Let’s see how my preseason thoughts are doing. Going into the action, I liked GameFrog, eGe, LucK as possible title contenders. They’re a combined 4-6. I didn’t consider ajnin a top team, and wondered how they’d do without n1x1n. They’re 3-1. And, just to top it off, I predicted against the Honolulu Eruptors in the first week because they couldn’t possibly be practicing for CAL. Even if that’s true, it turns out that doesn’t matter too much – they beat down GameFrog 15-9.

Yeah, it’s been that kind of season, already.

We hates him! Wicked Yankeeses! (Actually, we're just jealous of his fame, fortune, and talent.)

But, I remain upbeat! Even Derek Jeter, one of the most consistent players in baseball, sucked that one time. Before you know it, I’ll be back on my feet – hopefully without being viewed as a symbol for the Evil Empire and everything that’s wrong in baseball.

To the predictions!

Week 3:1 (de_contra)

Unheardof vs. Cyber Phenom – Unheardof is 0-2 so far, and in my first prediction thread, they posted about their inactivity. I can’t think of a faster way to lower your stock than posting about inactivity. On the other hand, Cyber Phenom is 0-1. That’s not confidence-inspiring, either.

(And, for good measure, all the losses have been by a score of 10-14. Would it have really hurt to have a 2-22 match so my prediction could be a little easier? I’d never ask for such a thing, I’m just sayin … )

At this point, we don’t know much about either team, but I’m going with CP. This is a huge break of procedure. I can’t remember the last time I predicted them to win. But I had them ranked a little bit higher going into the season, and nothing has changed that, yet.

CP > Unheardof 14-10

itsamassacre vs. PK – For my predictions last season, I had a 20-round rule: if you lost a match by more than twenty rounds, I couldn’t predict in your favor until you won a match. The only problem is the rule was made for max-rounds 15, not the new 12-round format. So, I think it’s to modify the rule.

To lose by twenty rounds, you had to be beaten 25-5. That means one team lost five out of every six rounds. Since we’ve taken away six rounds from the total (thirty last season, twenty-four this season), that means it’s pretty easy to adjust the numbers. We simply take the five rounds away from the winning team, and one away from the losing team, and we’re left with the same ratio.

New Prediction Rule: If your team loses 4-20 or worse, I can’t predict you to win.

Itsamassacre has a 3-21 loss to Eximius as their only played match (in addition to a forfeit loss).

Rules are rules.

(And I think PK is a little better, anyway.)

PK > IAM 15-9

Mug ‘n Mouse vs. GameFrog – After one Invite title and a decent season 8, Mug ‘n Mouse has started with two 8-16 losses. Wah happen!? Maybe they should consider changing their name back to Fever, or, at the very least, Mouse ‘n Mug.

He's green. He's fuzzy. He's cuddly. He never stood a chance.

Then again, GameFrog hasn’t set the league on fire. All I heard in the offseason was about how active they’d be. I predicted them to beat the Honolulu Eruptors. Yes, I predicted (game)frogs to beat lava. That’s how confident I was. The match result was the same as you’d get in a real fight between Kermit and Kilauea. Since then, they’ve had an 8-16 loss to LucK, and a 14-10 victory over the similarly-inactive Unheardof.

I’m sticking with GF on this one, but I’m definitely souring on their prospects this season. I thought they’d be going deep in the playoffs, and they still have the talent to do so, but we saw what happened last season when they don’t practice. They’ll get some wins, but Invite still has enough talent to punish the teams that aren’t as dedicated as the rest.

GF > MnM 14-10  

LucK vs. eGe – This would be the featured match almost any other week. But there’s a slightly better match coming up, and to be honest, both teams have been a little disappointing this season.

I thought eGe was going to carry their CPL success into CAL, but they’re only 1-2, including a double-OT loss to ajnin. Don’t get me wrong, ajnin is a solid team, but they didn’t show overwhelming talent last season, and eGe placed third at CPL. An eGe player made a post in the CAL forums that called his team “lazy bears”. Personally, I’m terrified of all kinds of bears, but the point is well taken.

LucK’s results have been slightly better, but inconsistent. They lost a close match to ajnin, as well, but they had a big win over GameFrog on the same map. That came after splitting their Dust2 matches with a 9-15 loss to eMg and a 14-10 win over CP. The jury is still out on their new pickups, and it could explain some of their inconsistencies. They’re probably learning and adjusting to every map as it comes along. If not, it sure seems like it.

I’m going to give eGe a small pass on their loss to ajnin because it was on Strike. Their other two matches were better: a close loss to Eximius and a big win over MnM. They should be used to Contra, and Contra is a map that requires teamwork and communication. There are a lot of opportunities for fakes, flanks, and general misdirection. That should favor eGe’s experience as a team.

eGe > LucK 13-11

eX vs. five siNs from #team-nsF – I wish everybody was as informative as the guys from FSF#TNSF. Check out these answers to my question about their team name:

E-Mail: “Obviously given the situation we decided that it would be best for us to join their organisation, none of us cared about the name really but one thing for sure, the reputation we forged under the name of nsF needed to stay. So in order to remain nsF in everyones mind and please our newly joined organisation we went 50/50 with the name. fsiNs from #team-nsF was born. “

CAL Forums: “We're part of the fiveSins organization but since we're known to be nsF for the past 5 seasons we didnt want to let go of our roots,”

And I got a PM on IRC with the same message as the CAL Forums. Now that, my friends, is a response! Normally, I can’t even get people to join the LANDodger Steam community group (which takes two seconds, so you should do it, you lazy jerks). If everybody was that diligent about responding, I’d never write anything because I’d be too busy responding to all the e-mails. Which wouldn’t be a bad thing – I love e-mail.

So, to everybody out there, the gauntlet has been firmly thrown down. The bar has been set, the dye has been cast. The [object] has been [verbed]. It’s up to you to outdo the response I got from nsF on my next question. Bring the “Best LANDodger Response” title to your home!

(There is an actual match happening, though, so I should probably get to the prediction.)

Five siNs had a surprising win over eMg, but I’m not reading too much into that (as you’ll see in the eMg pred). I’m more concerned with their first two matches: a 7-17 loss to Eximius and a 9-15 loss to ajnin. Those are two solid defeats, and I’m not confident that they’ve adjusted to Invite yet; it always takes teams a little time.

So, while I’m looking forward to better things, I don’t think they’ll pull out a win against a 2-1 eX team.

eX > FSFT#NSF 15-9

Kluwe is coming! Kluwe is coming!

ajnin vs. eMazing Gaming – It’s official: I need a signal system. There are a couple players that float around every season, letting the Internet winds guide them. I need a system like they had in Lord of the Rings: anytime one of those players joins a team, somebody lights a fire in the field. Then the mountain outpost will light their fire, on down the line until somebody sets a car on fire outside my Los Angeles apartment building. That’s reasonably sure to get my attention, just make sure it’s not my car, please.

Kluwe (“1337W4RR10R”, as he’s listed on the CAL page – a definite handle downgrade) is the player, this time. He popped up on EXTREMITY last season, and they got off to a quick start before inactivity strangled the life from their team. eMg has had a couple strange results, so far, despite Kluwe’s presence. They had a 15-9 win over LucK early in the season, but dropped their next match to five siNs (#nsf) 6-18. That’s a paddlin’, and their next match was a close win against an 0-2 Unheardof team.

I’m going to chalk those results up to the non-standard map. Strike isn’t very popular, and there are new faces on the roster besides Kluwe. They probably had some chemistry problems. If that’s not the cause, my prediction is going to be in trouble, because I think they’re more talented than ajnin. Both teams are 3-1 though, so it should be a close match, and it could be a playoff preview.

eMg > ajnin 14-10

Featured Match

Honolulu Eruptors vs. Eximius Sports – Looking at the schedule after my break and seeing this match feels wrong. Karma usually punishes me for missing deadlines. Now I’m being rewarded? If I was a cartoon mouse, I’d be looking for a piece of string attached to the cheese right about now.

What more could we ask for? Honolulu is only half Turmoil, half Gravitas, but there’s bad blood in the form of cheating accusations and a CEVO dispute that resulted in a match overturn. We have plenty of recent history: CAL matches, CEVO matches, and CPL action. And it’s not a one-way rivalry like when the Yankees would constantly beat the Red Sox; each team has won their share of matches.

Eximius has played well this season, going 3-0, including a win over eGe. They also played very well at the Newegg LANFest. If a couple shots went their way, they would have been in the second round instead of the CHImera. Vu played extremely well on Train there, but I think zero and zuH are more important to Eximius for this match. If they can control CT side with AWPs, they should be able to anchor the defense on a map that favors T side.

I predicted against the Eruptors in the first round, and I have to do it again. It’s almost physically painful to write that, because I could get burned again. They’ve got plenty of talent, but Eximius has been playing very well lately, and to be honest I think they have a bit of a mental advantage. The Turmoil players are convinced that Eximius is shady, and if there are lucky shots early in the match, who knows how they’ll react. They could focus even harder and pull out the win, but those emotions are a distraction, in my experience.

(Bonus Prediction: at least one person will play the match with a name like “[Eximius Player] cheats”. I consider this a mortal lock.)

(Second Bonus Prediction: if the Eruptors win, I predict I’ll never predict against them the rest of the season. And I predict I will apologize for my lack of faith. I’m spiritually weak.)

Eximius > HE 13-11

LANDodger Predictions: bringing you good luck to all teams, predicted winners winning, and predicted losers proving me wrong since 1907.

(Err, I mean 2007.)