I’ve been catching up on some demos recently; I had a pretty big backlog. I try to watch matches live, but things always come up – work, playing Portal, disposing of dead bodies, that kind of thing. I even had to go back and watch some of the CGS matches that I missed the first time around. What I found was startling.

I’m not sure when, but sometime between now and when the CGS ended, I became a nine-round-hater. I didn’t mind it when the CGS was actually happening. I’d watch the matches and be perfectly content. But CAL switched to twelve rounds per half in the playoffs last season, and they used that format for CPL, as well. I forgot what it was like to watch a match with only nine rounds in a half. Now that my memory has been refreshed, it’s just not as entertaining as twelve rounds.

I know how you feel, little buddy. I was shocked about disliking the nine-round format, too.

I don’t want to say the nine-round format is worse, because I’m not the audience the CGS needs to reach. I’m going to watch their content, no matter what, because it’s the only game in town. They need to bring in the “casual” gamer, and if nine rounds helps keep people interested, or fits their TV format, then in the grand scheme, it might be better than having more rounds per half.

From an entertainment standpoint, though, those three rounds make a big difference. A “keeping hope alive” win on the last round can easily turn into a four-round full momentum swing. It keeps more options alive, and it gives teams a little more time to adjust ingame. That's exciting material.

I won’t be leading any CGS nine-round protests, even on the forums, but if they end up with twelve rounds next season, I’ll be a happier viewer.

o the preds!

CAL Predictions: Week 3.2 (de_contra)

electronic Gaming evolution vs. PK – I won’t be overloading you with new material this week. Only two matches have been reported since our last prediction (read: torture) session.

But one of those was a 17-7 win from eGe over LucK (imagine the coincidence that this was the first prediction). When you throw that in with their last win, an 18-6 defeat of GameFrog, they’ve convincingly beaten two talented teams. In other words, it looks like the CPL-quality eGe team is back.

Then again, maybe they never left.  They only had one disappointing result: the double-overtime loss to ajnin.  The loss to Eximius was a little unexpected, but it’s not shocking, either. Eximius is a top team this season, and a 13-11 loss is nothing to hang your head about. One lucky shot goes your way, and you’re going to OT.

PK, on the other hand, hasn’t shown a lot this season. I mean that literally; they only have two reported matches. One of those was a win against ajnin, so they did better than eGe there, but it’s not enough for me to predict a win. They’ll be a solid team this season, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them in the playoffs, but eGe is top-3 in my book.

eGe > PK 15-9

itsamassacre vs. Cyber Phenom – It’s been two and a half weeks since the season started. Cyber Phenom has played one match. At this rate, they’ll be finished with Season 9 around the time I’m writing for ESPN 10 and George Bush is finishing his eighth term as President. Just kidding, of course – I’d never write for anything less prestigious than ESPN 9.

On the serious side, they’re either in for a CS marathon or a forfeit bonanza. Matches from week 1 and week 2 have to be reported by this Wednesday, and they still have three matches from those week. Oops!

Normally, that lack of activity would be a plus for the other team. If you’re not playing matches, it’s likely you’re not scrimming much, either. Practice gets a little boring when there’s no reward at the end. However, itsamassacre is missing just as many matches. They’ve only played one this season, and they lost by nineteen rounds.
So, if you’re jonesing for some itasmassacre/Cyber Phenom action, there’s a high probability of postponement.

Still, a predictor cannot hide a trivial matter like matches not being played. Who cares about playing matches when we can predict them!?  Thankfully, I can hide behind arbitrary rules, like the 16-round loss-prediction. We went over this last week, and IAM still hasn’t played a match. No predicted wins until the 16-round loss is redeemed!

(And for pete’s sake, schedule some matches.)

CP > IAM 14-10

Unheardof vs. LucK – Unheardof is still winless on the season, but it’s been about as close as you can get. They have three losses: 14-10, 14-10, and 13-11. Yikes.

The close matches seem to be a common thing to new Invite teams, though. Cyber Phenom, ajnin, and itsamassacre had the same issues in Season 8. They rarely got blown out, but there was also a hump that they couldn’t seem to get over. They’d even play the top teams closely, losing by a couple rounds.

I’m not sure what causes this phenomenon. There’s obviously a change in gameplay for different levels of CAL, and it takes some time to adjust. But you figure with that adjustment and the superior skill of the top teams like Turmoil and Gravitas last season, there would be more blowouts. There aren’t. In fact, LucK, a veteran Invite team, has bigger losses than Unheardof. There was the 7-17 match against eGe, and a 9-15 loss to eMg early in the season.

If we look at some common opponents, eMg also beat Unheardof, as did GameFrog, but GF lost big to LucK. It’s not a clear indicator that LucK is a superior team, but I’m still rolling with them for now. I liked them early in the season, and I admit the ride has been a little bumpy so far. The 2-3 record out of the gate isn’t awe-inspiring, especially with a big loss on Contra earlier in the week.

But I’m a patient person, and the bandwagon hasn’t broken down. Yet.

LucK > ? 13-11

Featured Match

This is the angriest crystal ball you will ever see. At least, I hope so.

Eximius Sports vs. ajnin – If you thought this was a big matchup heading into the season, please raise your hand. Notice my hands remaining firmly on the keyboard, banging out text. And anybody that just raised their hand, besides the players on ajnin, is a liar. A LIAR. Even you, Ms. Cleo.

Eximius’ 3-0 start (and #1 rank in the standings) isn’t surprising, but ajnin in second place with a 3-1 record? Who knew? They were solid last season (6-6), but given the quality of their opponents, a 1-3 would have been just as likely. But they beat LucK. They beat eGe. And they dropped five siNs (#nsF), a team that’s been a surprise (18-6 win over eMg, included) this season. I would have predicted against them in at least two of those matches, and I humbly submit they should change their team slogan to “Proving LANDodger wrong in Season 9”.

The question now is whether it’s a mirage. Even the Atlanta Hawks played well to start the 2006 NBA season, and they still ended up in the basement. Personally, I think they’re here to stay, to an extent. I don’t see an 11-3 season in their future, but from their performance so far, a 9-5 record and a playoff berth seems reasonable. They’ve got some new talent on the roster, and the returning starters have more experience.

This is a big match for them, though, and they’ll need to be on top of their game. Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if Eximius has been practicing Contra a lot for their other matchup: the Honolulu Eruptors. We know about the bad blood between Turmoil and Eximius, and grudge matches have a way of motivating people.

The key for ajnin here is going to be timing and coordination. I don’t think they’ve got the guns to outshoot Eximius. But if they can force the AWPers to rotate and make them retake sites, they could pick up enough rounds for a close win or an overtime match. It’s easy to say that, but a lot harder to do it.

Even though ajnin proved they can beat the top teams with the victory over eGe, but I’m not convinced they can do it consistently. Eximius is still the favorite, but props to ajnin for their start thus far, and we might be revisiting this match result when we talk about playoff teams.

Eximius > ajnin 15-9

Honolulu Eruptors vs. eMazing Gaming – You can extinguish the signal fires; Kluwe is gone. He didn’t actually play for eMg (thanks to the people who messaged me or responded on the forums for the heads-up), which is even more support for a roster warning system. But apparently a “yes” or “no” answer isn’t good enough. Sometimes people are just roster riding.

Therefore, I think we need to upgrade to a defcon-type system. We need levels. RosterCon 5 can be notification of a tryout. RosterCon 4 is serious consideration, and we scale it up. Level 1 is a player staging a full-on coup of the team. I’m counting on you, my dedication followers, to implement this system. Make it so.

As for eMg’s actual results, they’re solid. The last two matches, a 6-18 loss to five siNs and the 14-10 win over Unheardof, were a little curious, but one of their starters was gone for the Newegg LANFest. That’s obviously not good for the practice schedule.

I’m not sure they can take down the ERUPTORS, though. (Their name just seems right in all-caps, don’t you think?) Funshine and Brawwr AWPing? Where can you possibly go to avoid that? And even if you do, Contra fits Misty and Sasquatch well, I think. They have some similar plays styles on CT side of Train at ladder. Even when you know where they are, they’re using cover and flashes so well you’re still at a disadvantage. The sewers in Contra and all the flanking opportunities will value the same skill-set.

Truthfully, at this point, I’m not sure who’s on offense and who’s on defense. But I don’t think it matters. They go ten deep. If you’re not running into their primary AWPers, you’re running into some of the top riflers. And if you’re not running into either of those, you’re not attacking the bombsites, because they’re everywhere.

HE > eMg 15-9

eX vs. GameFrog – GameFrog has been decidedly underwhelming so far. They’ve had a pretty tough schedule, playing LucK, eGe, and HE so far, but they didn’t put up ten rounds against any of those teams. I’m tempted to give them a pass because of the quality opponents, but eX has better wins, and a closer loss against the ERUPTORS.

The only salvation for this match is that there are two eX players banned for incomplete or missing screenshots. If eX was at full strength, this is a predicted win for them. They just look like a better team so far. But it’s hard to play when you’ve lost (presumably) two starters, and GameFrog should be able to take advantage of that.

GameFrog > eX 13-11

Mug ‘n Mouse vs. five siNs from #team-nsF – ajnin has been a big surprise this season, but five siNs is right there with them. I can’t even remember how many comments there were about them not belonging in Invite, how they were going to get destroyed, etc, etc. But they went 12-4 in Main last season, they got into Invite through the placement tournament, and now they’re 3-2. One of those is a forfeit win, but a .500 record is not getting destroyed.

I’ve also been told that they’ve been scrimming contra well, and Mug ‘n Mouse hasn’t done much so far this season. It’s a predicted Canadian sweep for this week, with eGe over PK, and five siNs beating MnM.

FSFT#NSF > MnM 14-10

Remove plastic cover. Insert predictions into microwave on high for good luck to all teams. Remove product from microwave, and set power level to medium for predicted winners winning, and predicted losers proving me wrong. Let cool for two minutes.