I planned to write a separate entry for this introduction, but the season snuck up on me so I might as well combine it with the predictions.

I’m going to make a few changes in the coverage for this season. I have a love-hate relationship with predictions. There are a lot of matches that are interesting to talk about, predict, or make fun of. I love those. Last season, it seemed like I could bang out four or five match predictions no problem. Unfortunately, for many reasons, the last three or four match predictions were like pulling teeth, which is obviously the hate portion. One team was inactive, there wasn’t much to say about the matchup, the teams weren’t in contention, no new matches had been played … the list goes on. In fact, if you reread all the preds from last season and knew what to look for, you could probably tell which ones came easily and which ones were difficult.

The problem is that I got burned out from forcing myself to write all the in-depth preds. This isn’t a job for me yet, it’s a hobby. I don’t make any money from the site. So instead of killing myself to write a prediction for every team, I’m going to shift the focus. I’ll do selected in-depth predictions for certain teams, depending on interesting match-ups – one team is really hot, both have good records, both have struggled, new pickups, etc. Nobody will be left out. I know that because last season, the "interesting" match-ups didn't follow specific teams. So if you didn't get a big pred this time, you'll be sure to get one in the near future.

That being said, I know every relationship involves giving and taking. So in exchange for that, I’m going to do more articles and post-match commentary. There were hardly any last season, and I think it’s a better way to distribute both time and effort. In the end, I think I’ll end up doing more coverage for Invite this season than I did last time. The predictions will just be cut back a little bit.

(As a side note, if anybody wants to send in community predictions for a match I’d be happy to add them to the article. Just write something up and e-mail them to mike@landodger.com. They don’t have to win a Pulitzer, just be insightful. And barring that, entertaining. I’m not picky.)

Hopefully that works for everybody. And as always, I hope you enjoy the preds!

CAL-Invite Season 9 Predictions: Week 1-1 (de_dust2)

Five siNs from #team-nsF vs. Eximius Sports
– Five siNs from #team-nsF has officially inherited the “Most Random Team Name” award from … well, I’m not too sure, to be honest. In fact, I’m not even sure I’m qualified to hand out that title, but I think we’d have to consider them a contender if a vote was held. Which sins are they? I’m a fan of sloth, myself. What happened to the other two sins – are they mad about being benched? Maybe it’s not a reference to the seven deadly sins, at all. If somebody from FSF#T-NSF could answer these questions, I’d appreciate it.

As for the match, the simple fact is that FSF#T-NSF struggled to get out of the PT, and Eximius is a title-contender and a CEVO-P team. I’m interested to see what the siNs will show during the rest of the season, but for now I don’t see them competing with Eximius, especially after the addition of messiaH.

Eximius > FSF#T-NSF 17-7

GameFrog vs. Honolulu Eruptors
– So it begins. The experiment known as the “Honolulu Eruptors” will finally be in action. For those of you that missed the boat, the Eruptors are a team formed from Turmoil (Devastation) and Gravitas (zomblerz). They’ve merged their rosters and come up with offensive and defensive line-ups. This is either going to revolutionize Counter-Strike, like the twenty-four second clock, or it’s going to fail like the XFL.

(Actually, it probably won’t do either of those, but it’s going to be fun to watch. And that’s why I’m onboard with the idea – I just wish they had contacted me about a position on special teams. I’ve got mad skillz.)

GameFrog should be familiar to most people as electrify! from last season. But, unlike electrify!, they’re active; same roster, just some different circumstances. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can say the same about the Eruptors. Gravitas and Turmoil are still separate in other leagues, and there are big events coming up: Digital Life and the Newegg LANFest. I’m sure they’re more worried about preparing with their “real” teams and winning money.

On a pure talent level, I’d give it to Honolulu. But I just don’t think they’re going to be highly motivated this season, especially with other tournaments on the docket. They’ll still be able to beat the lower-tier teams during the season, but GameFrog is good when they’re practicing. And with that in mind, I’m going with a little bit of an upset pick.

GameFrog > HE  15-9

They're from Honolulu, and they're erupting. RUN FOR YOUR LIVES.

eGe vs. Mug ‘n Mouse – eGe took the shortcut to Invite. It’s like one of those secret tunnels in a movie about the White House. Somebody needs to get somewhere fast, and they turn a picture of Abraham Lincoln, punch a spot on the wall, and a secret door opens that leads to manhole cover on Pennsylvania Avenue where hilarity promptly ensues.

That’s not to say they’re undeserving. It might have been a quick ride, but they still proved they belong with a third place finish at the CPL, which included wins over top teams (e.g. Gravitas). Anything under Invite would have been a waste of time. In fact, I’d be surprised if they weren’t a Finals contender at the end of the season.
I think they’ll come out with a big win over MnM for their first match in Invite.

eGe > MnM 16-8

Cyber Phenom vs. LucK – LucK had some tough times in the offseason, but it looks like they came through just fine. They lost messiaH, and losing a 5th player is bad enough, but he was actually their 4th at the end of last season. And he’s a great player, to boot.

But they did just fine with their replacements. I’m not sure if they picked up better players; that’ll be shown during the season. For now, “M1kestonE” isn’t a big name in the community, but he was a talented player for BFGaming. Inactivity hurt BFG in the Main playoffs last season and during the Placement Tournament, but that’s not his fault, and they were a great team during the beginning of the season. Holtzman, their other addition, has been a solid Invite player for a few seasons. Add those guys to the familiar core, and they should do well again this season.

I’m not so sure about CP. They lost demonic, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I think he was their impact player last season. They lost a ton of close matches, but it seemed like he always came up big during their wins. jEEzy and iNs are good players, and 3xON is a talented new pickup, but I’m not sold that they’re any better than they were last season. Again, we’ll know more once matches are played, but for now I’m giving it to LucK.

LucK > CP 15-9

eX vs. eMazing Gaming – I’m not sure where eMg stands. They came on strong late last season, but I don’t think they’ve got the same roster. Foerster is on their roster, but he’s playing for Hyper in CEVO. I’m pretty sure they had STRuK at the end of last season, and he’s gone as well. I don’t want to get too in-depth before we see them in action, but right now, it looks like they’re in for a long season.

eX > eMg 13-11

Unheardof vs. itsamassacre – Unheardof is new to Invite, and I’m not sure what to expect out of them yet. I like their team, but IAM went 5-7 last season (good for their first time in Invite) and it looks like the same core players have returned for a second campaign. It wouldn’t surprise me if the match goes the other way, but I’m rolling with the returning Invite team.

IAM > ? 14-10

PK vs. ajnin – For whatever reason, it seems like I’m always predicting these teams. I swear they’ve played at least thirty times since last season. (Don’t mind me, I’m crazy.) ajnin is a little scary this season, too. n1x1n isn’t with them anymore, and he was a big part of their team in the matches I saw. This reminds me a lot of CP losing demonic. I’m just not sold that they’re going to be the same team without that impact player.

PK > ajnin 15-9

When reading LANDodger predictions, make sure you’re not reading any other predictions that contain good luck to all teams, the predicted winners winning, and the predicted losers proving me wrong. Doing so could result in harmful side-effects. If you prediction experience lasts over four hours, a condition known as predicto-priapism, please consult a doctor immediately.