Team waloo & the cuddlebuddies — Season Review
Roster: Madsen © (1), Harbinger (2), Crispy Bacon (3), Waloo (4), RobMyst (5)
Well then. Here we are. I was prepared to write this review a fair bit earlier, and I’m sure you were prepared to read it earlier as well.
This was a fascinating season to me, for many reasons. It served to challenge some of the preconceptions I’d had about what teams are supposed to look like, and it’s a very welcome change of perspective, given that I felt like I was in a bit of a rut where I just went through the motions season by season. I think I also came out of it valuing the presence of reliable and communicative veterans that I know well a lot more than I might’ve previously, and it’s something I came to appreciate very quickly with this team.
I feel like we all had a decent idea of what the rest was like and what everyone was capable of, and that eliminated a lot of the stress you might usually expect, especially in terms of taking time to gel and sort of tiptoeing around how you interact with teammates. For context, I’d previously played on 2 teams with Crispy Bacon and 1 with Waloo, but even though I never played on a team with Harb and Myst, it felt very much like I had and we were just collectively picking up where we left off. I enjoyed having the peace of mind that my teammates knew when our games were, would show up, would let me know if there were any issues and would generally be easy to talk to.
The lack of any massive expectations, I think, also played a part in making the team atmosphere as relaxed and comfortable as it was; I don’t know that we ever really felt much pressure. The fact that we were playing against teams and players that were often higher MMR (at 5810 average MMR, we were the 2nd lowest average team in the division) didn’t seem to phase us. I personally benefitted from this a lot, as I’m fairly prone to reacting negatively to pressure, but I’ll save my individual perspective for the player review section. Overall I felt very comfortable playing with this team; I think everyone sort of collectively went “oh wait, this won’t actually be a trainwreck” during our first officials (despite this being a 2-0 loss to Sassy’s Lokie-led team), and from there we just kept getting pleasantly surprised at how well we were doing without stressing out over it, until it eventually just turned into excitement to play officials together. Luckily, having a week’s break between games due to not dropping from the upper bracket didn’t negatively impact our play either.
I’ll touch more on our team identity throughout the individual reviews, but I think overall two things stand out:
- There was a fair bit of luck involved in making our fit as effective as it was; things like Waloo being a very greedy 4 paired up with a trio of cores who weren’t particularly uncomfortable sacrificing their own game a bit, especially Crispy as the 3, or Myst’s ability to set just about any rabid animal carry up for success.
- Myst would function as a luxurious, high-end (I’m talking Cesar Milan money) dog walker, leashing 4 idiots who respond to primal instinct first and rational thought second. This meant that, in practice, we still benefitted from our individual abilities to spot openings and create plays from them, just often without the usual subsequent overextensions — and that was most often a result of Myst tugging on the leashes and having us reset. To our collective credit, we’d comply with Myst’s 5th or 6th scream to get back a solid, like, 80% of the time.
It’s these two points that I’d say were defining for our season, and are also why I’d argue this team wouldn’t have done nearly as well with a lot other players — even higher MMR ones — replacing the ones we had…yours truly excluded, because all I had to do was be a generic carry player.
I won’t dwell much on the player draft; in short, when the bids on some of the higher MMR players got to a point I wasn’t comfortable with, I shifted towards just assembling a stack that’d be generally fun to play with. I’ll be honest in saying I did very strongly consider pursuing some of the later high MMR nominations like Ligbank, but in that case specifically decided against going for it since I’d already picked him in Clarity Linear. I don’t recall why I let Reece go for as cheap as he did, but I’d imagine at that point I was already keen on most of the pickups I’d end up nabbing, even though in many ways he seemed like my MO (new UK offlaner? Yes please — shoutout Frasse).
I’ll start with 5 and work my way over to the core roles, since my personal review is less review and more extended retrospective through the lens of the team’s carry player. Fair warning, this is likely to be a pretty circlejerky and positive set of reviews given the outcome; if you want negativity hop on over to my Linear review.
5 | Myst
One of the topics I always found incredibly interesting in the community is who people want to play with — hell, if you go back far enough on this Medium account you’ll find half a dozen articles based entirely on that premise. Every couple of seasons I’ll try to figure out what my dream team looks like at that moment.
For a very long time now, Myst has always been one of my two go-tos for the 5 role, despite never having played with him officially (though it wouldn’t be unfair to argue that the amount of games we played in RD2L Mini S5 qualifies as him having been a teammate — and I did include him in my postseason review of that team). The other name up there is Vivern, and that’s someone I not only played with twice, but won both of those seasons with.
Most people that have played with Myst won’t need much explanation for why this is; he’s an absolute gem of a person, sure, but so are plenty of others. No, what sets him apart is that he’s just really fucking good. His play is very stable, and he has a solid enough grasp of his role that it makes his laning partner better by extension. I never felt like he’d do things that negatively impacted our lane, and he’d communicate his intent behind every action super clearly and concisely, making it just very very easy to play with him. He’s quick to spot the quirks of his teammates and adjust to them — honestly it’s a bit hard to describe what it is that makes laning with Myst as comfortable as it does; if you’ve watched streams of NA pubs I’d compare him to a budget Dubu: communicative (which is a nice way of saying he’d micro me), stable (which is a nice way of saying he’d never tilt or whine), reassuring (which is a nice way of saying he’d snap me out of it when I would tilt).
Naturally this extends past the laning stage; as I’ve mentioned, Myst was the calming presence reigning in the baboonery innate to the rest of the team, outlining in very clear terms what our objective at a given time is as a team and stopping us when it was evident any of us was looking to make a play that didn’t contribute to that.
That’s not to say he doesn’t enable fast paced play; in many games, he’d spend most of the midgame running about the map creating the chaos we needed (see Nyx, Dark Willow games). I think he, like the team as a whole, also approaches teamfights very well, and his spell usage was generally on point — as was his play overall.
Honestly — from the perspective of a carry player who’s pretty dogshit at laning — if I could choose one player to have on every team I’m on going forward, Myst would be it.
Awful at consuming soup, though, for as smart as he is. Go figure.
4 | Waloo
I don’t think any of my teammates would contest the statement that Waloo was the star player of the team. It’s funny to say this, because the chatter around him playing 4 on this team suggested it was a waste of his abilities — add that one to the pile of doubter quotes ey?
In any case, Waloo effectively functioned as a 4th core on this team — but not in the maybe more traditional “we have two 3.5s” way, more in a “we have a 1, a 2 and a 1.5 playing from 4" way. It’s obvious that this came very naturally to him, but I think saying it’s just a byproduct of him usually being a 1/2 is kind of oversimplifying matters, as getting the kind of farm and scorelines Waloo did the vast majority of games takes some pretty great game sense and positioning.
In addition to this, Waloo drafted for the team and did a pretty great job of it; at least from my perspective it felt like he generally had unique ideas going into games (which was helped by keeping close track of meta developments — I’d learn about new shit pros are doing every week) and didn’t struggle much to adapt to things, and similarly to Myst seemed to have a good understanding of his teammates. He’d be very open to input, felt like he trusted everyone and that was largely reciprocated — I felt this more than the rest, as I’d generally feel very confident just listening to Waloo when he had an idea for a carry pick; even if it wasn’t a hero I really played or I didn’t see the intent behind it, I believed that the reasons for him picking it would mean I’d have a good enough game if I focused and stuck to the basics. In all honesty this lead to me being a lot more confident, and winning on heroes I hadn’t played in a long time directly lead to me expanding my hero pool and being more comfortable picking heroes based on fit rather than experience. Overall very much a case of “no cares I’m just trust my Walooj”.
I’ll admit to having slight doubts due to Waloo’s reputation as being somewhat negative, but honestly by and large I’d never really experienced that myself to an extent where it was worrying, and he was absolutely lovely to play with here, so uh, if you’re gonna slander the homie do it away from me ye?
3 | Crispy Bacon
Where does one start with Crispy Bacon? Genuinely nicest person I’ve met, like, potentially ever. Not even an exaggeration. I love this man.
I dragged Chris onto this team to play offlane — likely his least favorite role in the entire game —in lieu of getting someone who might, y’know, play the role, because primarily I enjoy playing with him and knew he’d be a better fit personality wise for the team than most others. This is usually where I’d continue that sentence with something about also being confident in his ability or some such but that’d be kind of a lie; I didn’t expect too too much out of Chris, though I generally do believe he’s a somewhat underrated player and his overall knowledge is better than most other options at the time (reminder that he’s broken past 6k). I mostly just picked him for the vibes.
And then he started owning.
Now, yes, it’s Crispy Bacon, so there was a fair bit of feeding involved, but I think if you sat down and went through all of our games, you’d be hard pressed to find many deaths of his that didn’t go on to yield more gain than loss. In lanes this generally meant that while Chris was dying, Waloo was picking up a kill on the enemy carry or a double kill, setting him up for that transition into a 4th core; later in the game this meant creating often game winning opportunities on heroes like Tide or Mag (unironically Collapse who?).
Some games it got pretty ridiculous. He’d string together like half a dozen absolutely game-winning plays back to back to back, and in that sense, Chris was probably the most important player for our success in closing out games. He’s a very aggressive player with a great eye for openings — this has been the case for a long time, and is probably one of the reasons I enjoy playing with him on this kind of role as much as I do (see ness’ review of the very team I met Chris through, all the way back in season 12 of RD2L. Something about Chris and myself being behind enemy tier 4s 15 minutes into the game, something about Irish and Slavic drunkenness?).
Absolute gem of a player and person.
2 | Harb
Harb’s the one person on the team that I struggle the most to say much new about — he just did Harb things. Played mid, won a lot of lanes, lost some horribly and then inevitably caught up anyway, made some baller rotations, farmed really well without throwing off my own patterns (which to be fair is a sign of great understanding and awareness and something I do see other players in his range struggle with).
I will say that, in hindsight, it’s really impressive how much impact Harb had on most games, considering that it was exactly his hero that we had a tendency to pick fairly early and leave vulnerable. Admittedly, this means slightly less when that hero is, like it was in a lot of games, the stupid fucking Lina hero, but even then, I’ve seen someone have a good lane then either do nothing or crumble afterwards as the game got harder. In general, I think he positions really well on his heroes and understands them inside and out, so he’s able to push the limits of what a hero does. He errs on the side of more conservative play — or atleast largely did on this team — which I think was correct, as it meant he very rarely threw away advantages on his own, and this served to guarantee us having 3 to 4 well-farmed heroes who’d simplify fights.
All of this again made him just a very good fit in this team; he’s a flexible enough mid player that we could both give him things like Lina and Doom early, but also save his pick for last and rely on him as a wincon — which I do think is sorta funny given his reputation of being a bit of a one-note player.
Naturally Harb’s also — peep this, I’m developing new ways to phrase ‘rabid animal’ — a fun-loving player, so he didn’t struggle to adapt to the kind of shit we were doing, and I do think he deserves a good bit of credit for turning a lot of those potentially stupid plays into net positives by prioritizing correct heroes while I press BKB and a-click in the general direction of the teamfight.
In any case, hard to say much other than I’m obviously very happy to have finally gotten my season with Harb. What’s a couple 7ks and 8ks to a pair of kebabs anyway?
1 | Madsen
Thinking back on this season I swing between the sentiments of “eh I did okay, but I got carried pretty hard for most of it and doing what I did was very easy because of the team as a whole and the ways in which they enabled me” and “nah you know what, that’s not always super easy to do and a low 5k carry doing it is pretty fuckin rare” — and the reality of the matter is probably somewhere between those two. I do genuinely believe that this team would’ve done just as well — better even — with another higher MMR carry player, but at the same time I’m very happy to go against the idea of “this team would’ve been fine if they just had an actually good 1 instead of Madsen”.
My more consistent gameplay issues —laning, being where I should be on the map, farming efficiently, mediocre map awareness, hard to work with hero pool, itemization (jesus fuck how’d my team win)— were still on show for most of the season, but I think the reason my performance ended up being serviceable was largely that the team as a whole generally covered each others’ weaknesses, my own included (realistically moreso than for the others). If I was missing out on farm I should be getting, Harb and Waloo were grabbing it, if I was about to do some dumb shit in lane, Myst would reel me back in, if I was gonna buy a questionable item I’d ask the team first and give them a bit to think it through before committing, if I was about to die in some godforsaken corner of the map I was Wraith King and we’d get everyone there by the time I was back up. If none of my comfort heroes looked good, I’d just play some shit I haven’t touched in half a decade and do mostly fine anyway. If I wasn’t farming super efficiently, it didn’t matter since my team was controlling the entire map for me anyway, so I could take my time. You starting to see why I say this team was really easy to play with?
I did also pick up on shit as the season went along, and I don’t think climbing some five or six hundo since signup was a random streak. For a bit there I started feeling and playing pretty confidently, and that translated into officials as well, where I didn’t massively hesitate to push advantages.
All of that being said, it’s still pretty evident to most who watched our games that we never played around my consistently being a traditional win condition; I was tasked with playing my role, and while that occasionally meant being a Medusa and farming until our opponents bashed their heads into us and lost, I didn’t really feel like the wincon — I needed to be what happened if our actual wincons did their job by creating the space I needed to, well, be a six-slotted Medusa or whatever. We had like two games where I was the wincon in terms of needing to play properly all throughout the game and then being the big scary lategame carry as well — these were the only games we lost, and it was largely because I’m just a significantly worse carry than the opposing team’s was (though then again that was Lokie so, y’know, duh).
Anyway, don’t get me wrong, I don’t intend for this to be a self-deprecating segment; I had a job to do, and I did it — better than anyone else, myself included, would’ve expected too. I’m particularly proud of doing that job well enough on heroes I just absolutely don’t play regularly, and do think my openness to play whatever we felt was needed in the draft was a not insignificant factor in our success.
Alright, that turned out to be pretty rambly, but whatever, this was a hype ass season and a hype ass team. Massive thanks to my teammates for being epic, shoutout to Agnitos and Omegasaw for standing in, shoutout to everyone we played and 2–0'd (ie everyone we played except Sassy team).
Cya next time I draft you and we win 3 matches total xoxo