The Strangest, Yet Most Common Criticism of the ST
So that Recent Daisy Ridley interview made me want to dust off an old thesis statement of sorts I’ve been saying since The Last Jedi was released. Not so much what she was saying but the reaction to it. I was going to include this in my post about why I wondered #ReleasetheEdwardsCut was never a thing but it didn’t seem right at the time. So Here Goes Nothing: This is an observation I began to notice about March 2018 or so, when the “””backlash””” for TLJ really began to take form and start getting ugly. A lot of signs went in different directions so it was hard to point to one exact thing. Then, just after Solo’s release Jeremy Jahns uploads that video, the really dumb one where he says TLJ promotes too much Social Justice or some crap like that and tried to justify everything by saying “I like the movie mother!” (because nothing says good movie like a painfully obvious allegory my neighbours ten year old could figure out in addition to watching Jennifer Lawrence have the shit beaten out of her. Also a Baby gets eaten, yeah.) and something he said in to really stuck with me. First he Says Star Wars is a cinematic universe (it isn’t) then says “Did anyone know what RJ was doing!?” And that was it right there, he managed to summarize what I've been observing these last few months but couldn't put into proper words. Star Wars Fans are mad that the ST is too Directo Artistic Driven then Franchise/ Design by Committee/ Business driven. It’s as if Jeremy was saying that he wants more studio control on these things and that directors should just follow orders and shut up. Now obviously he didn’t say those exact words I just typed but he sure as hell seemed to imply it. Now that seems like an oddly specific thing to say people are criticizing them for and I seriously doubt you will hear that exact phrase mentioned anywhere. But Think About it For a Moment.... How many times have you seen variations of these comments: “Rian Johnson should be on a tighter leash” “They should have had a stric plan for the ST from the start” “One person should have written/ directed the whole thing” “They should only do what the fans want” "Take a page from Marvel." Or some comment that eludes to the notion that Disney/ Lucasfilm should have stepped in more and not let the directors do as they were hired to do. What's funny to me is how "They should have had a plan" always translates to "I fucking hated The Last Jedi!!!!" Now that might seem like an odd way to look at it all but this isn't the first time Star Wars has been "criticized" like this. Look at the PT for example. In just about every review I’ve seen, both in print and YouTube, there’s always a moment where the reviewer says something along the lines of “Did no one tell George this was a bad idea?” or “Did no one challenge George on this?” This is RLM’s most common talking point. Or those claiming Lucas surrounded himself with yes-men who would do everything he wanted and that was it. Lucas did pay for the entire PT out of his own pocket mind you. He had an entire VFX company at his disposable to make any crazy thing he imagined. Who’s to tell him what he can and can’t do? Rick McCallum sure as hell wasn't going to. There is a certain "tragedy" for lack of a better word, when comparing Lucas in the 70s/80s to what he became in the 90s/00s. He ultimately became the very thing he rebelled against, the film producing machine where he could call the shots, order people to do as he wanted and no one could tell him otherwise. This is the entire thesis of The People Vs. George Lucas documentary. Very few directors working today occupy the same zeitgeist that Lucas once did. Abrams certainly doesn’t and neither does Johnson or Edwards or even Howard for that matter. How many can say they changed the medium of film with just one movie? I’d imagine anyone who wanted to seriously challenge Lucas would probably be fired on the spot for it. It would be like trying to challenge James Cameron or Steven Spielberg or David Fincher. You’d get about one inch before being kicked out of the door or in Cameron’s case, yelled out till your ears bled while your phone was nail gunned to a wall. You just couldn't do it. The situation the new films have found themselves in pretty much sets up that criticism though. George Lucas is gone, never coming back. He was THE BOSS and nothing was going to change that. Disney now owns Star Wars and will continue to own it until Kingdom Come. It has now crossed the rift from Filmmaker’s creative vision to Valuable franchise used for profit. Another IP to add to Disney's ever growing roster. So now with every new director they have to answer to Lucasfilm, to Disney, to the Mouse but they aren’t treated as servants but as guests. They aren’t ordered around, they aren’t told what they can and can’t do and they have all the resources imaginable at their disposal. A blank canvas and a $200 Million dollar cheque. For better TFA is very much JJ Abrams from start to finish. He loves his mystery boxes and stories about young women trying to find their place in the world and male supporting characters with father issues while ultimately being a pastiche of what he loves . If you seriously think TFA was made to be a remake of ANH (It really isn't) because Disney wanted it that way for a quick buck, welcome to your first JJ Abrams film. For worse, TROS is very JJ Abrams in the most frustrating way possible… but still very much a film made by him. Every decision made in TROS, good or bad(mainly bad), is something that has appeared in all his movies/ tv shows. You see the gear turning in his head with some of the more... questionable choices. Even behind the scenes, when things seem iffy is never feels like “The hand of the Mouse is stepping in.” It always feels like Abrams listening to feedback from his colleagues like Spielberg and DuVernay. Or in TROS's case, bad impulses.... TLJ is pure Rian Johnson from frame one up until the credits roll. TLJ is eerily similar to the Breaking Bad episode The Fly, the first episode he directed. An entirely character focused story that examines who the characters are and what they ultimately want and their greatest fears. And just like TLJ it is still talked about to this day. Frigg, TLJ and Knives Out both have the same ending twist… The Last Jedi’s production however is where things get interesting. TLJ might just have the smoothest and cleanest production of any Star Wars film probably ever. The Story was set and locked before TFA was in theatres. No massive reshoots, no extreme rewrites, no behind the scenes meddling, no studio oversight, no on set drama, no crazy editing changes and finished under budget with months to spare. That doesn’t happen for like 99% of movies made today, blockbuster or not. The PT on the other hand, oh boy.... TPM got off reasonably well. Some bad weather that destroyed sets didn't send them back too much. Some like to point to everyones reaction to the Rough Cut being the ultimate sign that everyone working on TPM knew it was going to be awful. That's the thing though, it's a rough cut, that's the whole point. It doesn't matter how good or bad any movie is at the end of the day, rough cut screenings are brutal.... ATOC and ROTS on the other hand didn't even have a finished script until about a month into shooting. And most importantly Anakin's entire motivation to turn to the dark side was added after the fact during reshoots. Which were done in late 2004 mind you. No Comment. It was funny for a while when I’d glance at STC throughout 2018 to see where the narrative was going and the most common one for a good month was always some variation of “Did Disney mess with TLJ!?” Trying to prove that something must have gone horribly wrong during the making of the movie... except there wasn't. And I’ve seen this play out in real time with in-person conversations, but after realizing that not only is that not the case but they can’t point to any other of the “usual suspects” to say “this is why thing bad” their only option is to say “RJ Shouldn’t have been allowed to do that!!” If anyone is wondering why RJ is getting his own trilogy this is the reason. The dude gets shit done with no issue. Even the death of Carrie Fisher didn’t put a damper on anything(the amount of comments I’ve seen that said “why didn’t they kill of Leia” got comical). It’s what makes watching The Director and the Jedi such a fascinating experience because everyone is looking at everything going “Is this gonna work or no?” With Emphasis on Hamill the most. TFA’s production was kinda messy but manageable. News about TROS's production has been revealed throughout the year and most of it points to it being messy and chaotic. The making of Docs try to hide this by showing us happy faces, people passionate about what they are doing and saying “hey this is awesome!” Then there’s the horrible realization that we live in this shitty era of movies dictated by film franchises that we watch out of obligation and internet culture creating a massive hyperbolic bubble around everything. I remember a time whenever information about any film was released (franchise or not) and if it was revealed that there was some form of behind the scenes drama between director and studio or changes made that the director wasn't part of people got mad. But now whenever we hear that the response is almost always “Hey they probably saved the movie from being a disaster.” A Real Paradigm Shift. It’s just accepted that Franchise Films are the result of produce studio oversight and that’s ultimately a good thing(that’s not to say there aren’t examples where this hasn’t been the case but that’s a discussion for another day). Which Leads Us To... Marvel immediately comes to mind with regards to this. After 23 movies the MCU has gone through 15 directors. Those who left after one or two movies don’t have nice things to say about it and it’s easy to see why. It’s funny seeing some put the MCU on some pedestal for “How Franchises should be,” which I find head-scratching. The MCU might just be the most micro-managed film franchise of all time. The amount of times I’ve read some behind the scenes piece about how scenes were shot literally weeks before release or were in six months plus of reshoots after the fact is staggering or how directors get screwed over and told to take a knee. And that’s not even getting into the nitty gritty of it all like how they don’t allow directors to shoot their own action or characters being shifted roles because it would affect toy sales. They also sure as hell don’t plan everything out. The amount of times the MCU has retconned entire films out of existence or just pretended certain developments didn’t happen could be its own drinking game. Character development in thrown out the window for the sake of appearance. The writers of Endgame can’t seem to keep their answer straight as to where and when Captain America ended up when he wanted to spend his life with Peggy. If anything Marvel is really good at giving the impression that everything is a well maintained car while running on fumes. Compare the Avenger’s Home Base between movies and then tell me with a straight face “Marvel Pays attention to continuity.” As an aside, what exactly do Marvel and Star Wars have in common? Aside from being owned by Disney what do they have in common? Nothing..... The approach, risks taken, sense of awe, the types of stories of told. It's like comparing a nice tasty burger from that one restaurant in town to an all you can eat Buffet. Sure it's all food at the end day but theres a difference. There’s also the matter of the type of directors that Marvel has picked. They largely go for Indie or TV directors with very little experience making films this scale. They also don’t have a huge amount of clout to their name so they can’t make huge demands for what they want. Sure some have more of a style and clout to them but those are the exceptions that proves the rule. For every Ryan Coogler or James Gunn there's The Russo Brothers or Jon Watts. Star Wars on the other hand has actively sought out directors with experience in films this size and those who have their own style that is reflected in the ones they make. To summarize JJ Abrams is Diet-Spielberg while Rian Johnson is Quirky American Auteur. Gareth Edwards could be the next “mostly” poignant blockbuster director while Ron Howard is a seasoned Veteran. Star Wars could have easily have grabbed any number of pencil pusher directors and gave them ultra strict guidelines to follow and nothing else. Have them make movies that are nothing more than giant fan service reels aimed at getting all the fan dollars in the world. And I think that's what so many kind of expected we were getting from the get go and are confused and out right mad that isn't the case. To Quote u/friedAmobo "Disney and Lucasfilm, regardless of what some people may think, are not stupid - they know the best way to make money is to do what the fans want. That would mean Luke being the main character in TFA, the main trio reuniting, and other fan service moments that would make Rogue One blush. The fact that TFA\ ***isn’t*** *about any of that is telling. It means they had an idea for something different, and they made it."* "TLJ is even more condemning for the cash grab argument. Rian Johnson was the sole writer and director of the movie, and as we all know, the movie was very divisive. But how was that a cash grab, then? If Lucasfilm wanted to make tons of money, they could have a powerful Luke train Rey, and then have him beat the First Order on Crait with super Force powers. It’d have made an easy couple hundred million dollars more. The fact that they didn’t do that, but ended up going with a story that had the potential to be divisive is, again, telling." But…. then you have the complete 180 with the anthology films. Rogue One and Solo and reading into their production is mind boggling. For as much as TROS’s production seemed like a nightmare, the production of these two seemed like fighting Nightmare from Metroid: Fusion. No one wants to come clean with what the hell happened with Rogue One. What movie completely reshoots it’s final act with a little over 6 months before release(not saying it doesn’t happen just bare with me here)? Gareth Edwards is probably never going to talk about how he was basically fired from it and replaced with Tony Gilroy. You think it’s anyway surprising that he has nothing to do with this Cassian Disney+ series? Solo had its directors fired midway through production then reshot the entire movie with someone else. That Doesn't Happen…… I remember hearing that during the summer of 2017 and my coworkers and I just laughed our heads off at it. The notion of a Han Solo movie (without Harrison Ford) was such a ridiculous idea at the time and then this happened on top of it. There’s also the uncomfortable truth that no one wants to admit about the Anthology Films. They Aren’t About Anything. Not that they aren’t about “anything” in the literal sense, but more so in the “these films exist to shove Star Wars nostalgia in your face and nothing else.” They are set during the OT era for frigg sake and throw LORE and CANON junk at you to make up for their complete lack of emotional/ dramatic meaning(I say this as someone who enjoys Solo greatly). Because they are side stories you the viewer don’t have to worry about anything of major consequence happening in them that would affect the main narrative (Skywalker Saga in this case). They can do whatever they want and basically a safe bet for an audience. You don't have to worry abut your favourite characters being killed or doing things you don't agree with. It’s like a video game side quest where all you get is a shiny new item by the end of it that’s good for a while until you get something better an hour later. This might not seem like much but I think fans seriously underestimate the power that comes with these being a side story. The Mandalorian fits into this category as well and something that Hello Greedo has praised the show excessively for. Add on the fact that Disney/ Lucasfilm is going to keep making Star Wars content in the form of movies/ Live Action series/ animation until the ice caps melt and we all die. It's not out of the realm of possibility that something you've always "wanted" might one day happen. To quote my very good friend u/SorryNotSpartacus: “They also, very simply, are not the main saga, and I think people underestimate how much of a difference that makes to the fan audience that by and large seems to respond more positively to the anthology films. Most fans are used to reading or watching EU material.” I recall seeing multiple comments early 2018 “RJ should have been given an Anthology film(s) instead.” As if to say “That way he can do what he wants and I don’t have to worry about it,” or something to that affect. But there’s also the sad fact at the end of day that’s all Star Wars fans “Want.” They don’t want a story or anything meaningful but a shrine to their nostalgia, a two hour fan service reel or a big “thank you” for being fans. Fulfill their own expectations and make them feel nothing but superficial joy. Don't let them think or feel anything else in the process. To quote Frank Oz: “All the people who don’t like this ‘Jedi’ thing is just horse crap. It’s about expectations. The movie didn’t fill their expectations. But as Filmmakers, we’re not here to fill people’s expectations.” He’s talking about The Last Jedi if that wasn’t clear. You’d think this would be obvious but so many fans seem to think it’s the other way around that these things exists to validate them as fans and nothing else. Don’t believe me? Go to any Star Wars sub reddit and search “this but un-ironcally,” or just type any number of words followed be “fans.” The results might surprise you… or won’t. Better yet just Search Rogue One and look for the most upvoted post. It's why I take issue with that recent quote from Jon Favreau that's been floating around for the last few weeks. “We alway knew, and this was something I learned from over at Marvel and working with Kevin Feige, is you always want to keep core fans in mind, because they have been the ones that’ve been keeping the torch lit for many, many years, but there are also stories for young people and for new audiences. These are myths, and you always want to have an outstretched hand to people who might not have that background . And so you’re really telling two stories at once. You’re telling the story for the people who are fresh eyes, and you’re telling the story for the people who’ve been there with the property and with the stories and characters for many years, and make sure you’re honouring them as well.” Almost as if he's saying "Just shove enough fan-service onscreen, someone will recognize it and it will make up for our lack of story telling abilities." It's funny how he uses what he learned from Marvel as "collective wisdom" when he got screwed hard when trying to make Iron Man 2 a movie about Tony Stark dealing with his own death. Stop treating these very corporately controlled entities like they are your best friend, they are not and never will be. Even if you think you have, it's not real. You think this wouldn’t have to be said but it needs to: You as a fan do not own Star Wars. Buying all the stickers and Funko Pops doesn’t make you an owner no matter how you stretch it. You do not have a say on how these things go, you do not get to say what can and can’t happen, you are not the writer, you are not the director, you are not the person who wipes the table off after a meeting because same jack-hole split coffee all over it.You are the person who buys a ticket then bitches online about it. Then again there is always the obvious “fans have no fucking idea what the hell they even want anymore.” Not that I’m free from this, I sure as hell don’t know what I want. I could give some vague answer like “More Babu Frik” but even that seems too broad. I saw a really dumb tweet around February 2018 that showed two posters, The Last Jedi and Justice League and the tweeter said "Filmmakers of these franchises should be actively aware what fans want and go out of their way to ensure that." Naturally most of the replies were ridiculing the guy for his flawed logic. The most liked reply came from someone who said the following "This implies that Star Wars fans actually know what the hell they even want." Also Justice League failed because it didn't do what the fans want? Oi Vey....) None of this is to say anything you yourself have criticized any of the ST films isn’t valid to you or someone else. Unless you’re one of those people who thinks “They have a secret political agenda!” in which case please stop. For as much as I talked about the ST being filmmake director driven they are still very much films released by Disney for the sake of profit. It’s just as much an art form as it is a business. Just as much of a product as they are a piece of fiction. For as much as RJ and his cast and crew have talked about the freedom he was given, he's not going to kill off all the characters and have Rey become a film scholar and analyze the works of Zack Snyder. The ST films are not art house epics and never will be. Neither is the PT or OT for that matter. Lucas is a much better businessman than director. He knew damn well the PT was his ticket to make up losing half his fortune after his messy divorce. Keep things going so he can basically retire once ROTS was done. But that’s all I have to say on the matter. This was based entirely on observation and conversations with others. Also there is no JJ-cut of TROS. There is no version of The Rise of Skywalker in which all the past Jedi appear as ghosts and start doing all the kick flips imaginable that was cut because CHINA. It Doesn't Exist.
RAV4 Prime SE: One month of driving, impressions, data, and one issue. AMA?
(EDIT: Got distracted, didn't finish a thought about electric rates and total costs. Fixed it!) (EDIT 2: BIG wow on the gold! Thank you, kind redditors!) (EDIT 3: Don't edit on mobile, you'll break your post. Just logged back onto my computer to fix it.) (EDIT 4: Thanks for all the support, folks. I've edited my awful data representation because I added new data, and I'm adding to the Fuel Economy and "Why on earth..." sections with some stuff I've learned.) (EDIT 5: This guy does a great job talking about suggested maintenance and what not to do with a Prius/RAV4 Prime.I HIGHLY RECOMMEND WATCHING THIS. He talks about a lot of good things like actually using the ICE, good charging habits [which are also in the Prime's manual], tires, proper use of charge mode, etc, and there's some good discourse in the comment section about battery health.) (EDIT 6: I swear, the amount of edits I'm doing will be as long as the original post soon. Maybe I'll make a resources section. Anyway, this guy did what I wanted to do to test the fuel system. I say watch the whole video, but I've linked to the end where he goes through the numbers. He drove in HV mode (with a full battery backup) with the car telling him to refuel, implying it was nearly out of gas. He drove for about 70-80 miles, and when he filled up he still had just over a gallon of gas left in the tank. This lines up with my experience of the one visit to a gas station. This car is insane.) Howdy all! I'm new to the club, and this will belong. On July 31 (a day before his birthday), I retired my grandfather's 1999 Ford Explorer (RIP, 3/6/99-7/31/20) after driving it for 5 years after his passing, and traded it in for a shiny new 2021 RAV4 Prime SE. In this thread I'll talk about my buying experience (context: USA, East Coast), present a little bit of data I had collected, and the only glaring issue I have with this car. I've driven over 1000 miles already (had to drive for a work trip, which was a great way to refine the HV fuel economy). Feel free to ask questions, and I'll answer as best I can! I'm not gonna talk too much about the specs and overly technical stuff, because plenty of great videos exist that explain it better than I could. I want to bring this a little more down to earth for us normal folks and our normal people concerns. Disclaimer: My only experience driving a "new" car was in 2017, doing a short drive in my mom's new Jeep. I have a sense of awe and wonder at some of the features modern cars have, because I haven't had them. Also, many people in my family have had Toyotas over the years (many RAV4s both ICE and Hybrids, some Corollas, an early Highlander Hybrid come to mind), so I knew I was pretty partial going into this ordeal. Most of the pictures I've used to collect my data can be found in this Imgur album (which I made before making a proper Imgur account, so I can't edit it. Sigh.)
The dealership I bought from had one (1) SE delivered earlier than planned. Another dealership in the area also only had one (1) SE, but with different upgrade packages. There was less than $1.5k difference between the models (IIRC). The one I bought included weather and moonroof package, all-weather floor liners (good because winter), roof rack crossbars (not necessary, but always nice to have), frameless homelink mirror (basically buttons for garage door openers on a snazzy mirror), and the protection package (includes edge guards on doors, mudguards on the fenders, etc). The dealership experience was mostly good. The staff was courteous and friendly, and even the finance officer was honest and blunt with me about stuff I could get cheaper elsewhere, or stuff I could sign up for later if I want it. The big downside came with the rarity of the car: There was very little negotiation available in any aspect, and the dealership included an "Adjusted market price" increase of $5000. Yes, you read that correctly. According to them (and I had also heard of this through a few sources), many other dealerships had a much higher markup which would put an SE with comparable upgrade packages over $50k before any taxes/fees. With limited availability, I didn't really have a choice. I tried to play the game, but the three different people I talked to at the dealership (salesman, manager, and finance) basically all said "yeah, no." It was pretty frustrating when they were like "what can we do to make this sale for you?" and I replied at least three times "you can make the price what was on your website, for a start." (The website showed the MSRP, plus upgrade packages, with a line through it. When you clicked on the button to get a deal/more details, it said that you already had the best price. They claimed it was bad website design, I told them straight up it was a nice case of false advertising and they should get their act together.) I used my trade-in value (not much, but I was able to negotiate it up a bit) toward an extended warranty (jumps from 3-year to 10-year, I think, which I felt was worth it given how much driving I do), and put down a healthy down payment with reasonable financing through a local credit union to cover the rest. I know that the situation will change once I receive the tax rebates (The Prime qualifies for the full $7500 federal rebate, and my state offers a $1000 rebate). Am I a fool for going through with this ordeal? From most points of view, absolutely. But when you drive a 21-year old car and have to fill it up 2-3 times per week (pre-COVID) at the tune of $40-50 per fill up, it's time for change. But I mean, she's so pretty. The actual email I got from the dealership. It here, indeed. And there she is, safely at home.
Features I like
I didn't know you could have heated seats that aren't leather or leather alternative. I've also never heard of a car having rear heated seats. Color me surprised when I found out that it's got it all! The weather package also included a heated steering wheel, which is great because I don't mind bundling up for the cold, but my fingers typically are colder than the rest of my body. I'm a musician, specifically a bass player, and if there's one thing I'll splurge on it's good sound. Because I got the SE, I didn't have the option of upgrading the audio system. Honestly: I didn't need to. The stock system sounds great to me, and I don't think the extra inch on the infotainment display would make a huge difference. Also, the big reason that this vehicle stood out to me is because there aren't a ton of options for hybrid/PHEV SUVs that get good mileage. I need the cargo area to haul music equipment from time-to-time The ability to switch between Normal, Eco, Sport, and Trail modes satisfies my need to control the AWD of the car. My Explorer let me choose between 2WD and 4WD. Before the Explorer, I drove a Mitsubishi Montero which let you choose 2WD, 4WDH, 4WDL, and 4WDL with locked center differential, and that car had literally saved my skin in some nasty winter weather, as well as some infrequent off-road usage. Obviously this is different than that, but the absolute shift in the feeling of driving in the different modes is awesome (Note: I haven't needed to use Trail mode yet, and I'm not doing that on a paved road). I've only used Sport mode a few times while driving on the interstate back from work, and I absolutely love it. I primarily use Eco mode (the whole point of me getting this car was to save money on gas). Sport mode, to me anyway, is just for fun. With those two options, normal mode is just kind of "whatever" and I'll probably never use it. If I have a need to use Trail mode, I'll update the post. I was literally ecstatic when I saw a traditional style shifter in here, and not just a twist knob to go between gears. Also, having the manual shifting option is always a huge plus to force yourself into lower gears during winter weather. Ignore the AM radio stations listed, I've just had that piece of paper forever.
Things I Wish Were Different
The 6.6kW onboard charger as a standard (only available as an upgrade option on the XSE), and Level 3 charging capabilities (DC fast charging). The SE is limited to a 3.3kW onboard charger. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has all 3 levels of charging for a base price comparable to the SE (yes, I know it gets less EV miles). I get that this is Toyota's second foray into PHEVs recently, so I genuinely hope that they add it as an option in future model years, but it's a shame it wasn't available this time. I feel like it will really restrict the practicality of using public charging stations, since even at a 240V station it would still take 4.5 hours for a full charge. Realistically, I suppose if you're at one all day at your place of employment then it's good regardless. But if you're going to just be at a parking lot/garage for an hour, or if lower power charging is the only option, it's almost not even worth it and you may as well drive home in HV mode. (Note: I don't have the option of charging at work, and there aren't many options for public charging stations near me. The nearest one is a highway rest-stop that has a bunch of Tesla chargers on one side of a huge lot near the building, and a single 240V charger far away near the tractor-trailer parking. Even with an adapter the Tesla chargers, if I understand it correctly, would literally blow up my car because I don't have DC fast charging. No thanks.) The "Auto EV/HV" button is very self-explanatory: If you press that button, you drive as an EV until the car decides it needs some extra oomph and switches to HV mode. And then when it doesn't, it'll switch back. That's how I normally drive. Excellent work, Toyota, 10/10. The "EV<->HV, Chg Hold" button is not as intuitive because it FORCES the car between the two modes and holds it there. My big gripe is the second function, which makes it sound like you switch to HV mode just to hold the charge of the EV mode. In reality, if you hold the button it tells the car to use the motor as a generator to charge the batteries. This was explained very poorly at the dealership to me, so I had to figure it out for myself. If you want to burn the extra gas while you're driving to try and charge the batteries back up, go for it? Otherwise, I'd just drive in normal HV mode. No fog lights? Seriously? Is that still considered a "premium" feature? A better way of capturing driving/fuel economy data would be grand. See the next two sections.
Typical Driving, Fuel Economy Data
As far as money spent, electric rates in my area are around $0.12/kWh (including all fees, charges, etc.). With the 18.1kWh battery pack, that equates to about $2.17 for a full charge. Less than the cost of a gallon of gas ($2.30-2.50/gal near me) to go 45 miles, or whatever. And that's such an insignificant part of my electric bill, especially considering that I don't empty and recharge it every single day (thanks, COVID?). Unfortunately I live in a rental, and can't have too many nice things. But if you have solar panels, wind power, or an absolutely electric connection with Zeus, well, it's basically free miles. And if you can recharge at work, it is literallyfree miles (for you, sort of). Also, imagine the money you're saving on not having engine wear. When do I get an oil change, anyway? (EDIT: Please get regularly scheduled service and maintenance. Watch the video I linked at the top.) Anyway, for those not familiar, the dashboard looks something like this. Super intuitive, gives you great information, please ignore the EV battery being depleted. Dashboard when the car is on. Dashboard when you turn the car off. So from that screen, I compiled a bunch of information (not consistently, mind you), and wanted to share that performance data. EDIT: Something important to note with EV mode is that by having the fan/air conditioning on, even with ECO heat/cool is that it will reduce your estimated EV miles on the counter by one or two. If you just turn the A/C off, the fan icon disappears and you'll typically get an extra mile. It's not much, but if your goal is to maximize EV driving, every bit helps. My running average, as you can see from some pictures, is 2.9mi/kWh. With an ~18kWh battery, that math works out to a suggested 52.2 miles of EV driving, but I'm sure I really am losing a few miles between climate control and idle time while driving. Context: My typical commute to work is about 39-40 miles one way, and the coffee shop is in the path of my normal commute so it doesn't add anything substantial, maybe like 200 feet of driving. Because of this commute, I pretty much burn through my battery on my way down, maybe I have a little left to start my drive home. EDITED 10 Sept, 2020 to include new data/better charts. Sorry that this is a chart for ants. Added a few more lines of data. Don't ask why the EV ratio bar is so big, I have no idea what's happening in Excel. Changed this so that EV ratio is a bar associated with each drive (as it should have been) and total economy is a set of lines.
Why on God's Green Earth Would I Represent Data This Way?
Because the the infotainment display doesn't save the information in a helpful/useful way. You've probably noticed that absolutely enormousjump in the last two data points. That's because in trying to use this awful system during my a recent drive, I basically erased my MPG and reset the counter. What this did was save the total economy for a "trip" and then start tracking it from scratch. At the time, I was driving in HV mode, and when I parked at home it was at something like 53MPG (jumping from 0 all the way up into the 60s and then back down). What was interesting was when I did a short, all EV drive the next day, which meant I got "99MPG" (I wasn't using gas, so...) which just brought the average way up across so few miles. I'm sure this will start to drop once I do a few longer drives that drain the battery or switch into HV mode. I'm not sure if there's a recommended frequency at which you "update" your fuel economy history, but maybe I'll play around with it more in the future. Well that isn't helpful. What the heck am I even looking at? What does the placement of those E's mean?? I rest my case. But I'll try to do better next time. Having EV Ratio as another bar made it feel really cluttered, but I realize now that having it the way I do is objectively worse. I was tired when I made it and probably meant to have Total Economy be that kind of chart. FTFY. Whatever. You get the idea. The car is awesome.
Let them work out manufacturing kinks, fix the gas tank issue (if that's a huge deal to you), and finalize the charging to at least have the bigger charger on both models (ideally add Level 3), and GET ONE. If you need me, I'll be driving around silently. EDIT: Here's a neat thing. When I bought the car and charged it for the first time, I had 33 EV miles. It crept up to 40 after a week, and has slowly crept up even more, and I was recently greeted with this when starting up. (Edited again because it GOT BETTER.) Not too shabby, considering the battery is rated for 42 EV miles. Also, my mi/kWh finally bumped from 2.9 to 3.
Good for 6+ hours of play with original Switch; 9+ hours with new Switch; 8+ hours with Switch Lite
Fast charges iPhone 8/X/XXS/11, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, LG, and Motorola phones
When 10,000mAh isn't enough but 20,000mAh is too much. Charges original model Switch slower than newer models. But still keeps up with charging while playing. Larger than the version below. But offers an extra USB-A port and optional micro-USB input. RAVPower PD Pioneer 20000 18W - $31.99 (20% off)
Good for 8+ hours of play with original Switch; 12+ hours with new Switch; 11+ hours with Switch Lite
Fast charges iPhone 8/X/XXS/11, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, LG, and Motorola phones
Lower output for handheld devices with higher capacity. Good for keeping up with your Switch and another device for an extended trip or time away from power outlets. Charges original model Switch slower than newer models. But still keeps up with charging while playing.
Charges Switch while you play in handheld or TV mode
Fast charges iPhone 8/X/XXS/11, Samsung Galaxy S8 and newer, Google Pixel; regular charges other phones
Will power most 12 to 14-inch laptops with USB-C
Using GaN tech this dual port charger is smaller than most included laptop chargers. With as much output as a 13-inch or 14-inch laptop needs. For the Switch it works great in handheld or docked. But if docked don't use the USB-A port, doing so resets power and will disrupt your dock's connection to the TV. Not harmful, just annoying. See my review for more details. AUKEY PA-D4 Focus 60W PD - $15.59 (40% off)
Charges Switch while you play in handheld or docked mode
Fast charges iPhone 8/X/XXS/11, Samsung Galaxy S8 and newer, Google Pixel; regular charges other phones
Will power most 15-inch laptops with USB-C
A GaN tech, high output charger. More than a Switch needs even when docked. But hard to argue with a good deal. Best for those who also have a mid to large size laptop to charge. See my review for more details. Inateck 45W PD USB-C - $12.99 (40% off)
Output: 45W USB-C PD
Includes USB-C to USB-C cable
Charges Switch while you play in handheld or docked mode
Fast charges iPhone 8/X/XXS/11, Samsung Galaxy S8 and newer, Google Pixel; regular charges other phones
Will power most 13-inch laptops with USB-C
One of the cheaper options for powering a Nintendo Switch dock. Includes USB-C cable needed and is USB-IF certified by the factory (Inateck can't list it as they aren't dues paying members of the USB-IF). RAVPower PD Pioneer 45W GaN - $15.99 (20% off)
Charges Switch while you play in handheld or docked mode
Fast charges iPhone 8/X/XXS/11, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, LG, and Motorola phones
Will power most 13-inch laptops with USB-C
Uses GaN tech for a slim design, good for fitting into tight spaces. Would work well powering a Nintendo Switch dock behind a TV stand or similar setup. See my review for more details.
It is safe to charge the Switch with a third party USB charger or power bank. There have been no reports of good quality, third party power sources damaging a Switch. There have been problems with third party docks. Those issues stemmed from poor (or no) USB Power Delivery protocols on the dock's power transfer chip. As with any accessory do your homework and buy well reviewed and quality products. I have more details available at Safely Charging the Switch. You do not need a third party wall charger, as the included power adapter does everything you need. But they have their uses:
Many are smaller and lighter. And fit in a Switch carrying case.
No digging behind TV.
Some are a cheaper alternative to Nintendo's charger.
Support other USB-C devices better than the Switch's charger.
Dark Souls 2's infusion system, while much more streamlined than DS1 or Demon's Souls, is still a frequent source of confusion. Hopefully I can break down not only what each infusion does, but when they're beneficial and with which weapons.
Elemental (Magic, Fire, Lightning, Dark)
Elemental infusions work very differently depending on whether the weapon you're infusing already has natural elemental damage. Infusing an elemental weapon with a matching element will cause the base damage and scaling for that element to increase and the physical base damage and scaling to decrease. The elemental scaling shown in the stats is almost always about a letter grade higher than it looks, that B is in reality more like an A. It's not advisable to infuse a weapon with a non-matching element. It does funky things to the damage calculations. Infusing any other weapon causes it to lose a portion of base physical damage and gain a large amount of base elemental damage, usually equal to the now reduced physical base damage. Unfortunately, doing this also wrecks the scaling. The actual values for both physical and elemental scaling will be about half of what the letter grades would lead you to believe. In practice, it shares a lot in common with the Raw infusion; a quick and dirty damage boost that may not be able to keep pace at higher levels. The difference being that physical damage is almost always good, but you'll pretty regularly run into enemies that have high resistance to any given element. There is another angle, though. Buff spells like Magic Weapon and Sunlight Blade are significantly more powerful on weapons with an elemental infusion than those without. This means that if you're capable of casting a buff, infusing with an element is almost certainly the best choice until you run into something with very high resistance TLDR: Elemental infusions are good on weapons with high base damage and low scaling or that already have elemental damage and are at their most effective when you can further boost their damage with a buff.
Enemies inflicted by poison will take roughly 1000 extra damage over the space of 20 seconds, making it able to kill most normal enemies and take large chunks off of the health bars of even the healthiest bosses (unless they're immune). Weapons infused with poison lose some of their base damage and scaling to gain poison damage and scaling. Unlike elemental infusions, the amount of poison damage they gain is not proportional to the damage the weapon does, and in fact is usually the same, regardless of weapon class or damage. Since most weapons, from daggers to great hammers will inflict the same amount of poison per hit, the most effective poison weapons are ones that can hit a lot of times in a very short period of time. Channeler's Trident and Ricard's Rapier are generally the best at this, but daggers, fist weapons and claws are pretty good too. Weapons that have natural poison damage are rare and highly varied, so I'll take them on a case by case basis.
Mytha's Bent Blades - Can't be infused.
Spotted Whip - Highest poison damage per hit when infused. Infuse it.
Manslayer - Uninfused, it's a perfectly good weapon that occasionally poisons tanky enemies on long fights. Infuse if you want, but it's good without.
Black Scorpion Stinger - Same as the Manslayer, but it's better with a Raw infusion.
Sanctum Mace - The only weapon in the game that both has inherent poison damage and can be buffed with Rotten Pine Resin. Don't infuse.
TLDR: Powerful, but only really useful on very specific weapons.
Bleed infusions work similarly to poison infusions with the main difference being that bleed fucking SUCKS. Okay, that's not entirely fair. Filling a bleed meter inflicts 200 extra damage on the enemy and cuts their stamina bar in half for a short time. This can be very scary in pvp, especially low levels, but since NPCs don't actually use stamina it's basically useless for pve. Generally a bleed infusion is only useful in three very specific situations.
Inflicting bleed with a backstab in pvp causes a glitched recovery animation that takes much longer than normal and effectively gives you a second free backstab. Unlike most pvp exploits, this takes basically no skill to do and just feels cheap in general. Don't do it unless you like getting hackusations.
The Forlorn weapons actually get better when bleed infused. For whatever reason, it actually increases their dark scaling more than a dark infusion does and barely harms the base damage. Since they also have very high bleed damage, you're pretty likely to bleed someone in just a couple of hits. Unfortunately, you have a hefty damage penalty if you use them and aren't completely hollow, making them pretty much worthless anywhere but the arena.
Trying to fight Vendrick without any Giant Souls. 200 damage every 20-30 seconds is pretty terrible, but it's better than anything else when you're fighting someone with 96-100% resistance to everything other damage type.
TLDR: Bleed is bad.
Raw infusions severely reduce a weapon's scaling values, in some cases completely removing them. In return you get a boost to base damage. On weapons that don't have scaling, you lose nothing and gain quite a bit. On a few other weapons, you get a pretty decent damage boost if you don't plan to go over the minimum requirements for the weapon. It's not always clear which ones will be good and which ones won't so I suggest checking Soulsplanner before you commit. TLDR: Straight upgrade on weapons with no scaling. Sometimes good on others that you only want minimal stats for.
Much like Raw, the Enchanted infusion heavily reduces existing scaling. Unlike Raw, it does nothing to a weapon's base damage. Instead it adds new scaling that's based on Intelligence, but unlike a Magic infusion the damage it adds is purely physical. It's a very strange infusion and unfortunately not very useful. The problem is that the scaling is so low that in 99% of situations you need extremely high Int (80+) to outperform a Raw infusion, so it's mostly restricted to 99 Int meme builds. The one other situation where it's useful is with the Moonlight Greatsword. An Enchanted infusion converts all of its damage into physical, while still retaining pretty decent Intelligence scaling. It's a surprisingly strong weapon, but it makes the wave motion beams deal no damage so it's not really an upgrade so much as a niche option. TLDR: To be fair, you need a very high IQ to make it not suck.
A very strange infusion. It removes normal scaling and cuts base damage in half, but adds a new type of scaling that's based on your lowest stat. You have to level every stat evenly to get more damage. Now, you may have seen clips or guides on how to make Mundane OP, but those were from before the nerf. At launch, Mundane was completely, utterly, stupidly broken. To fix that, it was patched so that daggers, crossbows and Santier's Spear lose 90% of their base damage with Mundane, making it a straight downgrade. Nowadays, it's just an interesting gimmick and can take terribad weapons like the Broken Straight Sword and Handmaid's Ladle and bring them up to kind of OK. The stats necessary to get decent damage out of Mundane are enough to get better damage out of a Dark build. TLDR: Fun-ish gimmick, no longer OP.
FAQ and tips
It's important to not think of infusions as upgrades so much as specializations. A trap a lot of new players run into is infusing a weapon just because they can. You can remove and replace infusions whenever you want with no drawbacks, as long as you have the required souls and infusion stones. No, there's no infusion that improves physical scaling. If you're doing a Strength, Dex or Quality build, you're probably better off leaving things uninfused and using resin when you need a damage boost. Magic scales with Intelligence, Lightning scales with Faith, Fire scales with either one and Dark scales with both (you have to level them equally). Poison scales with Dexterity and Adaptability. Bleed scales with Dexterity and Faith. This does not mean they'll do more damage, it just means they'll be inflicted faster. Shields can be infused with elements and status effects. This improves how well they block that element/effect but reduces their effectiveness against everything else. It's possible to check how your overall AR will change before you commit to an infusion. Equip the weapon before you talk to McDuff, then before you select a weapon to infuse, press Y or Triangle or whatever to adjust what stats are shown on the right side until it shows the AR of held weapons.
https://preview.redd.it/ulhht7w4cfh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=8160adeefa53ee8d6b739f06be3dcbc6cae0c0df Every year NFL Network puts out a list of the Top 100 Players for the upcoming season, as voted by their peers. I have talked about the flaws of that whole process a few times already – the players only write down their top 20 players, which is understandable, but also doesn’t result in the proper results, since everybody is somewhat to put their guys on, not all players actually get to watch a lot of games, if they don’t include teams they actually face or are limited to watching highlights, and the voting concludes before the playoff are even here, which can be the only somewhat logical reason, Patrick Mahomes was only number four on the official list – even though that would still be wrong. For the purpose of this list, I first put together my rankings of the top players at every single position, but then somewhat went off script by just writing down names in the order that they shot into my head, before comparing it with the positional rankings and trying to weigh guys against each other. And just to make this clear – these rankings are based on players regardless of their position, since otherwise would have almost half the starting quarterbacks in the league within the top 20 or so. And of course this is a bit of a projection and not solely built on what these players did this previous season, but also not about where they will be at the end of 2020. Here is my list: https://preview.redd.it/6lv7eu5ecfh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=7e060476b8bbdf264b77e46aa6eccaff6e78c91d
What is there still to say about Mahomes? In just two years as a starter, he has been a league MVP and just led his team to three consecutive double-digit comebacks to get that Lombardi trophy. He is the most talented player I have ever seen and will now have the Chiefs as contenders in the AFC for the next decade, after signing that blockbuster deal. You can not tell me there are three humans on earth that are better at football than this guy. If we lived in a world without Mahomes, Donald would be the obvious pick here for the best player regardless of position. You can easily argue that the gap between the two-time Defensive Player of the Year and the next-closest players is even bigger (since I have a QB at three), since Donald doesn’t just have the numbers despite facing constant attention, but does so much more that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, in terms of blowing up plays before they can even get going. Wilson to me has earned his way up to being the second-best quarterback in the league. He throws those unbelievable rainbow deep balls, is elusive as it gets at extending plays as a passer and seems to always come through when his team needs him most. He has covered up a lot of issues for the Seahawks – leading his team to a winning record every single season of his career – and the only thing that can hold him back is his own conservative coaching staff. I “only” have the league’s reigning MVP at number four, because I think there are two more proven quarterbacks and there are definitely things he can still improve upon, but holy crap, was this guy exciting last season. Lamar led the league with 43 total touchdowns and a ridiculous 9.0 touchdown percentage. His QB-record 1206 yards on the ground helped the Ravens break the all-time rushing mark for a team, but as spectacular as he was in the open field, the stats say he was also elite from within the pocket. The reigning DPOY shows up at number five here for me and while there were other worthy candidates, Gilmore was on a different level as the other corners in the league last season. He was tied for the lead-league in interceptions and scored more touchdowns (2) than he was responsible for in coverage (1), while allowing a league-best completion percentage of 44.6 and 41.8 passer rating. Outside of a week 17 blunder, he shut down every top receiver he faced. Julio to me is still the best receiver in the game and it’s not that close to be honest. His freakish combination of size, speed, leaping ability and hands set him apart from most guys, but it is the way he has continued to advance as a route-runner and technician that have paved his way to being an all-time great. Over the last six seasons, he has averaged 1565 receiving yards per season and his 96.2 yards per game is almost ten yards more than any player in NFL history. The best and most complete tight-end today is Kittle. There are only five players in the entire league with more receiving yards over the last two seasons, despite seeing about 60 targets less than the five guys ahead of him, and his 1507 yards after the catch over that stretch is second only to Christian McCaffrey. As impressive as all that is, he is equally valuable as a run-blocker, being a huge factor in setting things up for the 49ers’ second-ranked rushing attack. I know he has only been in the league for two years, but I would already take Nelson over any other interior offensive lineman in football without a doubt. When I evaluated his college tape, I thought he was a generational prospect and he has come nothing short of his expectations. Nelson has only been responsible for one sack in those two seasons combined and been named a First-Team All-Pro in both of them. If you want to know how great Adams is, just check out the kind of compensation Seattle gave up to acquire a disgruntled player at a position that is deemed undervalued by most people. The Jets are probably happy to still get as much back as they did, but Adams was their best run-defender, coverage player and pass-rusher. He is a chess piece, that improves every area of a defense and gives them an attitude and tremendous versatility. The one guy who can challenge Stephon Gilmore for the title as best corner in the league is Ramsey. While the numbers in coverage didn’t look quite as impressive last season, switching teams mid-season and missing four games, he still only allowed 45.6 yards per game and one total touchdown in coverage. Ramsey is one of only two or three guys at the position, who can match up with the opposing’s top receiver every single play. https://preview.redd.it/hd5k3rzfcfh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=44027dfe6dcc5ecee7f8499e0b14b5387ddae6eb
It was a very close race for the top back in the game, but I just had to go with the unbelievable talent of Saquon here. He is so explosive, elusive and powerful. Barkley was banged up for pretty much half of last season, but still averaged 5.4 yards per touch and 60 percent of his rushing yards came after contact, with bad offensive line play in front of him, that had him avoiding defenders as soon as he got the handoff at times. His 279 scrimmage yards against Washington in week 16 was the most since Julio Jones’ 300-yard performance in 2016. McCaffrey comes in right behind Barkley, coming off a highly impressive season. CMac became just the third player in NFL history to put up 1000 rushing and receiving yards in the same season and also easily leading the league with 2392 scrimmage yards. Maybe even more impressive – he had eight yards more after the catch (1013) than total receiving yards. Nobody is a bigger asset running routes out of the backfield, but he has also become a much more efficient in-between-the-tackler runner. Thomas set a new all-time record with 149 receptions last season and led the league with 1725 receiving yards. The crazy thing about that is the fact he lead all receiver in catch percentage last season at 80.5, despite being really the only guy the Saints could rely upon at that position on a weekly basis. He’s not nearly as dangerous after the catch or on vertical patterns as guys like Julio Jones or Tyreek Hill, but he is so physical and constantly comes through on third downs. When you look at what Mack had done in the five years since his rookie season (49 sacks and 76 TFLs over four seasons), he didn’t quite live up to his lofty standards last season. With that being said, he is still the most impactful guy coming off the edge when totally healthy. He is an elite run-defender, routinely puts offensive tackles on skates and has a knack for getting the ball out (11 forced fumbles since 2018). Similar to Mack – and as it has been like for several years now when these two have been right next to each other in any rankings – Miller had a down-year in 2019. He did not reach double-digit sacks for the first time since 2013, when he was put on IR mid-season, but I expect that to go back to normal with more help around him. His burst, ability to bend and smarts for the position will create issue for offenses once again this season. Deshaun is just an absolute baller. Like his former college head coach Dabo Swinney said, he is Michael Jordan-like in the big moments. Over the last two seasons, he has completed 67.8 percent of his passes for just over 4000 yards on average and 52 touchdowns compared to 21 INTs over that stretch. More importantly, he gets the Texans out of the toughest situations and has led five game-winning drives in both years. I don’t think anybody else could have led this team back in that Wildcard game, other than maybe Mahomes. After coming over from Miami via trade early last season, Fitzpatrick completely turned around this Steelers defense by bringing the secondary together and became one of the premiere play-makers in the entire league. He came up with eight takeaways and scored two touchdowns himself, with both of them completely shifting the momentum those respective games. Minkah is most valuable patrolling the deep middle of the field, but offers the versatility to play just about everywhere. I know this may be a little bit of a controversial pick, with other guys at the receiver position deserving consideration, but to me Adams right now is the third-best receiver in the game. He came up with three yards short of cracking the 1000-yard mark due to missing four games and dealing with a banged up toe, but he came up big in two playoff games, with 300 combined yards and two TDs. Adams offers the best releases in the game, as well as beautifully setting up routes with head-nods and body language, to go with tremendous body-control. Now that Luke Kuechly has retired, B-Wagz to me is the clear choice as the top middle linebacker in football. He displays great range and has to cover a lot of ground with how much base personnel the Hawks run. Wagner is also a very secure tackler, who led the league in take-downs for the second time in his career last season, after missing just one of his attempts the year before. What doesn’t get enough attention is his football IQ and the process of getting to the ball in the first place. If I told you the next player has caught 200 passes for 2565 yards and 15 touchdowns over the last two seasons, you would say that’s a great receiver – since that ranks behind only Julio, Mike Thomas, D-Hop and Mike Evans. What is even more impressive about those numbers is that Kelce has averaged 9.0 yards despite that high target share. He is the premiere flex receiving tight-end, who can be moved all over the formation and create problems. https://preview.redd.it/r5uajc1c7gh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=2a39e3d399818439538f76d064580220b18ed765
In a world without Aaron Donald, Cox would be known as the best defensive tackle over the last decade. He has only reached double-digit sacks once in his career and to be fair, dipped a little last season, but the numbers will never tell the whole story as what kind of player he is. He has that quickness to shoot through gaps and show up in the backfield, but he can also bench-press 330-pounders and toss them to the side when he needs to. Just watch him destroy the interior O-line of the Seahawks and almost singlehandedly keep them in that Wildcard Round game without Carson Wentz. Nipping at the heels of Cox is another game-wrecker on the inside of the defense for the reigning Super Bowl champs. Jones may not nearly be the same run-stopper at the point of attack, but his length and burst off the ball allow him to impact plays in a penetrating role and he is an elite pass-rusher at his position. 24.5 sacks and 49 QB hits in his last 29 games is highly impressive, but in the biggest game, he only logged on tackle and still made a huge impact, with a couple of batted passes and directly forcing a pick. The most overlooked edge rusher and maybe overall player in the league over the last several years has been Chandler Jones. Since coming over to Arizona in 2016, he has led the league with 60 sacks and 17 forced fumbles, while also being near the top in total pressure numbers every single season. That is despite playing on one the worst defensive units over the last couple of years and having no legitimate threat up front with pretty much the entire time. Cam Jordan is a very unique player. He has more of a 3-4 defensive end body type, rather than your typical edge rusher. He has great power and strings his hands and feet together really well, but what makes him special is the way he can read pass-sets and take advantage of weight-distribution and how far tackles open up their hips. Not only did Jordan set a personal high with 15.5 sacks last season, but he is also an excellent run-defender (15 TFLs). Even though his trade to Arizona is still confusing for most people, when you see how little his new team had to give up, don’t let that make you think D-Hop isn’t a top-tier receiver anymore. If you take out the 2016 season, when Brock Osweiler could not have gotten the ball to his superstar receiver, even if he were just inches away, he has averaged 1369 receiving yards and 9.6 touchdowns since his rookie season. He may not as homerun-hitter, but he might be the most physical receiver off the ball and at the catch point, plus he has the best hands in the game. Did I just say homerun hitter? Outside of Julio, I think there is an argument to be made that Tyreek is the next-best receiver in the league. He breaks the game open with his next-level speed and changes how defensive coordinators have to call coverages. However, he is much more than just a deep threat, with quick feet to stop and start on his routes, he shows great concentration when the ball is in the air and he does now shy away from the physical aspect of football. We have not seen Rodgers play at that elite level since 2016, when he led the league in touchdown passes (40), but he is still one of the best in the game. He has lost just a little bit of his elusiveness to extend plays and does not take as many chances down the field as we are used to from him, but his quick release, ability to see the field and the arm talent to throw off platform are all still special. Just watch what he does in his second year in Matt LaFleur’s system, with added motivation. The younger T.J. Watt stepped out of the shadow of his older brother last season, when he finished top five in sacks (14.5) and quarterback hits (36), while also leading the league with eight fumbles forced and recovering another four, to go with a couple of picks. He finished behind only Stephon Gilmore and Chandler Jones in the hunt for his first DPOY trophy and will be a terror on Pittsburgh’s ferocious defense for years to come. At 29 is the player that shamefully didn’t even make the official top 100 list. Maybe it is people still saying Nick Foles won the Eagles their Super Bowl or they call him injury-prone, but let’s not forget Wentz set this team up with home-field advantage through the playoffs back in 2017 in an MVP-level season and he has actually missed only eight of 64 career regular season games. Last year he put the team on his back, with practice squad players catching passes and both his tackles missing multiple weeks, and led them to a home playoff game. Closing is the top 30 is the older Watt brother. I gave the slightest edge to the Pittsburgh outside backer. He certainly the track record as one of only two guys to be named Defensive Player of the Year three times in his career, but injuries have started taking a toll on him and over the last four years, he has missed the equivalent of two full seasons. However, when he played all 16 games in 2018, he still topped his little bro with 16 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. He played at a very high level when healthy last season and miraculously returned in the playoffs to make a big impact against Buffalo. https://preview.redd.it/68e2613kcfh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=3f99e76d5524ab4aeff016746711b1012ae62130
One of the most underrated guys on the player’s countdown is Humphrey. To me there are no five corners in the game that you can tell me are better than this guy – and I actually have him at number three. He is long and physical in press-coverage, he can move into the slot, he is a hard hitter from that position and he is like a magnet for the ball, with three interceptions, two fumbles forced and three recovered. Humphrey is only 24 years old and already near the top of football. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah recently said something pretty interesting, when he tweeted that “if you put all players in a league-wide draft, Derwin James would be the top safety on every board”. To me Jamal Adams has done enough to earn the title as best player at that position and Derwin only played five games, but the Chargers superstar can do pretty much everything Jamal does, in terms of defending the run as a box-defender, blitzing off multiple spots and just being a position-less player, while also having the range to basically play free safety. Big Mike has now become only the second receiver in NFL history alongside Randy Moss to start his career with six consecutive 1000-yard receiving seasons. He gets in and out his breaks better than you would ever think of a 6’5”, 230-pound guy, he is much more of a vertical threat than people label him as, averaging 1.5 yards more per catch than Tyreek Hill (17.5), and he obviously dominates at the catch point, while also bullying DBs as a blocker. At 34 I have another defensive back, who has become a highly underrated player in my opinion. Somehow Eddie Jackson didn’t make the official list, which is still mind-blowing to me, because just a year ago, he was right up there among the premiere defensive play-makers in the game. His takeaways went way down on a Bears defense that took a step back, after coming up with eight of those in 2018 and scoring a league-high three defensive TDs, but he is still one of the smartest and rangiest player on the back-end we have in the game. That third running back behind Saquon and McCaffrey was a tough choice, which is indicated by four players at that position over the next six spots, but I went with Kamara here. He recently that he basically played on one leg last season, which may be a little exaggerated, but when healthy, his explosiveness and contact balance are second to none, plus he is an elite weapon out of the backfield, who is basically un-coverable on option routes. The next guy here is the reigning rushing leader Derrick Henry. This may seem a little low for him and he is the only one of this group to get that second contract so far, but since he is only a factor on screen plays in the passing game, I could not put him any higher. Still, what King Henry did down the stretch was unbelievable. He put the team on his back, rushing for 896 yards over his final six games in the regular season and 374 yards combined in wins over the then-reigning Super Bowl champs and the team with the best record in the league, on the way to the AFC title game. Another corner that I just love to watch is the Bills’ Tre’Davious White. While he plays in a zone-heavy system, that doesn’t leave him on an island as much as a Stephon Gilmore or a Jalen Ramsey, he is tremendous in that role and can match up against some top receivers one-on-one. What makes him special is the ability to anticipate routes and read the receiver and the quarterback at the same time. He was tied for the lead-league with six INTs, while deflecting another 17 passes and forcing a couple of fumbles. Martin has been as consistent as it gets. He has started all but two of his 96 career games at right guard and been named First-Team All-Pro in four of six NFL season. Over the course of his career, he has allowed just eight total sacks and he was flagged for holding just once last season and four times in the last four seasons. He is a road-grader on gap and zone schemes, while having a tremendous anchor and clamps in protection. Did you know Dalvin Cook finished second behind only Christian McCaffrey in scrimmage yards per game? He was tremendous for Minnesota last season in that zone-based rushing attack and a real weapon out of the backfield, catching 53 of 63 targets for over 500 yards. Dalvin is so good at pressing the front-side and then transitioning in one step to cut off the backside, while also having the burst to threaten the edges of a defense, and he has become a very tough runner. My final RB here is Nick Chubb. There were a lot of stars on this underperforming Browns team last season, but this guy was the best player for them pretty much every single week. Similar to Henry, Chubb is not the most valuable receiver, but his physical running style was the best part about Cleveland’s offense. He can run inside and outside zone, does a great job setting up power plays and not only is he patient with letting plays develop, he has great acceleration once he puts on the gas and consistently falls forward. https://preview.redd.it/3zr305de7gh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=f52704036f55e8bf1e5ae2c9396d45338dc07c39
Odell Beckham Jr.
What happened in that week 11 Steelers game was not pretty and I’m sure people will bring it no matter what this kid continues to accomplish, but he just got a mega contract and to me is ready put his name among the elite defensive players in football. Garrett has only played 37 career games so far, but he has already put together 30.5 sacks and 32 tackles for loss, with one QB take-down per game last season. He is obviously an athletic freak, but his pass-rush arsenal has come a long way already. DeFo is one of the most talented defensive linemen in all of football, but his technique has improved every single season and among all that talent on the NFC champions’ roster, he was named team MVP. As great as he was all the way throughout the regular season, he terrorized the interior O-line of the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. The 49ers had to move on from him this offseason due to cap reasons, but he immediately a key piece for that Colts D. He might be the GOAT, but Brady lands at number 43 for me heading into 2020. Contrary to popular belief, his arm isn’t far off from what it was when he entered the league at the start of the millennium and his pocket movement is impeccable, but what bothered me when watching him play last season, was that reluctancy to stand tall in the pocket and take the punishment in order to deliver big plays, which will be an interesting mesh with Bruce Arians’ vertical passing attack. While there about five guys in that conversation for me right now, Ryan Ramczyk earned the top spot here. More of a luxury pick three years ago, he ended up sliding right in at right tackle and has been absolute stalwart for them ever. Ramczyk has started 47 of 48 games and improved every single season, earning first-team All-Pro honors last season, when he did not allow a single sack and had did not have a holding call accepted against him past week two. This is the lowest I have had Odell in my rankings since his rookie season. I have never been a huge fan of the antics with him, but the media constantly bashing on him has turned me into a fan, and I believe he will make all the haters shut up in 2020. OBJ was dealing with a foot injury all of last year and the amount of miscues between him and Baker Mayfield was countless, when it comes to break off or adjusting routes on the fly. He is still one of the all-time talents. New to the list is a guy, who was quietly getting the job done as a rotational piece in Baltimore’s defensive front for a few years, before getting a big contract by the Packers. Smith instantly went from a nice player to one the premiere edge rushers in the entire league. While he “only” finished sixth with 13.5 sacks, he led all players with 93 total pressures and also had the fourth-most TFLs (17). I love the way Mike Pettine moves him around all over the formation in Green Bay. The one thing I actually learned from the official top 100 is the fact Tyrann Mathieu was actually named team MVP, despite playing with the best player in the entire league. As explosive as that Chiefs offense is, the difference for this team was how the Honeybadger helped turn around this defensive unit and the energy he brought to the table. Mathieu can line up in the box, cover the slot, drop into deep coverage, blitz from multiple spots and tackle in the open field. Another guy in that tackle conversation is maybe the most athletic one of the bunch. Johnson only played in 12 games last season, but he was tremendous in those, allowing just one sack and being called for holding once, despite facing some great pass-rushers in the NFC East and the conference overall. He has the feet to seal the edges in the run game and works up to the second level as well as anybody in the league. The top rookie on the list this year is Nick Bosa. Making the top 20 on the official list seems a little rich, but this guy was dominant from the moment he stepped onto the field. Bosa finished one sack short or cracking double-digits, but he easily blew away the rookie record for total pressures (80) and finished tied for fifth overall in the regular season, plus another crazy 22 in the playoffs. He was also tied for fifth in tackles for loss (16) and got a pick, whilst constantly playing with all-out effort. One of the biggest breakout players last season was Godwin. I predicted this already the year prior and wasn’t wrong necessarily, when he finished with 842 yards and seven touchdowns, but he took it to another level in 2019, when he finished third in receiving yards (1333) and tied for fourth in touchdowns (9) despite missing two games. He is so tough going over the middle to get those hard-earned yards, is incredibly hard to bring down after the catch (577 YAC) and led the league in 20+ yard receptions (25). https://preview.redd.it/8chiv76ogih51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=2687f4fbab6202fb4312d6aef3704f605c66186a
The title for best center in the league has been in Philadelphia for at least the last three years and to me also for the decade. He may not as powerful as a few other guys, but the mobility to beat linebackers to the spot or can put hands on people as a puller or on screen plays allows the Eagles to do pretty much anything, while also doing a great job of recovering in pass-pro and transitioning assignments. Kelce has allowed multiple sacks just once since 2015. There is a pretty significant drop-off between the first and second linebacker, but right now I would take Leonard behind only Bobby Wagner. Over his two years in the league (28 games), he has put together 284 tackles (including leading the league as a rookie), intercepted seven passes, forced six fumbles, recorded 12 sacks and deflected another 15 passes. “The Maniac” shows up all over the field and truly has a knack for the ball. My top left tackle in the league is Ronnie Stanley. He took his game to another level last season, when he was named a first-team All-Pro. On 515 pass-blocking snaps, he did not allow a single sack and didn’t surrender any pressures in nine games. He also was a huge piece to the Ravens breaking the NFL’s all-time rushing yardage record (3296 yards) that had stood for over 40 years, as Stanley had the lowest percentage of negatively-graded run blocking snaps according to PFF. Joey comes in five spots below his younger brother for me. While I believe Nick Bosa is a little more athletically gifted, Joey came into the league slightly more technically refined in his hand-usage. He may not quite have the burst off the ball like a Danielle Hunter or the ability to bend like a Von Miller, but Bosa is as complete a defensive end as we have in the game. He does a great job setting the edge in the run game and when he gets after the passer, he is so smooth with his hand-combos and finds the weakness of the tackle’s pass-sets. Another one of those enormous snubs from the actual list is Byard, who has become one of the premiere safeties in the game. Over the last three seasons, he leads the league with 17(!) interceptions and broke up another 33 passes. The range he presents as a deep-middle safety and the confidence he has in his game, combined with extremely dependable tackling in space (just two of 86 attempts missed last season), definitely earn him a spot. Since I just talked about Hunter, this is where he comes in. The Vikings D-end is another one of those guys, who has improved pretty much every year, since coming in as a pretty raw product from LSU. Hunter has put up 14.5 sacks in each of the last two seasons, but he massively improved his total pressure number of 97 (including the playoffs) and he actually got the ball out of the quarterbacks as well (three forced fumbles). He is an athletic phenom, who has learned to string moves together incredibly well. We have started a bit of a run on offensive tackles here, with Schwartz coming in slightly outside the top 50. There is a good argument to be made for this guy being the best at his position, especially if you base it off that incredibly postseason run he just had, when he allowed no sacks and just one total pressure on 142 pass-blocking snaps against some of the baddest dudes on the planet. Schwartz wasn’t responsible for any sacks through the regular season either and the Chiefs averaged an NFL-best 5.93 yards per carry through the gaps to either side of him. If you just base the list on this past season, you could argue Kendricks was the best linebacker in all of football. He has been a beast against the run pretty much since coming into the league, but what put him on a different level last season was his play in coverage. Kendricks allowed only 53.3 percent of the passes his way to be completed (very low for a LB) and broke up 12 passes, leading to a forced incompletion rate of 21.9 percent, which is more than four percent better than Luke Kuechly in his best season (who had been the previous record-holder). Let’s get this out of the way – Clowney can be an absolute game-wrecker. However, I really struggled with his ranking, because he is such a disruptive player when on the field – which the stats simply don’t tell you – but injuries have just been too much of an issue for him. That is also a big reason why he is still signed. Yet, you can not overlook how incredibly gifted Clowney is and how much better he has gotten with his hands. That week ten game at San Francisco was the best performance from a defensive player all season long. It’s always great when you predict a player to break out and he actually does. Jones already was on all my fantasy teams two years ago, but I said he would take another step forward in 2019 and he surprised even me. His 1558 scrimmage yards were the eight-most in entire league and he was tied for the most touchdowns at 19, while touching the ball almost 60 times less than the backs ahead of him (285 touches). He is so explosive and can just slither through defenses, while also being a true downfield threat as a receiver. https://preview.redd.it/imk396cc7gh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=7a468004843b4c94a11ceb2890e4b2415daf5aac
I always thought Barrett was a good player as part of that rotation in Denver, but when he finally got a chance to shine, that’s exactly what he did. After posting 14 combined sacks over his four season with the Broncos, he led the league with 19.5 in his first year with Tampa Bay. He also finished second in tackles for loss (19) and forced six fumbles. Watching him rush the passer, his game is built on the bull rush and long-arm, off which he can covert power-to-speed, in terms giving a little hesitation and then winning on a quick burst to the outside. Talking about the top backs in the game, Elliott’s name doesn’t come up too often for me anymore. He still finished fourth in the league with 1357 rushing yards, but that was running behind a top-five offensive line and he just looked a step slow to what we have seen from him, without that explosion through the hole and turning those good runs into big gains. With that being said, he might still be the most complete back in the game and could return to glory in 2020. It almost feels bad to put Bakhtiari this low, but he is still one of those five elite offensive tackles. I think what puts him as last of that group is the fact he is closer to the average in terms of his run-blocking than the other guys. Still, he has been the best pass-protector over the last four years at least, when he did not allow more than three sacks once and the lowest amount of total pressures, despite his QB finishing in the top six of time to throw in all but one of them. While he did allow two sacks through the first half of last season, from week ten all the way through the NFC Championship game, he did not surrender a single one. If you asked me who the best route-runner in the game today was, I would probably say Keenan Allen. He is so elusive off the line, deceptive with how he sets up his breaks and he has that quick-twitch to create separation on the short and intermediate level. He does lack some vertical speed and his YACability isn’t among the best at the position, which is why he isn’t even higher, but if you need somebody to get open on third downs, this is your guy. He terrorized Darius Slay last season. Hicks did miss missed 11 games last season, but unlike the players around the league apparently – I did not forget about him. With just one sack and five TFLs in the five games he did play, it’s understandable that he would drop in the rankings, but let’s forget that in 2018 he rivaled Fletcher Cox and Chris Jones for the league’s best D-tackle not named Aaron Donald. Hicks was a frequent visitor in the backfield, with both ten marks in QB pressures and defensive stops. His impact was felt most when he wasn’t on the field for the Bears last season and they were closer to average than number one. While Kittle and Kelce to me are clearly in a tier of their own, Ertz is still that third guy at the tight-end position. He has been one of the most productive pass-catchers in the entire league for several years now. After setting a new record for most receptions in a season for a TE (118) in 2018, he took a little step back last year. Ertz is by far Carson Wentz’s favorite target, having lead the Eagles in both receptions and receiving yards in all four seasons the QB has been there for. Since he isn’t as much of a downfield or YAC threat as the other two guys at his position – as well as only being an okay blocker – this is where he falls for me. Somehow I think the player just don’t respect safeties, since this is the third guy now that should have clearly made the list at that position. I have always been a fan of Simmons and called for him getting more playing time, after mostly being a backup his rookie season, when the Broncos last won the Super Bowl. His range, instincts and smarts as a single-high free safety have allowed him to become a true difference-maker. And he certainly had the stats to back it up last season, with four picks and 15 more plays on the ball. Matty Ice has never gotten the love he deserves on this list or from people covering the league as a whole. People seem to still think about the 28-3 game and while his MVP season was more of an outlier due to playing with the game’s best offensive mind in Kyle Shanahan, he has thrown for 4000+ yards in nine straight seasons, completing exactly two-thirds of his passes for a TD-to-INT ratio of 2.26 and a passer rating of 97 over that stretch. He has pretty much always been second tier for me, but he has had to deal with some bad O-line play and a couple of questionable years of play-calling under Steve Sarkisian. 2019 was not a good season for Juju by any means. He missed four games and had less than half the production of the year prior. However, a lot of that had to do with the worst quarterback situation in the league and you don’t put over 2300 yards and 14 TDs before you even turn 23, if you aren’t a special player. With Big Ben under center in ’18, Juju finished top five in the NFL with 1426 yards and was named team MVP over Antonio Brown – which the latter let us know later on. I know this is what will get me the most hate, but whenever people want to give me all the stats on Drew Brees, they forget to mention that he is playing behind an elite offensive line, a record-setting receiver, one of the premiere pass-catching backs and one of the all-time great play-callers. I have called him a well-oiled machine in that Sean Payton offense several times and his command of that group is impeccable, but the raw arm talent simply isn’t quite there anymore. https://preview.redd.it/ngz596km7gh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=91b89cf581eefed34fbf6bced8d7170d18de00ed
Kawhi Leonard (Jersey #2, Position = wing): What’s there to say about The Klaw that most NBA fans don’t already know? He’s the man.
(positives +): Kawhi is quietly having a career year offensively. Averaging 27 pts on 47% FG / 38% 3PT / 89% FT shooting splits in 32 min/game. He can do it all and from anywhere on the court. Shoots well from deep, master of the mid-range, triple-threat stance, and patented post-up fadeaway, uses his strength and length to bully most defenders in the paint, and draws fouls at an elite rate garnering 7 FT attempts per game. Although he’s been load-managing this year, it’s pretty clear that whenever Kawhi wants to “turn it on,” he does just that. Often in the 4th quarter he’s suddenly faster, stronger, more aggressive getting to his spots. Notably this season, on a roster without a traditional point guard but full of capable scorers, Kawhi has also become a very good playmaker for his position (career high 5 ast/gm), using his gravity to make the simple pass to the open man. Last but not least, he’s as fearless in the clutch as any player in the league. We all know “the shot.”
(negatives -): I’m going to nitpick here, because Kawhi’s defense is obviously a positive. But considering his high standards, he’s taken it relatively easy this season when conserving energy. He’s not immune to a speedy guard blowing by him on the perimeter or a failed miscommunication leading to a wide open three. However, when Kawhi wants to turn it on, he’s still capable of spectacular defensive plays, whether it’s snatching the ball from a helpless player at the top of the key or a timely block at the rim, etc. Everyone expects him to turn this up for the playoffs, but the question is simply “how much can he do?” Offensively, he sometimes gets caught forcing a bad shot at the rim while trying to draw a foul, and is averaging a career-high 2.6 turnovers with his increased playmaking responsibility.
Paul George (13, wing): After an MVP-caliber regular season last year that ended in injury and post-season disappointment, PG will be looking to dispel the “Playoff P” narrative and remind everyone why he’s considered one of the league’s best talents.
(+): PG, like Kawhi to a lesser degree, can do almost everything on both ends of the court. 22 pts, 6 reb, and 4 asts is nothing to scoff at. However, PG’s main game-breaking skill, in which he surpasses his star running mate, is his 3 point shooting. Whether it’s catch-and-shoot or off-the-dribble coming off a high screen, PG will let it fly from all around the arc. With his skill and height, they are almost always clean looks, and it has resulted in an efficient 41% on a whopping 8 3PA/gm this year. Additionally, when he’s aggressive he makes driving to the rim look easy and it often opens up his shooting or vice versa. Defensively, he’s one of the best at navigating around screens and uses his length to ball-hawk and deter passing lanes. Second only to Pat Bev, he’ll often cover the toughest perimeter assignment of the night. Notably, if any Clipper has benefited from the quarantine to get healthy and reacclimated to his role, it’s him.
(-): Struggled with offensive inconsistencies during the season, though since returning to the bubble healthy he’s been mostly on point. The mid-range game has been shaky and he attempts to mitigate it in favor of 3’s and layups. Additionally he’s not very good at using his length to draw fouls, especially at the rim, and sometimes gets caught using his off arm to push off his defender. Defensively, sometimes he relies a little too much on reaching, and can put himself and the team out of position.
Patrick Beverley (21, guard): Ahhh Bev...The quintessential “hate him if he’s against you, love him if he’s with you” player.
(+): Bev doesn’t need to score to have his imprint all over the game. His goal is to try to live in the jersey (and the head) of the opposing team’s star perimeter player. Defensively he’s a pest. He plays tight, physical defense, mixed in with plenty of reaching and exaggeration of contact to draw offensive fouls. Furthering the mind games, he loves engaging in banter, and if he can take an opponent’s focus away from the immediate game, then that’s a win. More than an “intangible player” Bev is an excellent rebounder from the guard position, and has a nose for coming up with that “one offensive rebound” that swings a game. Furthermore, he understands his role in the offense, mostly initiating plays and sticking to catch-and-shoot 3’s mixed with occasional drives to the rim. More than a capable shooter, his current 39% from deep actually belies his even hotter shooting in the latter half of the season.
(-): Lack of true point-guard skills limits his ability to create for others outside of set plays. Offensively, he’ll sometimes find himself on an island, whether forced to shoot a 3-pointer off the dribble, or rush a driving layup at the rim. Defensively, his constant reaching can get him into early foul-trouble and takes him out of the game.
Ivica Zubac (40, big): Underrated young big who succeeds at a lot of the “little things”, looking to prove himself after struggling mightily in last year’s playoffs.
(+): Zu is a true 7-footer and he plays like it. He sets very wide and solid screens to constantly free up his teammates. An excellent rim protector within 0-4 feet. Very solid in 1v1 and help defense. Quick enough feet that he can recover from nearby dribble penetration and challenge at the rim. Very good rebounder who eats up plenty of space down low, and often positions himself well for both defensive and offensive boards. Offensively, Zu is an opportunistic rim runner in transition and a capable pick and roll player in the half-court. He's a big target with soft hands, and can finish in a variety of ways at the rim with high efficiency.
(-) His biggest flaw, which was exposed in last year’s Warriors series, is his struggle to guard the high-screen and switch versus elite guards who can shoot from deep. Like most big men, Zu’s natural instinct is to sag and protect dribble penetration in the paint. Instead, what often happens is the opponent will use Zu’s man as a screen, knowing that Zu won’t step up, and then walk right into a wide open 3. The other significant “flaw,” is that he’s been limited in playing only ~18 min/gm this season, and rarely in critical 4th quarters. The main reason being a lack of spacing, especially with Trez seeing big minutes, though to Zu’s credit Doc has given him longer runs during the bubble and he’s responded productively. The big question is “Will this continue in the playoffs?”
Marcus Morris (31, wing): A mid-season acquisition brought in to ease the stars’ offensive workload, Mook is out to prove that he can play well on a championship contender.
(+): A capable scorer from all over the court with 3’s, mid-range post-ups, and at the rim. Can isolate, create shots for himself, a very lowkey playmaker and shoots a solid +80% at the line. Defenses have to respect him and that takes pressure off of Kawhi & PG to have to produce all the time. Capable of doing just enough on D, but most comfortable playing stout and physical in the post.
(-): Not a versatile defender, and can be caught out of position. Mook has also struggled to find his offensive rhythm since the trade, most notably regressing from a 44% 3PT on good volume with the Knicks, to shooting only 31% with the Clips. Part of this is due to his adjustment from a green light go-to scorer with NYK (~20ppg) to 4th or 5th option struggling to temper his shots with LAC (~10ppg). To Mook’s credit he’s seemingly found his stroke in the bubble shooting 38% from deep. Can he continue to keep this up?
Lou Williams (23, guard): The most prolific bench scorer in NBA history, 3x 6MOTY and one half of the dynamic bench duo. Also, a well-known lemon-pepper wing enthusiast.
(+): Pure scorer who plays at an unnatural “start/stop rhythm,” making difficult shots look dependably routine. 99% of the time If he goes left it’s his patented fall away jumper, if he goes right it’s a driving layup. Utilizes a convincing pump fake that inexperienced players tend to bite on, and knows just how to contort his slight body to create contact and get to the FT line. Efficient catch and shoot from 3. Willing to take and make big shots (see last year’s Warriors series). Good PnR player, especially with Trez. Comfortable with pick and pop alongside stretch bigs for 3. Can split weak double teams and make the correct pass to the open shooter. Surprisingly good at anticipating passing lanes and lazy post-entry passes.
(-): A big defensive liability when isolated 1v1, especially anywhere in the paint. Sometimes gets caught ball watching and prone to backdoor cuts from the corner shooter. Can be overwhelmed into turnovers or tough shots with long/athletic defenders and physical double teams. If enough calls don’t go his way, he can get frustrated.
Montrezl Harrell (5, big): As physical of a player the league has to offer. Trez is coming in cold off an extended absence from the bubble, but like a hungry pitbull the 6MOTY candidate is fiending to be unleashed.
(+) Trez’s high-energy and intensity masks the skill that he actually possesses. He knows how to body defenders to move them off their position, almost always goes up strong for the secure 2-handed dunk, and uses his athleticism and length to draw fouls at a high rate. On the “finesse” side, he’s a capable isolation scorer with a bevy of face-up and post moves in the paint, including a sweeping hook across the lane. The “vigor” to Lou’s “velvet,” he’s dangerous in the PnR as a finisher and playmaker catching on the short roll and finding guys in the corner. Defensively, at only 6’7’’ he relies on his long 7’4’’ wingspan as a help defender to get weakside blocks and his quickness to draw charges tallying the 4th most in the NBA.
(-) Sometimes his tunnel vision for the bucket gets him into trouble, his aggression sometimes leading to ill-advised drives and charges of his own. Despite a high FT rate he’s still only a 65% FT shooter. As an undersized big he can be isolated and scored on by true centers 1v1 and out-rebounded in the paint.
Jamychal Green (4, wing): A holdover from the Grit N’ Grind Grizzlies, JMyke brings toughness and shooting as a key role player for the squad.
(+): He does all the little things that often don’t show up in the box score, including screening, boxing out, hustling for loose balls and spacing the floor. Shoots the majority of his shots with confidence in good rhythm from deep, hitting 39% on ~4 3PA/gm. Unafraid to isolate on the occasional mismatch in the paint. When paired as the de facto big alongside the starters, the Clips can go 5 out with little drop off on either end of the floor.
(-): Limited offensively, but he understands that. His only real consistent fault is his knack for traveling whenever he pump fakes and decides to drive to the rim.
Landry Shamet (20, guard): Talented young sniper who has struggled with injuries and inconsistencies this year.
(+): A confident shooter with refined off-ball movement using off-ball screens and running into open space (a la JJ Redick) with a very quick shooting form from catch to release. Showed flashes this season as a ball handler driving to the rim and made a significant jump in FT shooting to 86%.
(-): While still an above average 38% 3PT shooter, it is down significantly from 45% last season. This is partly due to untimely injuries, one of which he’s currently sidelined with a foot sprain. Defensively, his slight build and inexperience allows him to be bullied by opposing scorers.
Reggie Jackson (1, guard): Mid-season arrival from buyout market, Reggie is trying to find his role as a key bench contributor.
(+): Confident ball-handler to pair with Lou in the backcourt. Since arriving in LAC he’s been shooting a scorching 41% from deep on ~4 3PA/gm, many of which are wide open. Opportunistic driver who can take advantage of openings and finish at the rim with skill.
(-): His aggression can sometimes lead to tunnel vision where he’ll take ill-advised shots over making the easier, correct pass to an open teammate. He’s a sub-par point-of-attack defender, and often finds himself just out of position, which is especially problematic when alongside Lou and/or Sham on the bench.
Patrick Patterson (54, wing): Afterthought offseason acquisition with surprising productivity.
(+): Another player who understands his limited role. Good screen setter, moves the ball, and is savvy at finding open space on the arc, where he’s shooting a cool 39% on 3 3PA/gm. Occasionally takes advantage of mismatches at the rim. Solid defender.
(-): Could probably hustle a little more, but like JMyke, there’s not much to fault. He’s just a limited player.
Rodney McGruder (19, guard): Nicknamed “The Scrapper” because he always hustles, does the dirty work, and if we’re being honest, is a familiar face in garbage time minutes.
(+): Attentive defender with good hustle and reads at the point-of-attack. Has a driving floater in his bag. Notably, he’s looked sharp since entering the bubble. “Thinks” the game well and Doc seems to appreciate that.
(-): Struggled mightily from 3pt this season, shooting a mere 27%. To his credit, he’s worked on it during quarantine and it yielded a recent game winner vs Portland, but still a work in progress.
Joakim Noah (55, big): Former DPOY, highly-savvy veteran big at the end of the bench.
(+): At 35 years young, Noah still embodies the hustle mentality. Does the dirty work with screens, box outs, and battling on the boards. Still an exceptional passer from the center position.
(-): Physically limited since returning from achilles surgery. The dip in athleticism gets him out of defensive position and into foul trouble. Also, to no surprise a very limited offensive player.
Terance Mann (14, guard): Promising young rookie and developing fan-favorite who probably won’t see much real time.
(+): A 6’5’’ SF in college transitioning to a PG in the pros, Mann pushes the ball well, is aggressive and strong attacking the rim, and is developing his vision to find open shooters. Excellent rebounder. Committed but inexperienced defender.
(-): Generally lacks experience and is still learning the position. Not yet a confident shooter from 3. Sometimes out of control and leaves his feet when passing.
Amir Coffey (7, wing): Rookie G-league 2-way player with a pun-friendly last name.
(+): Highly athletic lefty who can score from various spots on the court. Holds his own defensively with length.
(-) : Like Mann, simply lacks enough experience versus the pros.
Expected Playoff Rotation: Starters are Bev, PG, Kawhi, Mook, Zu. Bench rotation includes Lou, Trez, JMyke, Reggie, Sham, with possible situational minutes for 2Pat and McGruder. Noah is there in case of foul trouble, and the same goes for the young rooks in Mann and Coffey. Of course, all this is subject to players’ availability. Conventional wisdom dictates that playoff rosters shrink to ~8 players. Throughout the season, Doc has comfortably run lineups of all bench players, leaning on both 2nd and 3rd string players to deal with extended injuries / load management within our roster. In the long run it has been successful in limiting the superstars’ minutes/game, but at times it has hurt them as the drop off from without Kawhi/PG, especially defensively, is noticeable. With such a deep roster, it will be interesting to see how much Doc opts to stagger Kawhi and PG and extend their minutes so there is minimal drop off. Still, I would not be surprised if he leans on the roster depth when needed.
The Coach: Doc Rivers
The Prototypical Player’s Coach and great motivator which hides the fact that he’s also very good at X’s and O’s. Under Doc Rivers, everyone understands their roles and it starts with the stars at the top. With Lob City, it was CP3, Blake and DJ. Last year it was Gallinari, Lou Will, and Tobias. This year it’s Kawhi and PG. With each group he’s instituted different schemes that utilize their individual talent, and he trusts them to execute the game plan. With this structure, you don’t see a lot of “fluky” scoring outputs from non-stars, but everyone that sees the floor understands what their role is. Some fans think he’s overly stubborn to a fault with regards to his rotations and perceived lack of in-game adjustments (though I don’t necessarily agree.) He places a lot of trust in the vets and believes heavily in his schemes. Predictably, you can expect a lot of Kawhi & PG in the starting lineup, and a lot of Lou & Trez from the bench. Speaking of Doc’s schemes.... Offense - Screening is Fundamental!: The majority of the Clippers offense is initiated at the elbows and at the top of the arc in a spread pick and roll system with the express purpose of 1) generating mismatches for the players to score or 2) drive and kick to open spot up shooters. It all starts with a screen...
Sometimes it’s the classic PnR. -- Ex: Lou has the ball, Trez screens for him, and they roll to the basket.
Sometimes it’s a variation on the PnR. -- Ex: Kawhi curling around a big Zu screen, and then catching the pass as he moves downhill into a number of options where he can choose to shoot, attack an opening in the paint, roll and feed the big man, or continue moving into a secondary action.
Many of these variations start at the elbows, with an off-ball screen used to shed the primary defender and receive the ball with momentum and space -- Ex: PG curling off a double-screen and stepping into a catch and shoot 3.
Then consider the many variations on top of these simple screening principles such as:
multiple off-ball screens
utilizing guards to screen and force unconventional mismatches
starting the screener with the ball to initiate handoffs
classic pick and pop as the screener steps back for a catch and shoot 3
variations of pick and pop with a target as a decoy -- Ex: Kawhi coming off the screen as a decoy, grabbing the attention of the defense with his gravity, allowing the screener to step out for a wide open catch and shoot 3
and much more...
When all else fails, Isolation!: If these major actions are defended well, the Clippers can turn to ISO, with Kawhi in the post, or PG and Lou on the perimeter where they’re free to “go to work” creating on the fly for themselves or for others. It’s a luxury to have all 3 capable scorers and playmakers anywhere on the court, and the Clippers lean into them. Defense - Switching, switching, and more switching?: Doc prefers to let assistant coach Rex Kalamian handle this end. Primarily, the Clips love to switch a lot at the point of attack. This helps when they have enough of their long, versatile wing defenders on the floor, and it hurts when they don’t. Generally it is a point of consternation among fans, as the players generally have enough talent to not switch and instead play man to man. In theory, it’s simple. Try to prevent dribble penetration, use length to stay connected to your man in help situations and close out on shooters. When the team is communicating, especially on the back line, they can really lock it down. Whether or not they can do it consistently is a whole other question. Sometimes they’ll send double teams against superstars, and the results vary depending on how committed they are at doing it. Every now and they’ll mix in an in-game adjustments to change an unwanted rhythm, including:
Zone - to prevent dribble penetration at the sacrifice of open shooters
Full court press - to put some pressure on a star ball handler
Blitzing/trapping the ball handler - if they’re getting killed by a talented shooter in high screen scenarios above the arc
The two-way superstars: See Kawhi + PG’s player descriptions.
Bench depth, starring Lou and Trez: The co-6MOTY candidates have a special connection that’s been going for 3 years running. Both are 18+ ppg scorers, and their PnR is one of the most challenging things to defend in the NBA. JMyke, Reggie and a healthy Shamet are all capable spot up shooters and scorers in their own right. If foul trouble occurs, they can go further down the bench and find someone who can contribute.
Half-Court dominance: They’re capable of playing faster paced in transition against weaker defenses, but generally their bread is buttered in the half-court where they can get set. The overall result is tied for 2nd in NETRTG (+6.3), 2nd in OFFRTG (113.3) and 5th in DEFRTG(106.9).
Free throws and 3’s: The Clippers offense consistently generates two of the most statistically productive shots in basketball, the free throw and the 3 pointer. They lead the league in FTA, bolstered by Kawhi, Lou and Trez. Moreover, theoretically everyone that will see consistent minutes (outside of Zu and Trez) can shoot the 3 at an above average rate. It’s a luxury that can not be understated. They’re 6th in the league shooting 37% 3PT as a team.
Defending the paint: Contrary to popular opinion, the Clippers actually do a good job protecting the rim, Much of this has to do with Zubac’s length, Trez’s positioning, and the handful of long wings that come in to help. The problem is inconsistency, whether due to lack of effort or limited minutes from their best rim protector in Zu, but more often than not they’re sturdy, holding opponents to the 6th lowest paint ppg in the league.
3-point defense: Contrary to Clippers fans' opinion, they are also good defenders of the arc at 35.6%, settling within the Top 5 team 3PT defenses throughout the year.
Championship coaching experience: Doc has won one in Boston. Asst. Coach Ty Lue has won one in Cleveland, and two as a player with the Lakers. Asst. Coach Sam Cassell has won 3 as a player including one in Boston and two in Houston. Even Asst. Coach Brendan O’Connor has one from Detroit. It’s an experienced staff.
Clutch playmaking: It helps to have stars who are confident scorers and playmakers under pressure, with Kawhi being the main man. To Doc’s credit, he’s also one of the better ATO (after time out) play callers which has won us several games in the past.
Health & Availability: The Clippers are deep, but they’ve had to rely on it far more than they wanted to this season as they’ve rarely been 100% healthy. Kawhi missed 15 games, PG missed 24, Bev missed 21, Sham missed 19, and the list goes on. The result is a team has been inconsistent in X’s and O’s familiarity and energy throughout the year. And as the playoffs begin, Bev is coming off of a strained calf, Sham nursing a sprained foot, and Trez is just coming out of quarantine. Can they get everyone together at the same time?
Turnover prone: The lack of a single “true” point guard to consistently organize them hurts, as a lot of their primary ball-handlers have had to learn to make plays through growing pains. The result is a sub-par AST/TO ratio, 19th in the league.
Foul trouble: The Clippers brand of defense sometimes gets them into trouble. They like to switch everything, body up opponents, reach and jab at the ball, and sometimes play overly aggressive and out of position. These things can get them into foul trouble, especially when they’re undisciplined and not communicating well. They’re a bottom 10 team in fouls per game.
Ball watching and Defensive Inconsistencies: The team sometimes falls into a lull in which they focus too much on the ball. When this happens their defense suffers as they become prone to cutters and fail to box out and end their defensive possession with a rebound. Ultimately, it’s not a killer weakness, as they’re actually a decent rebounding team (3rd in total reb/game and 10th in both offensive and defensive rebound %), but they could be scary good if given more attention to detail.
Bench defense: While great at scoring, the trio of Lou, Reggie, and Sham, struggle mightily against talented and/or aggressive perimeter scorers. When they are on the floor together, any one of them can be a prime target for opposing offenses.
Stars’ questionable past playoff experience: Kawhi you can go... I’m looking specifically at PG, Lou and Trez. Which PG shows up? The one who led his team in multiple ECF battles against Lebron’s Heatles or the one who struggled in back to back 1st round exits in OKC (though I admit not entirely his fault). Lou has several playoff experiences in his career, but he’s only been a serious focal point once last year vs the Warriors. Can he lock-in and deliver deep into the playoffs? Same goes for Montrezl whose first and only real playoff appearance was last year.
Inconsistent lineups: Again, this is partly due to lack of availability and continuity this season, but even if everyone is healthy, the Clippers don’t really have a “5 Best” lineup. Kawhi, PG and Bev are the team’s 3 most flexible players. But who rounds out the closing lineup? Do you go small and offensive with Lou and Trez and give up some defense? Do you go big with rim protection in Zu and give up spacing? Or do you go somewhere in between with Mook and JMyke who are not especially proficient at either end?
Deferring to our superstar ISOs when things get bogged down: Despite having a well-oiled offensive system in place, sometimes it’s disrupted and the game just slows down. The Clips often lean on their stars to bail them out, which sometimes turns the role players into passive bystanders, while other times the stars come through and deliver.
Play to the level of competition: I think most fans of the NBA believe their team does this, haha... but the Clippers do have a handful of bad losses this year to show as evidence. The hope is that they’re consistently “locked in” for the playoffs.
Over-reliance on switching: The Clippers tendency to switch leaves them vulnerable to miscommunication and all sorts of mismatches against a smart offensive team. This becomes especially problematic in closing lineups using defenders that can be exploited.
Like every playoff series, this comes down to matchups, especially between the superstars on each team. The Mavs hold the highest Offensive Rating in NBA history for a reason. Led by Luka’s scoring and game-breaking passing ability, they are capable of winning any given game simply by getting hot, which they have done quite often this year. The prevailing narrative is that the Clippers pose a direct matchup problem for Luka, which is kind of hard to believe considering he’s averaging ~30 pts/game in their 3 meetings this season. However, what the Clips do well is use their athletic wing defenders to consistently challenge him at the point of attack. Pat Bev, if healthy, would get the primary assignment as he uses his quick feet and fast hands to stay in Luka’s personal space. If not Bev, then PG likely gets the responsibility, using his length and defensive IQ to stay connected. If Luka was a little more quick and elusive towards the rim, more consistent from 3 off the dribble, or more willing to shoot mid-range jumpers, he might be able to overcome the Clippers defense. But more often than not, Luka is forced to make a decision - 1) take a difficult shot from deep or at the rim under pressure and length, 2) make a spectacular pass to an open shooter, or 3) simply give the ball up to someone else and let them try to make a play. The first two options are possible given Luka’s talent, but it’s a lot to ask for consistently. The 3rd option is a win for the defense. Speaking of Luka’s teammates, Kristaps will likely have some big scoring games, and they’ll absolutely need it if they’re going to have a chance at winning. The 3pt shot should consistently be there for KP, given his height and Unicorn ability to shoot from extra deep, made easier by the Clippers' tendency of their bigs to sag in drop coverage. The question is, can his streaky shooting get hot enough to overcome his season average of 35% from 3? And while the Clips historically struggle against versatile, skilled & lengthy bigs who can score and outrebound them in the post (see AD, Embiid, etc.). how much would KP relish that role, embrace the physicality and impose his will on any given night? As for the rest of the team, the Clippers have to ensure that they are disciplined guarding the 3. Admittedly, I have not watched much of the Mavs this year, but I catch enough highlights to know that Seth “The Better” Curry, THJ, DFS, Trey Burke, Kleber and especially the one and only JJ Barea are all capable shooters and can get hot at any time. If the Clippers struggle to defend dribble penetration, and are undisciplined in preventing kick outs to open shooters, I could see the Mavs absolutely catching fire and leveraging the hot hand... (note: quick shout out to Barea for what he did to the Lakers during the 2011 championship run!) Similar to the Clips’ challenge with Luka, the Mavs' big question is “How do they defend Kawhi?” How well can they hinder him from getting to his spots like his patented mid-ranger? DFS and Kleber will do their best, but can they defend him without fouling? Without Powell and WCS, do they have enough big bodies to keep him from getting to the rim? Moreover, can they stop his running-mate in PG from getting clean looks at 3 off the Clippers high screen actions? How well will they recover to all the spot up shooters on the arc? Can they contain the Lou and Trez PnR? Can they keep Zu off the boards? Whose offense will prevail? It’s a lot of tough questions to ask and I’m not sure the Mavs have enough answers on defense to succeed. Nevertheless, the Mavs are still highly talented, well-coached by Carlisle, and I think a reasonable expectation is a very exciting 5-game series highlighted by some incredible shotmaking, highly-aesthetic playmaking and scoring outbursts on both sides. Many are predicting a 4-game sweep, but I personally think the Mavs are too good and capable of hot shooting on any given night to let this be an uncompetitive series. Moreover, as a naturally cautious Clippers fan I personally wouldn’t be surprised if the series went even longer. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Basics (Attack speed, movelist, etc.) Feat and Perk selection Theory and Execution, playing 1v1s Your place in 4v4s Your Match-ups (Simplified) Fighting With Centurion Closing Thoughts Hello everybody, LimbLegion and QueueKaye here to bring you another in-depth guide, this time on all the things you could possibly want to know about For Honor’s resident punching machine, Centurion. His rework - as well as the CCU as a whole - generally made Centurion a character who forces you to play his game effectively, with a focus on quick pokes and low damage, but a high stamina pool to sustain his offense and lead up to a big reward. If you like to take your fights the way you want to, and end them the same way, Centurion is the character for you. Engage in peak male fantasy today! Editor's note - if you dislike most of this guide, LL did most of the guide. - QK
Default Guard Direction
Off Target Enhanced Attacks
Lock on Speed
2.25m/s F**, 1.75m/s S, 1.25m/s B
Forward Dodge Recovery
Chains: Lion's Claws: L, L, L Lion's Fangs: L, L, H Lion's Jaws: L, H Imperial Might: H, H (Any of the above, replace with Jab after opener) *Below average **Average ***Above Average Centurion boasts one of the fastest forward lock-on walk speeds and highest stamina pool in the game. Special Properties
Centurion has variable timed heavies, when uncharged his opener heavies will be 700ms and his finishers will be 600ms, but they can be charged up to 966ms and 1200ms respectively. All heavy speed and damage values are identical between guard stances. These variable timings to release make them extremely unsafe to parry or defend against.
All of Centurion’s fully charged heavies result in a pin on his opponent. Pins lock the opponent in place, reset damage reduction, and can guarantee extra damage from allies. Pins also result in precious frame advantage on beginning his Jab mixup.
Centurion can chain off of a whiffed Legion Kick with his 600ms heavy which, can be feinted or fully charged making his neutral bash game far safer than most other characters. The feint is very fast if buffered, and renders him practically immune to being GB’d after a whiffed kick, making dodge bash punishes somewhat harder to use against him as well.
Centurion has Lion’s Roar, a stamina drain punish option off of GB. By doing light inputs quickly after grabbing, he will bash the pommel of his weapon into their heads up to three times resulting in a 15 > 15 > 35 stamina damage distribution. He can also throw after x2 Lion's Roar, making his stamina damage 15 > 15 > 20. Lion's Roar is enhanced by haymaker, causing his wallsplat GB punishes to always be increased by +15 in the current build.
Centurion can, instead of performing a chained light or heavy, perform a Jab instead. Jabs have variable timings, like his heavies, and reward different damage depending on whether a bash was uncharged/partially charged, or fully charged. Fully charged Jabs gain Uninterruptible Stance and knock opponents down, guaranteeing his Unbalanced punish.
Centurion can soft feint his heavies into a Guard Break. Careful use of this ability makes him near impossible to GB, as he can soft feint on reaction to a GB startup and CGB instead.
Centurion’s Zone Attack can be feinted after the first and second hit, and every hit can be target swapped. Centurion gains frame advantage on opponents after the first hit and second hit, so feints will still give you your turn. The final hit is disadvantaged.
Centurion’s Parry Counter can wallsplat opponents, and links directly into Jab to allow for a confirmed fully charged Jab on wallsplat.
Centurion’s throw branches into a Kick, the Kick can be dodged however.
More will be said about these in a moment, as all of these are somewhat critical for understanding how to effectively play Centurion in a 1v1 or a 4v4 setting. Before that, though, we will detail Centurion’s Feats and Perks, as they are fundamental to any character in team modes.
Feat and Perk Selection
FEATS: T1 - Body Count, Bounty Hunter, Rush T2 - Inspire, Haymaker, Centurion’s March T3 - Second Wind, Pugio, Sharpen Blade T4 - Catapult, Stalwart Banner, Phalanx Centurion has access to a mix of fantastic and terrible feats, while he does have some real holes when it comes to selection, he nonetheless has a very strong list that you can't go wrong with either way. Recommendations: Bounty Hunter, Haymaker, Pugio, Phalanx Body Count, Haymaker, Second Wind, Phalanx/Stalwart Banner Bounty Hunter, Haymaker, Second Wind/Sharpened Blade, Phalanx/Stalwart Banner To explain why these loadouts are ideal - Centurion’s first slot is pretty self explanatory. Centurion isn’t amazing in teamfights, but is generally a very strong ganker and duelist. First Slot
Works well as often he will be landing the kills himself, and does not struggle in a 1v1 at all due to his safe and mixup oriented kit. I [Limb] take this pretty much every game, and probably will unless Body Count is buffed to a reasonable state again.
Has been nerfed one too many times and is now no longer a necessary pick, but can still be taken to hold the mid-lane line as Centurion. He is primarily a mid defender rather than a mid clearer, his zone offers pretty good clearing and is very safe out of lock, but Cent generally doesn’t burst clear fast enough to push the lane on his own. It really comes down to preference, but I [Limb] generally recommend taking Bounty Hunter over Body Count.
A reasonably good option to rotate faster or get to team-fights in dire situations, but it doesn’t speed you up for long enough to really make it worth taking over either of the sustain options. Centurion's sprinting speed is fine, and in regular matchmaking where perks are enabled, Galestorm allows you to take Bounty Hunter. Being able to rotate more often due to having more health through Bounty Hunter is why it's the better option, perks on or off. Second Slot
Far from a bad feat, and can be used in many situations to help with team-fights, push midlane, and is generally a very favourable pick in both teams on Breach. While there are better heroes to use Inspire on, it's far from useless, and is never an actually bad feat.
Uh, well, let’s just say a feat better left unpicked unless you feel like you really want to screw over a Jormungandr for whatever reason. This feat is insanely useless that I [both] can only imagine picking it as a meme or for the aforementioned reason, I [both] highly recommend never taking this. The reason is self-explanatory, Centurion has 160 stamina, Cent March gives infinite stamina for 15 seconds. You can basically already do this as Cent, move on.
Centurion’s best T2 feat, generally outperforming Inspire even if it solely benefits him. It adds damage onto absolutely every single move he has that involves a strike without his blade, be it kicks, punches, pommel strikes, throws, knees, anything. +5 damage on every melee move on the most melee centered hero in the game is simply a must pick. The extra damage also doesn’t feed extra revenge. I [both] never really take any other T2 than this personally. Third Slot
Has obviously been nerfed, but is still a useful healing feat as it can cleanse DOTs, making Cent able to avoid Shaman ganks with good timing, survive a Fury Flask, or just last longer in a fight due to his lower than average health pool. Good feat, never a bad choice.
Self-evident as arguably the strongest projectile feat in the game in terms of potential damage, as it is a 300ms startup pinning projectile that guarantees not only Centurion’s charged heavy pin, but ally damage as well. Amazing feat for Centurion’s purpose in a team comp, and surprisingly versatile as it isn’t really bad to use in other situations as well, such as a clutch 1v1 situation or to interrupt in a team-fight if necessary. This is generally my [both] favoured option, however before the CCU, I did take Second Wind about as often, it’s all preference, but Pugio generally performs best. The pin is for 2000ms.
Generally the weakest of all the options but isn’t really bad either. It is borderline awful against Second Wind abusers, but any DOT is really. Can be good to deal extra damage, but generally not worth picking even if it has some redeeming qualities. Fourth Slot
Utterly mangled, terrible, borderline useless. The only purpose Catapult serves is being uniquely worse than any other AOE “team nuke” T4 feat in the game. It is horribly slow, unsafe to use, and doesn’t even have a large enough AOE to justify the sheer awfulness of its use. It can clear mid-lane, I guess, on an exorbitantly high CD for how badly it does. It can maybe meme kill somebody, but never ever pick this feat unless for some reason you are banned from using Centurion’s only good T4 options.
This was generally the most consistently useful T4 pick that wasn’t Fire Flask in terms of non-uniques, and it is still useful even now that it has been nerfed. A good way to keep yourself and allies in a fight, healing in team-fights or contested zones is never weak, just be aware that as it is a Flag type feat, you make yourself vulnerable to damage placing it. It can also be used pre-emptively to dissuade Fire Flasks, though you will still take the direct damage, and negate the burn. Overall, a very solid feat, but not quite as useful as the next option.
One of the best defensive feats in the entire game, it gives a near full HP (100) shield to all allies that are currently alive, and yourself, for 10 seconds on a 3 minute CD. I don’t really need to say too much about why this is good. While it isn’t as ungodly ridiculous as Black Prior’s Umbral Shelter, it is a very consistently useful pick with no range limitations, versatile applications, no downsides whatsoever, and can also be used to intentionally trigger the Revenge Shield Bug in a situation where an ally is in Revenge to swing the fight even further in your favour. Basically, between this and Stalwart Banner, there are not any bad choices, but I [both] personally favour Phalanx.
The selection of feats Centurion has cover a mix of selfish buffs to his own combat prowess, and solid supportive tools, making his feat selection surprisingly versatile for a mostly one-track character. Pick as you see fit, avoid the bad options, and you’ll generally never have made a bad choice. PERKS: Grey/Gray: Galestorm, Devourer, Early Reaper Blue: Endurance Purple: Survival Instinct Orange: Crush Them Mint: Head Hunter Centurion, despite being a hybrid, has purely offensive perks. These perks are generally as straightforward as the character himself, and shouldn’t be too hard to make choices on. Recommendations: Galestorm, Endurance, Head Hunter Devourer, Endurance, Galestorm Devourer, Galestorm, Head Hunter
A generally “eh” perk, but having extra movement speed after killing - which is 99% of what Centurion wants to be doing - is not a bad choice no matter how you look at it. It helps with rotations, helps with getting back to healing points if you were fighting off point, helps to escape ganks if the opportunity presents itself, and is generally just useful, but has less impact than other options.
Just extra health on executions, which is always nice, and Cent gets executions pretty easily, really not much else that needs to be said here.
A “win-more” kind of perk, as Centurion already has the most stamina in the game, but as CCU has made offense involving lights slightly more expensive which is an overall nerf to anybody who uses lights a lot, Endurance is more favourable than it was pre-CCU, again this is not a bad choice, but will become more personal preference when lights will cost less Stamina on the 27th.
Greatly helps Centurion as he not only can get executions more consistently than some characters, but he also has below average health, making this option very notable.
Centurion generally has 4 perks that can be switched out with each other mostly as you like, Endurance being the easiest one to swap out as it is the sole option that is mostly redundant and competes with more generally useful perks.
Theory and Execution, playing 1v1s
Centurion is a somewhat calculating but not complex, aggressive style character with an emphasis on pokes, and conditioning. Whilst full consensus from Competitive Players in Duels is generally not well known, as Duels is simply not a competitive mode, the general feeling from pretty much everybody is that with only one particularly notable weakness, Centurion is a very strong duelist , with an unreactable bash mixup, extremely safe neutral bash, variable timing heavies, the most stamina in the game, and a very strong parry counter with environment taken into account. Centurion also has strong OOS pressure and stamina damage, which can serve to open up new options whenever an opponent is low on stamina or made OOS, on top of Centurion’s already very high potential damage output. Despite his previous reputation as one of the biggest turtles in the game, he is now a highly aggressive character, who forces his opponents to play his game whenever he gets his offense rolling. No option is a catchall against him, as with any variable timing bash based character, Cent always has an option to counter your response, offering a cerebral focus to his game-plan. I’ll begin to explain what Centurion’s mixup centers around, and cover each individual option that he can perform, and what each option counters. Editor's Note - Only minor cleanups and syntax changes in this section. Limb's writing here is entirely untouched by my opinions. -QK No. 1: Legion Kick This is generally Centurion’s engage tool, an extremely safe on whiff, reasonably long range, decently tracking bash that chains into a chain light or finisher heavy on hit, and a finisher heavy on whiff. The heavy is never confirmed, but has a purpose. Centurion generally should look to start fights with this move, as throwing lights and heavies isn’t quite as effective as actually landing attacks to start his game, since he does not have Enhanced Lights, and his heavies whilst variable are still blockable attacks save for his chain finisher heavies. What makes this bash uniquely safe is the aforementioned ability to chain into a finisher heavy even on whiff. This is useful because it covers numerous options:
It beats a dodge GB attempt, as it will only lose to a prediction dodge as the heavy has 100ms GB vuln due to being a chained attack. It will beat the GB on uncharged and charged timing, so you’ll generally be getting (as per current values) 30 damage on somebody attempting to GB you on a reaction dodged kick.
Can be feinted, thus can beat slower dodge attacks on reaction dodges. Particular examples being Kensei’s Swift Strike, it will also beat dodge attacks that are delayed to the maximum to avoid a potential empty dodge into parry. Depending on how slow the dodge attack is and how delayed the input was, it is also possible to parry some of them, but generally an instant feint will result in blocking the majority. (You will never be able to block vs a prediction dodge attack however.)
Dodge into parry is generally risky due to the heavy being variable, however, the opponent can simply block, avoiding the possibility of being hit by a heavy immediately, but they will still have to be patient and wait until the heavy is released. Generally, with very few exceptions, most people aren’t going to reliably parry variable heavies outside of reads.
No. 2: Uncharged Jab (UC) Off of any blocked or landed light or heavy, Centurion can perform Jab. Jab is an 800ms bash when uncharged that chains into a light, thus allowing the bash to loop into itself. Jabs are never guaranteed under any circumstances besides a parry counter wallsplat, but we’ll talk about that later. Uncharged Jab can be feinted 300ms at the earliest point. Uncharged Jab will beat the opponent attempting to dodge later to potentially avoid Fully Charged Jab, and generally is impossible to interrupt if done from finisher heavy hit/blockstun. It will lose to backdodge and early dodges in general, but can be feinted into a kick to catch backdodges, and if they try to roll you can feint into Eagle's Fury. No. 3: Partial Charge Jab (PC) Not too much else to list here, Partial Charge will catch early dodges, but is riskier against prediction and fast reaction dodges as you will be more likely to be GB’d. Can be feinted to GB/parry/block/kick/whatever just like Uncharged Jab. No. 4: Fully Charged Jab (FC) Big funny incredibilis setup [sic]. The biggest damage payoff Centurion can get. This will catch early dodges, and mistimed dodges off of finisher heavy hit/blockstun. It can muscle through anything they throw at you if you did it from a finisher heavy, and lead into the Eagle's Talon punish. This move is best used when an opponent REFUSES to dodge late or keeps trying to interrupt you. Conditioning your opponent is key here, and as with all other options previously mentioned, this can be feinted as well. The feint has forward movement which may catch panic dodgers, allowing you to GB them. Fully Charged Jab is also your most important ganking tool. No. 5: Eagles Talon Eagles Talon is Centurion’s high risk, high reward payoff move. As most of his kit revolves in easily accessible, but low damage pokes, you chip away at your opponent until they make a critical error that allows you to get Eagle's Talon. Eagle's Talon can be done on almost any knockdown in the game, with only a few exceptions, those being:
Nuxia’s Zone Trap,
Shugoki’s Demon Ball,
Shugoki’s Demon’s Embrace.
Some require strict timing, but that just requires practice, the vast majority of knockdowns allow for an Eagle's Talon. Eagle's Talon does 40 damage at the time I [Limb] am writing this, and fully restores you and your enemy's stamina bar whenever it is used. This can be a blessing and a curse, and occasionally, unless your Talons will outright kill somebody, an OOS opponent may best be pressured instead of simply handed their stamina back. A few examples on how to apply this knowledge:
Opponent dodges on UC Jab timing: Fully Charge Jab. Risky against JJ and Tiandi who can feint their dodge attacks into backdodge if needed, but will often land if they do not backdodge. Becomes harder for them to avoid if used from finisher heavy.
Opponent Dodge Attacks on UC Jab timing: Immediately feint into a parry or block. A lot of dodge attacks will not be used like this as they are light parry punishes, but, it will occasionally happen. If used from heavy hit/blockstun, fully charged jab will still beat this but you will trade, so don’t use it if you’re low enough to die.
Opponent Tries for an interrupt: Releasing Jab on UC timing will generally stuff most interrupts as long as they were hit beforehand, or from finisher heavy block/hitstun. Much like the above, from finisher heavy blockstun, Fully Charged Jab will beat light interrupts, but lose to bash interrupts that are 500ms. If you can’t muscle through, feinting to block or parry is the best option.
To apply pressure properly, these are your options: Kick + Light > Heavy finisher > Uncharged Jab if they aren’t dodging immediately Kick + Light > Heavy finisher softfeint to GB if they know to try and parry it Light + Jab (repeat ad nauseam until opponent finally decides to dodge) Kick + enemy dodge + buffered heavy finisher (charge or not) to counter GB Kick + enemy dodge + buffered heavy feint into parry vs slow reaction dodge attacks Kick + enemy dodge + buffered heavy feint into block Kick + enemy dodge + buffered heavy softfeint to GB to catch parries
Identifying and Dealing with your main weaknesses
I keep getting interrupted trying to go for jabs.
Generally unless you landed a finisher heavy, opponents have much more wriggle room to interrupt you from neutral. You can also avoid this with kick into light, which usually dissuades interruptions. Just always be aware that because you can feint jabs, most interrupts can be fairly easily defended against and even parried on read.
I don’t do much damage at all outside of charged jabs and wallsplats.
This isn’t really much of a weakness but it can feel like it if you’re used to easily accessible, big payoff moves. Centurion’s damage potential rewards conditioning a player to make them hang themselves with their own rope. A good understanding of attrition, poking game, and being as unpredictable as possible, are key to getting the most damage with Centurion. Cent doesn’t struggle to get damage by any means, but you do need to be somewhat creative in your approach. He does damage over time, making up for his low health and lower numbers by having excessively long turns.
Whenever I get my opponent low enough, I can’t finish them off.
Despite Centurion being able to kill people very quickly with the right reads, a sufficiently turtle-y opponent can still prove irritating to finish off. Centurion’s kick, while not reactable to the same degree it used to be, is still easy for fast reaction time players to dodge. Combine this with the strength of dodge bashes, Cent can struggle to land attacks. Your best bet may simply be to try and catch panic parry attempts with variable timing heavies. If this fails, try keeping your opponent OOS as long as possible throughout the fight, as Talons isn’t always worth it if your opponent can’t fight back.
Everybody keeps parrying my lights!
Centurion’s lights are visually distinct enough that people may still be able to consistently parry them on reaction. On top of Cent having a notable audio queue for his heavies. If this happens, honestly, constantly chipping at your opponent with your heavies, delaying them and changing your timing whenever possible, is probably not the worst option to deal damage to an opponent who is constantly looking for light parries. Remember that blocked heavies still give you a chance to Jab.
Your place in 4v4s
Centurion has generally not changed in his role in 4v4’s. The only thing that changed is that now, while his opponents have more counterplay to him, he also is a significantly better character, and at that he can also win 1v1’s due to his dueling prowess increasing significantly. What is Centurion picked for? Centurion is picked to be a supplementary mid-clearer, a ganker, and a duelist. Ganker and supplementary mid-clear are his best roles, dueling not being always feasible, but it is something he is very capable of doing. His team-fighting is lackluster, but not entirely awful, mainly limited by his linear hitboxes and bad health pool. However, Jab can now be target swapped and kick is a strong interrupt tool. His feintable zone being target swappable is also decent, but less effective now that the damage on it has at the time of writing this, been utterly mangled. His zone and light hitboxes are deceptively large and off to the side of him. Centurion’s feats, as mentioned before compliment him perfectly, giving him a mix of strong offensive benefits and supportive tools, along with one of the best gank feats in the game. Need to interrupt somebody at a crucial moment or just in general? Kick them. Need somebody to REALLY die right now but they’re a little far? Pugio. Need this one guy on the point to die really fast when you have an ally with you? Pugio. Ledge nearby? Pugio and kick them off the edge. Team getting low and maybe a Fire Flask was thrown? Phalanx/Stalwart. Need to hold mid for a bit? Body Count. Really prefer to roam around and sustain that way? Bounty Hunter. Need DAMAGE? Haymaker, always. Now that you know what Cent CAN do, what CAN’T he do? Cent can stall about as well as any character if piloted well, but his lower than average health, no dodge attack, and relative weakness to bashes makes him pretty poor in a situation where he has to hold out. Cent generally should always have somebody nearby or ready to assist him at all times. His ability to anti-gank has been improved, somewhat, but he should not be left alone. Centurion also cannot team-fight effectively due to the limitations of his kit, his hitboxes are not amazing, his zone is okay but very low damage, and all of his high damage requires him to open himself up to possibly dying due to very long animations. Also, his mobility is not exactly amazing either, so being caught in a bad situation will often spell death. Centurion’s ganking strength is twofold, ally bashes and GB’s can setup pins, his Kick can set up ganks, and his charged Jab will often result in death or close enough for anybody who is sufficiently led into it. It is on the Centurion to pin off of allies, and allies to guarantee his charged jab. Frequent practice and communication is necessary to get good ganks off as Cent, just as with any other ganker hero. Don’t expect much out of your teammates in solo-queue however.
Your Match-ups (Simplified)
Centurion generally has a host of good matchups, with a few he struggles with. Nothing too polarizing, as even his bad matchups aren’t unwinnable. Hyperarmor Heroes Centurion doesn’t struggle incredibly hard with Hyperarmour characters as 70% of his offense is bash based, however this will stifle you if you are trying to use lights or heavies to start up your game-plan. Shugoki in particular is the most likely issue you will have, Hito’s HA is a complete joke and you won’t have a problem here, Highlander actually has good lights now so you may find yourself trading with him more than previously would have. In short, if you are playing against HA characters, using Kick might be your best bet, most of them can’t punish bashes very well, and least of all Centurion’s Legion Kick due to its generous safety net. Heroes that Dodge Tiandi, JJ, Kensei, and to some degree Conq and the Ward/Monger’s will be somewhat problematic, Gladiator as well. Centurion’s kick is most feasibly punished with dodge bashes, Tiandi, JJ, and Kensei have the best dodge attacks in terms of avoidance, but Kensei cannot feint his, so he is vulnerable to being read into a parry. Tiandi and JJ simply don’t have to commit whatsoever and opt out of any chain pressure Cent could have except heavy softfeint to GB. Conq, Ward/Monger, and Glad all have reasonably strong dodge bashes. Warden can backdodge SB almost anything you do, which is not fun to play against and feint to kick will at least deal with it, but it still will be a problem. Warden can also sometimes be beaten depending on what timing of SB he uses if you let the chain heavy go after a whiffed kick, this will eventually get predictable and the Warden can simply feint and parry you if you buffer in the un-delayed heavy. Warmonger can side dodge UB or side dodge bash, but is surprisingly GB vulnerable, so again heavy softfeint to GB will beat her options consistently. Glad for once has a good use for his dodge bash, and the extra stamina drain on it since CCU will be quite annoying to play against. He at the very least cannot do guaranteed damage to you after it. Heroes with Bashes Centurion’s biggest struggles will usually come from heroes who have strong bash offense. Conq, BP, Warlord, and to a lesser degree Tiandi are the general culprits here. Tiandi is generally not punishable with a GB no matter what you do anyway, so he is a significantly easier case of this, as all you have to do is wait for what he does after a whiffed bash, unfortunately though as you have no dodge attack yourself, you cannot punish him reliably. This problem is an echoed one for all the others I [Limb] listed, Conq, BP, Warlord are all only really reliably punishable with a dodge attack, Conq and Warlord are GB’able on prediction or very fast reaction dodges, but I wouldn’t count on it as being a consistent thing unless you are VERY confident in your dodges. BP is probably the absolute worst matchup for Centurion either in general or in this list, as BP can not only stifle your own offense with Bulwark Counter - though not infallible as you can read this coming fairly easily - but he has the generally safest bash in the game, even if it isn’t as good for tracking as Conq’s, or as hard to see coming as Warlord in top guard stance Headbutt. All in all, the heroes you can expect to struggle with most are as listed here. Centurion Matchups - Extended Editor's Note - Limb did not write these extended matchups. I did. I am less active in the game by this point so take my notes with a grain of salt by comparison, but I went off of some of Limb's notes from the simplified matchup and what I know of the character. For this section alone you can take up your issues with me. If the link goes down, let Limb know. -QK List of Individual Matchups
Fighting With Centurion
Having a Centurion teammate is like being given all the best goodies for murder, up there with Shaman. Centurion is your friend, you and Centurion like blood, and shouting negative IQ non-sequiturs at your enemies as you kill them from near full HP with very little that the enemy can do about it. Doesn’t that sound great? [sic] When playing with a Centurion ally, you are generally expected to make sure his big fist makes contact with the enemy. In order to do this, when you see Centurion charging up a Jab, apply heavy or light blockstun - heavy preferably, as light blockstun might feed less revenge, but it will allow dodges most of the time - to guarantee the Jab will land. If you have good timing, you can hit a Jabbed opponent with a heavy opener while Centurion is flying through the air to call them weak and carve out their chest cavity, allowing your a followup finisher heavy as well. This is usually going to near 100-0 any character in the game, Kensei and Shaolin and Berserker have 100-0 ganks with Centurion, but some are significantly more complicated and will require a video to explain easier. General knowledge applies though, GB for Cent’s Unblockable finisher, blockstun for Jab, GB for charged opener heavies, and all will be golden. Make sure to cover for Cent whenever possible in group fights as while he might have decent damage and interrupts, he is very squishy and will die easily if too many mistakes happen - one or two, honestly, with the way damage currently is - and generally struggles to do much of anything in crowded situations. Shadowing a Cent whenever possible is the safest option. His very weighted feats can massively turn the tide of battle, Pugio/Phalanx/Stalwart Banner, so don't let him get choked out quickly with his low HP.
As to be expected, Centurion has a well rounded kit with meaningful strengths and trade-offs for them. He is a cerebral but straightforward character who rewards good reads, mind-games, and a strong sense of how to apply pressure. His numerous options can seem overwhelming at first, as most of the time you will always go for the highest guaranteed options, but always be aware that you can legitimately toy with your victims instead to make it an even more resounding defeat. His low HP and damage are a price to pay for extremely powerful, constant pressure. Centurion’s feats all compliment his gank heavy, supportive combat role and don’t require too much finesse to get working. All of them are very comfortable picks, and the bad ones just don’t get picked so you never really have to think too hard about it. Centurion gets 5/5 broken jaws and cringe Ex Deo montages. Primary Guide Writing: LimbLegion Editing, Revision, Preparation for Reddit: QK Editor's Note - This shit was a nightmare to put together. See this picture. -QK For clarifications of opinion, comments on changing the guide, etc. contact LimbLegion on Reddit or QueueKaye on Discord (QK#3576) to do so. Comments in the post will still be read, but those are the faster ways to get in touch with us. If you enjoy the guide, let us know, and there may be more on the way.
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