This is the twentieth and final in a series of articles revealing the top twenty TrackMania²: Stadium tech drivers of 2014. For some more information, see the first post.
Our number one player of 2014 is the one and only Carl-Antoni “Carl Jr.” Cloutier. The young Canadian showed last year that he is virtually unbeatable on tech maps when he is properly prepared for a match. As well as becoming the first two-time world champion, he was instrumental in securing a multitude of titles for Team Dignitas over the year through his performances in playoff matches.
To review Cloutier’s year, we must start with the playoffs of Competition Premiership Season 12 in January. In both the semi-finals and grand final, he was a game changer; in the semi-final versus PyRoGEN, Cloutier won the one-on-one submatch over Alexandre “Alex” Scalisi with a 7-1 score, and went on to decimate the French side in the the three versus three, winning each of the seven rounds played with great times. In the grand final, Cloutier faced harder opposition in Team Acer. Robert “Tamarillo” Crone very nearly defeated him in the one versus one, taking the Canadian to tennis mode before he lost the match 8-6. In the 3v3 submatch, Cloutier was less dominant than in the semi-final, taking third in points behind teammates Jesper “KarjeN” Karjalainen and Tim “Spam” Lunenburg, but still better than his Acer opponents with a points total one higher than the next best player.
We saw two fantastic matches from Cloutier in the playoffs of TrackMania Masters Team Cup 14 in April. A big-game player in every sense, he played a vital role in ensuring that Team Dignitas reached the grand final of the tournament by top scoring in quarter-final and semi-final matches against BX3 and Team Acer.
Against BX3, Cloutier initially struggled to find his groove, and ended up scoring with the least points on the first map. After his shaky start, he began playing how one might expect a world champion to play. Quick and ruthlessly consistent, he made short work of the second and third maps, scoring far above his opponents at the top of the points list. Team Acer were next to experience Cloutier’s formidable driving; over the two maps Dignitas needed to win the semi-final, he amassed 160 points in 27 rounds, the equivalent of finishing third each round. When you consider the other players in the match— Michael “PokeR” Neuhold, Karjalainen, Lunenburg and Kalle “frostBeule” Videkull, to name a few—we can see just how impressive his driving was. Cloutier’s teammates played the grand final without him, securing the TMM Team Cup title.
In group stage of Competition Premiership Season 13, which started in mid-May, Cloutier played a few impressive maps. For example, he was by far the best player in the 5v5 submatch against Druidz, and in the five-on-five versus Team Acer, he was Team Dignitas’s best player (he was overshadowed by Videkull and Ördög “Royal” Botond, taking third in points overall). However, Cloutier’s most important contributions to his team’s success over the span of the tournament came in the playoffs. Since Team Dignitas won the finished the group stage with the best results, they proceeded directly to the grand final. Team Acer defeated BX3 in the semi-final and met Dignitas for what was the closest match the two teams had against each other in 2014. Cloutier started things off by winning the 1v1 submatch against Neuhold. The Austrian looked as though he would force tennis mode, but made a mistake while driving the last turn and was overtaken. This submatch win turned out to be essential; Dignitas lost both the 2v2 and 3v3 submatches, and if it were not for Cloutier’s 1v1 win, the final would have ended before the five versus five submatch. A good team effort in the regular five-on-five, led by Henri “Insane” Kyynäräinen and Cloutier, meant that the CPS12 winners would have to earn the title on the decider map. Here, the Canadian was the carrying figure he needed to be, earning the most points. Team Dignitas won the final submatch seven points to five, a win which Cloutier should take a lot of credit for since his teammates struggled to match Team Acer’s best players on the decider map.
The next competitions Cloutier focused on were quite alternative. In August, TrackMania Tournament hosted TmT Multilaps, which saw top players compete mainly on laps tracks instead of the standard a-to-b variety. The matches were two versus two, and Cloutier, along with Fredrik “Bergie” Bergmann, worked their way through the playoff tree to the grand final, defeating duos such as Michael “PokeR” Neuhold and Fabian “beat” Kuehn, and Mikael “MiQuatro” Jäppilä and Jonathan “Slink” Stenström along the way. The final saw the Dignitas pair play a team made up of eSuba players Marek “tween” Pacher and Jakub “kubayz” Faul. The first map was somewhat close, ending 5-3 in Dignitas’s favour, but the second map was far more one-sided. Cloutier’s team took a two point lead, but the Canadian then reached new heights: he first set a time just a tenth of a second slower than the world record, and in the following two rounds proceeded to set two new world records. Needless to say, neither of his opponents stood a chance of keeping up with him, and Bergmann’s steady driving allowed the Dignitas drivers to end the map 5-0 and win the tournament.
At the start of September, Cloutier, Armin “TaLa” Van de Venn, Kuehn and Philippe “wally” Trudeau won the second DDE 24 Hour Road event under the name “Dangerous Divas”. Together, they left their opponents far in their wake, finishing 47 checkpoints in front of second-place team Penta Sports. Cloutier played for a quarter of the 24 hours, and had both the best average lap time and the fastest lap out of all 181 participants.
As impressive as the results mentioned above are, Cloutier’s crowning achievement was that he defended his world championship title at Electronic Sports World Cup, and with that became the first ever double world champion. His progression through the tournament tree was almost flawless; he won every match he played, and almost never looked as though he was struggling to beat the world’s best TrackMania tech players.
After taking first place in the preliminary Time Attack seeding, Cloutier was rewarded with a spot in a three-player group in the first round of the competition. Against Dennis “dNs” Latz and Jonathan “JonNo” Holmes, he was the clear favourite, and it surprised no one that he took first place in his first match.
His next opponents were expected to give the Canadian more trouble. Yoann “YoYo” Cook, who was directly invited to the event, skipping the ESWC France qualifier, joined Titouan “OmnipotZ” Le Maner and Pascal “DeviL” Albusberger in the second-round clash. Cloutier, who described the match as his best of the tournament, completely dominated the match, and reached finalist mode 40 points ahead of Cook, who was then in second place. Despite his massive lead, Cloutier did not lose focus, and won the match when Cook had just 66 points.
In the winners bracket semi-final that followed, Cloutier played nearly as well. 2013 bronze medalist Koen “Koenz” Schobbers, French hope Benjamin “Kronos” Suzenne and promising UK player Andy “Sabre” Wilson were all made to look second-rate after the Canadian took 43 points on the first map, driving times his opponents simply couldn’t match. He reached finalist mode on the third map, when next-best Wilson had only 83 of the 100 points required to be a finalist. Cloutier only needed a single round as finalist to win the match, securing a spot in the winners bracket final.
There was a lot of buzz about Marek “tween” Pacher leading up to the event. The eighteen-year-old was Cloutier’s most serious challenger, and many believed that he would dethrone the 2013 world champion. The first time the two played against each other at the event was in the winners bracket final. The two favourites were joined by Tim “Spam” Lunenburg and Wilson, and the four started their battle on stage. After the first map, Pacher and Cloutier had a small points lead over the other two, but after a strong showing on second map “ESWC 2015 - Aperiko” Cloutier began to break away. On the fourth map, Cloutier reached finalist ahead of Lunenburg in second, and needed just a couple of rounds to finish a round in first place and take a spot in the grand final for the third year running.
The four finalists—Yoann “YoYo” Cook, Pacher, Lunenburg and Cloutier—needed to keep their cool in front of the large crowd if they were to take a podium position and a share of the $8,000 prize money. The match started much as the winners bracket final: Pacher, with a good first map, made a large dent in 10-point advantage Cloutier had from entering the final through the winners bracket. Things were close between the two up until the third map, where Cloutier showed a consistency that his rival couldn’t match and reached 120 points and finalist mode when Pacher had just 92 points. His first finalist rounds was played after the map switched to “ESWC 2015 - Blockage”, and he finished first on his first attempt to take the ESWC title. Throughout the tournament, Cloutier looked practically unstoppable. He won every match he played, against the world’s best, and almost never looked like he was struggling to stay ahead of the opposition.
Cloutier with Robert "Tamarillo" Crone after his win. Picture: Florent "Some0ne" Gaudiller.
After his ESWC victory, Cloutier had a break from competitive play. He did not feature in the Team Dignitas lineup that played the Stadium Team Championship 10 grand final, no doubt a factor that contributed to Acer’s victory in the tournament. In December, he played in a five versus five submatch for ESL’s CPS14 group stage. He finished right in the middle of the points table, suggesting that he was not fully prepared for the match, but his team won the submatch nonetheless against the Penta Sports team that beat both BX3 and Team Acer that month. That month, Cloutier also played in a True Talent Cup for the first time. He won the knockout event, and became one of only two players to have done so (the only other is Jesper “KarjeN” Karjalainen).
To put it simply, Carl-Antoni “Carl Jr.” Cloutier is the best TrackMania²: Stadium player in the world. Time and time again, he has defeated the strongest professional players, and in 2014 he did so both online and offline. On top of this, through the different types of events he played (and won), the Canadian has shown that he is capable of mastering almost every event he tries his hand at. We are proud to present him as the number one player of 2014.
>> News Tools