Having previously fallen short in the groups at i57, we were keen to redeem ourselves at epic 18.
I personally had a top 8 finish on my mind as our goal this time around.
Prior to the LAN we practiced very little, as I had left the team a few weeks before due to other commitments, and the team were
playing ESEA league games with Thomas.
The majority of the team arrived on time about 7pm or earlier, despite a breakdown at a roundabout nearby, a flight from
Belfast and a very long train journey from Scotland. And Harry aka Nukeddog, who lived less than an hour away was nowhere
to be seen.
Arriving at the room at the Kettering Conference Centre it was immediately apparent that the internet connection
at the LAN was awful. As I recall some of us were trying to deathmatch with ping jumping between 70 and 300 and others were
playing a very jumpy game of slitherio.
Once the team were all setup, we realised that playing any practice games online was going to be tough, so we had to look to
other teams at epic for some warmup games. We played against Limitless and Odin, beating both fairly comfortably, most importantly
we got most of our set plays and positioning right, so we were on track for the group stages the next day.
After a decent night's sleep we recieved our group draw. We had been placed with uFrag, VATIC, Old Dirty Badgers and OVOXO Gang.
uFrag being 4th seed and VATIC 8th, we saw it as a favourable group draw, at this point assuming 2 teams went through, and felt
we had a good chance to make it out of our group. We had the group with 1 less team, having 5 rather than 6 as most others had.
As it happened, the admins decided to put 4 teams through each group instead. That made us very confident of making the knockout
stages, but we were determined to place highly to give us the best chance in the bracket later on.
Our first game of the day was VATIC, we fancied our chances in this matchup, and we were very happy with how the veto went.
Cache was to be played first, and it was a very shakey start for us, the match was riddled with mistakes and misplays on our part, but
it seemed that VATIC were also struggling which took the game to a very close scoreline of 19-17 in overtime. We pulled through thanks to
strong individual performances from Nukeddog and kplus.
Our 2nd map against VATIC was cbble, we got off to a flying start and took a 9-1 lead, which drew alot of attention to us.
We relaxed a little too much at that point, and let some rounds slip when we could have had a near flawless terrorist half.
When it came to the ct side, we really didn't find our game and VATIC stepped up.
Myself and wafu were pretty much lost on the B site, we'd not played together in quite a while which definitely didn't help and
VATIC were hyper aggressive on B, our lack of preparation there definitely cost us as we ended dropping the map 9-16.
The next opponent for us was uFrag, and overpass was first up.
We put in a really weak display on the t side, losing a ridiculous number of afterplants. But I have to give credit to Powell and esio
who made the afterplants so tough for us, they were both picking up lots of frags on retakes.
Moving onto the ct side Nukeddog came up with 4 kills on the pistol to swing momentum in our favour, and we managed to at least show some
good signs on the ct side before losing out 8-16.
Cbble was a different story, we just couldn't break uFrag's ct setup, and a sub-par t side for us combined with our struggles at B on ct
were too much, losing 8-16 again.
At this point we realised that rounds may well be the difference between us and VATIC in taking the 2nd place in the group.
We went into our game against OVOXO gang with absoloute confidence, we knew we were superior to them, but we wanted to win as convincingly as
possible to help our round-difference.
A huge pistol round from their player awesomesauce slowed us a little on de_mirage, but we closed the game 16-7.
Moving onto inferno we asserted our dominance and took the map 16-3.
Dropping 10 rounds wasn't ideal, and we knew that we would have to do better in our remaining matches.
Our final bo2 of the group stages was Old Dirty Badgers. Prior to the game we sorted out some problems that plagued us so far,
including some microphone issues and making changes to the B site cbble setup.
Our changes certainly paid off as we outclassed ODB with a crushing 16-1 win on de_cbble. It was a really strong team performance and the
mentality was great.
We also took the second map, Overpass, in a convincing manner 16-3.
It turned out we had done enough to secure 2nd place over VATIC in our group, which meant our first elimination game would be against Exertus
later that night. Although the game didn't get underway until after 1am, it wasn't ideal to be playing so late, particularly with the prospect
of playing at 10am the next morning, but it was the same for Exertus, so we couldn't complain.
First up against Exertus we had de_cbble, and Nukeddog brought out an incredible performance to secure our 16-10 win on the map, picking up
34 frags in the 26 rounds.
Then it was on to overpass, and despite Nukeddog stepping up again, we had some problems on the ct side that ultimately cost us the game.
Exertus played the map really well, and forced alot of our errors, but unfortunately we made too many mistakes of our own as well.
Finally, it was de_cache to settle it in this bo3. And we made a strong start on our ct side, taking 12 rounds, then going on to win 16-7.
That put us through to the Upper Quarter Finals, and a best of three against tournament favourites Rasta.
It was a tough task ahead of us, even more so because of our lack of sleep.
We gave Rasta some good games, taking 7 rounds on Cobblestone and 12 on Mirage. I think we took them by surprise a little, and forced them to
up their game on Mirage. They were ultimately better, and beat us fairly comfortably, but they had some nice things to say about us, and we had
a few compliments from them shaking hands after the game.
That moved us down to the lower bracket, where we would now play to secure a top 8 finish.
Our game was against Limitless Nation, we were confident that we could beat them, and we controlled the pace of the game from the start,
shutting them out on our ct side of de_cache and taking it 16-4.
Cobble was much the same, with a solid ct side closing it 16-6.
That saw us making it to a guaranteed 7th-8th finish, and that point we felt we'd achieved what we set out to.
Our next game in the lower bracket was Perilous, we weren't really sure what to think as it was a mix team, but we expected a difficult series.
The first map was de_cache, and we put in a good effort and the game could have gone either way but Perilous managed to take 5 in a row right at
the end to secure it. We felt that we were very much still in with a chance in this best of three, and it was de_overpass coming up.
Overpass was not we'd hoped for, although we managed to mount a bit of a comeback at the end, the game was fairly one-sided and it was frustrating
to have played so far below our level at such an important time in the tournament.
With a loss in that game against Perilous we placed 7th-8th and our tournament run was over on Saturday afternoon.
Overall, we were pleased with our placing. We had achieved what we felt we deserved, and it was a great feeling to see
that improvement from our group stage nightmare from i57.
The tournament was very enjoyable, and the admins did a fantastic job, kept delays to a minimum and were very active in making sure that
games were running smoothly. They were far above my expectations having previously waited through huge delays at the iseries events.
All the teams and players that we spoke to were very friendly, and the teams who we lost to and most of those who spectated us only had
good things to say about us. The whole event was a great experience!
Thanks to Lewis (xpecx) for all the work organising, and getting there and of course all your help at the event.
And to end, I'd just like to say good luck to the guys kplus, Nukeddog, bmagic, wafu and their new teammate Thomas.
They've been smashing ESEA Intermediate so far and I'm sure we'll see them making waves at the upcoming UK LANs.
-James aka wAVE