The February 9, 2017, edition of Throwdown Thursday pitted Berserker Mike, the man, and his team The Berserkers against Otterhed, the myth, and his Squirrel Posse crew. So far in the Breakaway Office League, these teams have had pretty contrasting fortunes. The Berserkers came into this match looking for their first win of the season while Squirrel Posse was looking to keep their undefeated streak going. On paper, it seemed like the outcome would be a foregone conclusion. Would The Berserkers be able to pull off the biggest upset of the season and show that man can defeat myth? Let’s get into it.
The season standings (including this match) are:
FeelsBauMan (Win-Loss): 1-1
The Berserkers (Win-Loss): 1-2
Team Feed Me (Win-Loss): 1-1
Squirrel Posse (Win-Loss): 2-1
And the remaining scheduled matches are:
February 16: Team Feed Me vs. FeelsBauMan
February 23: Top-2 Team Playoff
During the introductions, we became aware of a number of juicy subplots lurking just beneath the high-level narrative of this matchup. The Squirrel Posse’s Rawlins extraordinaire DMAC came down with food poisoning, but was still determined to power through and play (Hey Berserkers, you wouldn’t know anything about that would you?). GLTovar was embroiled in the #WarmerGate2017 controversy that alleged Squirrel Posse’s cute squirrel costumes were more than just thematic; they have built-in hand warmers that give the posse an advantage in the frozen tundra that is the Amazon Game Studios broadcast studio. And finally, The Berserkers were buoyed by the return of Thrillhouse who they hoped would turn the tables in their favor (though he appeared to be asleep during the introductions so draw your own conclusions).
Squirrel Posse: 0
The Berserkers: 0
Early on, it seemed like more Otterhed mind games. Squirrel Posse came out with a completely remixed lineup that feature Otterhed tanking with Black Knight, Orgoth debuffing with Morgan Le Fay, DMAC gunslinging with Rawlins and GLTovar sniping with Anne Bonny. Meanwhile, The Berserkers came out with the exact lineup you’d expect with Berserker Mike leading the line with Black Knight, Chark eating up buildables with Rawlins, Nocnoz sustaining with Alona and Thrillhouse (now awake) controlling the back line with Anne Bonny.
There must have been some animosity lurking just below the surface of this match, because in Game 1, both teams came out looking for a fight. I normally associate players like GLTovar and Berserker Mike with being great relic runners, but in Round 1 they (along with everyone else) were spending more time team fighting than pushing the relic. It was a close affair and Squirrel Posse managed to score with 12 seconds left as Otterhed’s Black Knight cleared the way for DMAC to dash in and score. Across the two teams, there were 11 kills and 19 assists in just Round 1. We often see entire matches with fewer than that.
Round 2 was more of the same with both teams looking to just do some lasting damage to each other and Squirrel Posse won the tightly contested round with a great late clearance and push by GLTovar to secure a territory win.
At the beginning of Round 3, there were 23 kills and 40 assists across the two teams. All those kills and assists meant that there was a ton of gold on both sides and everyone was armed to the teeth. In Round 3, Squirrel Posse deprioritized fighting a bit and tried to push the relic, but they got caught too far forward and The Berserkers team wiped them mercilessly.
By the beginning of Round 4, there had been an astonishing 37 kills and 68 assists across the two teams. There were tons of heroic items in play and multiple overpowered characters on both teams. Round 4 initially looked like it was going to be quick; DMAC and Otterhed had a two-on-zero break, but were stymied by Thrillhouse’s ballista defenses. It looked like the Squirrel Posse were going to regret not seizing their opportunity when The Berserkers pushed the relic as close as humanly possible to the Squirrel Posse relay without actually scoring. But then they got team wiped for their troubles. Game 1 to the Squirrel Posse.
Squirrel Posse: 1
The Berserkers: 0
With a victory under their belts in Game 1, you would assume that the Squirrel Posse would keep going with their successful squad, but instead they completely shuffled their lineup. Out went Morgan Le Fay, Black Knight and Anne Bonny and in came Alona, Spartacus and Thorgrim. Squirrel Posse managed to secure a win in the bloodbath that was Game 1, but this was them returning to their more tried and true relic running style. Squirrel Posse has caused everyone in the Breakaway Office League problems with their quick pushes and great relic movement. GLTovar might be the best relic runner in the office.
From The Berserkers standpoint, the game plan didn’t change all that much. They still emphasized attack damage items and came out looking for a fight. The one obvious adjustment this game was that Chark prioritized the gold and armor buffs. The Squirrel Posse did not get a single buff crystal in the entirety of Game 2. The theme of Game 2 was The Berserkers just being bullies.
Round 1 looked like it was going to be more of the same from the Squirrel Posse, especially when Otterhed baited Berserker Mike into a #Throwgrim death, but The Berserkers managed to push & score.
Round 2 had a similar feel to Round 1 and compared to Game 1, there was much less fighting happening. Both teams were making careful pushes and trying not to overextend. The round ended on a highlight reel rebound and score from GLTovar. Watch that again -- he drops a Spartacus ramp in the background, launches over everyone’s heads, catches the rebound in the air and scores. Ridiculous.
Between Round 2 and Round 3, something happened to The Berserkers. I’m going to guess it was Berserker Mike yelling a bunch. They came out swinging in Round 3 and managed to get seven kills to Squirrel Posse’s one. The final kill came as Berserker Mike wiped out Otterhed and dashed the relic in for the score.
The combination of The Berserkers’ bloodlust in Round 3 and Chark’s ability to consistently get the gold buff led to The Berserkers having a giant net worth advantage going into Round 4. Three out of their four team members had heroic attack damage at the start of the round. The strategy was clear: they wanted to fight. The Berserkers took the fight to the Squirrel Posse and Squirrel Posse couldn’t really do much about it. Nocnoz did a great job keeping Berserker Mike alive, Chark was being a menace and Thrillhouse was picking people off at will. The round ended when The Berserkers gave themselves a 4v1 advantage and Berserker Mike picked up the relic and literally walked it in.
Squirrel Posse: 1
The Berserkers: 1
At one game each, it was still anyone’s match. The Berserkers continued with their tried & true lineup while the Squirrel Posse once again decided to try to mix things up by switching back to their successful lineup from Game 1.
So in Game 3, let’s call Round 1 an anomaly. We mentioned that GLTovar is an amazing relic runner, but you know who else is pretty good? Berserker Mike. So good, in fact, that he picked up the relic and scored in the first 12 seconds of the round. Somebody should keep an eye on that guy.
Round 1 ended so fast that no one really had time to do anything (though Chark somehow still managed to snag the gold buff) so the economy was dead even going into Round 2. As we saw previously, The Berserkers came out looking for a fight. In Game 3, Thrillhouse figuratively (and literally) woke up and just started wrecking people. While they didn’t score directly, The Berserkers were just bullying Squirrel Posse and a late double kill eventually led to a Berserkers territory win.
Round 3 felt pretty familiar. The Berserkers got 8 kills to only 3 for the Squirrel Posse in Round 2 and so they had the economy advantage in addition to a psychological one. They continued to force the issue and Round 3 ended when Berserker Mike delivered a nice pass to Thrillhouse for the score.
Squirrel Posse: 1
The Berserkers: 2
After being up one game to none, I imagine the Squirrel Posse had to be a bit demoralized at being down a game going into Game 4. Not content with playing the same team composition two games in a row, Squirrel Posse once again switched up the lineup to redraft Thorgrim and Alona in at the expense of Morgan Le Fay and Black Knight. The Berserkers kept the same lineup once again.
Unlike the first three games, Game 4 didn’t appear to be about bloodlust. In Round 1, Squirrel Posse seemed back to their old relic running selves. With 30 seconds left, Berserker Mike made an awesome save, but GLTovar made another highlight reel play to score. Watch GLTovar grab the relic, throw it forward and then use Alona’s teleporting defensive ability to follow up and score. He makes it look easy (it’s not, I’ve tried).
Berserker Mike, unsurprisingly, was aggravated by Round 1 and Round 2 seemed to be him saying, “OK, forget this. I’m just going to go score now.” and no one on the Squirrel Posse seemed to be able to stop him. The Berserkers slowly and methodically pushed Squirrel Posse back and Berserker Mike eventually picked up the relic and dashed in for the score.
In Round 3 the momentum swung back the other way again. After about a minute of back and forth, Otterhed managed to toss Berserker Mike off the edge and GLTovar used the opportunity to pick up the relic and score. There are few things more enjoyable in Breakaway than using Thorgrim’s Ram’s Horn ability to toss someone off the edge of the arena.
At this point, Squirrel Posse really needed this game. One more round win and they could push things to a Game 5. Just like in Round 2 though, The Berserkers seemed to get some momentum from being scored on in the previous round and within 30 seconds they were knocking on the door of Squirrel Posse’s base. At some point in the melee, everyone started pushing out of the Squirrel Posse base, but Berserker Mike gambled on a rebound and managed to score more or less uncontested.
In the deciding Round 5, The Berserkers once again went on the offensive. They managed to put themselves into a four versus two scenario and while Squirrel Posse was waiting for players to respawn, The Berserkers pushed in and Chark scored the winning point. Wait, what? Yes, Chark scored. Game, set, match.
Squirrel Posse: 1
The Berserkers: 3
At this point in my match notes it says, “Berserker Mike yelled a lot.” Can you blame the man? It was an exciting match and The Berserkers, in the image of their talismanic team captain, came out, went berserk and bullied Otterhed’s Squirrel Posse out of the arena. I am left wondering why Squirrel Posse insisted on changing team composition every single round and, maybe more importantly, why they had so much difficulty pushing the relic past Thrillhouse’s ballistae. Those ballistae in The Berserkers’ base might’ve been the secret defensive MVP. Or maybe someone just slipped DMAC some bad Pad Thai noodles pre-match as an insurance policy. We’ll never know.
What looked to be a clear run to a Breakaway Office League championship for the Squirrel Posse has now become much more complicated. The Berserkers have created a blueprint for how to handle the Squirrel Posse and you can be sure that whichever team meets Squirrel Posse in the final will learn from this matchup. In the end, the man Berserker Mike showed the world that Otterhed, the myth, is mortal like the rest of us and The Berserkers just made this Breakaway Office League season a whole lot more interesting.