Banner by Cell, writeup by vetia, vetted by Caldoran
Mercenaries Cup 7 Upper Bracket Semi-Finals
Asian TF2 is once again hitting its peak, with two titans of the scene getting ready to pound it out in the semi-finals of Mercenaries Cup 7. This match will dictate who will move on to the Grand Finals to fight for the glory of Championship, and who will be knocked down to the lower brackets and face the task of climbing back up to the Grand Finals.
Just going over the lineups of the two teams, we can already predict that it’s going to be one hell of a match.
Over in one corner are the Chinese champions, Cute Beast, who so far, have been the most dominant team in the entire competition. As winners of the previous Mercenaries Cup, they definitely have a reputation to uphold, and so far they’ve been doing just that. Seeded first and given the bye week, Cute Beast were able to skip the opening stages and wait for contestants in the 1st round of the Upper Bracket, more than a month ago.
But this is the greatest proving of their strength: In the two matches they’ve played, Cute Beast have yet to drop a single round to their opponents. Not even Fireless, the team of old Japanese beasts, could find a chink in the armour of the Chinese machine.
Cute Beast’s secret combination to victory is Fury on Pocket and 10 on Scout. Fury soaks up heals and takes solo Ubers to dole out the damage against enemies, letting their Scout, 10 clean up with his superb DM ability. This tactic had led to their victory in the previous series of MC.
However, spectators of the last AsiaFortress Cup will know that Cute Beast lost to Emi Dizziness because of one player shredding their combo to pieces: Korean star Flower, acclaimed for his godly Sniper aim.
Flower now plays on Cute Beast, and it appears that with his addition, the last weakness of Cute Beast has turned into an asset. In the recent matches, Flower has proven himself to be one of the best players on the team, consistently putting out damage and supporting his teammates in more ways than one. Although his Sniper plays have not seen daylight yet, he has shown that his Scouting ability is more than a match for 10.
However, with three star players, it seems inevitable that others will fall under their shadow. While it is absolutely necessary for the Medic RLE to slot into Cute Beast’s style of play (which means trusting Fury with the Ubers), Hysteria and Shadow are forced to take a backseat. In fact, Cute Beast’s weakness might be that when their three star players are underperforming, their other three members will be unable to back them up properly, and falter under the pressure to fill the carrying role.
Another fault to this team would be their lack of scrims. Because of real life commitments and other issues, Cute Beast has not been regularly scrimming any other top level teams for two weeks. Perhaps it will not affect how well the players themselves play, but it will definitely hurt how the team works together and performs overall. We can only see if this will affect them when they come against high level opponents truly of their calibre.
Club Penguin Crusaders
The other corner holds a mishmash of players from different regions of Asia. Club Penguin Crusaders, also known as Pingu, have proven their mettle in the competition over the course of three matches. Pingu rolled Shuffled.tf in Week 1 and won Week 2 when PSYCHOS forfeited against them. They then managed to fight off their closest contender and greatest rival, Kusoyotech, clinching their spot in the semi-finals.
There is no doubt that Pingu deserves their slot, and their roster holds names that are lauded throughout Asia.
In all honesty, Pingu looks like a reiteration of AFC9’s champions, Mihaly’s Flow. The team started out with a much different roster in its first formation, but has ended up with four players that played together during that season, albeit with players on different classes.
Teejay and Creep definitely form the core of the team at this point; Creep has been playing the game since Summer 2008 and been playing in top Korean teams since AFC6, while Teejay has consistently made playoffs in competitions since 2013. Teejay, so far acknowledged as one of the best players in Asia, possess the confidence, DM, and gamesense to lead his team to victory, especially now that he is playing pocket. This is supported by the solidity and experience of Creep, further helped with the firm understanding of Creep and Shocky about how the former two work.
Yes, Teejay’s leadership could lead this team to victory. However, two things stand in the way of Pingu becoming champions of MC7. First off, communication. It seems that this team is slamming the brick wall of the language barrier much more often than before, with coordination in scrims becoming much more difficult, and silences becoming much more frequent in mumble, affecting how the team plays and whether the team works together at all.
The last problem could be Teejay himself, whose fiery temper in games is a well known fact. While Teejay is capable of controlling this rage, if an event within his team causes these barriers to burst, he could potentially tilt at his own members. At that point, it will be up to them to handle the pressure of performing up to standard while being shouted at.
After reviewing the lineups, the conclusion is that both teams have their powerful strengths and potential weaknesses and both have star players with league histories that have at least one championship in them. It seems pretty much even, and spectators can probably look forward to an exciting and even match.
At this highest level of play, it comes down to which team is performing better on that day. Will Cute Beast be able to polish off the rust in time for the match and carry themselves through, or will Club Penguin Crusaders be able to smash through the language barrier and work together under fire from their opponents?
Tune in to the match on Saturday 26th March 2016 at 9:30 PM GMT+8 to find out! Stream to be announced, watch this spot!