With the final week of regular season play behind us, it is now time to turn our eyes towards the upcoming playoffs. Though the summer season is short, we’re only now getting to the best of the action. For the teams that managed to qualify, the real tournament is just getting started. We’ll talk about our contenders shortly enough, but for now let’s remind ourselves what each win in the post-season means. Simply by making it this far, teams have earned their way into the money and will receive $500 of the $100,000 prize pool at minimum. Each subsequent round win means a sizable increase in prize money, but more importantly it is another step closer to the grand finals which will be played live at this year’s QuakeCon on August 10th. Needless to say the pressure is on, but with that in mind let’s take a look at some of the schools that have done nothing but pop off under pressure.
Across our 8 conferences we’ve seen a plethora of different takes and approaches to the game, but all 8 groups have one key thing in common – they’re each dominated by a 5-0 school. That means we have 8 undefeated titans ready to do battle. The way the seeding works, we won’t see a conflict between two undefeated teams until the Ro8 at the earliest, but should each undefeated team arrive unscathed to the quarterfinals, we’re sure to have a bloodbath on our hands. Let’s meet the schools:
If you read University of Houston twice and thought it was a mistake, let me assure you that it isn’t. They’ve not only advanced with two teams to the playoffs, they’ve done so without dropping a single map between the two. With 3 of our 8 undefeated schools hailing from the Lone Star state and with QuakeCon coming to us live from Dallas, it’s fair to say that there’s something in the water when it comes to Texan Quake. Texas or elsewhere, all of these schools are coming into the postseason with a chip on their shoulder. Still, it bears remembering that even among the giants there are those that stand out. Carleton, Florida Tech, UTA, and App State boast 4 of the best players in the greater Quake scene.If you haven’t read our piece on the top collegiate Quake champions, you can find it here. Before counting any of these 8 as a shoe in, however, we need to take a look at the contender schools.
The 4-1 schools are chomping at the bit. They’ve come across one of our top 8 and felt the bitter sting of defeat, but that only makes them hungry for that kind of victory. The current schools sitting at 4-1 are these:
Each of these teams has only to survive the Round of 32 before they’re likely to find one of our top 8 ready and waiting for them. The good news for our 6 challenging teams is that if and when they encounter an undefeated team in the Round of 16 it won’t be the same team initially from their group. Looking at this as a likelihood, let’s highlight some potentially interesting matchups that could be knocking on our door as early as next week:
Utah Valley (4-1) vs Carleton (5-0)
Utah Valley has proven with their win over Ryerson in the 5th round that they’re a team capable of capitalizing on a lead and exploiting the weaknesses of their opponents. With all-star player Cha1n on the roster Carleton is one of the most daunting foes in the whole tournament, but Utah Valley is likely to be toughest opponent they’ll have faced thus far.
UC Irvine (4-1) vs App State (5-0)
UC Irvine are one of the only 4-1 schools to boast an overall record of 9-2, meaning that the one series they lost all season was by a single game. With UCI’s impressive record across other esports titles, the program boasts a deep understanding of what it takes to become champions. A key player to watch from UCI is Lootre, notable also as a starting member of the scholarship qualifying Overwatch roster. Appalachian State may be the favorite, but they’ll have their work cut out for them here.
We heard some big predictions from nuBKi, App State’s coordinator: "Our first two rounds should be fairly 1-sided and I'm not worried at all about them, if we even lose a map during these rounds it would be a huge upset. My duo and I have my our sights set on the #1 spot, and I don't think that any schools other that ours, Florida Tech, and Carleton have a shot at being #1. The match we are prepping for the most is the Ro8 match, which most likely be against Florida Tech. I think it's unfortunate that we have to face them early and I believe it will be a highly contested match, but I think in the end we can take it."
Idaho State (4-1) vs RIT (5-0)
RIT are taking playoffs by storm. Of the 4 teams competing from Rochester this year, 3 will be representing the school in the playoffs. Of those 3, however, there’s one that stands above the rest. RIT A (AKA HopSkipJump) managed a 5-0 record while only dropping one map in the 3rd week to UC Irvine. Idaho State is a team we’ve seen a handful of times on our streams throughout the first half of the season. They have impressed us with both notable improvement throughout each match and a comfortability on a range of champions to fit the map at hand. This is likely to be one of the closest matches we may see throughout the early playoffs.
The coordinator of RIT, hundredeighty7, also weighed in with a statement: "For our first match against UCB I can't say I'm too concerned. Don't want to be overconfident of course but their group results were not particularly impressive and as long as we play normally it should go smoothly. For our second round match I'm definitely expecting to face Idaho. I believe Ryerson's players are both fairly new to Quake and they only came out third in what seemed to be one of the easier groups so I would be surprised to see them beat Idaho. I'm a little concerned about facing Idaho as brawndo has solid mechanics and they did well in the group stage only losing to App State, which I'd argue is one of the top 4 collegiate teams. We haven't scrimmed against Idaho so I don't have any match history to point to but I'm confident we can win as long as we play well."