We have arrived at the climax of season 5 of the online league. Rosters are in, and there is a decent spread across the 18 players who went 5-1 or better in the early rounds. Let’s see what they are playing!
The biggest thing I noticed looking at the rosters is that only three out of the 18 rosters are running dual affiliation, and one of those (Black Order with leaderless A-force) looks like a hedge to me. There was a slight preference for single affiliation in the groups, but this is a strong signal about what top players think about the single/dual affiliation decision.
|Cabal + Criminal Syndicate||2|
|Brotherhood of Mutants||1|
It’s not surprising to see Wakanda well represented – they normally are. It is a little surprising to me that they aren’t a “Wakanda Splash” for another another affiliation. They can cover off some bad affiliation or threat value match ups for another affiliation, but all the Wakanda players chose to go solo. At first glance Cabal featuring highly brings a slightly “Season 2” vibe to this, but digging deeper, seeing the options and play Sin has opened up I think this will feel very different on the table. A number of players have moved away from Black Order after the cut, and as we’ll see, I think that’s a smart move as a number of lists appear to have included anti-Black Order tech.
It’s no surprise to see who is queen of the characters:
|Infinity Gem: Reality||3|
|Infinity Gem: Time||3|
|Spider-Man (Miles Morales)||3|
|Bob Agent of Hydra||2|
|Infinity Gem: Mind||2|
|Loki God of Mischief||2|
|Infinity Gem: Power||1|
|Infinity Gem: Soul||1|
|Ronan the Accuser||1|
|Spider-Man (Peter Parker)||1|
What did surprise me was how much Ghost-Spider was taken. Not because she isn’t good – she really is! – but Enchantress good? M.O.D.O.K. good? I didn’t quite have her in the same league, but she has found a lot of good homes, not least in the two Web Warriors rosters. Seeing Zemo up there won’t surprise anyone who has been following this season: he has great homes in Cabal and Black order, and is a good option in a number of other affiliations. A third Thanos showed up in a Wakandan roster similar to one I’ve been toying with.
Also worth noting, one player didn’t bring Okoye. Hold that thought.
One thing I wanted to look at was which out-of-affiliation choices players were making, so after removing any character that was affiliated (and associated gems they can take), the list slimmed down somewhat:
|Loki God of Mischief||2|
|Infinity Gem: Reality||1|
|Infinity Gem: Time||1|
I think that gives a pretty good reflection of the most common out-of-affiliation choices top players tend to make, and again maybe I’m unduly surprised to see Ghost Spider in second place.
You remember that one player, that didn’t take Okoye? Well there was something else he didn’t take that everyone else did:
|All You’ve Got (R)||11|
|Field Dressing (R)||9|
|Brace for Impact (R)||6|
|Escort to Safety||5|
|Usurp the Throne||5|
|Heroes for Hire||4|
|No More Mutants||3|
|All Webbed Up||2|
|No Matter the Cost||2|
|All According to Plan||1|
|Doomed Prophecy (R)||1|
|Pentagram of Farallah||1|
|Psychic Shielding Device (P.S.D.)||1|
|To Me My X-Men||1|
I think it’s fair to crown Nick Gentile king of defying convention. I also think this is a clear sign that Bitter Rivals is a clear contender for the next round of Banned and Restricted consideration.
In a change I saw coming, All You’ve Got edges out Medpack for top slot in the restricted cards. Med Pack is increasingly situational if you expect to see a lot of Reality Corvus or Magneto who can take pretty much anything down in a single activation. Given how popular Brotherhood and Black Order were in the main part of the season, Med Pack loses some perceived value. Only one player leaned in to the Doomed Prophecy play. Yep, you guessed who; our friend counter-culture Nick again.
Dark Reign now appears to be the Cabal card of choice (something I predicted would happen about a year ago), with Cosmic Invigoration no where to be seen, but one Cabal/Criminal Syndicate roster didn’t bring either, taking the one All According to Plan instead.
Everyone who included Killmonger also included Usurp the Throne, but one Mystique turned up without her Deception in tow. Every Iron Fist (and the less popular Luke Cage) has access to Heroes for Hire, but one Lockjaw won’t be saving anyone at the last minute. Venom is also always on the look out to protect his allies, but M.O.D.O.K. is largely lacking Lackeys.
Escort to safety and Sacrifice feel like tech for dodging Corvus getting to splat whoever he wants in rounds 1-2, which slows the Black Order game a lot, so these like tech picks in a season where there have been a lot of Black Order players doing well.
|Gamma Wave Sweeps Across Midwest||11|
|S.W.O.R.D. Establishes Base on Moon’s Blue Area||10|
|Demons Downtown! Has Our Comeuppance Come Due?||8|
|Infinity Formula Goes Missing!||6|
|Riots Spark Over Extremis 3.0||6|
|Mutant Madman Turns City Center Into Lethal Amusment Park||4|
|Mayor Fisk Vows to Find Missing Witnessess||3|
|Portals Overrun City with Spider-People!||3|
|Terrigen Cloud Sweeps Over City||2|
|Cosmic Invasion! Black Order Sweeps Across Earth||1|
Gamma has a new challenger for King of Secures: S.W.O.R.D. gives the game play of a pay-to-flip without the randomness of the having to roll dice if you aren’t contested. Its a great addition to a competitive player’s arsenal against certain match ups. Add in the 14 threat value that is a real struggle for some affiliations with expensive leaders, and I’m not at all surprised to see it here. It has pushed out Deadly Meteors to be the only secure not selected by anyone.
|Research Station Attacked!||12|
|Spider-Infected Invade Manhattan||11|
|Fear Grips World as “Worthy” Terrorize Cities||9|
|Struggle for the Cube Continues||5|
|The Montesi Formula Found||5|
|Deadly Legacy Virus Cured?||4|
|Alien Ship Crashes in Downtown!||2|
|Mutant Extremists Target U.S. Senators!||2|
|Mystic Wakanda Herbs: Fact or Fiction?||2|
|Skrulls Infiltrate World Leadership||2|
How the Worthy have fallen. Gamma-Hammer is no longer the most likely combination, with a lot of Research Station around. That makes sense for the traditional control factions (Wakanda, Web Warriors), Swarm option (Sin led Cabal), multi-displacers (M.O.D.O.K. and Enchantress share Cabal affiliation) and “focus on one area” (Defenders and Black Order). It remains to be seen who has the best game of those. I used to like asking people, “Why are you better on Hammers than anyone else?”. I guess I’ll have to switch that to Research Station now.
Spider-infected in second can make sense: in a meta with high threat investments (Thanos, Magento, Reality Corvus, M.O.D.O.K. etc) the appeal of a chance of a pseudo-stagger is appealing, though doesn;t always work out in the matchup that way – it’s easy enough to pick up spiders with another character on the team – but combine that (debateable value) advantage with a 5 extract crisis to try to speed the game up, and I can see a narrative that led to it being there.
I’m putting out more detailed break downs of all the rosters in groups coming soon, so keep a look out for them, and the plan is to stream as many of the 17 top-cut games as possible, so keep your eye’s peeled for those too over the next few weeks.