The field of 31 thinned down to 16 for this weekend’s slate of Semifinal matches. Two matches stick out for this week’s match preview, and we have the keys to victory for these competitors. Simon Fraser (West #1) makes their playoff debut against British Columbia (West #4) in the collegiate El Clasico out West, and Manitoba (North #2) looks to continue to silence the critics (or maybe just me) against Maryville (North #3) in the North.
For college sports fans, think of this as Alabama vs. Auburn. For baseball fans, Red Sox vs. Yankees. For non-sports fans, think of the biggest rivalry you know of. This is SFU vs. UBC. Two of the biggest esports titans in Canada, constantly clashing against each other for over five years look to write another chapter this weekend. In a shift of power, SFU looks to build off of a dominant regular season coming out of a first round bye while UBC looks to find answers to rise atop the West Region once again.
Dominate through objective control…again. Flashback to last year: SFU has their backs to the wall, nearly no hope in the regional final versus UBC, then turtling pays off with minions taking eight turrets and two inhibitors. Now snap back to this year. Simon Fraser has been top dog in the West in terms of controlling objectives, even better than last year. If they can continue their unmatchable macro-play, SFU cruises to yet another victory in this storied rivalry.
Embrace the role of the underdog. For what seems like the first time ever in this rivalry, UBC seems to be the outright underdog. While this has been more of a rebuilding year for British Columbia, they are still in the semifinals for a reason. You do not need to top the statistical rankings to win. One quality UBC has been able to flaunt is their ability to utilize pocket picks to their best potential. With a new patch dropping just days before matches start, UBC can set the tone with these surprise picks in an undefined meta.
Maryville’s next step to repeating a National Championship goes through Manitoba. The new kids on the block look to upset the reigning champs this weekend. What will an upsurging Manitoba team have to do to beat a reconstructed Maryville roster?
Run it down mid. Manitoba’s mid laner, keptˉ, must have really taken to heart what I said in our Quarterfinal episode of The Quad. Or maybe he is just that dominant. Whatever it is, this man demolished Kansas State and will need to continue that trend against an even tougher Maryville squad. Manitoba’s mid racked up a 33/2/22 KDA and averaged 33.67% of his team’s damage in Quarterfinals. With Maryville’s starting mid laner swapping to the ADC role in Prototype’s absence, putting keptˉ on a carry champion and starting the snowball early will be key for a Manitoba victory.
Win through the side lanes. Even though starting mid laner, çkg, is now swapped to the ADC role, he is still dishing out major damage. Further, on the other side of the map is one of the best carry top laners in all of collegiate, Saskioo. Put these two on champions that can set the tempo early and produce high DPS throughout the game and give them a strong support group around the rest of the map, and you get a recipe for success. At the end of the day, no matter the roster, this is still the defending National Champions we are talking about. Team strength is of no worry for the Saints.
These two matches aren’t the only ones being played this weekend! Be ready for a total of eight collegiate semifinal matches to go along with a dose of LCS Quarterfinals this weekend! Which teams do you think will advance? Let us know on our Twitter and Facebook, and be sure to look out for broadcasted matches on Twitch!
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__.
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