at the forefront of these types of innovative plays and should inspire other teams to try new things out.

Featured image courtesy of LA Gladiators twitter

Optic Gaming Lose to a Winless team but End CWL Pro League Week Seven in a First Place Tie

Optic Gaming, in one single day of the Call of Duty World League, lost to a Tainted Minds team that entered the day winless and also helped themselves in the standings by sneaking out a win over Complexity and now sit in a first-place tie with Rise Nation.

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In a rather wacky day of Call of Duty, Optic Gaming choking and then redeeming themselves to end this week with a net positive was a perfect cherry on top of a messy sundae. Not only did Optic Gaming lost to Tainted Minds, but Rise Nation fell 3-0 to Complexity and Unilad lost a close one to eUnited. It was a big day of upsets, on top of Optic tying up Rise Nation in win percentage. The three top seeds were upset in some capacity and it helped mix up the current standings.

For Complexity, sweeping Rise Nation and getting edged out by Optic Gaming won’t do them any favors in catching eUnited for that fourth and final spot. With eUnited winning over Unilad, Complexity still sits a game behind a playoff spot, but the fortunate part is players like Dashy and Censor are stepping up with huge kill numbers trying to push this team over the top.

For Optic, it’s not looking like a complete product to end the season. Scump was an absolute monster for Optic in week seven, putting the entirety of the team on his aggressive submachine gunplay, picking up Crimsix and Methodz’s lackluster play. Scump is finally looking adjusted to the type of play in World War II. Optic still has yet to put a full team effort together and with one week to go, it’s unlikely this team reaches that point.

It’s been the Scump show on game types that aren’t Search and Destroy, and been the objective minded slayer that he is on hardpoints and capture the flag. On the two deathmatch modes, Scump is unbelievable at holding down areas. He’s a one-man wrecking crew in those positions, but this team can’t find the right touch for Search.

Optic Gaming even fell down 2-1 to Complexity and almost ended the day in a fight for their playoff lives. Now with the win secured and a matchup with Rise Nation next week, Optic can focus on potentially besting Rise Nation and earning that top overall seed.

Featured image courtesy of Call of Duty’s official Twitch page

Los Angeles Gladiators Win Game One over the London Spitfire with Fissure on the bench

Shortly before the start of the second Overwatch League playoff match, the Los Angeles Gladiators sent out a press release relaying to fans that Fissure would be sitting out the first map against the London Spitfire. A move born out of some inner turmoil and a strong week of practice from iRemix, but nevertheless, the Gladiators didn’t miss a beat with their best player on the bench.

Now, the Fissure benching will take all the headlines, but the biggest story is not only how good the Gladiators looked in the win, but how badly the Spitfire looked in the loss. It was a combination of a cohesive, fundamentally sound Gladiators approach to this match against a discombobulated, miscalculated attempt at slowing down the Gladiators backline. Similarly to a Philadelphia Fusion team that came out firing, the LA Gladiators also made a statement by sweeping the Spitfire.

Starting with Surefour, the MVP of the match, who gave the supports of the Spitfire trouble all game long. On either McCree or Widowmaker, Surefour wasn’t being contested enough to throw him off his positioning or force him into tougher sightlines. It was a struggle in both the Widow-duel and trying to dive onto his spot. It was a huge game for Surefour and helped make up for a real space creator in Fissure on the bench.

Luckily for the Gladiators, the decision to bench Fissure ended up working out. The move from Bischu to Void gave that frontline a bit more firepower, but the Gladiators dominated at every position. It wasn’t just Surefour on hitscan, but Hydration tearing it up on Hanzo or Silkthread in more of an aggressive dive role. It feels as if no team is improving at the rate of the LA Gladiators, and tonight was more proof of that.

London Spitfire Meta Woes

Trying to come to terms with the Spitfire’s recent struggles that have now bled on over into the postseason, in my eyes, boils down to one thing. The drastic gameplay changes with the popularization of sniper compositions, forcing Profit onto a role he’s not entirely comfortable with or necessarily excels in like he does with every other damage role. Bridring can certainly play an effective Widowmaker, but the most aggressive-minded team in the OWL having to play more passive-aggressive sniper strategies is messing with their gameplay.

This run also comes in the midst of a number of roster changes this team has made, as they assemble a core structure to the organization.  All these subtle and big changes hit at once and at the most inopportune time right before the playoffs. This is no excuse for getting badly outplayed and generally outcoached, but it’s a factor into the recent struggles. However, more of this will lead them out of the playoffs.