What we have here is a guest piece from WCR forum member practicemage. He admins the disapointingly little-known FFA Masters League, and you should all hear about it.
FFA Masters League: Season XIV Coverage
Well, another season has flown by and we have already reached the last round of season 14. Due to the new format for the league, there are still no players who are assured of making it to the finals, (although two time FML Champion Magadansky and Persuade are the big favorites at this point) and most players still have a shot at the semi!
Before we move onto the Round 3 recap, a quick reminder on how the qualifiers work: At the end of the season, 3 players with the most points will qualify directly for the finals. The players that finish 4-7th in points will qualify for a semifinal match. The winner of the semifinal match will be the 4th player in the Season 14 finals.
Round 3 was the round which separated those who are playing for a trip to the finals, and those who are playing for a trip to the semifinals. Without further ado, a brief recap of each of these games:
Match 9 featured two prolific Undeads in the form of Plzleaveduck and Magadansky. The early game started off with Duck and Nline fighting, and Maga and Mog duking it out. It looked as if the game might develop into two quick solo matches. But eventually, Mog was eliminated leaving the dreaded three-way. While Maga was the biggest threat at the time, poor communication and an inability to agree led to a lack of teaming. Eventually Nline was taken out of commission and it was clear that Magadansky was the biggest threat. However, by this point it was too late and Maga was able to pull off his second win of the season.
M10 was another match which started off as a pair of solos. Q-veta and Seksi faced off while Mr.Sparkle and Persuade duked it out. Unlike many matches though, this one did not end up in a three-way right away. Instead everyone stopped attacking in order to regain some gold. This proved to be very beneficial for Mr.Sparkle who was out of gold and was able to replenish his reserves to 10K. After a bit of down time the battles resumed where Seksi was able to take Q-veta out of the game. Following that, he was able to use an efficient amount of manipulation to convince Mr.Sparkle (who had been losing to Persuade all game) to help team Persuade out of the game. Persuade went down fighting, but was eventually overcome but the combined forces of Seksi and Mr.Sparkle. After Persuade was out of the game, Seksi was able to coast to an easy win of Mr.Sparkle.
With even spawns, it looked like this could be anyoneís game. The start of the game progressed at a normal rate with creeping and expanding, but as soon as the creeps were gone the fun began. Redkeekee decided to take one of Ugrilainenís expos to try and get an early game advantage. Ugrilainen obviously took exception to this and defended his expo. The two of them engaged in a prolonged battle that took place all over the map while Renaud and Humans7ar hoarded at 50 food. Humans7ar quickly grew bored of this and decided to take advantage of Redkeekeeís inability to defend his expos. Humans7ar took the expos between them over. Renaud decided to step in at this point to try and level his heroes vs. Humans7ar. While this did help Redkeekee out, it proved to be too little too late as the gold disadvantage allowed Ugrilainen to finish him off. The game then played out in typical three-way fashion with everyone getting teamed a little bit before it came down to an extremely close base race. In the end, the Undead Ugrilainen pulled off the win.
One of the quickest matches in FML history, Match 12 proved to be an action packed one. Rain randomed Night Elf and spawned next to Daselend while Wrecktify and Startshaped spawned next to each other on the other side of the map. The creeps were almost entirely ignored as Rain harassed Daselend to gain levels while he quick-teched. On the other side of the map, Starshaped rushed Wrecktify with footmen. While the rush itself did not succeed, it did allow Starshaped to gain a gold and expansion advantage. When Footman vs. Footman turned into Gryphons vs. Gryphons, Wrecktfiy was not able to keep up and was knocked out of the game. Rain and Starshaped quickly hit each others' expansions and tried to limit the amount of gold the other had. During a pause, Rain decided to take advantage of the lapse in battles to go ahead and hit his Orcish neighbor. After a close battle which Rain was winning, Starshaped got bored and came to join the fun. Rain was able to TP out and recover, but Daselend was not so lucky. Starshaped managed to finish him off, and narrow the game down to a 1v1 vs. Rain. Rain had a 7K gold advantage, but Starshaped had a level 6 Archmage as well as Tanks. It proved to be a close battle, but in the end Rain was able to pull out a win.
And now, the Round 4 Matchups!
Round 4 games will take place on the Deadlock map.
Magadansky is probably the biggest heavy-hitter that the current FFA community. A two-time FML champion, heís gotten off to a hot start winning two of the first three games of the season. His two opponents in the match are certainly no slouches though, and if he isnít careful he could get 4th just as easily as 1st. Redkeekee is one of the newer FFA players, and has certainly made his mark quickly. Winning several games as both a player and a substitute in Season 13, he quickly became one of the most feared Night Elf players in the game. He managed to pull off a close win in Round 1, and almost managed to repeat it in Round 2. With his power back now after Hurricane Sandy, itís safe to say that heíll get his practicing done before the match this time and be an even more feared opponent. The last of the scheduled players in the match is probably one of the most overlooked players in FML: Q-veta is a long-time FFA player and has one of the best minds in the game. While heís not a favorite to win the match, it certainly wouldnít surprise anyone to see him pull off the win. Unfortunately, real life has interfered and Wrecktify is no longer competing in FML. As such, a substitute will take the fourth spot in this match.
All 4 players have been playing a long time and know each other quite well. Daselend is one of the most dominant Orc players that FML has ever seen. While he is no stranger to the finals, he has never managed to pull off that elusive championship win. He hasnít had one of his better seasons this time around, but that can be attributed to the fact that he came out of retirement specifically to play this season. Heís shown remarkable improvement each week. The Orc juggernaut is someone who is feared for good reason. Darkermirror is another player who has come out of retirement to play this season. Due to computer failures and some tough luck, heís currently not doing too well in the standings. But, as one of the lead Night Elf innovators, he is always in contention to pull off an upset win.†
Mr.Sparkle, aka Kajetan, is known for two things: Playing completely drunk and creating 136 food Human ground armies. While he has successfully accomplished the first, he hasnít had the proper matchups or maps to do the latter. Itís showed in the fact that he hasnít had much success so far this season. Deadlock is a great map for Mr.Sparkleís style of play though, and it could lead to a breakthrough for him. The last player, another Canadian, is one of the most successful FML players ever. An FML Champion, and the King of FFA winner, Renaud is the strongest Night Elf player that FML currently has. Heís also the odds-on favorite to win this match, which could lead to some heavy teaming against him. In addition to this, his overwhelming hatred of the Orcs has been known to lead to some irrational decisions in the past.†
Match 15 promises to be one of the most entertaining matches of the season. It features 3 former/current solo players who have all had success in FFA as well. While the transition period may not have been smooth, theyíve all earned respect from most of the FFA community. Weíll start with the non-solo player, Humans7ar. Heís been a frequent contender and made the finals several times. By playing an aggressive Human game that mixes Mass Teleportation with Tanks, heís someone that is feared both for his micro and his fearlessness when facing a 2v1. This often leads to quicker, more chaotic games that can throw the typical FFA player off their game. The next player is someone who probably needs no introduction to this community; Starshaped. Better known for beating Remind, heís also had a quiet but successful FFA career. When he first started out, he was known for rushing people with no regard for the consequences. As such he often was quickly eliminated from the game afterwards. As his experience has grown though, heís combined that reputation with an ability to adapt to the game style. While he still frequently rushes his opponents out of the game, heís now able to handle the late game better. He was another participant of the Season 11 finals, and is looking to make his way back there this season.
SeksiReturns is one of the most promising players in FML. Also known by Iskes and Surroundking he made his mark in the solo community first. However, upon taking up FFA he made an immediate impact there as well. Known for superb micro of high food armies, heís quietly become one of the best macro players as well. These combinations have often caused him to be teamed out of games, but with so many solo players itís entirely possible that hubris may come into play for whoever is losing a fight. In addition to his impressive FML resume, Seksi is also the current leader of FML Ladder Season 1. The last player is one that is also no stranger to this community: Plzleaveduck, aka RSM, is one of the better American Undead players left in the game. Heís had a bit more experience in the FFA community then the other two solo players, and itís showed in the consistency of his results. Duck has managed to appear in the semifinals of every season that heís participated in, and made the finals of Season 13 although he did not play. In addition to everything else, Seksi and Duck have a bit of a rivalry going on which could cause some interesting battles and add a new dynamic to the match.
The last match of the round could be billed as old school vs. new school. Weíll start off with the old school. Nline is one of the oldest players around, and had not been seen for years prior to a few weeks ago. Then, out of the blue, he showed up to play a few games. He was available to sub a match in Round 2 and pulled off an upset victory showing a lot of his old skills even if he was a bit rusty still. After said player was unable to continue playing in Season 14, Nline was invited to join and FML has never looked back. Ugrilainen on the other hand has been a constant staple of the FFA community. A long time player and admin for FML he is best known for his tendency to dual tech Human and Undead. Itís led him to many surprise victories in the past, including a trip to the Season 13 Finals. This season though, he is the clear winner for the Most Improved Player award. While his macro sense is as good as ever, heís been working with other top players to improve his micro. The hard work has paid off, and as a result people have second thoughts before hitting him.
The two new players to the FFA scene are certainly not new to FFA. Both have a few FML seasons under their belt and have had success in their limited time in FFA. Persuade, also known as DKIsTheirLeader, has made it to the semi-finals twice before, but could not pull off the big win to get to the finals. This season though heís decided that he wants to just entirely avoid the semi-finals and directly qualify for the finals. So far heís tied for first and controls his own destiny to do just that. The other player should need no introduction. DkH.Rain, WCRís own Born2BeKilled, is one of the most prominent solo players left in the community. His success in the solo community has been mirrored by his success in the FFA community. He too has made several semi-final matches, but never managed to make the finals. A win in this match would give him a good chance of making the finals directly. An interesting note is that Rainís success has not come with just Undead, he plays Random in FFA and has managed to pull off wins with every race.
Because players schedule their own matches, we do not yet know the times of each match. They are announced on FFAMasters.net when they have been scheduled. In addition, all replays, standings, and information about the league can be found at FFAMasters.net as well. Streaming of games is available as well for those who are interested. We hope to see you soon!
More coverage of this event is likely to follow. Special thanks to practicemage for the write-up, and be sure to check out FFAMasters.net for on-going updates.