It’s that time again, folks: The Natural Selection League (NSL) is on our doorsteps – and it will be exciting! In the NSL’s ninth season we will see 23 teams. That’s more than in Season 7 (20). It is also the first time the number of teams for a season increases.
The tournament officially starts tomorrow and its playoffs can be expected the mid of May: that gives us just enough time to get prepared and excited for the upcoming matches.
In this 3-part coverage we have a look on the divisions, the teams, and the first matches you should watch out for. Let’s start from bottom to top:
in Division 3 we have 7 teams:
- All Terrain Vehicles
- Angry Chickens
- Schicht im Schacht
- Sector Plus
Of these seven teams three come directly from the Newcomer Tournament (NCT) held this Winter (marked above bold). It is always nice to see, that the NCT fulfills its purpose and new people become interested in competitive play. I wish all of these new teams a good luck and a great experience for their first season:
- All Terrain Vehicles: This wild mix boards EU and NA players. Leader Milez drove ATV in their first roadtrip straight to the finals of the newcomer tournament.
- F4: Founded by veteran 101 this Russian team went into the playoffs of the newcomer tournament as well. Will their name be a motto or rather a command to the opponent?
- .js: A NA-team speckled with a few euros and the rare sight of an Argentinian player. In the NCT playoffs .js was outgunned by All Terain Vehicles. Now it is time for a rematch!
From previous seasons we know three teams already: Schicht im Schacht, Sector Plus and Angry Chickens. Their lineups changed only a little:
- Angry Chickens – Noone leaves the coop! Rooster Crowbar keeps a strict, well… roster in his henhouse. No new players are registered on the NSL-pages. Neither are there any leaves since the end of S8. You cannot spell continuity any clearer than that. In Season 8 the Chickens had a rough time (3 points from an all-loose). From personal experience I can say the Chickens have improved, though, since Crowbar joined them on the field. And with players, who know each other already very well they might get some nice synergy flowing.
- SchichtImSchacht S9 – They keep digging: Besides its name SiS takes no break and keeps carving into NSL’s history. This time by adding a “S9” to its name. The team – dubbed by non-Germans simply as “Mega’s team” – lost some fellows in the tunnels, though: X_o (Vanquish), d3Base (-), and Absurdon (TAWmageddon) did not make the transition to SiS S9. As replacement SchokoKrossi joined the shaft-party. SiS – without the “S9” – made 5 points (1 win, 1 draw) in Season 8. Let’s see how the German-speaking team handles its leaves for Season 9.
- SectorPlus – Back from Season 7: One of the two Russian teams in this division (the other being F4). Spawned in the Newcomer Tournament Summer 2015 they are back now for Season 9. Their lineup underwent some changes: SashaRX, keo, and YHero (all former Handwashers) replace Lexycom and Psycho. The last appearance made Sector Plus in Season 7 getting 1 point there. How will they do after their recreational break?
Last but not least in our list is TAWmageddon. This team had some big revisions even though it never played an official match. TAWmageddon amalgates players from the Season 8 TAW teams (TAWxic, TAWtoise) plus an external addition: Absurdon (from Schicht im Schacht). They state “The End is near”. Ironic, because for them it is rather the beginning of a beginning: with two sudden “last minute” replacements (Tyrwing and kmacg leaving for Mikillæti; DCDarkling, Wizzzfizzz, and Preda joining) this team needs to find their balance quickly to avoid the cataclysm.
What to watch out for in the first week: No time to loose, All Terrain Vehicles and .js meet each other already in week one. Both NA/EU-mixes had some time to refine their play. But who will have the upper hand in a proper 4-round match?
Stay tuned for the second part of the Kick-Off-Coverage, where we have a look on Division 2!