Ace and Melusi in NAL – Part 1, Villa

Both new operators have made a pretty strong debut in NAL including some teams (Soniqs, DarkZero) opting to often ban Ace. I wanted to take a quick peek into some ways the two operators are being used and to do so I took two example matches of the same two maps, both Oxygen matches: Villa and Kafe from Oxygen vs Tempo Storm and Oxygen vs Disrupt.

This will be far from a comprehensive analysis, but it seemed representative of a team that is happy to play w/ and against both new ops on these same two maps.

Rather than look at every specific bomb site and setup, instead I wanted to focus on the spread of usage and just look at the places these gadgets are used, and some ideas as to why.

To start with let's just look at a spread of the gadget placements across the top 2 floors of Villa. After that I'll identify some of the uses. Note that I'm not focusing on specific panels for Ace's Selma gadget, but rather just the specific general wall, as panel placement varied depending on defense setup and electricity/jammer usage.

Middle floor, Villa
Top floor, Villa

Let's start w/ Ace's usage. In general he seemed to replace Hibana with a better gun and Smoke instead of Stuns. The most important walls to get depended of course on the bomb site. Although interesting Tempo Storm would use one on the Kitchen/Pantry stairs wall to help clear below Trophy when that was the site.

By far the most important wall when the site was Kitchen of course was the Laundry wall into Dining. This was usually an important Hibana job.

Alternatively Slash opened a wall in the hallway into Memorial in one attack as well. He did struggle to get it due to a roamer upstairs shooting it at first.

Upstairs for Trophy the focus was the usual Bathroom and Bedroom/Statue walls. With one round where the Astronomy/Trophy wall was opened.

On the Aviator attacks, the primary focus was the walls from Study into Aviator and Games. Especially important is the Study/Games wall to flush out the player behind the bar in Games. This is typically expected of Hibana. Interestingly I never saw anyone attempt to open the Vault wall. There was a round though where Slash went for the two Games/Classical Hallway walls before opening the Study/Games wall for Bar (partially because it was Mute jammed so a Sledge grenade had to clear it first).

Overall not a ton of creative usage of the Selma gadget due to him being an upgraded Hibana on maps where hatches aren't important (Villa). I was definitely disappointed in the holes being primarily for line of sight with no rotations happening most of the time. Especially given Ace can create 3 rotation holes and Hibana only 1 (unless you prone crawl).

Usage of Melusi's Banshee however had a lot more variety as well as switching players (Ace was primarily played by a single player: Krazy, Slash and Retro). The gadget placement was interesting in that being a bulletproof gadget without a weak spot (unlike bulletproof cams) it would sit very openly and in places where it was easy to shoot from relative safety, but required utility usage to do so. Most often it acted like a VERY large piece of barb wire that you could only melee in the middle of it and got slower as you approached it. This frequently meant sitting near doorways, but much deeper in the room than barb wire would be.

By far the most popular spot was on top of the map in Aviator, even when the bomb site was below. This helped cover both the north and south doorways, preventing any kind of quick push in that might use the map display as cover. Based on the positioning it's implied that the north door was the bigger threat.

This is also combined with a Banshee in Study to slow the whole approach and potentially net some entry deaths (especially when combined with a soft panel on Aviator/Study wall).

The next most popular was the entryway from Bedroom into Statue. Rarely was Ace's gadget ever used to create a rotation for movement, but instead line of sight. This meant that attackers only had two means of rotating into Statue from Bedroom. Through this entryway, or through the extremely risky Astronomy.

Speaking of Astronomy. The top of Astronomy stairs and the Bathroom doorway are generally highly contested and dangerous entries including from the window. Having a Banshee in these spots can make an already difficult push that much harder.

Classical hallway was another very popular choice although it differed on whether the defenders prioritized slowing down the corner approaches or the doorway itself. Classical hallway is always such a contested area so it was generally pretty effective, although I'd go for the doorway over the north (vault side) corner.

The next most popular placements were for Kitchen/Dining. The Kitchen island is effective at slowing pushes from many different positions and blocking any kind of behind the island plants, much like the maps display in Aviator. The Dining placement near Laundry door was also very standard as many teams will push into this room from Laundry for smoke plants.

Next is the area connecting Kitchen/China, Main Hall and Astronomy stairs. Both placements do a pretty good job of slowing any kind of approach to or from Astronomy stairs and Kitchen. The only important difference in the placement is whether you are concerned about an approach from Wine Cellar or not. This was a pretty useful chokepoint, especially when Astronomy was important to hold.

After that there was the placements around Memorial and Red stairs. Combined with the previous Banshee for the stairs area, these help match denying Kitchen entry, with denying Memorial entry, making Laundry the only good approach, although that is denied as well! The Banshee inside Memorial may not hit exactly the doorway, but it's so deep inside you definitely will not be hitting it with a melee.

Lastly there's some spots for a Living Room/Library defense to help slow some common approaches into the Living Room itself. These aren't terribly exciting however.

Hope these uses of the new gadget help your Ranked play or seed your comp stratbook. In the second part we'll be looking at Kafe in a similar fashion!