New year, same CSL! Everyone's favorite collegiate esports league has started back up again, and the first matches of the semester have already been played. There aren’t many games left in the season, so everyone is trying to make the most out of the few matches that remain. Let’s take a look at each of the divisions to see who the top teams are!
The Southwest region remains largely similar from the last recap. Southwest 3 did have a bit of a switch-up: the University of New Mexico struggled once again last week, losing to the University of Hawaii - Manoa. Despite two losses, they’re still second in Southwest 3, but they’ve been dethroned by Arizona State University, who hold only a single loss. Both teams are very talented and will continue to battle it out for 1st in their division. Southwest 2 is still helmed by the University of California, Irvine. UCI is at the top by 8-1; their only loss is to the second-place team, the University of Southern California. Finally, the only undefeated team in the Southwest is California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Another powerful team, the University of California, Berkeley, sits right behind them at 7-1.
Both divisions in the Southeast have two teams that are clear frontrunners. In Southeast 2, we have the undefeated North Carolina State, who has a four-match lead on second place. They’ve easily secured first place in their division, and after looking at the rest of their games, it's very likely that they will be one of the only teams to go 11-0 during the regular season. The other team is one that will be very familiar to viewers of our power rankings: Florida State University. FSU had a little scare last week when they lost their first game of the season to the very talented second-place team, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. However, FSU battled back and won the match 2-0. Despite this one game loss, FSU is an extremely strong team. Thanks to their victory against UNC, they should secure first place in Southeast 1.
In South Central 2, we have two Louisiana universities sitting at the top of the division. University of Louisiana - Lafayette has been on a rampage recently: despite a 1-2 loss to Louisiana State University in the second match of the season, Lafayette has been completely undefeated at 14-0 since then. Opposite them sits Louisiana State University. LSU beat out Lafayette in their match, but they were then taken down last week by Southern Arkansas University. Only two matches remain for both of these teams, and the race for first place is still open for either team to claim. In South Central 1, there’s a clear winner in Texas. The University of Texas at Austin remains high in our power rankings and sits at first place in South Central 1. There are still games left to play, but it would be pretty shocking to not see the University of Texas at Austin at number 1 by the end of the season.
Not much has, or probably will, change in the Northwest. The top two teams are still comfortably ahead. Simon Fraser University sustained another game loss to Boise State University, the third-place team in the division, but they survived and are still at 8-1. Simon Fraser’s only match loss was to University of British Columbia. Speaking of UBC, this powerhouse team still sits at number 1 in the Northwest, and it will be almost impossible for this to change as we approach the last few games of the season. Watch out for both Simon Fraser and the University of British Columbia to make a statement near the end of the season.
In the upper divisions of the Northeast, there remain three undefeated teams. In Northeast 7, the University of Toronto is powering ahead with a flawless 8-0 match score and 16-0 game score. Toronto already beat a powerful opponent, Universite de Montreal, back in November. UDEM was our third-place team last season, but they fell to a commanding 2-0 game from Toronto. UofT’s next big challenge will be when they face the second-place team in their division, the University of Guelph, who currently sits at 7-1.
In Northeast 6, we have the State University of New York - Stony Brook. Stony Brook was an immaculate team last year, and they are continuing that dominance with a 9-0 match record. With a 100% win percentage, SBU has basically locked in first place in Northeast 6. Finally, we have another State University of New York representing, this time from Binghamton. Like SBU, Binghamton sits at a perfect 9-0 match score. Binghamton had a tough start this season with a match against University of Massachusetts - Lowell, but they managed to secure a 2-1 victory. Their next opponent will be Northeastern University, who currently sits at 8-1. If Binghamton can secure another victory during that match, they’ll be a serious threat moving forward into the playoffs.
In the bottom half of the Northeast, we find last year’s runners-up, the University of Waterloo, who were defeated by Robert Morris University in last year's championship. That hasn’t stopped Waterloo, though, and despite being in a tough division with big stars like York University and Ryerson University, they sit alone at the top with a 9-0 match score. Waterloo faces a tough matchup against Ryerson next week, but if they can secure a win, Waterloo should take first place in Northeast 4.
Northeast 3 contains the top-ranked team in our power rankings: Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. This stacked team has some of the best collegiate talent in North America, including players like ShorterACE, Teesum, and FrostForest; even their coach, ex-LCS support Xpecial, has an impressive resume. This is a very special CSL team.
Finally, in Northeast 2, we have the solid Michigan State University. Michigan State is 9-0 with an 18-0 game score. While this team doesn’t have the highest-rated players, they are extremely consistent and a force to be reckoned with when put together. Definitely watch out for this undefeated powerhouse coming to a playoff bracket near you!
Two teams in the East sit atop their division, and they will likely stay there for the rest of the season. In East 2, that team is the University of Delaware. Delaware has some extremely talented players, including Herson and Z Score. While not at the very top in terms of talent, this is still a team that I would look out for come playoffs time. In East 1, we have a powerhouse team from last year that continues to dominate this year. Johns Hopkins sits at 9-0 and should continue their undefeated streak into the playoffs. This team was my favorite to win it all last year, and they made it very far until they were knocked out by future third-place team Universite de Montreal. Despite a disappointing finish to an otherwise amazing season, JHU has not slowed down and continues to impress. I’m not putting all of my eggs in the Johns Hopkins basket like I did last year, but I still have faith in the JHU lads.
Last but not least, we arrive at the Central region. In Central 3, we find the second-highest team in the power rankings: Columbia College. Columbia, like Harrisburg, is stacked with talent. They have numerous well-known challenger players, including MistyStumpey, rovex, and NintendudeX, just to name a few. They play Minnesota State University, Mankato next week, but they should have no problem remaining in first place in Central 3.
Central 2 is home to DePaul University. DePaul sits at 9-0, a testament to their hard work in a tough division with excellent teams like the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Despite not appearing in the power rankings, DePaul University is another very successful team that can easily make a splash this year in the playoffs.
There are a lot of excellent teams this year in CSL. Established teams with amazing rosters like Columbia College and Harrisburg University of Science and Technology are competing with stellar up-and-coming teams like Michigan State University and the University of Delaware. The playoffs are fast arriving, and I can’t wait to see how it all shapes up.