Four teams have punched their tickets to Los Angeles for the Collegiate National Championship, but four spots remain up for grabs. Over the next couple of weeks, eight teams across six different conferences will battle it out in the College Championship Play-In to see who gets to continue their season, and who won’t be enjoying LA views come June.
The eight competitors will be split up into two Best of 3 round robin groups (shown below), with the top two teams from each group earning a spot in the National Championship. The eight teams competing are the runners-up from the College LoL Big Four regions, the top two teams from the Big Ten Network conference, and the top two teams from the Peach Belt Conference.
So, now that you know where the competing teams come from, let’s see how their chances are of making it out of groups alive.
For the second year in a row, Maryland defeated Illinois to claim the Big Ten Championship. However, this season was not as convincing as last year’s, dropping more regular season matches and coming into playoffs as the #4 seed. Despite that, this group does not have a clear cut favorite to take the top spot, so Maryland’s strong teamfight presence can help lead the Terrapins to Los Angeles.
Georgia College comes into this group as the outlier team. If teams count them out right off the bat, the Bobcats could sneak a couple surprise wins to shake up the group, though. No matter what the end results are, the experience gained from competing amongst competition at College LoL’s highest level will be beneficial for Georgia College in the coming years.
If there had to be a favorite chosen for this group, it would be Simon Fraser. Coming out of the regular season as the #1 seed in the West, SFU was a powerhouse this year, taking a Best of 5 series from British Columbia, and a game off of UC Irvine in a neck-and-neck series. SFU has some of the best roster continuity in the Play-In, and their style has, except for the loss to UCI, continued to improve and evolve with time. The team’s ability to hard carry in all three lanes will be a critical advantage throughout the round robin.
Ottawa’s dominant objective control came to a halt in the Eastern Region Finals. UO will look to bounce back to form for Play-Ins. If this team can play the objective game like they have throughout the regular season and first couple rounds of playoffs, there is a chance UO will come out of the group on top.
For the second year in a row, Illinois fell to Maryland in the Big Ten Finals. This year is a different and more promising story though for the Illini. Stronger team fighting and individual play helped take a win off of Maryland, so now, Illinois needs to translate this to inter-region play. If they can keep focus and run their game against North Georgia, George Mason, and possibly even Columbia College, we could see the Big Ten being represented once again.
If the other teams in this group did not look as dominant as they currently do, I would say North Georgia possibly has a chance at a #2 seed in Play-Ins. However, George Mason’s incredible run in the South, a path of vengeance created for Columbia College, and a refined Illinois team stand as tall tasks for the Nighthawks. Coming off of a dominant 25-1 Peach Belt season, though I still think UNG can surprise teams if they don’t watch out.
The Cinderella story from the South look to continue building on a magical season. They may have lost the South Finals, but don’t count midnight yet for these guys. After taking down Texas A&M (South #1) in the Semifinals and taking one off of UT Dallas (South #2) in the Finals, George Mason is coming into Play-Ins as one of the hottest teams. GMU will look to their star ADC, Enrique, to carry them to Los Angeles.
After starting the College LoL season 18-0, Columbia College went 3-5 in the span of three days last week. Knowing the roster and coaching staff the Cougars have, CC will surely bounce back. The Cougars come into Play-Ins as familiar heavy favorites and the team that nobody wanted in their group. Play-Ins will be a time of refining skills and recreating the dominant mindset held earlier in the season to gear them towards their first National Championship tournament.
The Play-In matches start April 14th, and will continue through April 22nd. Be sure to keep up with CSL on Twitter, Facebook, and Twitch to see which teams’ seasons will come to an end, and which teams will book their ticket to the National Championships in Los Angeles!
George Crook is a Junior Interdisciplinary Studies major at Mississippi State University, with concentrations in Sports Studies and Public Relations. Alongside being a Staff Writer for the Collegiate Starleague, he also works as a Marketing Intern within the university's Athletic Department. You can find him on Twitter @gcrook__.