The spring playoffs are well under way here at CSL, and they have been more than exciting. With so many promising teams, it’s no surprise that there have been many upsets, close sets, and incredible games.
We are about halfway through the playoffs as we enter into round 4, the week of the top 16. After this week, only the quarters, semis, and finals remain, with only one team being able to call themselves the best JV team in North America.
Let’s break down how we got to round 4, and then we’re going to break down the round 4 matchups to try and figure out who has the edge and strength to go all the way.
Round 1 did not offer too many surprises, with most of the favorites progressing to the next round, and the losers dropping down to the losers bracket. Additionally, most of the games ended in a 2-0 sweep for one team or the other, a sign of clear difference in team skill. The two noticeable 2-1 results were against two of the best-performing teams in the winter invitational: UCF Gaming Knights B and Johns Hopkins Bluejays. Both won their sets, but both dropped a game. Nothing major, but a bit surprising, considering the limited amount of 2-1 sets in Round 1.
Round 2 is where the competition started to amp up. This round saw a lot more 2-1 series, meaning the teams were much closer in skill. However, surprising upsets remained limited. University of Texas at Arlington managed to defeat a notoriously strong school: Simon Fraser Raccoons A. Despite all of the close sets, many of the favorites like University of Manitoba and the two teams mentioned in round 1 managed to stay in the winner’s bracket.
The most recently-completed round had a lot of good sets between competitive teams as the amount of teams began to dwindle. One close series saw Virginia Commonwealth University defeat McMaster University in a tight 2-1 set. VCU had a good performance in the winter invitational, and with this huge victory over McMaster, they’re not looking to stop anytime soon. A surprising result was another 2-1 set, with Purdue LOL Academy being able to send UCF Gaming Knights B down to the losers bracket.
8 upper bracket matches this weekend, with 16 hungry teams. All of these teams are good, but only one team can be at the top of it all.
Johns Hopkins University vs University of Washington: 2-1 JHU
JHU still remains the favorite to win the entire tournament, as the winner of the winter invitational. Their opponent, UW, has had a few stumbles in these playoffs with two 2-1 series so far. Overall, Washington is a very strong team that can take a game off JHU, but Johns Hopkins should prove to be stronger.
Columbia College vs University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign: 2-1 Columbia
Both of these teams are extremely strong, and I could realistically see both in the finals. Columbia College has a history of success in LoL, and their team has been steamrolling through the playoffs, including victories against strong teams like McGill University and Sheridan College. Illinois Academy had a great time in the winter invitational, and they have yet to drop a game in the spring playoffs. This set could definitely go to anyone, but for now I will give my prediction to Columbia.
Kennesaw State University vs Universite de Montreal: 2-1 KSU
I know, another 2-1 series, but these sets are actually very close in talent! KSU has been running through their playoffs, with all of their sets being 2-0, including a very strong victory against UCB Gold | UC Berkeley. I said last week that the winner of KSU v Berkeley had the ability to achieve greatness, and KSU met that challenge. Montreal on the other side is just as scary, with their impressive victory being a 2-0 over Oregon. I think both of these teams are very good, and it is going to depend on who plays better the day they go head to head.
Virginia Commonwealth University vs Colorado State University: 2-0 VCU
I have been underrating VCU for most of their existence, but I’m finally going to give them the benefit of doubt they deserve. Their impressive victory over McMaster University finally proved to me that they are a serious competitor who can take down their competition, despite all of their series being close 2-1s. CSU is another team I have been skeptical of, and none of their victories have really made me confident in them to defeat tough competition.
University of Manitoba vs North Carolina State University: 2-0 Manitoba
Manitoba has been impressive ever since the winter invitational, and they have not seen any threats so far this spring. Despite their tough, harsh loss to JHU in winter, they have more experience now and have not faltered one bit. On the other side is NC State, a team that I didn’t expect to make it this far, and a team that I have heard little about. I don’t think NC State is a weak team by any means, but Manitoba is just too strong for them to handle.
Ryerson University vs Robert Morris University: 2-1 RMU
This is going to be one of the best round 4 matches. Ryerson is obviously a good team, proving themselves time and time again as they continue to take down tough opponents during the playoffs. However, the other side now has RMU, one of the strongest teams in CSL. Despite a weird 2-1 series to SJSU last week, I think RMU as a squad is very, very powerful. I would be surprised to see them take a loss to Ryerson, and I think Ryerson is going to need to play better than they usually do to take down this giant.
University of Texas at Arlington v State University of New York - Stony Brook University: 2-0 SBU
This is the one series that I don’t have any opinions either way. Neither team has been overly impressive, nor have I heard much of either team. Neither teams are overly stacked, but neither team is bad. Overall, I don’t expect either team to make it extremely far in these playoffs, but the fact they made it to round 4 speaks for itself. After scanning their past games / rosters, I think SBU may be able to take the victory.
UCLA vs Purdue University: Purdue 2-1
UCLA has improved massively to make it here. They lost to UCB Gold in the winter invitational, but have overcome challenges to make it all the way to round 4 of the playoffs. On the other side is Purdue, who has had a very impressive playoff run, even defeating UCF in round 3 to make it here. I think this will be a close series, but Purdue has proven in the playoffs that they are stronger.