Without doubt, the element of surprise has always been War Machine's greatest and most effective asset. They hold onto a build like a fickle child loves a toy for only one day—gone, but not forgotten. Several seasons ago, when fast-cast air spike was the untameable build of its time, and Rifts were on the top of that particular food chain, WM pulled out an amazingly dominant and dismissive playoff route that left everyone whacking their heads and shouting "why didn't I think of that?" The key to success? Three copies of Energy Surge, and about a bajillion Enchantment strips, give or take.
Last night, just about everyone had a different notion of what the reclusive Korean powerhouse would pull out of their hats. EviL put in their two cents, iQ milled around and offered suggestions, and Te did what Te does, they took it one skill at a time, and decided to stick with what they knew they could win with. But three Energy Surges? We felt the pain just watching.
The Americans came in with their Assassin and Illusion Mesmer setup, but were faced with a surprise in WM's hall selection, the Burning Isle. Te seemed unfazed, and walked straight to the flag stand, ready to battle head-on. Two Boon Prots and an Assassin are rendered terribly helpless when faced with this kind of Domination shut down, and the situation certainly wasn't helped as Te got themselves extremely spread out right off the bat, taking early casualties. Thanks in part to slow Te rezzes, WM pressed and took their openings, pushing Te into a retreat only moments after the first meeting in the middle.
But Te reacted quickly, shifting their focus to split, and sent Trex off to begin work on the Flame Sentinels. Either WM didn't notice or didn't care, but by nine minutes, both Sentinels were down and Trex was making his way into WM's base. With the path clear, Bob followed suit, and by 11 minutes, War Machine were left with only a handful of NPC's remaining, and forced into a full withdrawal.
Through either a lack of communication or a lack of forethought, Te missed their biggest opportunity of the match at this point. WM split up in order to defend their base, but Te neglected to take advantage of the mismatch at the stand, not bringing up a flag, and not pushing on an under-manned team in the middle. Instead, the primary team held fast to their base, while Bob and Trex were overrun on their retreat through the lava. Now the fight became one of pure survival for Te—make it to VoD with a solid NPC edge, and just maybe they could pull it off.
As if recognizing their missed opportunity, they pushed out when they resurrected, but once again could not hold on very long. By 14 minutes, Sheep was DP'd out, and the rest of his team was hurting badly on the morale chart. There the match stood, perched at the foot of Te's base, with WM pressing now and again, whittling down NPC's where possible.
With VoD closing in, WM appeared to get impatient, and continually overstayed their welcome in Te's remaining NPC's, taking losses on a few occasions, and generally placing themselves in a position where retreat would be costly. When the 30 minute shout finally did arrive, Te made their first truly decisive move of the match, and it just about turned the tide. Pushing out with their NPC's, they ran a split formation. Bob ran around the back towards WM's base, Trex grabbed a flag and booked it towards the stand, and the remaining team simply fought for their lives.
Trex moved with purpose, capping the flag, returning WM's backup flag, and began his trek to meet up with Bob in WM's base, but all over the map, his team was drowning. The VoD damage increase, coupled with the huge morale disparity, was far too much to deal with, considering every protective Enchantment cast was instantly ripped off. Te fought with a fire and a drive to win that they should be proud of, but this match was lost, despite a 25th hour morale boost. The nature of the Burning Isle means there are numerous opportunities for clumped up teams to get caught in Energy Surge traps, and WM took full advantage of it, all the way to victory.