Hidden Cup V

 

About three and a half years ago, I wrote about the Twitch/YouTube streamer T90Official who covers all things Age of Empires II. Since finding his channel and then many others, I have been watching Age of Empires II content almost daily. There are so many great personalities who have built wonderful online communities in their chats on whatever platform they have been on over the years. While there are tens of thousands of players, the competitive scene is fairly small when it comes to the S-Tier tournaments. This means you know most, if not all, of the players competing. You've seen their gameplay, you know their preferences when it comes to civilization and map picks, and you could probably identify most of them if you watched a game without their name being on the screen. Well, that's what you'd think, but T90 has been running a tournament that has proven even the experts of the game may not know the players as well as they think they do. And that is the whole premise of the Hidden Cup tournaments.

The fifth iteration of Hidden Cup just started this week and runs daily through Sunday, March 3rd. In this tournament, the 16 players that were either invited or fought their way through the qualifiers compete in a single elimination tournament. The hook is that the commentators, the audience, and the top 16 competitors don't know the real identity of the players in each match. Each player is assigned a hero from the game's campaigns and then there is a random draw for seeding. This means the favorites to win the tournament could possibly compete in the first round. *Spoilers* I think we may have already seen a top 4 pairing in one of the first three days of round one.

Half of the fun of this tournament is trying to guess who each of the competitors are. With every insane quick-wall or foolish castle placement that goes unfinished, chat erupts with specific player names. Obviously the same player can't be playing in multiple first round matches, so most guesses are incorrect. To give us all some help, T90 compiled data about preferred player colors, unit formation percentages, and even how they type "gg" at the end of a game. Even with the incredible detail he has gone through this time around, it hasn't helped much so far. There have been a couple of heroes who have almost certainly been identified because of very specific quirks they have that nobody else does. But for the rest, it's been so hard because the game has become so optimized that many players have very, very similar play styles.

If you're an Age of Empires II fan, you're probably already aware of this series. But if you're a person who used to play the game 25 years ago when it came out or started playing as newer versions have come out over the years, this is certainly some of the most entertaining AoE content that I've ever seen. Hell, even if you've never played or watched the game before, if you like RTS (real time strategy) games or esports in general, tune into T90Official's channel this week and check it out. You won't be disappointed.


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