Invite Semifinals Match Preview
Week 12 Match Preview - IRENE vs. Apolodosh
As much as I’d like to say I was surprised by AD’s victory last night, it feels like they do this every season. We knew both teams had strong first halves and slumped in the second, but AD managed to shake that slump at just the right time whereas >> was still mired in tilt. IRENE, however, stopped slumping after week 2 and has been solid all season, so AD faces a much bigger challenge here.
Given the teams’ regular season matches, the map pool consisted of Product, Upward, Steel, Swiftwater, Borneo, Lakeside, Cascade. AD bans, IRENE bans, IRENE picks, AD picks, AD bans, IRENE picks.
1. AD bans Cascade.
Against any other team I’d question this, but IRENE’s proven their dominance on Cascade twice now, once against this same AD team in week 9. Ronnie said on stream last week that they’re decisively better at Cascade, so no surprise here.
2. IRENE bans Product.
Not what I would’ve expected, but IRENE’s been pretty heavy on the Product bans ever since week 1. Can’t say I know exactly why, especially as I think Product is one of AD’s worse maps on paper, but they did beat >> on it. There’s also a scrim log of AD winning 2-1 against IRENE when the latter had a bunch of subs, but it’s probably just them being safe.
3. IRENE picks Steel.
Another interesting pick. IRENE had a bye week during the mandated Steel week, so I can’t say they have any official performances on it. Probably figuring that AD’s weak at it since they lost pretty hard to >> on it despite beating them in the match. I’m of the opinion, though, that its better to play to your own team’s strengths than the other’s weaknesses, but I feel like IRENE’s got a pretty big margin for error in this match.
4. AD picks Lakeside.
AD sticking with solid pick/bans as we’ve seen. Lakeside’s a map all of AD feel comfortable on, with their first major upset on it being against Faction back in the beginning of the season. It’ll let Ronnie be a major factor and should hopefully let dev and pablo compete on somewhat even footing against b4nny and habib as they’ve proven to know how to play bath.
5. AD bans Swiftwater.
While they mentioned in the interview last week they don’t see Swift as a terrible map for them, with the map they beat >> on last week (Upward) and the map they almost beat IRENE on (Borneo) as the other two options, there’s no reason to let the map you haven’t played officially through.
6. IRENE picks Upward
As mentioned above, considering AD was close to winning their Borneo match, the standard of Upward seems safer. It’s worth noting IRENE’s blowout loss to KND on Upward, but these are two very different calibers of teams.
Scout: b4nny vs. pablo
With AD having exceeded their projected-fifth finish to now guarantee themselves placement, you’d think their players would be decently established. Pablo’s had himself a better season than most would give him credit for, I feel, but the gap in experience between these two is massive. From watching them play, I think pablo has more synergy with dev than their counterparts, I don’t know if it’ll be enough to overcome the experience and DM differential. Verdict: advantage b4nny.
Soldier: habib vs. dev
Habib’s made some flashy plays on soldier so far this season and brought out some great statlines on occasion, but he feels a bit like a ‘when it rains, it pours’ player. One thing I think going heavy in AD’s favor this match is their maps are all separate flank/combo maps, meaning that dev and pablo can play together and habib can’t monkey bomb nonstop if IRENE doesn’t want their flank getting run over. It’s possible the two brute force their way past the meme brothers through sheer DM, but I think dev’s more flexible and more experienced with highlander soldier. Verdict: slight advantage dev.
Pyro: Billysaurus vs. River
Billy had been underperforming towards the end of last season on KND so I came into this season sleeping on him a bit, but I think he’s more than shaken that funk off and shown why he’s been at the top for so long. River’s definitely an up and comer, though, and I think he’s got the potential to stick around at the top. It’s a shame we’re not still in the post-buff pyro meta so we could see the two of them really go off, but I think Billy’s the safer bet. Verdict: slight advantage Billysaurus.
Demo: Jarrett vs. Arzt
Scrimming against AD last night, I came to the conclusion that Arzt stops being able to hit things on demoman once he can see them. Thankfully for AD, there’s a ton of blind spam on the maps they picked, meaning he should be in his comfort zone. Despite a strong performance against exile last week, Jarrett’s maintain a pretty solid season all around and comes with the experience and DM, if not the star power, you’d want out of a top demoman. Verdict: advantage Jarrett.
Heavy: carcin vs. RonnieJ
Unlike last week, AD picked maps that’ll allow spiritual leader Ronald Jeremy room to make plays and have an impact. Unfortunately for them, I see carcin as an upgraded version of Ronnie; lots of that same aggression/playmaking ability and function of a “main pillar” on the team, but ultimately more flexible and better at doing his job. There’s nothing against Ronnie here, but I think carcin’s the best heavy in the league right now and the fact that they have similar playstyles (with carcin being better at passive Heavy, as well) works against AD here. Verdict: advantage carcin.
Engineer: Jordan vs. nip nop
Nip nop had a solid game last week, but unfortunately continues being matched up against some of the game’s all time greats. Jordan’s in the twilight phase of his career, but his DM’s still solid and his experience can’t be topped. Nip’s “smart engineer plays disable comms by making [enemies chuckle]” according to a source on AD, but if you’ve seen b4nny’s concentrating face, I don’t think it’ll be enough. Verdict: advantage Jordan.
Medic: Skye vs. Wall
I slept on Wall last week, but she had a great game and really avoided a lot of the blunders and gaffes that hit her counterpart. Skye, on the other hand, has solid mechanics but is skeez-like in her proneness to those same bloopers and tragic deaths at bad times. Her team having better fundamentals helps to hide it and she contributes a lot while alive, but I’m looking for Wall to have the better individual performance. Verdict: slight advantage Wall.
Sniper: bo4r vs. shaayy
Shaayy showed up last week and went toe to toe with Fallen, eventually outfragging him but I’d argue Fallen had a better killspread, especially considering his team was losing fairly hard at some points. I’m hoping we’ll get that same shaayy showing up this week and not the one from AD’s second half, but bo4r’s a tough order for anyone, even with his performance this season being a little more subdued than what we’re used to. Shaayy did get the better of bo4r back in week 2, but bo4r returned the favor in week 9. It should be a great matchup, but I’m leaning with the favorite and saying Verdict: slight advantage bo4r.
Spy: feint vs. Madringme
Looks like IRENE’s pulled out the big guns with playoffs coming up, and the legend himself is coming back to help IRENE get into the finals. Mad had an incredibly memorable first round last week before cooling off a bit, but from what we’ve seen of feint he’s not in peak form but he’s still above most of the spies out there. His timing’s still sharp and he’s as unpredictable as ever. Verdict: large advantage feint.
While I said AD wasn’t favored in their last match, there was a lot more room for error there. The difference in individual skill and experience between these two teams is a lot more tangible, making AD more of an unarguable underdog. Their teamwork, aggression, and willingness to capitalize on mistakes still definitely makes them dangerous, as some of the ex-dK players on IRENE should remember from last season, being pushed to a map away from losing in playoffs. If IRENE sticks to their guns and doesn’t disrespect AD, though, I think it’d be difficult for them to lose.
Steel: 2-1 IRENE
Lakeside: 3-1 IRENE
Upward: 2-1 IRENE (if necessary)