Each year, many CSL staff and alumni look at the season as a whole and measure it against past seasons in terms of competitiveness or overall skill. It seems cheap to say every year, “the competition has never been as good as this season!” especially considering the fact that esports will always increase in skill over time. With that said, this season’s LAN finalists are really spectacular. In the past, we typically had a favorite to win it all and had to theorycraft how and why the other teams could take that team down. This time around each team is so good, that to say one is favored over the other would be unfair to everyone involved. Let us take a quick look at how we got here.
For over 2 years now, Rochester Institute of Technology has been one of the best teams in the CSL. In the 2016-2017 season they lost 2-1 against University of Connecticut, the team that finished second overall. Last season RIT won it all, dropping a single game throughout the entire playoff run. This season we worried that they wouldn’t be as good with the loss of their star player Evadin, but they quickly put that concern to rest by finishing first in their group in the spring. Despite getting 2-0’d by Stony Brook University in the inaugural Winter Invitational, RIT has kept their foot on the gas and swept every team on their path to LAN finals. If RIT win this season, they’ll match the University of British Columbia’s record and take their place in CSL history.
Stony Brook University has been on our radar for the last 2 years now, with this year being their best showing in regards of strategy and performance. Unofficially I like to call them “the RIT slayers” but perhaps the results of a single series aren’t that big a deal. Nevertheless, SBU is similar to RIT in a lot of ways; excellent drafting, Immortal rank map movements and control, and downright scary teamfights. The only real thing separating SBU from RIT is that RIT is in the upper bracket while SBU is not. Considering how handily SBU was defeated at the hands of the University of Illinois at Chicago, RIT may quickly find themselves at the mercy of SBU in a best of one.
Last but by no means least we take a look at the University of Illinois at Chicago. For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, this team has had a meteoric rise to success in the last 4 months. As indicated in carlot0n’s interview with them 2 weeks ago, UIC has made it this far through perseverance and teamwork, developing and maintaining good habits has elevated them from a good team to a great team. It is uncertain if LAN jitters will be a problem for UIC, even the most confident of players can have their resolve shaken by the unfamiliar environment. Considering the stakes up for grabs in their series against RIT--1 game advantage in the grand final for the victors, and a best of 1 against SBU for the losers--our upper bracket final might very well be what decides the whole event.
Join us in Atlantic City on April 27-28 for two days of tournaments, seminars, and more, culminating with crowning the grand champions for Collegiate Starleague!