It’s slim pickings this week. I don’t know what happened, but when I look down at the seven scheduled matches, there are only two or three that seem vaguely exciting. This must be how Mike Rowe feels about new job ideas – “Oh god, not another animal farm.”

Outside of the top four teams, every team seems to fit into two categories: teams with activity problems, or teams with record problems.  And this week, they’re all playing each other. We’re left with some 1-3 vs. 1-3 hotness, and a couple seemingly lopsided matchups, like Eximius vs. whoever Eximius plays from this week forward. Woo-hoo?

You pick up my poopz now, Mr. Rowe?

Let’s sum it up like this: removing forfeit wins, we have a 4-0 team, a 5-1 team, and three teams at 3-2. Those are the only teams with winning records. There are six teams with records of 1-3 or worse.

So, if you’re looking for oodles of gripping action, it doesn’t look good. But I bet I can still find things to make fun of.

CAL Invite: Week 4.1 (de_train)

LucK vs. eX – This is an interesting match. Both teams are 2-3, but they’re hard to get a read on, too. eX has played everybody, including Honolulu and five siNs, closely. LucK has been the opposite, swinging from blowout wins to crushing defeats.

This was actually in contention for the “Featured Match”. It’s hard to look at LucK’s roster and not be a little impressed, at least. AllbrooK is well known, and HoltzmaN has been part of the Invite community for a while. Plus, they have Michael “Hare” O’toole. Just thinking about that name brings back memories of United 5 with fRoD and tr1p. That was even pre-compLexity, when Bullseye was still part of 3D. Good times.

But I just can’t predict them to win. I’m really trying to convince myself, here. Look at the talent! The results just haven’t been there, though. Part of it is working in a couple new players. There could be a time when everything just clicks, and LucK rips off a couple big wins. If it’s this week, I’m going to look a little silly.

Train is a hard map for working in players, though. There are so many spots to hide as a CT, the communication and chemistry has to be perfect when attacking the sites. I’m not convinced that LucK can pull that off, despite the talent on the roster. Combine that with eX’s slightly better match results, and I’m going to give them a close win, here.

eX > LucK 13-11

Unhearof vs. Eximius Sports – Eximius is 6-0, and the only team that seriously pushed them was eGe (#6 in standings). They beat five siNs (3) and the Eruptors (2) handily. ajnin (5) forfeited to them. Who else is going to challenge them? eMg already has a 7-17 loss and a 6-18 loss. Somebody from the lower half of the standings will have to step up, which is about as likely as ESPN hiring me, at this point. LucK and GameFrog probably have the best chance, but they’re 3-6 combined. They’re talented, though, just not clicking.

After beating the Eruptors, the only question I have about Eximius the rest of the season is by how much they’re going to beat the rest of the field. I don’t want to jinx anything, but we’re looking at an undefeated season.

(Wait a minute. I’d have more fun by actually jinxing them. You heard it here first: Eximius goes undefeated this season!)

(P.S. Sorry, Eximius. Had to do it.)

Eximius > ? 16-8

Featured Match

electronic Gaming evolution vs. five siNs from #team-nsF – Two teams come in. Each fight to the death for twenty-four rounds. Only the victor will remain, and they shall be crowned the CAL Canadian Champion.

If that doesn’t do it for you, it’s also a grudge match for longest-team-name supremacy. Unless you want to refer to the Honolulu Eruptors as their previous names, which would be something like: OneEyedZomblerz-rSports-Checksix-Zomblerz (part deux)-Gravitas-Devastation-Flow-Devastation (part deux)-Turmoil. It’s a mouthful, but it crushes all opponents in the longest-name competition.

And just in case you’re not satisfied by the Canadian subplot, the name subplot, or the possible playoff implications, five siNs has a player that was on eGe until late September. It’s going to be a good one.

It’s tempting to look at this match as the best of an uninspiring group, but it’s legitimately great. eGe is stronger than their 3-2 record indicates, and five siNs has far exceeded expectations this season. That might not be hard to do when everybody expects you to go 0-14, but still. They’re 4-2, and as it stands, I don’t see any way both of these teams miss the playoffs. They’re doing too well compared to the rest of the league right now.

This is five siNs’ first big test since their first match of the season against Eximius. They did poorly that time around, but they also rebounded with an 18-6 win over eMg. We should find out now whether they’re a contender to take down Eximius later in the season, or if they’ve just been off to a hot start.

Overall, I’m still not buying that they can pull off the victory. They’ve been steadily moving up the ranks, but I’m not convinced they’ve “arrived”, yet. If they beat eGe, they’re undoubtedly a top team. But for now, I think they’re just below that level.  

eGe > FSFT#NSF 14-10

Nothing like getting a good squeak/mouse reference in a pred. Here's a cute mouse, to celebrate.

Mug ‘n Mouse vs. PK
– Two teams. Death. But this time, the champion gets one step closer to a .500 record: 2-3. The loser will be mocked endlessly for their 1-4 failings, as they deserve.

Seriously, I’m finding it hard to get excited about the matchup of 1-3 teams.

Mug ‘n Mouse hasn’t looked good this season. They have three losses, all 8-16, and one win they squeaked (Mug ‘n Mouse always “squeaks” out wins) out 13-11 against Unheardof.  PK isn’t much better, but they’ve been keeping the matches a little closer, at least. They beat ajnin 13-11 early in the season, and only lost 10-14 to Cyber Phenom, another 1-3 team.

There just isn’t much to say about this one. I still have some hope for PK this season, and I think they’ve got a chance to turn it around. But right now, this feels a Chicago Bulls vs. LA Clippers game circa 1999. For any non-NBA fans, that’s the Bulls Apocalypse that followed Michael Jordan’s retirement. It was ugly.

PK > MnM 14-10

Honolulu Eruptors vs. ajnin – What the heck happened to ajnin? They went from a 3-1 team with playoff hopes to a 3-3 team with two forfeit losses and four people on the roster. I haven’t seen a drop-off like this since the Great Naruto Filler Plague of ’05-’06. Those were dark days, my friends. I barely escaped with my sanity.

In any event, I don’t know how ajnin will play this one, and even if they had a full roster, I’d still go with THE ERUPTORZ.

HE > ajnin 17-7 (if played)

Cyber Phenom vs. GameFrog
– I made a reference to CP’s lack of reported matches in the last set of predictions, but it’s not due to a lack of activity like I assumed. From what I understand, they’ve been keeping a good practice schedule, they just can’t get anybody to play them on match nights.

This brings up the question: why is everybody afraid to play Cyber Phenom?

Could it be their 1-3 record? Or perhaps it’s their intimidating handles – random capitalized letters are a requirement, please make a note, “bob” and “havoc”.

For the match, both teams are stuck at 1-3 with slight upside potential. If CP is practicing, that gives them a big advantage over most other teams. Then again, everybody that I think practices turns out to just be in it for the free ESEA that comes with being in Invite, like paying $5.95 per month would send them into abject poverty.

I’m going with GameFrog on this one, for nothing more than a hunch. They seem to have CP’s number, as I recall. If the Phenomena Cyber had been doing well this season, I might have reversed course, but they haven’t gotten off to a good start.

GF > CP 14-10

itsamassacre vs. eMazing Gaming
– itsamassacre is a very appropriate name, at this point. Unfortunately for them, they’re on the “getting shanked” end of the machete. Eight rounds in two matches. Yikes.

I’m not sure what’s happening at this point, because their 5-7 record for last season was just fine. It wasn’t filled with forfeit wins or wins over weak teams. But something changed, and it’s not for the better. I’m not ready to write them off yet for this season, but at this point, they need to show they have something left in the tank.

eMg > IAM 16-8

In a double-blind taste test, respondents preferred the taste of LANDodger Predictions over the taste of any competitor – this must be due to the high concentration of good luck to all teams, predicted winners losing, and predictors proving me wrong.