Coming into the start of the season, Robert Morris University was the school that everyone had predicted to win the entire league. With a full lineup that competed in ESEA-Advanced, as well as a number of players (SPERMY, koga) that competed in the ESEA-MDL, it was hard not to call them the favourites. Especially with Baruch College (2x CSL champions 2016-2017 & 2017/2018 with known players such as food, Toy, and 4sh0t) out of the picture this year, it would only make sense that it’d be smooth sailing for RMU to take it all.
However, RMU hasn’t exactly had the most dominant performance so far. Although their fall half showed no signs of weakness, the Winter Invitational gave a bit of a glimpse of what the strength of their team was at. With a close 2-0 victory over UCSC (19-17, 16-11), a team that’s been solid in the scene but never really considered a huge favourite, it showed that RMU maybe wasn’t as dominant as they should be on paper. Unfortunately their Winter Invitational run ended with a forfeit loss to Georgia State University, as the RMU team attended a LAN during that weekend instead. If the two teams actually ended up playing their match, it would have definitely shown whether RMU was on top or not, as Georgia State was widely known as a top team in the scene with players like SwahN, Shakezullah, and ADIL, who have all played in the ESEA-MDL.
By the start of the playoffs, there was some doubt as to what kind of form RMU would be bringing to the table. The team no longer played together in ESEA, and were mostly just showing up to play the matches. After a very decisive 2-0 against the Colorado State of Mines, their first real struggle was up against Simon Fraser University, a Canadian team that was proving that they didn’t need big name players to make a splash on the scene. Their match against SFU was a three map series that could have easily gone either way, with RMU squeaking by 2-1 (13-16, 19-16, 16-7). After that match, we saw RMU regain some form, and take down Maryville 2-0, to get their chance at the first LAN spot against York University. RMU was able to deliver, as they pulled through for the 2-0 series victory (16-14, 19-16), and punched their ticket to another CSL grand finals appearance.
16th-32nd - CSL 2015-2016 - BoomBoom, AwoL, SrM, DemiusXL, zack938
5th-8th - CSL 2016-2017 - BoomBoom, SPERMY, Andersin, Welshy, AwoL
2nd - CSL 2017-2018 - SPERMY, Andersin, Welshy, AwoL, Reality
The University of California, Santa Cruz has always been a staple in the collegiate CSGO scene ever since their debut in the inaugural 2015-2016 CSL CSGO season. Although their roster has changed over the years, UCSC has found real success in this year with this set of ESEA-Main/Intermediate players. Although they may not have the big names that some of the other teams attending these finals do, their teamwork and coordination has been the real driving force to land them in the top 3.
UCSC first started to shine when they went undefeated in the notoriously difficult California region in the fall. Home to schools like UC San Diego (winners of AVGL 2016-2017), UC Irvine (3rd/4th CSL 2016-2017), and UC Riverside (Top 8 CSL 2017/2018), UCSC was able to come out undefeated in this region, where very typically all the teams have at least one loss. This allowed them to participate in the Winter Invitational, where they beat George Mason University 2-1, but ended up falling to Robert Morris University. This performance was about expected for the UCSC squad, as in previous years this is where they would be.
UCSC started their playoff run with a forfeit win over Grand Valley State University as well as a forfeit win over Kennesaw State University. Their forfeit win over KSU was under a large amount of scrutiny by the KSU players and became a big point of discussion in the community. Howeverm with the form that KSU brought into these playoffs, crashing out in 17th-24th, it was unlikely that they would have beat UCSC. UCSC won their first match convincingly 2-0 over the University of Georgia, which then led them to face off against Michigan State University. MSU was a dark horse in the league, and only really came to attention after their big win over UCF. UCSC snuck out with a three map series win (14-16, 16-9, 16-14) to give them the chance to play for a LAN spot against UIUC. UCSC came out on top with a hard-fought 2-0 series victory (22-20, 16-7), and secured their first appearance at a CSL grand finals event.
9th-16th - CSL 2015-2016 - saiyo, Quantum, daikon, jojo, Neuro
9th-16th - CSL 2016-2017 - saiyo, Quantum, daikon, Shneap, Nevin
9th-16th - CSL 2017-2018 - moopey, MazaParaza, yohann, MisakaMikoto, KUro1QAQ
This year was York University’s debut in the CSL, as York had never fielded a team before. However, expectations were already high as they won the AVGL CS:GO league last year against Robert Morris University. Although only a couple members from that winning AVGL roster remain on the team this year (Skelly, tennLs), the other players are no strangers to competitive play. denya played on the University of Toronto for the past couple years in the CSL, and also played in the ESEA-MDL. kXn and Xephix played a number of ESEA-Open seasons, but are now currently on ESEA-Main teams. Skelly played in the previous season of ESEA-MDL, while tennLs played in the ESEA-MDL a couple seasons back.
York University looked a little bit shaky in the fall, with closer-than-expected victories over Ryerson (16-13), Toronto (16-11), and St. Clair (16-10). Ultimately they went 5-1 in the fall, with the one loss being a forfeit loss against Carleton. That one forfeit loss made York a second seed in the Winter Invitational, and unfortunately put them up against Georgia State University in the first round. They had a decent showing, but ended up losing 0-2 (13-16, 7-16).
The next time we saw York compete was in the playoffs, well over a month since their Winter Invitational game against Georgia State. They crushed all of the teams on the way to the upper bracket finals, with the most impressive result being against UBC, winning very decisively 2-0 (16-9, 16-2). This led to the battle of the two titans in collegiate CSGO in the upper bracket finals for a spot at the LAN, as they took on RMU. York ended up getting the shorter end of the stick, as they lost the match 0-2 with very close scorelines (14-16, 16-19). This loss didn’t deter them one bit in the lower bracket as they were able to fight through the lower bracket relatively easily with big wins over Virginia Commonwealth (16-9) and UBC once again (16-4), to secure the last spot at the CSL grand finals.
With the double elimination format, we will see RMU and UCSC play in the upper bracket finals. The winner of that match will move onto the grand finals, where they are guaranteed at least 2nd place, while the loser of the match will move down to the lower bracket finals to face off York University in a BO3. The winner of the lower bracket finals will move into the grand finals, and the loser of the match taking 3rd place. The grand finals will be a BO5, where the upper bracket team will have a 1 map advantage. With all of these teams having never won a CSL championship before, we are going to see a new school join the likes of San Jose State University and Baruch College (2x).