The regular season for the Big Four regions is officially over, and with playoff winds a blowin’, it’s officially bold prediction season! In that spirit, we asked each of our League of Legends content team members for their best guesses about this year’s National Championship matchup, as well as one potential Wild Card down the stretch.
What Columbia College has done this season is the equivalent to what the Golden State Warriors have been doing in the NBA over the last three years. Already having a solid core for the team, the Cougars’ offseason additions in the coaching, ADC, and jungle roles have skyrocketed them to becoming the ultimate collegiate super team. Columbia College won’t come across as much of a surprise as a championship pick, but what will is the lack of Maryville. Simon Fraser is back, and seemingly better than last year (not needing minions to take 8 turrets for them to win a series). SFU handily took care of UCSD in Week 5, and sliced through a dominant UC Irvine team like butter. This being noted, I think SFU has what it takes to ease through West Playoffs, and the Championship bracket, as long as the Cougars don’t stop them sooner.
The team I believe to give us the most trouble in cLoL championships is likely @UCIEsports. They’re the only collegiate team besides us to show some decent performance against high-level opponents.
— Drake Porter (@CoachDrakeLoL) February 17, 2018
When choosing a Wild Card, it boils down to UCI and Maryville. While Maryville did have the tougher schedule, UCI was just so dominant in their games, doing what they were expected to do, and some. The numbers don’t lie when validating their case either. Despite the sweep to SFU, UCI’s numbers still rank higher among the one-loss teams, and even a couple of undefeated teams. It is also just that time for UCI. Always being in the shadows of other scholarship schools, UCI has the talent this year to finally pass that threshold and gain the proper recognition they deserve. Besides, if Drake Porter makes a tweet about your school that doesn’t have “Who?” in it, you got yourself a good team.
This season is a pretty easy pick for me. Maryville University vs. Columbia College is the only sensible prediction for a championship match. It’s also sensible to point at Maryville’s week 6 performance and say, “They’re not the titan you think they are, Christian,” and I’ll give you give you some credit on that one. But I look at what they put on the Rift that week as a pretty solid effort. Maryville was missing a key piece in disrupting the CC gameplan. The sophomore Cougar Evan “EvanRL” Lawson is a force in the ADC position and a full roster would go a long way in keeping that bot lane in check. In a pretty surprising manner, Maryville also looked the stronger team when it came to the 5v5 aspect. I think the Saints are poised for the deepest run possible, unless of course they meet the Cougars before the Finals.
SFU were lights out against rival UC Irvine in the final week of the season. Before that match, I had UCI pegged as the 3rd best team in the nation, but SFU changed that opinion. A simple strategy, 3:30 jungle invade, threw the Anteaters off their rhythm. They did this in both games and it was actually worse for UCI the 2nd time around. I thought that UCI, on their best day, could compete against CC on an average day – aka “any given Sunday”. Not so much anymore after week 6. SFU looked like a more dominant team: better preparation, better game-plan, better execution. If I had that respect for UCI, the transitive property says I should pass it along to SFU now, right?
It’s exceedingly difficult not to put Columbia College (MO) in this matchup because of their dominant showing overall versus their strength of schedule, but that’s exactly why I am utterly helpless against the urge to do so. College spectator sports are infamous for playoff surprises, so I’m willing to go all in on another darling playing themselves into contention. If CC doesn’t make it, MU probably does, and, if we’re being honest, I think the West has the next best chance of putting someone into the big dance between the University of California, Irvine – who boasted the best objective difference in College LoL just two weeks ago – and Simon Fraser – who toppled UCI in dominant fashion in the regular season’s final stanza. I’m willing to bet that while repeat matchups are tough to predict, UCI would need to grow a lot in the jungle in order to overcome a second match with SFU.
Last year, the Big Ten showed that they were pretty convincingly not on par with the best teams in collegiate League of Legends, but it’s a whole new year, and no team has embodied that spirit more than THE Ohio State University. Last year, the Buckeyes were hardly contenders within the Big Ten, but this year they have proven to be peerless in the their division. As such, I can hardly think of a more intriguing wild card pick than an underdog Big Ten team making a serious championship run just a year removed from being somewhere between a Pheqes meme and a laughingstock.
Curious about our conclusions? Keep an eye on our social Twitter for updates on the Bracketology Edition of Ward Up! tonight at 6pm PST, where we’ll be tackling the tangled world of regional playoffs and championship aspirations!
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