Stop number three on the 2007 Boost Mobile MLG Pro Circuit is fast approaching. After two incredibly unpredictable opening tournaments, Dallas looks to add another chapter to the 2007 season’s wild story. Many teams will enter Dallas with something to prove, both to themselves and to their fans. As always, the season points race rages on, as every team is out to earn one of the seven coveted automatic invitations to the National Championship event.
The series of odd occurrences and upsets that marked the early 2007 season have created an intriguing Dallas bracket with pivotal matches starting as early as the second round. Perhaps none is bigger than the third- and 14-seeded match up, where FBI The Agency and Legendz are slated to meet. The match pits true veteran talent against a class of players who became known in 2006 and widely feared upon the onset of the 2007 season.
While it has been a simply nightmarish season for Legendz, who have yet to break into an event’s Top 12, the team looks to finally realize its potential thanks to a dedicated week-long LAN session with RoC and Carbon. While online training had failed to do the trick for Legendz, first-hand reports of the LAN session indicate a complete transformation in the team’s performance. The squad looks to have discovered the chemistry that was absent at the Meadowlands.
While Legendz managed to win some training games against second-seeded Carbon, their likely second-round opponents look to be in tip-top shape after a training session of their own. In what has become a usual pre-tournament LAN with top-seeded Final Boss, FBI The Agency won nearly half their training games. Many accused the squad of being ill-prepared for the Meadowlands, but no question remains about the team’s current level of preparation. Having nearly defeated both Carbon and Final Boss in their Pro Circuit debut, FBI The Agency will gun for gold in Dallas.
Their unprecedented success against Final Boss will give FBI The Agency the confidence to go toe to toe with any squad they encounter. The team was twice foiled by Perfect Storm at the Meadowlands. Should The Agency fail to reach the Winners Bracket Finals, they will likely face Perfect Storm once more late in the Losers Bracket.
Regardless, the strength of FBI The Agency will likely send Legendz to a now-familiar early trip to the Losers Bracket. There, things will not get any easier for the squad, as Legendz would soon face a battle against either Perfect Storm or 5K for a Top 8 finish. Once more, Legendz have caught a killer bracket and will need to surpass all expectations to place in the money. The fact remains, barring any unusual early round (i.e. Winners Bracket Round 1 or 2) upsets, at least one from the group of FBI The Agency, Legendz, Perfect Storm and 5K will not finish in the Top 8.
That one of those teams will not finish in the Top 8 places further significance on the probable Winners Bracket Round 3 meeting between Perfect Storm and 5K. With Legendz likely awaiting the loser, neither squad will be willing to accept defeat. The bracket holds even further challenges, as after the Losers Bracket Round 4 meeting with Legendz is a battle against either XiT Woundz or Str8 Rippin for Top 6 and then FBI The Agency or Carbon for Top 4. Essentially, whoever loses the meeting between Perfect Storm and 5K in WBR3 will need to post a heroic effort to even reach Top 6.
Interestingly, the Winners Bracket Round 2 match between eighth-seeded Str8 Rippin and ninth-seeded XiT Woundz will stand as a bittersweet victory for the winner. The victor of the meeting will move on to a probable loss to juggernauts, Final Boss, and find themselves in what many deem to be the “harder” side of the Losers Bracket (the side with Legendz, Carbon, The Agency and 5K). While the loser of the meeting between Str8 Rippin and XiT Woundz will face a lengthier Losers Bracket run, they will land on what many believe to be the more manageable half of the bracket.
The road to a Top 8 finish finish on that half of the bracket will likely pass through a consistent FBI Icon squad, who have placed seventh at the last two events. Like many teams, FBI Icon has not had much valuable online practice and will look to find their form in a pre-Dallas LAN with XiT Woundz and Nice Like Rice.
Nice Like Rice, sporting a new roster composed of LegendJRG, Ray, Foulacy and Pyrocy, have won the proverbial bracket lottery. The team squeaked into a sixth-place finish at each of the last two events and is staged to do so once more in Dallas. To reach Top 8, Nice Like Rice merely have to beat 11th-seeded Perfect Balance and either 12th-seeded Pain X or 13th-seeded Reign of Chaos. Potentially, Foulacy could find himself squaring off against former teammate Tsquared for Top 6.
At the top of the ranks, Final Boss look to have completely regained their championship form. At the Meadowlands, the team put forth its most dominant display since Anaheim in 2006. In their post-tournament interview, unlike Anaheim, Final Boss expressed their plans to continue to ramp up their practice and further the distance between their team and the rest of the competitive field. One gets the sense that Walshy and the Ogres look to bring back an era of 6 – 0 championship victories; this time around they are willing to put in all the work necessary to get there.
Arguably, three teams stand a chance at threatening Final Boss’ title. The aforementioned FBI The Agency have proven that, at least in practice, they are on par with the Pro Circuit legends. While Final Boss certainly have the edge in terms of overall experience and familiarity with high-pressure matches, things could easily swing in FBI The Agency’s favor with a couple deft plays come tournament weekend.
Carbon, victors of the final three tournaments of 2006, appeared to have suffered from mild complacency during the off-season and reported that they simply were not playing like their old selves in this season’s opening two tournaments. Their six days of dedicated LAN practice could be the spark to earn the team its healthy swagger once more. In terms of gametypes, thus far in the 2007 season, Carbon have not yet won a single Slayer gametype against Final Boss.
While Lockout Ball and Midship Objective games still appear to be Carbon’s strengths, the team lost its once-dominant Warlock Flag death grip at the Meadowlands and have twice been blown out of the water in Beaver Creek Slayer. In 2006, Beaver Creek proved to be Carbon’s strongest slaying map and was ultimately the gametype that capped the team’s National Championship run. To take home first place once more, Carbon will need to arrive in Dallas with a revamped approach to many of MLG’s gametypes.
Lastly, Perfect Storm stand as the tournament’s X-Factor. Little has been heard from the team since the Meadowlands. The open schedule of the summer months, however, should afford the team ample time to polish their teamwork and catch up to longer-standing rosters such as Carbon and Final Boss. During the summer of 2006, Perfect Storm (then Storm Ventures) upped their training regimen and surprised everyone with a second-place finish in Chicago. The team nearly did just that again last tournament, shockingly taking Carbon to 10 games. With a unique high-powered playstyle, Perfect Storm certainly have the capability to shake up the brackets and drive deep into the later rounds in Dallas.
Of course, as the last couple of stops on the Boost Mobile Pro Circuit have proven, anything can happen come tournament weekend. Overconfidence and exhaustion are always influential factors late Saturday night in the “upset round” and unproven rosters are simply unrelenting in their quest to make a name for themselves. If Charlotte and the Meadowlands can be taken as any indication, we may be in store for upsets galore this weekend.
Watch it all unfold live here on mlgpro.com, as we roll out a free live VoD stream, round-by-round coverage, interviews with pro players and a wealth of post tournament analysis.