Ahh, HBZB and p00t1s; two evenly matched teams from different continents struggling not to be knocked out. It was an intensive match between the perceived underdogs of the playoff season, and lead to two of the closest maps in the season, though both were on completely different ends of the spectrum when it came to pure action.
Maps played were cp_sunshine (in Hatena, Japan) and cp_snakewater (in AFL, Singapore), now classics in the TF2 map pool.
I only have insight to pregame for p00t1s because most of them are on my friendslist. Scrambling for players at the last second before having the main turn up anyway, not having scrimmed since after getting knocked into the lower brackets, an overall aura of defeatism and unconfidence; not exactly the most victory-inspiring aura going into the match.
HBZB were into the server long before p00t1s, but they (probably) were far from confident, having lost close matches to p00t1s previously. In addition, they'd been rolled by the revitalized Xiao roster (shoutout to teejay), and most of their stakes were on this match to not get slammed from the competition entirely.
One of the most fast paced games I'd ever had the opportunity to watch; it was just each team picking up rounds after their opponents had come out strong. HBZB and p00t1s basically traded round after round before P00t1s managed to clinch the final point in the last 40 seconds, pulling a good mid out of their hat.
HBZB and p00t1s shared this in common; they apparently hated offclassing; the only offclasses we saw all map were at last, with HBZB running engineer or fwishy running heavy.
The core of the game was: P00t1s' mids were complete shit, but all of HBZB's ubers were pretty much the same thing. On middles, shinka kept taking massive damage before the fights even started fullswing, and starky just seemed to be getting the better of him all the time. Without that demo presence to control scouts, Hwain and daylight's coordinated soldier bombs are just that much more effective. However, HBZB's ubers are just cringey; if they don't force out an uber from the enemy first, they're basically always pushing poor positions with a singular soldier. I don't know what it is, but HBZB seems to have a lot of faith in the Hwain bomb, sending him in with uber first to open things up. It always ended up poorly though; there were hardly any uber trades that ended in HBZB's favour.
Then you have fwishy and oro, who seemed to be outclassing ozr in the DM fights. While hira and chongy play more controlled and 'slow' styles, fwishy and oro are roaming scouts at heart, and their push-pull mechanic was beautifully in-sync at critical moments in the game, clinching out rounds for their team and securing points with supreme prejudice.
Both teams seemed to collapse when it came to post fights though, perhaps lacking decisive maincallers to pull teams out of bad situations. The reason the game was so fast paced on this map was because players kept taking risks and getting caught out, initiating a domino effect where because someone was caught out, another person gets trapped trying to save him and dies, forcing the rest of their team backwards before someone else screws up again - so on and so forth. Furthermore, neither wanted to play more reservedly once the ball was rolling, and HBZB started taking fights and trades they really shouldn't have; like, neither team wanted to grind out an uber ad at all.
I still don't think p00t1s really deserved to win sunshine, but shinka landed some MASSIVE damage at that final mid and fwishy just ran in and cleaned up. HBZB, caught off guard, couldn't get out fast enough and were just rolled all the way to last.
Seriously, screw this map. If boring had a name, it would be HBZB vs p00t1s on snakebloodywater. Both teams played the most passive games of their lives, and I ended up having to cast this shit.
This is an example of tiebreaker tension taken to the extreme, where both teams settled in comfortable positions and started jerking off because neither wanted to make the first move, for fear of making the first mistake. Seven minutes of nothing before a singular uber trade that ends up putting both teams in the same position anyway, and then three minutes of CCTV footage as fwishy tries to find someone to backstab from the HBZB players, who are all playing atop the shack.
Seriously though, why would you not push when you have mid and you lost the previous map? What I learned was that HBZB either play too passively or too aggressively, and can't seem to find the inbetween. Every time they picked out small advantages to push they didn't, and whenever it was a critical moment where the fight could turn against them, it did. I don't know if it's the DM of their players or poor coordination, but HBZB were just terrible at teamfights in general, and p00t1s had hira who could play the uber game much better than the HBZB.
Honestly, p00t1s should have won Snakewater so much more convincingly; HBZB had bad ubers, bad pushes and bad teamfights, but apparently their opponents couldn't seem to make the better of those situations. I would argue that HBZB started playing more passively to make up for those mistakes, identifying that the less opportunity they had to do something dumb, the less it would happen. In turn, p00t1s did the same.
And that's how the map ended up being forty minutes long (with the golden cap included), with the first round being picked up at 8 minutes left. [ResidentSleeper]
In the end, I'll just pin p00t1s' victory to fwishy and hira. Fwishy made all the plays necessary to break stalemates for his team, and hira won almost every single uber trade he took, plying out bad positions and flashing from kalpushy14. Mad props to Chongy for some direct hit streaks though.
Nothing much to say except: how does a game go from being so back & forth, brimming with action and packed with excitement, to one of the best sleep-inducing matches I've ever watched? Well, take two teams who are extremely momentum based - one that is unconfident in itself and the other with full confidence in its defensive playstyle; have the latter one lose by a hair, and apparently, you'll make vetia want to die watching a spy creep around for three bloody minutes.