In the same week that the new season of Ozfortress gets underway, so too is ETF2L starting up once again. Europe is boasting a very strong line-up this season. Long has Europe been waiting for a rivalry similar to that which North America has enjoyed in recent times with Froyotech and Ascent/EVL Gaming. The last time Europe had this it was between Crowns and Full Tilt, the latter of which disbanding shortly after Insomnia 58. Now, at last, a burgeoning new competition at the very top has begun.
Thanks to the pre-season premiership playoffs, none of these teams are unknown to this Ranking system, so it has a little bit more to go on when it compares these teams even at this initial pre-season stage.
1) Arctic Foxes [score: 704]
Over the course of the off-season, this team has replaced Feeling with Murje, replaced Murje with Feeling, and then Schocky stepped aside so that they could adopt Puoskari, who was ousted from SE7EN by the return of Starkie. These movements have left them marginally ahead of the reigning champions in the Rankings. For now, this system thinks that Arctic Foxes, who were in many ways just a Lemmings breakaway a mere season ago, are the best team in Europe, and third-best in the world.
Arctic Foxes only surpassed SE7EN in these Rankings when Alle left the latter and Kaidus joined them. This assessment at the time looked very bold indeed, but it turned out that what the Rankings perceived actually had real weight to it when Arctic Foxes defeated SE7EN in the other day’s Faceit tournament.
I’ve looked back through my records to assess how momentous aF’s victory was. If we say that SE7EN is of the same lineage as Crowns (which isn’t strictly true based on what Kaidus has said about it), this was the team’s first loss to another European team (in an official setting) since August last year. Back then it was Full Tilt who beat them in a pre-i58 fundraiser showmatch. If you don’t count a showmatch as being official enough, you need to go back even further to June 18th when, as Nameless, they were beaten by Perilous on day one of Dreamhack Summer.
Europe has been waiting for a team to fill Full Tilt’s shoes for a long time. I think we all knew judgement day was coming for SE7EN, it was just a question of when and by whose hand. Arctic Foxes go into Season 27 having already staked their claim as SE7EN slayers.
2) SE7EN [score: 682]
SE7EN are a team with Starkie, Kaptain, Drackk, and Kaidus on it, echoing the Reason of old. They’re joined by Raymon, who some are calling the best medic there has ever been, and Thalash, the last remnant of Full Tilt. There’s nobody here who isn’t widely counted as being among the best in the world.
However, this Ranking system is currently very suspicious of Kaidus, as he is a stranger to it. He currently has just two matches on record, and he wasn’t gilded in either of them. Such honours are sure to come soon, but until such a time, he won’t be ranked very highly, and will therefore drag SE7EN down somewhat with him.
This team will be expecting to win this season of ETF2L, and to challenge for the world title at Insomnia 61. If they’re to prove themselves against the North Americans, though, first they’ll have to reaffirm their status as kings of Europe.
3) BazookaSports [score: 651]
This team has been in the works for a span of time that stretches back way into the depths of Season 26. Only now are they making their debut in ETF2L, though.
It’s a whole new team that has been steadily built around the core of AMS and Smirre. Gradually they added Serotone, Thaigrr, Scrab, and finally T0m to the roster. When they played on ChampGG, T0m and Thaigrr played pocket and roamer respectively, but here it’s the other way around. Based on how they breezed through the pre-season playoffs, it’s a switch that’s paying off well. Thaigrr has quickly become yet another addition to Europe’s platter of excellent pocket soldiers, and he may be the one among them that’s best positioned to challenge Kaptain as the best of them all.
It always looked like the duty of challenging SE7EN would fall between this team and Arctic Foxes, and although the latter already stuck their foot in the door in that regard, there’s plenty of time for AMS’s crew to pull their weight, too. They’re ranked closely to the other two top teams, suggesting they ought to be able to make life difficult for them.
4) LEGO [score: 585]
LEGO have returned to Prem after a season away, but they’ve sustained casualties in their absence. Half of the old Crowns-challenging roster is no longer here. Left behind are Josh, Dmoule, and Dr. Phil. The latter has switched to medic to replace Condom, opening a space for Domo, formerly of 3/6, on demo. Their two new scouts are Pot8o and Yppy. The Rankings are familiar to the former, but he’s not ranked especially highly. Yppy is more of a mystery, but he was gilded in his one and only on-record match from the pre-season playoffs.
This team finds itself at the top of a second tier of teams that this system perceives in Europe at the moment. It has enough faith in the talent it sees here to rank them above Lowpander, who contended playoffs last season and have probably become stronger since then. We’ll see if this position is justified with time.
5) Lowpander [score: 569]
This team has seen a couple of changes since last season. Last time, when they contested playoffs, Uubers and Mr. Epic were widely regarded as their standout players. Funs has now joined their circles to replace Grenjabob, and I think most would say he deserves similar recognition to the other two. Kissakala has also left, and Crayon has come in as a replacement. Meanwhile, Hildreth is staying on as their demoman and Muuki is reprising his role as flex.
They’re ranked very closely with LEGO ahead and nerdRage behind, so this system foresees a close battle between the three for the fourth playoffs spot.
6) nerdRage [score: 552]
nerdRage came third last season, and many would have been expecting them to take second ahead of Arctic Foxes. Unfortunately, this team has faced some difficulties since then – difficulties substantial enough to threaten the very existence of the team. They’ve survived, but with amendments.
First, Blade left the team and Namtac moved to scout in his place. The demo spot was then filled by the Lemmings refugee Elacour. Medico seems to have quietly left the team as well, and Glastry, unknown to the Rankings, is his replacement.
This team is likely to see their score improve as Glastry builds up his TF2Metrics résumé. Nevertheless, its initial assessment is that this team will struggle to make playoffs this time around.
7) Unexpected [score: 471]
This team is centred around Adysky, who decided to form a new team after he was ousted from last season’s ill-fated ChampGG. The team also features Sorex on scout, with the Italian having previously played with Lemmings and LEGO. They’re joined by Credu, also on scout, Polygon and Samski as pocket and roamer respectively, and Babs on medic. It’s a good mix of seasoned talent and new blood.
Unexpected progressed to Prem through the pre-season playoffs, defeating Perminators along the way. They couldn’t beat LEGO when they met in the upper bracket, but they secured their ticket to Prem when they narrowly defeated ★★★½ in the lower bracket.
8) Nunya [score: 408]
Nunya sneaked into Prem last season by excelling in the pre-season playoffs. Now, by dispatching Loli Squad, Nunya have just about pulled through again and reclaimed their Prem spot. This is another pretty stable team, with KraftyDave, Yllen, Papi, Ratslayer, and Condawg all returning. Replacing Hems is Earl, who first became known to the Rankings yesterday in the team’s match against Loli Squad.
Together, they’re ranked a reasonable distance below Unexpected, meaning they go into this season’s premiership as the lowest of Prem’s eight. This system expects them to have a season just like they did last time, in which they’re fighting to not be last, probably against Unexpected and maybe even nerdRage.