Many believe that North Texas, Akron and Arizona will make semis after a commanding performance in CRL season 2 and a strong showing so far throughout the CSL regular season. However, there are quite a number of high-performing teams that can give these aforementioned teams a run for their money. Teams like UIUC, LSU, and Ohio State can never be counted out nor forgotten. That being said, there are a few teams that I believe to be lurking in the shadows that should be locked-in for playoffs, and these same teams could climb all the way to final 4 and have a shot at the $10,000 prize pool.
Texas A&M (TAMU) has long been considered one of the best Rocket League schools in North America, usually putting in the most teams in nearly any tournament, and always posting strong results. Although they haven’t seen large-scale success since finishing 2nd in the CCA Fall Finale back in 2017, they currently hold a 6-0 record, including a huge 3-2 victory over UCR. TAMU is currently set to make a return to playoffs this season. With 13 undefeated teams currently, finishing undefeated ensures TAMU to be at least among the top 13 teams in playoffs.
Team Captain ‘Daelisk’ has been on the squad for a few years now, but bringing in ‘Lodence’ and ‘Bluestar’ along with ‘Rant’ signals a big change within A&M. Daelisk wasn’t sure how the team would stack up against the competition with such major changes to the roster, but with their results so far, he quite satisfied. Daelisk notes that “with where we are now and at the rate we are improving as a team, I think we're just going to continue to train hard from here on into the bracket getting even better. [We have] good potential to be in the money against the big names”. Without a doubt, it seems like TAMU is back, and they’re out looking for blood.
UNCC might be the least-likely “underdog” of any of the teams here. They have a pretty long list of successes, including a 4th place finish in CRL Season 1, as well as taking the first place recently in our second CSL Fall Tournament in 2018. That being said, their name doesn’t seem to carry the same weight that LSU or Arizona does in the collegiate Rocket League scene yet. This has been starting to change after a big 3-2 victory against CRL Season 1 champions, NEU, on stream. They were excited to play against some of the top talent in the conference such as NEU, Nevada and Carleton.
The team at UNC Charlotte has been working together for a long time and they have never seemed to be worried about their newer players, although their biggest struggle has been integrating their newest member, ‘KwLogic’, into their lineup. Team Captain ‘Duis’ mentioned “KwLogic may be replacing Sykes after he graduates and [bringing in KwLogic] frees up Sykes to focus on finishing his final semester”. UNC Charlotte are currently 6-0 and finished the regular season undefeated, giving them a big boost to reach that top stage, and to put their name at the top for all of North America to see. We’ll see if they can put some extra time in and get prepared for a deep playoff run.
It’s hard to consider a team with a one-two punch of ‘gorocksgo’ and ‘Gib’ under the radar, but they have yet to pull in any medals from the collegiate scene. Although they had a strong showing and made conference play in CRL Season 2, Waterloo wasn’t able to make top 4 or win any other collegiate tournament since the scene started to grow in 2017. So far in the CSL regular season, however, they have a perfect 7-0 record, only dropping two games across those five series. Waterloo is heading into playoffs with one of the top seeds in the league, and a chance to push through and make semis.
The biggest thing for this squad, according to team captain Gib, is incorporating their newest third ‘insomnix’ and making sure his role is fleshed out. This seems to be a common occurrence for teams in the college scene, but Gib is excited to have “an upgraded third” after their CRL run last season. They feel their biggest strength is their ceiling play, and their ability to outskill many teams with that one-two punch, which should be easy for this team as long as insomnix can grow and find his fit within that dynamic. Waterloo expected a 7-0 regular season, and it seems that with the more they play, the better they get.
Led by Peculiar and Phil, these guys have been putting up strong results for over a year now, although they have yet to taste the victory of a nationwide collegiate tournament. They finished 6-0 in league play, and took down 5-1 Rowan University in a big 3-2 series. That match decided that the USF Bulls would be entering playoffs as a top seed. USF will look to build on their past successes and failures to finally get that taste of glory on the biggest stage in College Esports.
Peculiar prides himself and the team on defense, saying, “all three of us are very strong defensively which saves us on occasion. If we could only hit our shots... Our biggest struggle by far is shot accuracy”. They know their strengths and their weaknesses, and they are looking to use the rest of regular season and the other collegiate tournaments to nail down their shot accuracy. It’s clear that the USF Bulls are getting ready for what they hope to be a deep playoff run.
The playoffs begin March 16th with the round of 64, with the teams slowly being whittled down each week until the top 4 are decided, and compete for their share of $10,000 and the glory of CSL Champions. You can stay up to date on all the CSL rocket league action during our broadcasts Monday and Wednesday nights at 6pm PT/9pm ET.