State of the Game—August 21, 2006
Predicting the GWFC: Our Writers Disagree
Special note: Each State of the Game article presents the opinions and insights of one game observer. These observations are personal in nature and do not reflect the opinions of ArenaNet. While ArenaNet does review each State of the Game article to assure that it offers content that is respectful of all players, we intend to allow our reporters the freedom to inject some personal opinion into descriptions of the current atmosphere of competitive play in Guild Wars, and to express views based on their experience and observation.
In lieu of a typical "State of the Game" article, we asked our writers to predict who will win the Guild Wars Factions Championship in Leipzig, Germany. And we weren't disappointed. Each writer elected to choose a different guild for first place, giving diverse arguments to back his selections. With no clear consensus among the writers, it seems likely we'll see tight competition in Germany. Each team boasts the most experienced players in the world, and they have fought each other (and everybody else, for that matter) in a frenzied and energetic drive to the top of the ladder. Let's take a look at what the writers have to say and, more importantly, why.
How Does Your iQ Measure Up?
By Christian Brellisford
The Idiot Savants know that they have the iQ to defeat their opponents at the Guild Wars Factions Championship (GWFC) in Germany. I predict that iQ will defeat Irresistible Blokes, go on to upset the currently reigning guild, The Last Pride [EvIL], and win the GWFC grand prize.
Currently listed in the top ten guilds in the world, the Idiot Savants guild [iQ], is no stranger to top-level competition. It competed and placed third in the first Guild Wars World Championship (GWWC) and is now looking to better its performance in the GWFC.
iQ has been demolishing the competition with balanced builds while practicing for the main event. Its members have already experienced playing live and are focused on winning the prize. I had a chance to talk with Big Mchugelarge from iQ to ask him how well he thinks his guild is prepared for Germany.
Q. How prepared are you for the GWFC?
"We think we're going in fairly well prepared; at least, as much as we can be simply by playing a lot and keeping our skills sharp. We can't prepare for the situational things that'll appear over there, like the crowds, noise, and bratwurst."
Q. How often do you play to prepare yourself leading up to the GWFC?
"We're back to our normal practice times of a few hours per weeknight. The time we can spend is generally determined by real life commitments, so we're not really putting in any more or less playtime than we usually have."
Q. Will you have multiple builds ready? And are you ready to face the current metagame?
"We'll have multiple builds ready, and most of our playtime right now is just keeping track of the metagame. We'll probably have a very complicated, detailed strategy planned out ahead of time, then decide to scrap it all once we get over there."
Q. Lastly, what do you think of your first match against iB?
"iB is extremely strong, both individually and tactically. I can't even tell you offhand who we'd face in the second round, because it will be very important to focus on iB. I know from watching iB's match against Esoteric Warriors that it has the upper hand in dodge ball and rock/paper/scissors."
I believe iQ has what it takes to finish in the number one spot in Germany at the GWFC. Its builds are tight and its members' skills are sharp. Combined with its regular practice times and experience from other live events, I expect the guild to overcome the immediate competition with iB and go on to defeat EvIL. If it can beat the past GWWC winners, then nothing should stop the Idiot Savants from claiming the top prize!
Christian Brellisford is a college student currently studying video game design in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in hopes of pursuing a career in the field. A gamer since an early age, Christian has been involved with Guild Wars since the E3 for Everyone Event in 2004, and currently leads the Spirits of War guild. You can find him in game under the name Saidin Writer.
The Last Pride will be Proud Again
By Harold J. Chow
Who do you think will win?
I pick The Last Pride [EvIL] to win it all. Given its uncanny ability to adapt its builds quickly to every shift in the metagame—including the Nightfall Preview Weekend when they shut down an opposing team consisting of six powerful Dervish/Monks—and its strong performances in past championships, EvIL looks like the team to beat.
How will the various guilds do?
For all of its skill, Idiot Savants [iQ] tends to come up short in tournament settings. However, it survived the uphill climb to get into the GWFC and could surprise Irresistible Blokes [iB], who admitted to practicing less than normal recently.
Treacherous Empire [Te] has shown even more flashes of brilliance, only to get struck down by uncharacteristically bad decisions or horrible luck. Both Te and iQ will have to overcome jet lag to play effectively against two tough European guilds on their home continent.
Esoteric Warriors [EW], the GWFC Season 2 champion, has shown the ability to compete against anybody. Its players mesh extremely well together, and they usually exercise great foresight for all three games of a match. However, Te's skill combined with its experience in playing in front of a live audience in the Guild Wars World Championship (GWWC) will give Te the edge here.
iB will likely squeeze by iQ, but will have its proverbial hands full with EvIL in Round 2. Despite iB's excellent talent and vast tournament experience, EvIL plays at an astonishingly high skill level and should give iB more than it can handle.
War Machine [WM] has consistently played with finesse and quick-thinking since the release of Guild Wars over a year ago. Very few teams can stop WM's split strategies. Te has the ability to beat WM, but unless Te can pull out a few good surprises, WM will likely have an answer. However, WM has yet to beat EvIL in a major tournament.
Any surprises ahead?
The powerful combination of Soul Barbs and Recurring Insecurity has not seen heavy play among these guilds because they have all developed good countermeasures and run strong Hex removal by default. However, it would not surprise me if a guild pulled out that build to try and catch an opponent off guard.
Harold J. Chow is one of our freelance Guild Wars reporters. His in-game name is Guild Informant.
By Adam Sunstrom
6th Place: Idiot Savants [iQ]
iQ has a lot of smart people on its team, and it knows the game better than most, but there's a reason this guild is seeded last. iQ seems to have less coordination than other top teams, and crumbles more easily under pressure.
5th Place: Treacherous Empire [Te]
Te has had some brilliant performances in the past, but it hasn't looked like itself lately. Like iQ, Treacherous Empire has a lot of potential but has a history of being a little irregular.
4th Place: Irresistible Blokes [iB]
Irresistible Blokes is a very solid team with consistent performances in the past. Sadly, its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. In a tournament format like this one, being predictable can easily cost you a win.
3rd Place: War Machine [WM]
War Machine is seeded number 1 and has constantly placed in top spots throughout the GWFC, but I don't think it has the same caliber of talent that The Last Pride has. While relying heavily on its innovative builds, which are usually excellent, WM might repeat the past against The Last Pride and try to beat EvIL at its own game with a balanced build.
2n Place: The Last Pride [EviL]
The fact that EviL is seeded number 2, despite losing in the first round of the second season, speaks volumes about the ability of this guild. It has dominated the Guild Wars competitive scene for most of the GWFC, at times looking unstoppable. If you play against The Last Pride, and try to play its own type of game, chances are you'll come out a loser. Inside a game, EviL is very good at adapting its tactics to the situation. However, in the past, some guilds have studied The Last Pride and developed a counter build to catch EviL unawares.
1st Place: Esoteric Warriors [EW]
I'm picking the upset mostly on a hunch. Esoteric Warriors is known for doing well with unorthodox builds. The Feast of Corruption spike it ran without Monks in the finals of the second season popularized Ritualists in spike builds. I think this guild will do its homework and take advantage of the Korean teams' habit of sticking to what's worked in the past.
Adam has been playing Guild Wars since February 2004 when he joined the Alpha test, and has been interested in the competitive aspects of the game from the beginning. In the early Beta Weekend Events he led his former clan, The Fianna, with success. He is currently a member of Black Widow [Wi].
War Machine It Is!
By Michael Thompson
This August we will see six of the top guilds competing for a total prize pool of $100,000! But who will win the top spot and with it, the grand prize of $50,000? Well, predicting the winner of this fiercely fought contest is no easy task.
Looking at the teams in reverse seeding, we start off with Idiot Savants [iQ]. iQ is a very well respected guild and reached the semi-finals last time around. This time, its performance has been a little less impressive; it lost in the first round of all three play-offs and scored only nine points, putting it 14th in the points table. It finally won its place in the GWFC with a heroic blitz on the Open Event.
Fifth seed Treacherous Empire [Te] finished joint fifth place in the points table with Sacrament Of The Waooru [SotW]. After losing the tie-breaker match, it seemed Te's hopes of going to Germany were nearly over, until SotW dropped a bombshell by giving up its place to Te. I think Te surprised everyone with a less-than-spectacular performance this championship, and while many hoped for a better showing, Te just couldn't deliver.
Fourth seed Esoteric Warriors [EW] showed why it deserved its spot in Germany after winning the Season 2 play-offs and finishing joint third in the points table. EW is a very strong contender, and if it can overcome a lack of experience in championship conditions, it will be a real threat to any team hoping to make it to the final.
Third seed Irresistible Blokes [iB] is a powerful team and fought most of this championship with a build that deviated from most of the metagame. However, in order to reach the final, iB will need to beat defending champions The Last Pride [EvIL], a task which seems beyond iB's proven abilities.
The Last Pride [EvIL] is our defending champion and second seed for the finals. In this championship, EvIL has shown why the build is not the main deciding factor of a match. EvIL often plays a very simple balanced build with few tricks and wins by strategically outplaying its opponents. However, EviL shocked everyone when it lost out in the first round of Season 2 to I Black Widow I [Wi]. Will we see another upset? Probably not.
Finally, we have War Machine [WM], the number one seed, and one of the biggest trendsetters in the game. WM has probably been the most consistent performer this championship, making two playoff finals and one semi-final. This guild's strength lies in a supreme ability to harass opponents with split tactics and creative builds. War Machine will be a tough nut to crack for any team wishing to make it to the final.
So who will win? If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on yet another Korean final. I don't see The Last Pride losing out in its semi-final game. On the other side of the bracket, I predict the important conflict is between Esoteric Warriors and War Machine, and I think War Machine just has the edge there. So between these two, I'd pick War Machine. WM has surely played EvIL in enough finals to finally take EvIL down!
Michael Thompson is a twenty-three-year-old gamer who originally hails from South Africa and is now living in the UK. A proud member of The Amazon Basin guild, Michael enjoys both the PvE and PvP aspects of Guild Wars. His favorite classes are the Warrior and Necromancer, and he admits to being "pretty rubbish at playing a Monk." Michael's in-game name is Mickey of the Basin.
What About Te and iB?
While our writers may diverge in their opinions of who will win the GWFC, they speak with much the same voice about iB and Te. All of them agree that iB is an underdog, given its lack of experience in live tournaments, and that Te has shown signs of weakening throughout the championship. Will these two guilds break free from this analysis and crush the favorites? We'll see. Let's not forget that they have as much metagame experience as anyone else in the tournament, and could certainly walk away with the grand prize.