The first round of this year’s CSL League of Legends playoffs has just concluded. A few weeks ago, we ranked our top 10 teams and talked about the “Big Three” in the power rankings, and last week we got to see them really duke it out. The second round of playoffs and the first round of the losers’ bracket will take place this weekend. We had some pretty surprising results come out of the first round, with more upsets and spectacular matches certainly to come. Without further ado, let’s run through the first round of matches and speculate about the next round!
Yes, Pomona won their game, but the fact they lost a match to Colorado is still fairly worrying for a team that went 10-1 in the regular season (only losing to a very good Berkeley squad). In comparison, Colorado went 8-3 in the regular season and lost to much easier teams. I was surprised to see Pomona lose a game this early, especially as they are a team that has bounced on and off our top 10 list in the past. Next week, they will be facing up against Rutgers University, a very strong team. That will definitely be a match to watch!
Unfortunately, Harrisburg forfeited their match against Montreal; they’ll still have a shot at redemption by climbing through the losers’ bracket, though. They play UCSD next week, and Harrisburg should absolutely be the favored team. This shouldn’t take away from Montreal, though! Montreal finished 3rd in last year's playoffs after defeating some incredibly talented teams like Johns Hopkins University. They definitely have not looked as strong this year as last, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get back to where they used to be. Next week, UDEM will be up against Illinois Wesleyan University, a very strong team that had an excellent 10-1 regular season record with a stellar lineup. Make sure to tune in to see what happens!
I want to use this match to highlight SFU. Simon Fraser has not been on our top 10 list this year, but they are still an incredibly talented team. They only lost one set the entire year, and it was to the almighty University of British Columbia. If there was a dark horse in this playoffs, it would be SFU. However, next week they are up against a team that is absolutely no joke: the undefeated Florida State University. Florida State currently sits in 5th in our CSL power rankings, but they will be in a hell of a fight against SFU next week. The most exciting match next week will definitely be the Simon Fraser vs Florida State University match. Both of these teams are very talented, and the game could easily go either way.
Rough ending here for UofT. This team, which was once near the top of our power rankings and projected to finish very high, has been knocked out in the first round by GMU. Aside from the forfeit from Harrisburg, Toronto going out like this in the first round is probably the most surprising result we’ve had so far in the playoffs: a seriously talented team that managed to beat some tough competition is already pushed to the loser’s bracket. They play Carnegie Mellon University in said losers’ bracket this week. That being said, congrats to George Mason University for their upset victory. GMU went a modest 8-3 this season and will be playing Michigan State University, a very tough opponent, next week. MSU is currently in 8th place in our power rankings and went undefeated this season. This will be yet another exciting match, but I would place my bet on Michigan State.
Another team in our top 10 that suffered a scare this week was the University of Delaware. Delaware currently sits at 6th in our rankings, but they lost a match to Queen’s University, who went 8-3 this season. Delaware still won the series, but they need to step up their game if they want to continue through the bracket. Next week, they face the University of Illinois at Chicago, a pretty solid team with a 9-2 record. Delaware should be able to defeat them, but then come the big dogs in the form of a match with UBC the following week (probably). If Delaware is going to take down UBC, their first step is to take down the University of Illinois at Chicago this week.
That wraps up our recap of the first round of the playoffs! Some top 10 teams are already on their way out, suffering upsets or just barely scraping by; talk about an action-packed week! Tune in next week on our Twitch channel for round 2 of the upper bracket and round 1 of the loser’s bracket.