I scream, you scream, we all scream for iSeries. Or as its formally known, the Insomnia Gaming Festival 62nd Spring Equinox Edition.
With less than 24 hours to go until the first Battalion 1944 event, we take a quick look at the teams attending and their chances of taking home a share of the £10,000 up for grabs. Insomnia itself has been a staple of the UK Esports scene since 1999 and has since come from small-town LAN to big city expo featuring in places like Swindon, Newbury Racecourse and Stoneleigh Park before finding its current perch and home at the Birmingham NEC. With fond memories for a lot of ex-Call of Duty players, some of those in attendance will look forward to soaking up the sites and smells of nostalgia, gently nestled on the backdrop sounds of ‘lolnoob’ and ‘rekt’. Though Call of Duty has remained a staple of the iSeries in one form or another, prize pools were left to suffer after a last minute change up at i38 saw Modern Warfare 2 take the forefront forcing those under the age of 18 out of the tournament. It could be believed that this was the true last point of support for the PC community and failure to accept new titles left an ever-ageing Promod sustained world on the side line. But alas, from the ashes of a once thriving community has risen a new contender. A new frontier in which to wage war across comes in the form of Battalion 1944 and with it comes a new beginning for our Insomnia drenched weekends.
Starting in 18 hours, 29 minutes and 47 seconds exactly from the time of writing this sentence. Insomnia 62 presents a UK Masters hosted Battalion event, adminned and cast by Blitzkrieg Battle cup runners ThePlays. The aptly named ‘Blitzkrieg Open Championship’ sees a foray of up to 16 teams try their luck at the new title in what could turn out to be a regular feather in the cap of Insomnia. Early controversy surrounding Battalion’s first ‘official’ event came due to the apparent lack of TUP (Turn Up and Play) options. Salvaged by Bulkhead’s savvy know-how, head sponsor Chillblast were brought in to the mix to support European lineups looking to attend, opening the doors for teams such as Penta and The Imperial. The tournament format takes account for the likely scenario of an 8 team tournament, though we expect some last minute signups taking place on the day. Teams can expect a round robin format coupled with a double elimination bracket scenario with varying forms of Bo1/Bo3 thrown in for good measure. The full tournament format can be found over at ThePlays here.
With all the pleasantries out of the way lets take a look at the teams attending and get the ball rolling on our teams in the Top 4
Penta Sports have absolutely dominated the Rainbow Six scene 3 times over and being the prime focus of controversy questioning the success of picking up teams so soon after Battalions early access launch, Froster and co will look to prove the naysayers wrong and follow suite. With Penta in attendance, the biggest organisation currently in Battalion has decided its time to conquer the very first event for the game. Featuring a squad made up of talented players in a multitude of titles, Penta boasts arguably the strongest (and most stable) lineup that’s making the trip down to Birmingham.
The team has a solid combination of brains, including A1ga, a top player in Rainbow Six: Siege, and brawn in terms of raw skill with sniper rEplan and teammate Synde. Looking at the team on paper, it’s no wonder that Penta choose to put their faith in a mixed European roster, but it remains to be seen whether or not the team will crumble under the pressure that an organisation the size of Penta brings so early on in the game’s lifespan. They’ll face stiff competition from other teams, who are undoubtedly gunning for them, desperate to add a high profile name to their already gleaming portfolio. As such, while the odds are certainly in their favour, the pressure is not. If they can thrive under it, they will win this tournament in glorious fashion. If they let it get to them, their sinking will rival that of the Titanic.
Player to watch: Pukiz & A1GA – Both talented young players, both with an eye for success yet these players in comparison to their cohorts lack the experience at the highest level for the style of play Battalion enriches. And though we do not doubt their ability, better players have faced the wrath of the dreaded ‘LAN bottle’ and as mentioned previously, the pressure really is on. A1GA interestingly holds the record for being the only professional player ever sourced from a Cybergamer thread. We expect this weekend to be an eye-opening experience for Penta, one which could affirm their position in the upper echelons for some time to come.
As the most recent entry on the registered team’s list, Avenue look to turn the tides in their favour as they attempt to dismantle Penta’s bid for success from the ground up. Giving up the Dominatorz moniker (taking the place of Avenue’s original team who were unable to attend), the lineup features an array of rememberable names and faces from the past with mark (Tek9/Dignitas) and Stylez (TCM/Royals) at its core. A lineup with character and personality that will undoubtedly go far if the game hits its true potential, featuring the trio of Brits including that of top skin designer and famed Deagle spam artist qwRx who will be looking to put the Dev into devastation. Avenue’s scope role see’s current who’s who of Frenchmen and part-time mystery EDimkA taking up the position, though qwRx’s prior scope experience could see the Brit fall into the fold if the going gets tough. Completing the roster is Rising Star 2008 nominee and Bosnian to the max, cozje. Trading in the rough streets of Ghent for the sweet-smelling streets of Birmingham, fueled only by Nalu, Avenue’s Eastern European looks to rekindle the competitive flame that burns deep in his heart.
Player to watch: qwRx – An incredibly talented player that may have hit the ground running all too late in Call of Duty’s lifespan. Coupled with the not often seen participation of an active developer, all too many questions will be answered in regards to just how well he knows the game. With a rapid index finger at his disposal, a skill that presents an array of opportunity with semi-automatic weapons and lovers alike this makes him Avenue’s player to watch.
With more lineups than Crimewatch, Endpoint will be looking to dig in deep as they try to replicate the online results that took the early weeks of Battalion by storm. Having replaced a player a week after joining Endpoint, not much has been seen of new boy (and king of social media) iconz with concerns of whether we’d even see him attending i62 at all. A week ago the official announcement was made and now we have a full lineup ready to topple the favourites as Call of Duty 2’s main representation. With multiple top 3 cup finishes and rarely finishing outside of the top 2 you’d be hard pressed in imagining this wonderful side falling flat offline. A lineup of generally unknown players to those of a CoD4 forte, Endpoint set to stamp their names into the books of Battalions future as the real contenders and possible rivals to Penta.
Player to watch: j_money – Ching ching, bling bling, cut the chatter, you ain’t talking j_money, then your talking don’t matter. Or so they say. In the spirit of offline events, there is always one player who sets out to prove his legitimacy to the masses. Unfortunately for Endpoint’s j_money, that task has fallen on his team carrying shoulders. Stepping away from the game to focus on studies saw the rifleman replaced by a number of faces, all of which have been cast aside for his return. Can the golden boy silence his doubters as Endpoint look to make their plea for golden skins?
A team that epitomises the ‘craic‘. The Imperial are on of i62’s natural underdogs on the higher end of the spectrum, respectively. With a team consisting of some top play makers in the form of their primarily Irish contingent, Imperial look set to leave a series of upsets in their wake. Being so early in the game’s roadmap, a team with The Imperial’s experience could be easily underestimated by their counterparts seeing them gain rounds they’d be expected to lose to better opposition. An advantage we’re sure they’ll be willing to take.
After losing TCM Tam early on, being unable to attend their first event, the team were left looking for an apt replacement managing just that in the form of ex Reason body icon Duffer. An Irishman who could quite literally carry his team out of the game now faces various issues himself. After missing the start of group stages early Friday afternoon, the muscle-clad player now faces new dilemmas with the weather warnings brewing that could leave The Imperial without a 5th (or out of attendance altogether) due to commitments elsewhere. We expect the boys to bounce back and find a replacement if needed, but with less than 24 hours remaining will we lose yet another lineup from an already disappointing turnout.
(Update: ATG’s nathzn looks to take up the mantle of Imperials 5th which will be a welcome addition given his team’s online form of recent)
Player to watch: nathzn? – With the shock of recent news taking away from whatever stability had been built in the recent weeks of practice with Duffer, all eyes will now be on nathzn. The ATG (rumoured to have found a home in the coming weeks) hit man will be looking to make his mark offline as the now rumoured ringer for The Imperial. Stepping into an already established lineup and hoping to perform is no easy task but we’re sure it’s a challenge he’s willing to accept.
Despite the lack of teams in attendance, we expect the battle for Top 4 to be a close contained battle between the teams above. Penta, the far-out favourites, will have a tough time keeping their competition at bay but will be expected to take home the £5000 and golden skins non the less. The battle for 2nd we feel remains in favour of Avenue with the overwhelming offline experience being hard to shy away from despite the plucky young pups at Endpoint’s array of online results. The Imperial will be looking to break into the Top 3 should they not fall victim to one of our underdog teams coming in the next instalment. Keeping you as up to date as possible in the coming days with the tales of high jinx and woe that are sure to unfold at Insomnia Gaming Festival 62.
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