A closer look at the ECS Final Four, and what to expect from the Semi-Finals

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Aeronwen

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This article aims to expand on the strengths and weaknesses of the teams fighting in the Semi-Finals. We will take a look at who the keyplayers are, and what we can expect from this Semi-Finals.



Freelancers

Napoleon's Freelancers started in Group A of the ECS. Facing the Heroes of Agincourt first. A match they would win 16-0. Moving on to the winner's match of their group, they faced the Polish Eagles. A match Freelancers would win 15-1.

In Quarter Finals, Freelancers meet IG. A match they would also win 16-0.

So in total, Freelancers have played 48 rounds. Of these 48 they won 47 and only lost one round to PE. That is impressive. Freelancers utterly dominate their opponents. Even when they reach the win at 9-0, they push on to get themselves wins that show to everyone how strong they are. A 16-0 followed by a 15-1 and then another 16-0 shows to anyone that this is why Freelancers is part of the four giants (the other three being AE, Castellan and WeDontYou).

Strengths and Weaknesses

Next to the amazing skill all of their players have, Freelancers is a team formed by Napoleon. Which I think for them is a strength.
He seems to always get the teams he plays for in top shape. You could see it in team Turkey in NC2015. And you can see it again now. He has formed around him a team of superstars, and he makes it work.
I think a lot of people underestimate the work that you have to put in to make a team like that work. It's not easy keeping 8 very good players close together and get them to teamplay.
Next to this team-managing skills, he has also proved himself to be an excellent commander and tactician.

The other strength Freelancers have is Menethil. Menethil is an animal, a god of Warband. No matter in what position you put him, he will always do something. When you are facing a team of equal skill, a player like Menethil is what will make the difference.

It's hard to find a weakness in Freelancers. If there is one thing I could say it is that I wonder how well they can cope with early deaths. But I am not sure about this.
Let's say you get early kills on Freelancers, take out Menethil and Grenade before the flag spawns. I think that's the key to winning rounds. Because I am not sure if they can manage dealing with early losses.

Key Players

Everybody knows Menethil, one of the most respected players in the scene. Nobody can deny how strong Menethil is. Certainly during NC2015 the best ranger, arguably it's a title he still holds. I don't have to write much about Menethil. He's a god. He gets a lot of kills. And he makes the game seem effortless, yes I am a Menethil-fanboy. And I'm not afraid to admit it.

Menethil has 29 kills and 6 deaths. He has played 32 rounds for Freelancers this tournament in three matches.

K/D Ratio: 4,8
Kills/ Rounds Played: 0,91

Tirtil and Menethil is a deadly force, one where Tirtil certainly isn't any less dangerous than Menethil. Perhaps the ranger with the best pure aim right now. I feel Tirtil isn't a player who dominates players or teams. He'll get the same amount of kills against top teams or tier 2 teams. The thing is how consistent he is, he will always get kills, he will always do something. And that's what makes him so dangerous, the combination of pure aiming skill and his consistency in putting in work.

Tirtil has 36 kills and 7 deaths. He has played 44 rounds for Freelancers this tournament in three matches.

K/D Ratio: 5,14
Kills/ Rounds Played: 0,82

If you look at his stats, Grenade doesn't look like the beast we all know he can sometimes be. Having played only 24 rounds so far, I am confident his time is still to come. He is the kind of player who I'd like to refer to as 'support'-cav in the way that he is very skilled at teamplay, bumping, the right moments to come in, keeping enemy cavalry away. And that's what makes him annoying to play against, he'll get his kills, he'll do his job, but more so you can never really forget about him until you're sure he's dead.

Grenade has 10 kills and 10 deaths. He has played 24 rounds for Freelancers this tournament in three matches.

K/D Ratio: 1
Kills/ Rounds Played: 0,42

Mini-Interview
How do you feel your match in the Semi-Finals of the ECS will go?
Napoleon: We know the power of our opponent and as always we are working hard.In this match-up we seem to be favourites.We witnessed favourites failed sometimes against underdogs.So i wish it will not go the same way as it did in NC15 against BeNe.I feel like we would win 12-4 but yeah, some theories don't work in practice.

What have you learned from this ECS that will improve your team in future tournaments?
Napoleon: Can't say we learned a lot from ECS up to the present.We haven't fought top tier teams yet. So I can say tournament just started for us .For answer to the your question about future tournaments, there will be no Freelancers in future tournaments, because I just made F_ for this short tournament. I dont have enough energy to lead a team in longer tournament. I'd rather join a team and become a ordinary member for next tourney :smile:

Do you have a message for your opponents?
Napoleon: Yes, I do. Stop badmouthing and hate. Play your game for the victory. Respect the enemy for their hard work if you win. Don't lose your maturity in any case.



Irish Rebels

IR is the only team in the top 4 to start their tournament with a loss. In a very close game against DoF, IR couldn't make it happen. They were the favourites. However this seems to be the loss they needed. After this loss they would win 12 rounds every time against their future opponents.
In the Group C Loser's Match vs Malta they would show why they didn't have to go through qualifiers. While they won to Malta, Castellan would beat DoF in the Winner's match of Group C.
This meant that IR and DoF would fight again. After the performance of DoF against IR and Castellan, many considered both teams to be equal. However in this match, IR would dominate DoF and continue to the Quarter-Finals!

In the Quarter-Finals IR faced Legend. Again it seemed that both teams were equal in skill and it could turn out to be a close game. Again IR dominated, and that seems to be the story of IR.
They lost their first match, which hit them hard. After that they dominated their opponents.

Strengths and Weaknesses

One of the big strenghts of IR is their cavalry. Hopkiin and Donut deliver time and time again. They pick up kills when they need to. Next to their cavalry, you'd be a fool to underestimate the IR archers. Atilla is one of the players who can explode. He won't get 1 kill every round, he'll get 4 kills in one crucial round.

A weakness I see in IR, and this is not meant to insult them, is this: "Is it enough?"
Is what the offer right now enough to play with the giants? Although they have proven to be a strong time after their first loss, I wonder if they can step it up even more and be a threat to Freelancers.

Key Players

As I said before, Atilla is very explosive, both in-game and on teamspeak. If he focuses he can get very good shots. And if you put him in the right position he will get multiple kills every round. We all know he has a strong personality, but in my opinion this makes him as fun as he is. When he dies you know he will be angry, and when he gets crazy shots you know he'll be hyping up his team! Atilla has been looking in fine form this tournament, if he can continue his form against Freelancers, he might be what they need to start breaking down the wall of pure dominance that is Freelancers.

Atilla has 37 kills and 18 deaths. He has played 36 rounds for IR in four matches.

K/D Ratio: 2,06
Kills/ Rounds Played: 1,03


Hopkiin is one of those cavalry players who plays on the brink of madness. What I mean with that is that sometimes it seems he just goes crazy, but he has everything planned. He's the kind of players that will get you multi kills consistently. He doesn't care who you are, he'll try to kill you anyway. Seems to me that he isn't easily intimidated by his opponents. Come to think of it, he's one of those players who's just fun to watch. Hopkiin's job in the Semi-Finals will be to keep his team together. A quick and smart player like himself will need to be in the right place at the right moment every single time. I think he can do it!

Hopkiin has 48 kills and 13 deaths. He has played 36 rounds for IR in four matches.

K/D Ratio: 3,69
Kills/ Rounds Played: 1,33


Sebek is a beast infantry. From the times I've personally played with him I can tell you he can teamplay with anyone. And that's what makes him so versatile and useful to have in tense matches. He'll keep his composure and he'll adapt to any situation almost immediatly. Against Freelancers Sebek will just have to plow through Freelancers' infantry. Seeing as how he played in NC2015, I think there's a good chance that that is what he'll do.

Sebek has 29 kills and 19 deaths. He has played 44 rounds for IR in four matches.

K/D Ratio: 1,53
Kills/ Rounds Played: 0,66

Mini-Interview

How do you feel your match in the Semi-Finals of the ECS will go?
Dragz: The match against Freelancers will without a doubt be the hardest of our ECS matches so far. Although Freelancers seem to be the favourites and most people believe that IR is not a "top team"
we will do our best to prove them wrong. I don't expect this to be a walk in the park for any of the two teams, both will have to play their best to win.


What have you learned from this ECS that will improve your team in future tournaments?
Dragz: The biggest lesson we learned is to not underestimate any team.


Do you have a message for your opponents?
Dragz: Nope.



What can we expect from this Semi-Finals, and what do we need to look out for?

Freelancers vs Irish Rebels

The first big question that comes to my mind is this:"Will IR be able to pierce through the consistency of Freelancers?"
With that I mean that for me this match comes down to IR. We all know Freelancers is a great team, a giant. I wonder if IR will find a hole in Freelancers.
Something they can exploit to get rounds on the board.

I think you need to look for early kills. If IR manage to get some green-text going early round, I feel confident that they can take rounds.
Another big thing is how solid IR plays. They cannot make a single mistake against Freelancers. Because Freelancers have the type of players that will capitalize on those mistakes.

Let's take a closer look at the maps and factions!

The first map is San'di'Boush with Nords vs Swadia.
Freelancers start as Nords, which I think gives them an advantage. IR will have to get in the flow of things, I think they will feel a bit nervous. IR need a good start, stopping Freelancers with no advantage is hard enough, if they get armour going it will be even harder. For IR to stand a chance, I think they need to get atleast 3 rounds on San'di'Boush. Anything else than that will be hard to work with on Field by the River.

Freelancers will play their game, solid, a tad defensive unless they see opportunities.
I hope IR plays a bit aggressive, tries to force some fights on Freelancers, as Swadia this will be difficult. What will be very interesting to watch is how IR use their crossbows in their engagements, perhaps they can draw Freelancers into a crossfire, get some damage done and wait for the flags?

On Field by the River the factions are Vaegirs and Sarranids.
I actually expect Field by the River will be easier for IR. Their cav can put in the work needed to secure rounds. If they can combine that with solid teamplay and not getting surprised by aggressive moves from Freelancers I think they stand a good chance on Field by the River.

To summarize for this Semi-Finals, I will be looking at IR mostly. See what they bring to the table, and hope they make it a dynamic, interesting match with solid performances.
For IR, look out for explosive cav plays, good multi kills from their arches, and solid, no-mistake-play by their infantry.
For Freelancers, look out for the entire picture, how they teamplay and how they move as a team.

You can watch this match live at MB_tv streamed by @CaptainLust at 19:00 BST!


Article was written by @LeRouxTheBee, images edited by @bombawarband, for which I am very grateful my friend!
Statistics came from Harman's ECS Statistics Thread, where he obviously does an amazing job!
Also thank you to all the four teams, as all of them helped me out getting pictures and providing me with additional information to make a hopefully cool article!

Thank you to the Sponsors of the ECS, pretty damn cool to see how far we've come.
 

Aeronwen

Marquis
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WeDontYou

WeDontYou started out with a crushing victory over Heroes. 16-0. In the winner's final they would face Legend. Due to some drama they would get the default loss. In the deciding match they would fight Heroes again. Again they would crush them, with a clean 15-1.

In Quarter-Finals WeDontYou met Castellans as their opponents. A very hype and exciting match, as it was the first clash between the giants. Although Castellan showed us a great game, and there were a lot of close rounds, WeDontYou would advance to the Semi-Finals with a 13-3 victory over Castellan.

Strengths and Weaknesses

To me personally, WeDontYou have two big strengths. One being their archers. Rayden and Bendetto are easily two of the best archers in the game at the moment. The work they do when they play is incredible. It's actually pretty common for them to pick up multiple kills in rounds, often in quick succesion.
An amazing example of this happened during their Quarter-Final match vs Castellan. On San'di'Boush Rayden killed both the Castellan cavalry with two quick headshots. Basically winning his team the round.

The other big strength is their cavalry/infantry coordination. This is hard to really catch in certain moments, because it all happens so fast. But it seems whenever WeDontYou's infantry fight, their cavalry is always there to support and pick up kills. This allows WeDontYou to obliterate the enemy team in seconds.
Because of how fast they manage to do this, it is also very hard to deal with. When you are facing WeDontYou, you know that at times you will only have seconds to react as a team. I think I can safely say the teamplay WeDontYou have between their infantry and cavalry is the best there is right now.

Bendetto, Blacktide and Rayden

A weakness WeDontYou have is that if you do manage to shut down their archers or their teamplay, which is very hard to do, you win the round. They play as one big team which is their biggest strength, but also a weakness. Once you break that, you can crush them. It's something we saw in the rounds Castellan managed to win against WeDontYou. On Field by the River they had two early kills twice, which just seemed to stop the WeDontYou train in its tracks.

Key Players

Note: I have not included any stats from WeDontYou vs Legend. I don't feel adding 16 empty rounds adds anything to the performance of the players. Any kills or deaths these players might have had in the match they played vs Legend have been taken out of the eqution.
Rayden: BlackTide's performance is improving to a state where everyone must envy him. In the field of battle, his organization with the team is flawless though he exercises cautious opportunism when he feels the moment is right. He also has seemingly unlimited range in throwing, using javelins to frightening effect. I find it terrifying to play against such people because there is no way to tell what he will do in the field. On horseback he's the best blocker of Europe and America, he’s known for blocking enemies and teammates alike. :razz:

Blacktide has 62 kills and 11 deaths. He has played 36 rounds for WeDontYou in three matches.

K/D Ratio: 5,64
Kills/ Rounds Played: 1,72

Rayden: Known amongst the team as “Benny”, he’s a diligent Ukrainian player who deserves all 99 of the Bendetto Points that he’s given himself. Sometimes I like to just take my popcorn and watch him. He's absolutely perfect and extremely helpful to his team in all situations. He often does unbelievable things that make me think that his skill has no limit. His prowess is not simply limited to his shooting; in melee he can hold his own and puts to shame dedicated infantry players that try to shut him down. I remember him changing the outcome of numerous games by scoring 2-3 headshots in a row, pulling us forward and clinching the round. He's literally a human aimbot.

Bendetto has 50 kills and 12 deaths. He has played 44 rounds for WeDontYou in three matches.
K/D Ratio: 4,17
Kills/ Rounds Played: 1,14

Blacktide: Taking the place of SotaMursu would be a difficult task for any man. Sota’s leadership and personality characterised our team throughout most of its existence; there was barely a day that we went without him at the helm. Yet, Rayden has adapted to his new role as our ‘kommandur’ with great zeal and assiduousness. Of course, it has not all been rainbows. To boot, he has also had to cope with the age old ‘Captain’s Burden’ whereby his concentration on leading has resulted in a decline in his match performance. As a player used to topping the scoreboard this has frustrated Rayden immensely, but nonetheless he has managed to retain respectable scores. We’re all glad to have him leading us.  There will be no commander more prepared on Sunday than Rayden. In play and command, the team has no greater asset.

Rayden has 47 kills and 16 deaths. He has played 48 rounds for WeDontYou in three matches.

K/D Ratio: 2,94
Kills/ Rounds Played: 0,98

Mini-Interview

How do you feel your match in the Semi-Finals of the ECS will go?
Rayden: I’m confident of a positive outcome for WeDontYou, though one should always be careful of making overtly bold claims. As ever when two monolithic teams come up against each other, where perhaps the comparable difference between them is marked only by a hairline, our attitude and performance on the day are paramount. We have a great deal of respect for AE’s tactical and preparatory ability; pre-empting the former will certainly occupy our thoughts for the next few days. Nonetheless, I think that the superior initiative of our players and the speed at which they respond to threats in the heat of battle will win out. Each match is a tale of two halves, the result rests not only on our performance but also that of our opponent. A team with so many boisterous, rambunctious and opinionated players as AE, good as they are, must surely feel the weight of the pressure to validate their well-voiced opinion of themselves. The test for them is not to crumble under that pressure. With the best cavalry players in the game, an infantry squad that is continually proving wrong claims of them being our weakest assets, and rangers that are so widely respected, we have a lot running for us in this match. We look forward to it.

What have you learned from this ECS that will improve your team in future tournaments?
Rayden: We’ve discovered how solid the integrity of clan is. Having sacrificed our longstanding name to the will of the administrators, sacrificed our leader to the peril of pink projectiles, we have stuck together throughout the hardship and strived on through the tournament. Undoubtedly we have acquired a shared bond in our team, an understanding of each other as individuals and we have a unity against our critics. Our team will be strengthened by this experience though I’m sure that there will be more to learn, the real tournament has only just started in earnest.

Do you have a message for your opponents?
Rayden: Yes - Hello, we will dont you :grin:  I thank them all for organizing such exciting tournaments. Although there were some issues in the heat of the arguments, the important thing is to let it all go. I have a great respect for all of them.



Apis Europae

AE cruised through their first match, beating Sbo 15-1. Later on they would meet IG whom they would also beat 15-1. In Quarter-Finals they would meet The Alliance of Destruction a team they would also beat 13-3.

AE have had an easy run so far. Although their three opponents put in alot of effort, they were no match for the skill and experience AE brings to a match. Their Semi-Finals against WeDontYou is their first real test.
The bees are a team filled with ups and downs. They will have to play their very best to beat WeDontYou Sunday.

Strengths and Weaknesses

One of the big strengths of AE is without a doubt their archers. When the AE archers find good positions, they will make themselves known in a match.
Next to the archers, I think one of the other strengths of AE is their diversity. Most of their players are proficient in atleast two, and most of them three classes. This gives AE the opportunity to change their tactics in a drastic way if needed.
They can go from 6 cav to a normal 4-2-2 setup or even something cheesy. And you know they can make it work. For a top team, this is an important skill to have.

Another thing which makes AE slightly different to other teams is the amount of experience they have in terms of finals and semi-finals. They have been in all the finals of any tournament they have ever joined so far. Only losing once in a finals.
If they were to lose a map 2-6, you know they have the mental strength to just block it out, and play round by round. It won't be an issue for them.

Deacon, M and Cleric

The biggest weakness AE have is a lack of focus. In some matches it seems they play more off the skill of their players instead of using tactics and teamplay to outskill their opponents. In previous tournaments this was still something they could do. But now the skill gap between the giants is smaller than ever before. They will need to keep their focus and not play like superstars, they need to play as one big hive-minded team.

Key Players

Peter: LeRoux is the shooter of this game without any doubt, he has a perfect vision of the game, he's always ready to clutch anything if he has to. I think LeRoux is just a machine, he can headshot whoever he wants, he's the kind of player you'll always be able to count on. And he gets all the important kills. Next to that he's my bro, one of my best friends in Warband! You can see in his stats that LeRoux is an amazing archer, getting at least one kill in every round he plays is a crazy number to get!

LeRoux has 40 kills and 9 deaths in 3 matches. He has played 40 rounds for AE this tournament in three matches.

K/D Ratio: 4,4
Kills/Rounds Played: 1

Peter: M is one of the most underestimated infantry in the game, he is brilliant in both skill and mindset. You can see that in his recent 3v3 video. He's really good, and he'll be important. Next to that M is also an amazing duelist. He was number one for a very long time, and he is still considered a top dog amongst the duellers. What I like about M is how he bants during matches, even in tough rounds he can cheer the mood, making it easier and more comfortable to play with him.

M has 38 kills and 19 deaths in 3 matches. He has played 44 rounds for AE this tournament in three matches.

K/D Ratio: 2
Kills/Rounds Played: 0,86
Peter: Neathar proved himself as an amazing archer this ECS. Showing the community what he can do. Certainly one of the key players in Apis Europae, he gets kills in high pressure situations, which is vital to turn intense rounds. He also adds another aspect to AE that we sometimes lack. A good mindset to practice. He is prepared to put in the work, and expects us to do the same. So we do! I think thanks to Neathar we've really improved the general atmosphere in AE. He's a nice guy to have around.

Neathar has 17 kills and 8 deaths in 3 matches. He has played 36 for AE this tournament in three matches.

K/D Ratio: 2,13
Kills/ Rounds Played: 0,47

Mini-Interview

How do you feel your match in the Semi-Finals of the ECS will go?
LeRoux: This is by far the hardest match for us this tournament. If we win, Freelancers or IR will also be a tough match, but our match against WeDontYou is quite loaded with emotion on both sides.  I think we can win, I must believe we can win, otherwise there's no point in trying. We'll give it our all, we'll give it our best. We are AE, we'll do this.

What have you learned from this ECS that will improve your team in future tournaments?
LeRoux: I think we improved on seeing what our problems are. It doesn't take us weeks anymore to find out what the issue is, we can solve it way quicker than we used to. With that change also came a mentality change, we can openly talk about frustration or when someone is playing bad without it affecting atmosphere. Being the nice and lovely guy I am, it's something I really enjoy!

Do you have a message for your opponents?
LeRoux: Give it your best, so will we. No hard feelings whatever happens, good luck have fun!



What can we expect from this Semi-Finals, and what do we need to look out for?

This is maybe the biggest match in this ECS so far. A clash between two rival teams. And a clash between two giants! Both of these teams are filled with history, but I won't be looking into that too much.

The maps are Naval Outpost with Nords vs Swadia and Verloren with Vaegirs vs Sarranids.
I think these maps are equal for both teams. However it should be noted that WeDontYou arguably has stronger cavalry than AE, so it begs the question why they didn't pick a more open map. Perhaps they have something special planned? Or perhaps they were afraid of some sort of cav rush from AE?
In theory, this should be an interesting dynamic match. Expect both teams to adapt and test each other.

On Naval Outpost as Nords, I expect WeDontYou to run a pretty inf heavy setup, with a lot of javelins. Their infantry have proven time and time again they are good with javs, so why not use them? On Swadia, WeDontYou will play more defensive, rely more on their cav and their archers to take the kills, and then clean up with their infantry, who will play more of a positional role.
AE will play as they always do, safe and defensive, looking for openings. Don't expect too much aggressive play at first, they will lay in wait with their archers looking for early kills, and then strike with a finishing blow.

Verloren will be different, although both maps are almost the same size, the layout of Verloren allows for a different approach. Scouting is extremely important on this map, and it can be quite stagnant at times.
However with the new flag mod, the teams will be forced to move out, and that's where the story gets interesting. Can the team that is being pushed hold the line, and get the shots and backstabs off? Or while they not get anything done and get cleaned out while they are split?
If either team starts losing, expect wonky tactics on Verloren. An all out Tower/Tunnel/Courtyard push as quick as they can. Hoping to catch their opponents off guard.

To summarize for this Sem-Finals I will be looking at how both teams move relative to each other. Who is stronger in a positional game, who can use their archers best?
For WeDontYou, look at their infantry and cavalry getting multiple kills in a matter of seconds, look at how they teamplay. Look at their archers as in the most stressful of situations, they find place to shoot and kill.
For AE, look at their mid-round calls. How they look for openings, and how they execute those calls. Will their coordination be on point when they push, or will they get picked off one by one by the WeDontYou players?

You can watch this match live at MB_tv streamed by @CaptainLust at 20:00 BST!


Article was written by @LeRouxTheBee, images edited by @bombawarband, for which I am very grateful my friend!
Statistics came from Harman's ECS Statistics Thread, where he obviously does an amazing job!
Also thank you to all the four teams, as all of them helped me out getting pictures and providing me with additional information to make a hopefully cool article!

Thank you to the Sponsors of the ECS, pretty damn cool to see how far we've come.

 

Tardet

French Toast
Count
NW
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Impressive as always, and so interesting to read. Thanks for the hard-work Mr LeRoux :smile:
 

Harman

Master Knight
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Great job guys. I'm not sure if I agree with some key-players pick but we'll see after the semies. :fruity:
 

RobinWar

Sergeant Knight at Arms
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oh damn, nice work everyone! Very well written, looking forward to watch these matches.
 

Airelhach

Baron
WBWF&SNWVC
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Great job. Was fun to read the article.

I just want to say about IR's win over us. They could beat us because we'd already given up. Paulo didn't showed up until the match starts and we could only managed to find our 8 just before the match starts. We had to play 7 in the second spawn. We didn't trained the maps at all. But even with our effort to win the match I believe we made IR having hard times in the match. They managed to win. But otherwise the match would be greater to play and watch. It would be more challenging. Anyway they managed to win and now they will play in the semis. I wish best of luck to them and the other teams that will play in the semis. I hope semis are gonna be more fun and challening.