>>March Subscriber Tournament<<
This month features another new wrinkle in the ESOC Bounty Board, a 32 player subscriber tournament using the January bounty winning map, vividlyplain's Empire Wars. The previous bounty for beating the extreme AI on Kamchatka by only gathering coin was collected by 2 time champion @CaRp with an insane time of 6:47. He has now won over 200$ since the inception of the bounty system. More about the tournament map, players start in the Commerce Age with more villagers and a variety of rickshaws/wagons to start their town. Since both players will have access to military buildings and a strong economy, the action will start immediately. There are two spawns on the map, one with water and one with no water. For more information about the map, check out the mod page and this wonderful spreadsheet containing spawn information by civilization.

This Sunday, starting at 18:00 GMT:
Image Knusch vs Haitch Image
Only on ESOCTV

This weekend, only on ESOCTV:

17:00 GMT - Haitch vs kynesie
20:00 GMT - Mitoe vs Knusch

18:00 GMT - Best-of-9 Finals

ESOC Challenge Cup - Week 1 Recap by occamslightsaber


Hello, ESO-Community! 

The Group Stage of the ESOC Challenge Cup kicked off last weekend with Week 2 already under way. Be sure to check out the upcoming Group Stage matches at ESOCTV this weekend!

Here is a recap of Week 1 if you are just joining us:

Group A: Mitoe vs. iamturk

@Mitoe and @iamturk are familiar names in our community and belong to the dreaded Group A, also known as the Group of Death. Both are veteran players who have been at the top of the food chain for a while, but each have their own playstyle with different strengths and weaknesses as shown in this series. In Game 1’s German mirror, Mitoe caught iamturk off-guard with an Age 2 uhlan + pike push while the latter was aging up. The early damage forced Turk to rebuild his barrack and retrain most of his army, which in turn disrupted his Fortress Age momentum and allowed Mitoe to comfortably follow him up to the next age. Turk did exact his revenge by pulling off a big raid on Mitoe’s unsuspecting settlers later, but perhaps he pushed his luck too much since he ended losing a decisive battle that cost him the game. Though the two players' unit compositions were virtually identical in this mirror, Mitoe notably utilized the new Silversmith card rather than the usual coin shipment.

In Game 2, Mitoe’s Ottomans played rather greedily by taking over the TP line early on and researching stagecoach. This gave the Ottomans an unusually strong economy to compete with iamturk’s French, which naturally has a good economy by default. Turk unfortunately mis-macroed his resources somewhat and Mitoe added an insult to his injury with a successful abus-janissary push to destroy his infrastructure. iamturk still managed to hold on for a while with his superior cannon micro to his opponent's falconets (as expected from Mr. Mechanics himself), but by this point, Mitoe's abus gun mass had snowballed to the point that it could shrug off the loss of his cannons and one-shot Turk's falconets. Turk attempted a cav-switch with veteran cuirassiers as a last hurrah, but the game had already been decided.

The following Game 3 was a rather unusual match. Mitoe seemed to deviate from his normally immaculate build order, something he does really, really well. Instead, his focus was all over the place: Building a livestock pen, pumping out crossbowmen from victor_swe-style triple barracks and shipping 2 caravels just to sink 3 of his opponent's fishing boats. Turk was able to handily repel his opponent's delayed timing push as a result and played out the game patiently with a sizable economic and tech advantage. In Game 4, Mitoe tried another greedy strategy (which was apparently working out well) with the British, while his German opponent raced ahead with a naked FF. Turk's timing push was foiled, however, as he appeared to run into the persistent issue of mis-macro once again. In fact, Mitoe's massive Age 2 army was able to clean up Turk's offensive even before his veterancy upgrades kicked in. Mitoe consequently won the series with a solid 3-1 score and took the lead in the Group of Death.

Game 3 - Mitoe's LUL Strat
Why Mitoe.png

Group B: Haitch vs. Kévin

Kévin (also known as @kevinitalien) is no doubt the underdog in this group, especially against Haitch (also known and more popularly known as @Hazza54321) who already has a 2021 tournament win under his belt as the winner of the Goodhouse Cup. Yet in Game 1, Kévin showed that he can still dance around with the best and win. Hazza opened the series with a great start, with his German uhlans picking off 3 of Kévin's Incan villagers in early raids. Kévin responded with a bow-pike push, burning down several of his opponent's costly infrastructure. More importantly, Kévin did an excellent job denying his German opponent of coin mines that he desperately needs, forcing a costly battle for him and creating a lot of idle/walking time for his settlers. Eventually, Kévin was able to overcome Haitch's Age 3 units with his Age 2 mass. After some unsuccessful shoot-and-scoot effort with his clunky war wagons, Haitch ultimately conceded defeat to his challenger in a stunning upset.

Game 1 - Inca OP?
Inca OP.png

Perhaps the first game was just a beginner's luck (if Kévin can even be called a beginner), because Hazza came back with a vengeance for the next three matches. In Game 2, Kévin opted for a water boom as the Ottomans while Hazza stuck with the tried-and-true cav semi-fast fortress as the Germans once more. Kévin's reaction time was a bit off again as he allowed Hazza's uhlans to take out several of his settlers early on. Kévin seemed to be able to hold his ground for a time, driving back Hazza's fortress push with a large mass of janissaries and the 5 spahi shipment. However, Hazza was able to re-mass his army again very quickly thanks to his better economy and renewed his offensive to take Game 2.

Kévin began the next game with a sub-2 minute Agra Fort as his forward base in Deccan. Haitch in turn walled off some of his opponent's approaches to buy time as the British, but Kévin's sepoys simply took a short detour to his base. This time, it was Kévin who was shooting up Haitch's base early on and returning the favor for Haitch's raids in the first 2 games. Haitch still managed to hold his ground and age up first. He was then able to expertly exploit the window of opportunity as his opponent tried to catch up, taking out his Agra Fort forward base. Haitch kept the momentum going with a diversionary frontal attack that led to successful multi-pronged raids which devastated Kévin's economy and decided the game in his favor. In Game 4, it was Haitch's turn again to harass his opponent early on with a 10/10 Agra age-up and his aggressive strategy slowed down Kévin's Iroquois considerably, as he had to skip the 5 villagers card in favor of the 7 Aennas card to defend his base. While Kevin did build a dock to boost his economy and attempted to disrupt Haitch's plan after hitting fortress, Hazza easily repelled those incursions and quickly caught up to Age 3, but also with a much better economy. This effectively ended the series in favor of Hazza.

Group C: Lecastete vs. kaister

Much like Kévin, @kaister is considered the underdog in his group, having barely made the cut-off to join the Top 16. In this series, however, he managed to overcome the odds against him and stick it to the naysayers, no less against a strong and experienced contender like @Lecastete. In Game 1, Kaister's Iroquois started off with some water play, which went pretty much uncontested throughout the match and provided with him valuable resources to match his opponent's French powerhouse. Having scouted his opponent's game plan, Lecastete also moved quickly to secure two trading posts and research stagecoach to bolster his own economy. kaister applied early pressure with kanya horsemen and war hut units, but Lecastete was able to shrug them off, though he was forced to call minutemen to do so. The two players traded evenly throughout the match as reflected in their scores and it was a remarkably close game, but kaister's cavalry switch and superior micro during the final battle won him the first game in the end.

In Game 2, Lecastete held a commanding position throughout the entire game. Lecastete's Dutch pikemen did a great job in clearing out kaister's Swedish torps to cripple his resource gathering. The Dutch player was also able to easily drive back hussar raids with his ruyter mass and picked off the opposing Caroleans with skirmishers before they could connect with their charge. Lecastete's lead continued to grow as the game progressed and kaister never was able to turn the table in this game. The following match saw kaister's Ottomans seemingly trying to mislead his opponent with a water-focused deck (which didn't work), while he instead went for a greedy fast fortress with a second town center and two stagecoach trading posts (which did work). Lecastete's Indians had been hunkering down early on with a defensive Agra Fort in his base meanwhile. He also preemptively trained Gurkhas, admittedly because he was expecting a janissary/falconet push from kaister. As a result, Lecastete ended up missing the window to pressure and punish kaister for his greedy playstyle. To Lecastete's credit, he was later able to position his Age 2 units masterfully to envelope his opponent's army while they were sieging his Agra Fort, but kaister's veteran units held their ground against the onslaught and eventually emerged victorious to the surprise of many in the audience.

Game 3 - Chad Botto
Botto OP.png

Game 4 decided the first series upset in this tournament that many did not expect (unless your name is @minimoult21 and your prediction was absolutely correct). kaister unleashed the full power of his Lakota laming and his early axe rider/club pressure drew out a strong and perhaps disproportionate response from Lecastete, who sent the 8 crossbows card to protect his base. kaister then just ran away, quickly aged up to the Fortress Age and started massing powerful Age 3 units while his opponent was stuck with the archaic bow/pike combo. Lecastete eventually managed to catch him up to the next age as well, but through a proper use of the native scout to spy on his opponent's position, kaister was able to exploit the window to crush Lecastete's un-upgraded army with his Fortress Age mass. So kaister managed to pull off an unexpected 3-1 victory against a higher seed and we'll watch the rest of his Group Stage matches with great interest (no pressure).

Group D: SoldieR vs. miggo1999

@SoldieR is widely anticipated to be the runner-up for this group behind Knuschelbär, but it is by no means a guarantee. @miggo1999_ is a close contender for the runner-up position as their matches showed. In Game 1, SoldieR (as the Lakota) and miggo (as the Germans) constantly prodded each other's position with small skirmishes here and there. However, SoldieR should have been able to inflict more damage on his opponent's economy, which naturally outpaces that of the Lakota as the game progresses. Their two armies eventually faced off in a massive engagement inside SoldieR's base. With the home field advantage, SoldieR was able to bring about the 6 dog soldiers big button in the nick of time at 18 minutes, but the battle was only a pyrrhic victory for him; miggo was able to quickly re-mass his forces due to his superior economy which ended the first game in his favor.

In Game 2, SoldieR pulled off a quick, decisive win with a bold yet successful club rush. While miggo went for a greedy stagecoach build that he'd later regret, the strategic placement of SoldieR's forward war hut allowed his Lakota club warriors to quickly advance into his Spanish opponent's base and siege the outpost as it was still under construction. SoldieR also made an excellent use of the healer he rescued to keep his units at maximum combat effectiveness as they constantly prodded and took apart miggo's hastily constructed defenses. The subsequent game featured SoldieR employing a sneaky water build as the Iroqouis that went unchallenged until it was too late for his Dutch opponent. Theatricality and deception are still powerful agents to skilled players and SoldieR achieved them with a misleading deck with no water cards and an unusual placement of his dock (to miggo's credit, his scouts just barely missed SoldieR's dock). Unsuspecting miggo opted for a semi-fast fortress build and SoldieR was able to follow up soon as well. miggo did eventually find out and destroyed his opponent's fishing fleet, but by then SoldieR had reaped enough benefits to amass a large number of forest prowlers to counter-attack and eventually overwhelm miggo's defenses.

Game 3 - SoldieR's Sneak Level: 100
Sneaky Dock.png

In Game 4, SoldieR attempted another surprise strategy, but with less success than the previous match. As the Germans, he attempted a war wagon/falconet combo alongside the ususal uhlans. He even added a culverin in the mix to hold against miggo's Spanish fortress timing. While SoldieR did fend off miggo's skirm-pike-falconet push, it was evident that his cannon micro wasn't exactly on point to yield the results he had wanted. On miggo's part, his rodeleros had arrive too late to make a difference and he hadn't upgraded them to veteran rods when he could have. The game was close, but SoldieR did have an ace up his sleeves in the form of amalgation and jaegars, which won him the final decisive engagement and ultimately the series as well.

Group D 2: Electric Boogaloo: Ezad vs. miggo1999

Many observers predicted this would be some of the closer series between evenly-matched players. @Ezad may not be as recognizable as other top players, but he did enter this tournament with the #5 ladder position as CometK noted in the the Group Stage Roundup. And despite his loss against SoldieR, miggo still held his own and even scored the first blood in the series. Game 1 kicked off with Ezad's Japanese going for the standard shrine boom with semi-fast fortress. miggo's China also appeared to be a rather standard build for the civilization (naked fast fortress), but viewers soon realized that he was in fact going fast industrial instead. Ezad eventually sniffed out the shenanigans going on in miggo's base by the 9 minute mark and followed him up to the industrial age. What followed was mostly passive paly from both players, who were clearly massing for a big showdown. It was miggo who forced the fight with a slow push using hand mortars, but they were unable to shut down his opponent's flaming arrows as he had clearly hoped. Ezad was able to beat him back with sublime cannon micro and the defender's advantage inside his base. Eventually, the superior economy of the Japanese civ allowed Ezad to turn the table and take the first game.

Game 2 featured more passive play from both players. Both sent advanced trading posts and saw little action early on until miggo (as the Spanish) started another push toward Ezad's (as the Portuguese) main base, taking out his extra town centers one by one with skirmishers, rodleros and falconets. Ezad aged up to the industrial age and revolted as Peru. While Ezad's sudden boost in military units did blunt miggo's offensive, Ezad's own momentum toward his opponent's base quickly died down even with 2 factories producing heavy cannons. miggo was able to put up a successful defense with walls, skirmishers and more cannons of his own and Ezad was unable to exploit the window of time to win the game. Game 3 saw even more passive play from both players again. Real fighting started only when Ezad's Spanish began contesting miggo's (Iroquois) side of the pond with his warships, which miggo managed to repel with canoes. Ezad had committed more to water stratgey than miggo had and while his pond was almost uncontested, the maritime resources soon became to run low. Meanwhile, miggo consistently maintained a larger land presence and successfully prevented Ezad from gaining an economic foothold on land, which enabled him to wear down his opponent in a war of attrition.

Game 2 - miggo1999 successfully quells Ezad's Peruvian revolt
Ezad Revolt.png

Game 4 was a deviation from the rest of the series, as miggo started out with a non-standard French fast fortress build packed with aggressive Age 3 unit shipments. Ezad established a forward base with war huts as the Incas, but mostly continued his defensive play style besides sending out raiding parties of chimu runners. Ezad's turtle strategy did manage to drag out miggo's offensive, but the latter was able to snipe the Stronghold wagon before it could construct a fort. Moreover, miggo's units eventually bottled up the Inca villagers to starve his opponent of resources, giving him the third win to close out the series in his favor with yet another score of 3-1.


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