Banner by Cell, writeup by vetia and moosepi, edited by Caldoran
Mercenaries Cup 7 has Officially Begun!
15 teams and 149 players have registered, fees have been paid, and the 7th season of the AsiaFortress Mercenaries Cup has officially begun!
All the teams have been seeded and the matchups have been arranged. The Challonge brackets can be viewed here.
The first week's matches must be played between 19th to 24th January. Teams must determine the match dates with each other within this time frame, advisably before 22nd January. We request that all team leaders get in touch with the opposing team's leaders through the Match Threads or Steam at the earliest opportunity to avoid delays.
Leaders may use the Team Directory to look for and contact the leaders of other teams to schedule matches and scrims.
A reminder that each team is allowed one postpone without penalty for any regular match before the semi-finals, after which they will have to forfeit further missed matches. Teams which postpone a match must play two matches the following week to avoid delaying the tournament.
Teams are advised to be fully familiar with the Rules to avoid any infractions or offences.
Best of luck to all teams participating, and may the best team win!
Top Contenders for the Throne
With the tournament officially kicked off, let's have a look at four of the teams who are crowd favourites for the title of Grand Champions, each hailing from a different nation!
Cute Beast (China / Korea )
- Demoman: Hysteria
- Pocket: Fury
- Roamer: Shad0w
- Scouts:10 / Flower
This legendary Chinese team first made its appearance in the previous iteration of the Mercenaries Cup and subsequently stunned the competition by taking first place, dropping only a single map along the way. They're best known for the incredible DM of Fury and 10, along with the latter's strong maincalls, which have kept them at the top of the region since their formation.
And with the advent of Mercenaries Cup 7, it seems like the Chinese team is poised to continue their streak of dominance, especially with the pickup of Flower, a Korean Scout whose sniping skills have led him to stardom in the scene. The addition of a great offclasser means they're looking stronger than ever, and while it remains to be seen if they can replicate last year's result, Cute Beast definitely looks like the favourite team to win.
Kusoyotech (Korea )
- Demoman: Friez3
- Pocket: babel
- Roamer: daylight
- Scouts: LK / starky
From the depths of the seasonal Korean shuffle rises yet another all-Korean superteam. Korea's been a powerhouse in Asian TF2 since the beginning, with nearly every Grand Final in major Asian competitions featuring at least one Korean team, and MC7 looks to be no exception to this rule. Kusoyotech's roster is made up entirely of players who have proven they can stand at the top of the Asian scene, with some of the standouts being janus, babel and LK; janus' skilful Medic play was an integral part of his team's victory in the ninth AsiaFortress Cup, while babel and LK have been a constant presence in Korean superteams through the ages thanks to their incredible DM and gamesense.
Of course, while they can undoubtedly put up a good fight, Kusoyotech hasn't been together nearly as long as Cute Beast. While many of their players have experience playing together (babel, LK and Friez3 were all in the AsiaFortress Cup 9 runner-up team Emi Dizziness), it remains to be seen if this is enough to overcome the other powerhouses in the tournament. If they can, though, Kusoyotech is well on their way to securing a spot in the Grand Finals, if not on the winner's podium.
Club Penguin Crusaders (Singapore / Hong Kong / Malaysia / Taiwan / Korea )
- Demoman: Moy
- Pocket: teejay
- Roamer: creep
- Scouts: fwishy / marcato
Club Penguin Crusaders isn't nearly as homogeneous as the rest of the teams here; The only players who hail from the same country are creep and marcato, both Korean. Nonetheless, their lineup's just as strong, with players like teejay, arguably the best (and saltiest) player in Asia, creep, an old-time Soldier player whose skill and decision-making has led many a team to victory, including his AsiaFortress Cup 9 team Mihaly's Flow, and marcato, an up-and-coming Korean Scout whose overwhelming DM brought his Division 2 team to an uncontested victory in AFC 9.
Unfortunately, synergy could be a huge problem for the team. The different nationalities of the players could definitely lead to communication difficulties; And even assuming they overcome this, the only two players on the team who have played together before are teejay and creep. They've been practising a lot, however, and if the results of this show, it's very possible that Club Penguin Crusaders could claim the title of the best team in Asia.
Fireless (Japan )
- Demoman: matsukaze
- Pocket: bk
- Roamer: hirapa23
- Scouts: timo / ozr
For the longest time, Japan vs. Korea was a staple of the Grand Finals in AsiaFortress tournaments, and it looks like Fireless is trying to bring that back for Mercenaries Cup 7. With players like pnt, ozr and hirapa23, all of whom have played on AsiaFortress Cup 8 runner-up team deadly momentum, this team looks set to come out in full force and put up a fierce fight against the other powerhouse teams.
Rust is undoubtedly a factor, though. Many of these players haven't participated in tournaments for a long time, and it's up for debate whether they can compete with some of the newer players, especially given the inevitable rise in DM skill over the past year. That said, though, it'd only be a small surprise to see this team in the Grand Finals, especially given their dominance in past seasons.
Which team will come out on top? Will one of the 11 other teams also hungry for the title pull an upset and surprise us all by emerging victorious?
Only one way to find out, and that's by tuning into our coverage of the Mercenaries Cup! More information about the tournament, including the brackets, schedule and full rosters of every team can be found on the AsiaFortress website, and we'll be casting some of the more exciting matches, so keep your eyes peeled!