The stakes were high for this February 16, 2017, edition of Throwdown Thursday. It was #WinOrGoHome for FeelsBauMan and Team Feed Me. The winner of this match would move on to face Squirrel Posse in the Breakaway Office League finals and the loser would take their salt and go home. Rumor has it that JustCallMeBau and FeelsBauMan had been looking at gameplay footage all week and concocting a strategy to exploit Team Feed Me’s weaknesses.
The broadcast began with the rollout of the new Breakaway All-Stars segment to highlight some of the outstanding players in the Breakaway Office League. This week’s all-star segment featured Team FeelsBauMan’s resident jack-of-all-trades ButterBeany and an explanation of the ubiquitous #ButterBeany4Pres hashtag. I personally couldn’t help but wonder if this might turn into some sort of Breakaway equivalent of the Madden Curse, but I’m paranoid like that.
When the broadcast began, there was some major controversy over the lineups. Team Feed Me’s resident Rawlins, MattyAwesome, was absent and replaced at the last minute with office relic runner Bones. Let’s say that Bones introduction was met with some some…mixed reactions. Berserker Mike, channeling his inner GLTovar, held signs up in the studio window proclaiming, “Bones Ain’t Right” and “#CheatinRamu Booooo!!!” The Twitch chat reaction in the https://twitch.tv/playbreakaway channel felt similar:
So was this just coincidence? Or did Team Feed Me draft in a ringer? Would JustCallMeBau and Team FeelsBauMan be able to adapt their strategy to this new challenge? Or would Team Feed Me’s bait & switch give them the edge they needed to make it through to the finals of the Breakaway Office League? Let’s recap the action and see who got sent home.
Remember, Breakaway Office League finals are on March 2!
Team Feed Me: 0
Team FeelsBauMan: 0
The Team Feed Me lineup was a mix of the familiar and the unexpected. GucciPants picked his favorite Thorgrim and there was a Black Knight as well, but played by ZinRamu instead of Bones. MPriest, who we normally associate with high DPS characters, trotted out Alona the healer and Bones rounded things out with Breakaway’s debuffer Morgan Le Fay. Team FeelsBauMan rolled out with exactly the lineup you’d expect -- Bau was causing havoc with Spartacus, TikTrip was tanking with Black Knight, Spooky Forest was disrupting with Rawlins and Breakaway Office League All-Star ButterBeany was rocking her familiar Alona.
Round 1 was a statement of intent from Team Feed Me. The entirety of Team Feed Me went straight for the relic and within 20 seconds ZinRamu managed to score before Team FeelsBauMan knew what hit them.
Round 2 started exactly the same with all of Team Feed Me heading straight for the relic. Team FeelsBauMan put up a bit more resistance this time and in a moment of team brilliance, both ZinRamu and GucciPants were knocked off the edge, ButterBeany went on a characteristic bunny-hopping break and got an assist from a JustCallMeBau Spartacus ramp to take it in for the score. That was easily the highlight of the match for me. Unfortunately it ended up being one of very few high points for Team FeelsBauMan.
Round 3 was awesome to watch. Both teams rushed the relic straight out of the gate. No one cared about the armor or gold buffs. Team FeelsBauMan almost scored in the first minute and Team Feed Me had two near scores in the second minute. Ultimately Team Feed Me managed to get three players together up the elevator uncontested and made a break on the Team FeelsBauMan base. ZinRamu scored with a pro-level throw tech move indirectly assisted by Bones. If you watch the replay again, notice how Bones stands just behind the Relay so ZinRamu can use the direct pass instead of a wind-up and throw to send the ball into the Relay for the score.
You’ll notice up to this point I haven’t really mentioned buffs, economy or K/D/A ratios. In past Throwdown Thursday matchups, we’ve seen entire games swing on who has a gold advantage based on buffs or K/D/A, but in this game the action was so frantic that no one really bothered. By the beginning of Round 4, the net worth battle was dead even and there were only a combined six kills across both teams. Like all the previous rounds, this one began with a mad rush to the relic and GucciPants almost scored after 20 seconds but for a well-placed Rawlins jail by Spooky Forest. There was also a scare about two minutes in where Team Feed Me went down two players temporarily, but they wisely dropped back and gave the team time to respawn and regroup. The winning score ultimately came from GucciPants and ZinRamu just bullying their way to the Team FeelsBauMan base. Watch how relentless GucciPants and ZinRamu are pushing the relic and how powerless it seems like Team FeelsBauMan are to stop them. Remember this clip; it became a theme for the rest of the match.
Team Feed Me: 1
Team FeelsBauMan: 0
After a tightly-contested beginning, it seemed like Team FeelsBauMan got bullied out of Game 1. In Game 2, JustCallMeBau switched from Spartacus to Thorgrim to help tank for his team and dictate the location and pace of team fights. In theory, it made sense. In reality, it didn’t seem to make much of a difference.
The beginning of Round 1 made it pretty clear that Team Feed Me had no intention of changing their strategy until Team FeelsBauMan proved they could stop them. Everyone rushed straight for the relic at the beginning of the round and immediately kicked off a skirmish in the center of the arena. At 45 seconds into the round, Team Feed Me lost both their tanks GucciPants and ZinRamu, but managed to recover. Then about a minute later GucciPants managed to sneak behind the Team FeelsBauMan back line with the relic and score (mostly uncontested). It was at this point that I began to think Team FeelsBauMan needed a dedicated safety or sweeper hanging back and cutting off these breaks. Time and again Team Feed Me managed to break through the back line of Team FeelsBauMan without the resistance you’d expect. It was too easy.
Round 2 saw Team FeelsBauMan immediately under the cosh. There was a mad scramble in the Team FeelsBauMan base and eventually Bones was able to force the relic into the Relay for the score. We’ll have a chat with the designers and programmers later about that one; that relic didn’t look like it went in the relay to me, but the gameplay code says otherwise. If we’re being honest, that pressure from Team Feed Me was unyielding and they probably would’ve scored anyway.
At the beginning of Round 3, nothing had really changed from Game 1. The pace was breakneck, no one cared about getting the gold or armor buffs and the KDA was virtually non-existent with only three total kills in the game thus far. Team FeelsBauMan had built up a slight net worth advantage, but they were having difficulty making it tell. When ZinRamu found himself riding up the elevator alone to the Team FeelsBauMan base just 10 seconds into the match, I feared the worst. My fears were confirmed about 30 seconds later when GucciPants broke behind the back line and scored the game winner. JustCallMeBau was looking salty, ButterBeany looked stoic and Team FeelsBauMan was down two games to none.
Team Feed Me: 2
Team FeelsBauMan: 0
After the first two games, it didn’t seem like Team FeelsBauMan had an answer for the dogged pace of Team Feed Me. ZinRamu and GucciPants pushed relentlessly while Bones harassed everyone with debuffs and MPriest sustained the team. Not liking the outcome of Game 2, JustCallMeBau dropped Thorgrim and went back to his favored Spartacus. MPriest quietly dropped Alona and switched over to the nuker Victor. The implication of MPriest’s choice was that if Team FeelsBauMan wanted to group up and team fight, they were going to pay for it. Game 3 came down to one simple question: could Team FeelsBauMan stop the relic running of Team Feed Me or were they just going to get steamrolled?
As we’d come to expect from the previous two games, Round 1 started with a mad rush to the relic by everyone. Even though Team FeelsBauMan rushed hard, Team Feed Me still got their first and were already knocking on the door of the Team FeelsBauMan base after 20 seconds. After 30 seconds, the resistance broke down when ZinRamu melted ButterBeany and tossed in the relic for an easy score. Team FeelsBauMan still didn’t seemed to be able to hold an effective defensive line and signs indicated this was probably going to be another quick game.
I’m starting to sound like a broken record at this point. Round 2 started with a rush to the middle, a fight for the relic and a resulting Team Feed Me push. This time, about 40 seconds into the round, GucciPants and ZinRamu wombo combo-ed TikTrip and then tag-team pushed for the score.
The feeling had been present for most of Game 3 already, but Team FeelsBauMan seemed completely demoralized at this point. My match notes of Round 3 were pretty brief. They say, “More of the same. Break for the relic, bully, score.” I think that’s a pretty decent summary of the action. After just 20 seconds, ZinRamu passed to GucciPants for the round, game and match-winning score.
Team Feed Me: 3
Team FeelsBauMan: 0
Compared to previous Throwdown Thursday matchups, this one had a very different feel. We’re used to the net worth game dictating winners and losers and getting the gold buff each round being a key component of that strategy. No one got a single buff this entire match. Not one. That seemed like a deliberate decision on the part of Team Feed Me and with the frantic pace, Team FeelsBauMan couldn’t snag one either. With the net worth battle out of the picture, it became about relic pushing, passing and teamwork.
Team Feed Me came out of the gate in Game 1 Round 1 with their entire team rushing the relic and they maintained that strategy throughout the entire match. One of the things that impressed me about this match was Team Feed Me’s ability to get to the relic first. Every. Single. Round. Even when Team FeelsBauMan tried to rush the relic and contest at the beginning of the round, someone on Team Feed Me always snagged it first. From there, it was a lot of GucciPants and ZinRamu just double-tank bullying their way through with excellent support from Bones and MPriest. Team FeelsBauMan didn’t seem to have an answer; it seemed like there were a number of times where no one was home on the back line to make the defensive saves and clearances that were required.
Ultimately, the late addition of Bones to Team Feed Me will be the major point of contention from this match. It seems pretty clear that he changed the team dynamic and enabled Team Feed Me to push the relic in a way we haven’t seen them able to do previously. Acrimonious circumstances aside, it’s Team Feed Me that marches on to meet the Squirrel Posse in the Breakaway Office League final and it’s Team FeelsBauMan who will head home wondering what could’ve been.