What is so eXciting to me about the upcoming i46 tournament, is to finally see how TF2′s biggest communities, Europe and North America, match up against each other.
Since communities emerged on both sides of the ponds, competition between the two has been fierce, at least verbal competition that is. There have only been a few handfuls of opportunities for the teams to face off, and all of those have been slighted by the demon that is network latency.
We most recently had the i46 showmatches organized by VanillaTF2. While Classic Mixup demonstrated the strength of their super roster, Leviathan Gaming struggled to perform at their best under the laggy conditions.
Leviathan Gaming however, is known for performing at the best when in a LAN situation. They are eXtremely eXperienced as a team, working together to achieve 3 LAN victories in the past. The roster hasn’t been completely consistent over the seasons but they have maintained a solid core of players on their team. The captain, Tyrone, has come under flack in the past for some of the ways he’s handled himself out of the game, and even his capabilities inside the game.
Despite the criticism, the team’s success is due in large part to his leadership. Ty has been a rock solid pocket soldier. He can bomb and hit rockets when needed, but his leadership is what shines through in his play. It is also what helps take Leviathan Gaming to another level when they competing in a LAN environment. LG are the most professional team I have witnessed so far in TF2 in regards to how they prepare themselves for competition. When the games start, the players will be well rested, focused, and ready to play. While other team’s have had their psyche challenged and tested at LAN, Leviathan Gaming shows up ready to play their best.
The question with them that lingers, is whether they will perform at the level needed to bring home the gold. Cyzer and Clockwork should be an immense challenge to any other scout pair at the event, including Ruwin and Enigma from Classic Mixup. North American Soldiers are traditionally considered to be stronger than the best of the European scene, but that has yet to be tested. Will Tyrone and Mackey, a soldier pair not necessarily known mostly for their skills, be able to not only compete with Europe’s best, but eXcell against them? Mackey’s off-classing is his strength, and he will surely pull off some crazy plays on a class other than Soldier. Without his gunboats however some of Mackey’s strengths, such as his crazy jumps, will be dampened.
Leviathan Gaming’s biggest star has always been b4nny, demoman eXtraordinaire. On LAN, and on computers not his own, b4nny has always performed even better than usual. His well practiced roll outs are as slick as possible and his potential to hit Savior pipes is greatly increased. While the play style of TF2 in Europe has always been structured a bit more around the Demoman, b4nny has persevered in an environment in which for the last 4 seasons, anyone who wanted to beat Leviathan Gaming started by focusing on b4nny.
The only lingering question about the play of Leviathan Gaming is whether they have really adapted to the playstyle of the Vanilla ruleset. While the items and even the format isn’t drastically different, during the show-match the team seemed to still be utilizing b4nny as a forward presence putting pressure on capture points. However without his Pain Train, this tactic isn’t nearly as threatening to the development of the round. Hopefully at this point Leviathan Gaming have adjusted their play-style to compensate for this difference in capping speed and the implications this has on their tactics. They have the caliber to stand against the Europeans. If they can adjust to the style the Europeans throw at them, then Leviathan Gaming only have to worry about their local rival, Classic Mixup.
Classic Mixup represents the strongest collection of talent that has ever been on a team together. If you were to kick around a list of the top players from North America at each position, Pyyyour is the best medic we’ve seen. TLR and Harbleu undeniably in the top 4 of Soldiers. Platinum’s Demo is only outmatched by b4nny, but that fact is becoming more debatable the more he plays. Then finally on Scout, while Ruwin doesn’t have the most achievements to his name ,due to not always playing in the Invite league and only attending a few LANs, he is very on point with his shots and a feared opponent. His partner Enigma has consistently been in the top 5 scouts of North America for more than 6 seasons. A slight performance blip at his first ESEA LAN has since been overshadowed by his continued growth as a player. Enigma plays smart, hard, and adaptive. He is one of the best Pyros in the 6s scene, and utilizes the other off-classes almost as efficiently.
While the formation of this team came under sharp criticism as an attempt at putting together a super-team just for this upcoming i46 event, the truth is that these players all have played with each other on a variety of different teams. The connections are hard to completely trace and with all the teams over the years I might miss some connections. Pyyyour has been longtime friends with Ruwin. played with Enigma and TLR for complexity, and Mihaly’s Flow with Harbleu. Platinum and Harbleu first played together first on the championship Blight team, then together once again on the championship Classic Mixup roster of Season 10. Harbleu has another championship playing with CheckSix Gaming, where TLR was his pocket Soldier. This fantastic collection of talent has a deep background playing together, and also features two of the best minds in TF2: Pyyyour and Harbleu. Their calls will be urgent and direct, while their talents have been sharpened to a razor thin point.
The collection of talent at this TF2 event is immense, and I only covered the North American side. Most of the top teams in Europe will be in attendance. This is a unique chance to finally see where the top teams in Europe match up against the top teams of North America in a LAN environment that produces the best gaming possible.