With the 2nd WGL 2016-17 season in the books and the Grand Finals groups determined we decided to check in with Meadowhawk and Arclit, who each worked as analysts at the NA and RU finals respectively, to get their thoughts on the events and the upcoming Grand Finals which begin on May 23rd, at 4 AM EST!
Q. What’s the preparation like for working on the analyst desk?
Arclit- For me its as much about the statistics for each team, as being able to estimate the actual “strength” of the team based on many factors like team stamina, moral, general mindset and playstyle. Having experience of playing in most regions and staying in touch/monitoring the preparation process of the teams helps me to build a perspective on how the actual matches between teams that have never met before might go.
Meadow- The prep wasn’t too arduous, the fantasy site that Unknownone and Ninjagumby have setup made it really easy to find and break down each team’s season stats. Finals are always going to have surprises though, as we found out. Teams have a month to prepare new things to try in order to gain an edge over their competition. So after pouring over the stats, it was spending time with the teams Thursday night and all day Friday that gave me an idea of where each team stood for the upcoming game day.
Q. What are each of your thoughts on your respective events?
Arclit- ESL has done a pretty good job on the RU finals, the only thing is a couple players did not get visas in time and couldn't join their teams at the RU LAN. Same thing might happen this time for the Grand Finals, players might not make it which would turn the tide. The turnout should be good for the Grand Finals, the stadium is going to be packed.
Meadow- This was the second season in a row that the Finals were held at the ESL studio in Burbank and it was obvious that they had identified things that needed to be address and tweaked them for this go around. Obviously my biggest gripe from last Finals was that stupid couch, it wasn’t flattering at all, they replaced it with a nice analyst desk that looked really slick. They also redesigned the team’s practice areas, as well as setup each team with a windows user to avoid having to swap around hard drives. A great new addition was the Lenovo sponsor who provided some really great gaming rigs, I don’t think there were as many computer issues which really made life easy for the admins and production staff. Turn out was also higher this time around, I think mainly due to not having the AMX 13-57 tank giveaway fiasco.
Q. This one’s for you Arclit, how much time and work do the RU and EU teams put in to prepare for the Grand Finals?
Arclit- A lot. And I mean A LOT. Especially CIS teams. Teams like Tornado and Na’Vi practice every day and can spend up to 6-7 hours in raw play time, while EU teams are not as uptight and do 3-4 hours with days off. It shows when these regions meet.
Q. Between Elevate and Eclipse, who stands the better chance of making it out of their group?
Arclit- Both do, but only if they prepare well.
Meadow- I think before the team swap, Elevate was easily going to make it out of their group. The new edited groups should still see them get out, but it may not be as easy as the initial pairings. Eclipse has a real uphill battle and, as much as it pains me to say, I don’t think they will get out of the group stages. They really just need to focus on defeating Oops. Link to the Groups Correction
Follow up- Will either team be able to make it through to the semifinals or is that too much to ask? No NA team has ever made it past the quarter-finals.
Arclit- It is going to be hard for them. I know they are capable of it, but how the actual game is going to turn out - who knows.
Meadow- I think Elevate maybe able to if they manage to win their group, but I don’t give them great odds. If Eclipse manages to get into the quarters it will be a great achievement on their part, but it’ll be out of the pan and into the fire against Group D foes.
Q. Do either of you foresee any surprises at the Grand Finals in terms of results? Elong Gaming for instance always seems to surprise as they ran the table 2 years ago to place 2nd, only to lose in the group stage the following year to another Chinese team.
Arclit- There are only 2 teams that could surprise - Brain Storm and NSS, both have upset stronger teams before by using crazy but well practiced one time strats/counters. But since NSS is really not looking good right now and Brain Storm is just very unstable (especially during big events), I would not bet on it. Finals are gonna be business as usual and we will see a CIS champion once again.
Meadow- I’m really curious to see what Tornado does, they completely ran over Navi at their regionals. Perhaps that was enough to tilt Navi too, I can’t see them losing to Brain Storm but I’ll be watching their first few rounds closely. EL Gaming was also very strong in their Regionals, but I don’t know if that’ll translate into wins against the EU and CIS meta.
Q. With the arrival of Tier X lights prior to the Grand Finals, should we expect to see the meta be shaken up or will the super heavies continue to remain supreme?
Arclit- I honestly hope that we will see tier 10 light put to good use, but realistically its going to be a quirk rather than an actual consistent use. Arty is dead due to rechargeable medpacks - it would make sense to stun, then rush the enemy, but what use would that be if an enemy can remove stun out right. Again, we might see arty on some occasions, but I dont see how it can fit into current meta.
Meadow- I really don’t think so, we might see the odd Tier X light used on Prok, Steppes, or Muro but there are currently better options with tier X mediums. What I’m really curious to see if is we’ll see someone crack the rosetta stone of arty and know how to take advantage of it’s new stun mechanic, or if in fact arty truly is dead in the WGL now. With how arty has been used in the past I can’t see it happening, but a man can dream.
Q. After the finals have concluded, would either of you like to see the game mode shift to 7/70 thanks to the new light tank additions or should we stick to 7/68?
Arclit- In my opinion, 7/68 pushes teams towards more diversity in tanks and strats. They can still have tier X light in the set up, but now they have to sacrifice tier X mediums for that, which means they have to run some dank strats. 7/70 would just turn into a Maus fest even more than it is now.
Meadow- I think 7/70 would be the better format. It opens the field for teams to play with new tank combinations and doesn't limit them in anyway. However, the current format forces teams to utilize the lower tier tanks which promotes creativity and experimentation. 7/70 might not create that same environment even though the opportunity would exist, teams might just end up running 7 Batchats on open maps regardless.
Thanks for your time Meadow and Arclit, and best of luck to the teams at the Grand Finals!