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QUARTER FINAL: MATCH PREVIEW
UNITY vs. KNIGHTS OF MALTA
The BladeCast Masters have entered the most interesting stage of the competition also called 'Main Event' where the four qualified teams, Rising Rivals, Blackened, Knights of Malta and Inversed Brains will get the chance to face the four invited teams, Frontline Tactics, Aequalitas, Unity and KROWA. Two of these matches have already been played and tonight we take a closer look at what promises to be an intense and back and forth encounter between Unity and Knights of Malta.
The third quarter-final of the BladeCast Masters will see Unity taking on the Knights of Malta for a ticket in the semi-final. Winner of that match will join KROWA who easily dispatched Inversed Brains in their own quarter-final match earlier yesterday. If you look purely at results and rosters strength, tonight's match might appear as slightly one-sided. Unity has been flirting with the top for quite some time and despite still failing at adding a major trophy to their cabinet, they recently became one of the most dangerous teams in the circuit as demonstrated by their performance in the Warband Summer Cup or the Warband Blitz League. On the other hand, the Knights of Malta returned to the competitive scene for quite some time now and despite some strong results achieved in a short period of time, they are yet to pose a constant threat to most of the top teams. So what are the silver linings for a team like Malta coming in this match as the clear underdog?
The first factor which may play in their favour has been their undisputable superiority in the qualifiers. Even though they didn't necessarily have the hardest group, they managed to avoid the trap of facing a Highest Virtue squad on the rise and as demonstrated in their match, had the control of the situation from start to finish. The second, and maybe most important factor, is that the Unity team has shown some flaws and lack of constancy in their recent tournaments which cost them to lose a few important matches, most recent examples being their two loss in a quarter-final of a major competition, once against Guess Who Is Back in the Warband Native League 6 or not so long against Wonwokie in the Warband Summer Cup 2.
Moreover, the new Malta line-up has played quite a few tournaments together and it is to be expected that their synergy and team play has been strengthened since their debut. On an individual level, they played extremely well in the qualifiers but it was against arguably way weaker opponents. Coming against Unity, it is yet to be seen if the players who had a strong impact such as Normanguy or Habrak can reproduce similar performances, as it will probably require more than a team-effort to come on top of that confrontation.
On the other hand and despite their recent underperformance, the Unity squad still looks rather sharp, coming in with a roster of experienced and skilled players who have been performing together for several years now. Their natural teamplay, as well as their in-game prowess, will be a tough task for Malta to overcome and undoubtedly justify their status of invited team.
MAPS AND FACTIONS
Breaking down the match by maps, we are looking at a rather classic feature if any. Field by the River is one of the most iconic maps of the warband competitive scene and Naval Outpost managed to impose itself as a strong candidate when it comes to picking one of the most tactical close map.
On FbtR Malta has a huge opportunity to establish a quick lead due to Vaegir's clear superiority in open environments. With that being said, yesterday's match between Aequalitas and Blackened has shown that if it remains hard for them to win the set, it is very possible to pick up some rounds and make your life easier coming in the second map. Despite tonight being Unity first official match, the players will need to get their heads into the game very quickly and on FbtR, Maximou and Caius will have the hard job of asserting their team's morale by taking the decisive shots at the right moment.
If Unity gets into Naval Outpost with a strong lead then Malta's chance will be rather diminished. Having to deal with Nords on a close map is a rather terrifying prospect and even if the Swadia's awlpikes have proven to be devasting, they hardly win matches on their own. Malta's rangers will most than certainly have their hearts set on making the difference as soon as possible as Swadia's only chance to exist on a close map is to get an early lead and have the opportunity to snowball. In that regards, Triari and Habrak have proven to be rather efficient in the qualifiers so they could very well be the keystone Malta' squad rely on Naval Outpost.
If somehow Malta manages to contain Unity's infantries and prevent them to take a decisive lead before the last set, everything remains possible as they do possess all the tools to establish their own dominance on the Nord side, and potentially steal the game away.