Just when I'd thought up a cool headline, I ran up against the maximum character limit of 33 - damn! Presumably I coded this 3-4 years ago so I only have myself to blame...
For the record, that headline was:Hot Fusion blast TeamKillers with unfriendly fire
Last night's quarter-final between Fusion
failed to live up to the expectation that division 1 rookies TKs might be able to give Valla & co a real fight.
Read on for my review of the game and a look ahead to Fusion's semi-final clash with The Viper Squad
Most pundits predicted a comfortable victory here for Fusion, but I don't think anyone foresaw the ruthless efficiency with which they wiped their opponents from the map. For TKs to gain even a respectable defeat, they needed a good start and then a solid performance free of mistakes, but those hopes vanished when Fusion's start spawns saw them collect the pent, rocket launcher and lightning gun. Valla (aka Nitram) then put on a masterclass of DM3 fragging, not dying until he went for the 3rd pent, and in the meantime he did a superb job of racking up spawnfrags around RA and ring, while his teammates did a good job in strangling TKs' efforts around water and YA.
Whenever TKs did manage to get guys with RL or LG away from the aqua, Fusion's iron grip on the armours and clinical sweeping of SNG meant that there was nowhere for them to go. TKs did manage to take a few quads in the last six minutes, and it was clear that (presumably due to their relative lack of experience) nerves prevented them from playing as well as they can.Fusion 324-75 TeamKillersCMT1b
The second map was TKs home map, "Silverdome", aka CMT1b, and Fusion duly swapped out Serox (Chris) for the Norwegian Rikoll. TKs got a great start, taking pent, RL, LG and quad, but couldn't make it count, and before the first minute had ticked by, one of their RLs had given a pack to Kingpin and the other had died. The next 19 minutes saw control of quad see-saw back and forth, while Fusion largely had good control of the important RA area. Nitram once again put in a good performance and his sharp aim and quick reactions saw him pick up plenty of frags to increase the lead.
As with DM3, it was clear that TKs were nervous and couldn't make it count when they did have opportunities.
I haven't commentated on CMT1b before (at least that I can remember), but it is clear to me from watching top clans play the map that there is potential for genuinely exciting 4on4 matches on this. I don't think the same can be said for CMT4, however...Fusion 255-101 TeamKillersCMT4
After a short discussion on the method for selecting the third map (aside: hasn't it always been the case that in best of five, if it is 2-0 after two maps, the team losing 2-0 picks the third map?), TKs elected to go for another safari and plumped for CMT4. Fusion benched their star man Nitram and brought back British player Serox for what was traditionally a favoured map in the UK leagues of the late 1990s. Incidentally, as I mentioned during my commentary last night, the original version of this map (Androm9) had an RA where the YA is now, and a second LG in place of the SSG in the YA room. There was also a lot more ammo. To win the map, you just had to control the YA (RA) ledge, because it gave access to an RA, RL, LG, mega, pent and one of the quad teles. It seems like a joke now, but I suppose in those days of bad connections, no anti-lag and no voice messaging, the gameplay dynamic was rather different!
Anyway, I don't recall too much about this round except that Fusion had the best start and raced into a big lead of something like 40-3 after only a few minutes. TKs fought valiantly to get back in, but the impression I had was that the key difference here was not timing, teamplay or strategy, but simply the superior aim of the Fusion fighters.
The layout and item stack of CMT4 does not make for exciting 4on4 in my opinion, with many games devolving into a game of rush-and-retreat, with most of the action happening around the quad room and not a lot happening between quads. With very high levels of LG skill in division 1, a difficult to control RA and a lot of cells, the map becomes too much about individual aim and not enough about teamplay, in my opinion. Assuming that EQL continue their pattern of TB3/TB3+2 in alternating seasons, I sincerely hope that when the custom maps return for EQL14 this time next year, CMT4's place is taken by the infinitely more interesting (albeit still flawed) CMT3.Fusion 287-89
TeamKillers will be disappointed that they could not put up more resistance in this match, but the match will prove to be valuable experience for them in seasons to come. As mentioned above, nerves appeared to be a big problem for them on all maps, and this will only improve for them as they play more matches like this one. I hope they stick around and continue to improve, because I have been very impressed by their performances this season. Perhaps they will be asking Santa for a "div 0" quad-runner to take point and lead their charge into the next season? Either way, they will find their challenge increased next season when EQL will presumably revert back to TB3-only.
Meanwhile, Fusion will move on to the semi-finals where they will face the reigning champions
The Viper Squad. This match should prove to be very exciting to watch, with the two teams fairly evenly matched on DM2, DM3 and E1M2. Based on previous performances (such as when TVS beat Fusion in the regular season), I would expect TVS to come out on top on the custom maps, so Fusion will probably have to win all three of the ID maps to reach the final. They are certainly capable of doing so, but with TVS expecting to welcome back Xantom to their line-up for the semis, I think the task will prove just a little too much for them this time. I predict a 3-1 victory for TVS.
Finally, it was good fun to be back on the microphone last night. I enjoyed commentating and while the action itself did not need a lot of describing due to the one-sided encounter, I was fascinated by a lot of ParadokS' insights into 4on4 at the very highest level. I hope we can join forces again this Sunday, when I will be covering
Sauna, in what will almost certainly be the tighest of the four quarter-final games.