We’ve finally reached the penultimate stage of our months-long tournament. During the past several weeks, we’ve slowly moved through the playoffs and, in that time, we’ve seen some mighty teams fall. In the round of sixteen, University of California, Berkeley was unexpectedly eliminated. Then, eliminated in the round of eight was University of Connecticut, a top four team from last year. On the one hand, It’s been a good year for underdogs, especially for the two that remain (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign). On the other hand, they'll have to compete against the overlords* returning from last year (Temple University and University of Waterloo). Read on for my thoughts on the upcoming semi-finals between overlords and underdogs.
RPI: UNDERDOG – Back in March I made a power ranking of the strongest ten teams and wrote an article based on those rankings. In that article, I ranked RPI as sixth best and wrote, “This is my insurance policy so that when Jarod ‘JonSnow’ George carries his team deep into the playoff bracket I can say, ‘I told you so.’ Don’t say I didn’t tell you so…” I wasn’t at all confident that RPI would actually go deep into the playoffs, but here we are. Also, “I told you so.” It can’t be denied that George, the team’s ace, is the driving force behind his team’s success; however, his teammates deserve credit for forcing ace matches, especially like they did in the round of eight against University of Connecticut. If they can force an ace match against Temple (a worthy feat in and of itself), the team might just reach the finals.
RPI versus UConn in the quarterfinals of the CSL playoffs. JonSnow refused to be printf’d in the ace.
Temple: OVERLORD – Unlike RPI’s road to the semi-finals, Temple’s has been one that most of us predicted. It’s no secret that I favor Temple, and it’s no secret that the team is strong (after all, that’s the recipe for plot armor). Remember, Temple lost to the overpowered Université de Montréal team in last year’s finals and that was without Conan “Suppy” Liu. Their match versus RPI should go well, especially if it can be closed out before the ace match. In my opinion, the most likely outcome is a 3-1 victory for Temple. Even in the case of an ace match, Temple can win 3-2. The only way RPI can win is if George gets the chance to play in the ace match and wins. However, if he does get that chance, anything could happen.
My prediction: Temple advances.
UIUC: UNDERDOG – UIUC was not even listed on the ten team power ranking that I made in March. I guess that goes to show how much I really know. I’ll admit that I’ve slept on this team, but I won’t say much more than that. To reach the semi-finals, UIUC had to beat Georgia Institute of Technology. Georgia Tech is a strong team, but it isn’t really that impressive (definitely not as impressive as beating a team like Waterloo would be). In my opinion, the bigger upset was pulled off when the Georgia Tech team beat UC Berkeley in the round of sixteen. In other words, I’m not that optimistic about UIUC advancing any further, but I’m open to the idea of the team proving me wrong again.
UIUC did surprise me with their victory against Georgia Tech, but I’m not weighing it too heavily.
Waterloo, OVERLORD – Mirroring the previous semi-finals matchup, the Waterloo team, unlike their opponents, has ended up where we expected. There isn’t a lot for me to say about Waterloo that hasn’t already been said. They were a top four team last year that has come back equally strong this year. It’s worth noting that the only reason that they didn’t make the finals last year was because they faced Montréal in the semi-finals; but, I think this year we will get to see what last year’s finals would’ve looked like sans Montréal: Waterloo versus Temple. I really don’t think Waterloo’s semi-finals opponent, UIUC, will be able to stop this powerhouse of a team, but we’ll see soon enough.
My prediction: Waterloo advances.
As you can see, I’m flying with the overlords on this one.
There you have it. I’m predicting Waterloo and Temple will advance to the the finals (I’m sure no one is surprised). I’d really love to see one of the underdogs advance as it would make for a really interesting grand finals (and help keep afloat this underdog narrative that I’ve whipped up), but I’m certainly not expecting it. Regardless of who makes it through, we’ll have a good story. Will it be one of last year’s finalists, Waterloo or Temple, back for the top spot? Or will a new team, RPI or UIUC, rise up for a shot at the title?
*Overlord: Because “frontrunners” isn’t catchy enough.
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Be sure to tune in for the first semi-finals match on Sunday, May 6th at 1pm PST/4pm EST! Check out the full schedule here.