Upset Season? Sleeper threats in Stage One Playoffs
With three teams guaranteed their positions in the playoffs already, it’s important to breakdown the latent team strength of New York Excelsior, Vancouver Titans and Toronto Defiant heading into this new stage of play. While NYXL still sit firmly at the top of the heap, are they entirely indestructible in a Bo7 setting? Or are there legitimate threats out there in the #2 through #8 rankings that can provide the competition worthy of dethroning their claim to the top spot?
King of the hill
New York Excelsior have shown shades of brilliance in this first stage, but the reality of the matter is that they weren’t really tested at all in these first four weeks, and their 3-2 win over Los Angeles Valiant doesn’t necessarily count as close. Once again, NYXL may have fallen into a trap of not really testing themselves on stage before a big moment like these Stage Playoffs, and grittier teams may come in and pull off an upset if they aren’t mindful.
NYXL have shown their strengths in droves this year, but the fact still remains that they still haven’t really out maneuvered their opponents with teamwork and meticulous planning after significant pushback. NYXL have simply reacted to their opponents all season long and win their games by being the better team across the board. Luckily, this week of no play will give them plenty of time to scout out their opponents, and there is little reason for anyone to believe they won’t walk away from quarterfinals and semi finals unpunished.
On the other side of the division, Vancouver Titans remain dominant in every facet of their game and their playstyle has been a lot more volatile than their Atlantic counterparts in the process. Vancouver have faced little resistance overall in their Stage One campaign, and their quarterfinal position should be more than secure. Heading forward, it’s imperative that key players like Bumper and JJANU keep their cool in clutch time situations otherwise they may fall prey to Reddit memeage in the future simply by trying to will their team to victory.
Lurking in the midst
Looking at the teams with a foothold in the playoffs already heading into Week Five, Dallas Fuel stand out as an enigma compared to their opponents. Fuel have an uncanny ability to completely decimate teams that are below their skill level, but when faced with adversity they have cracked under pressure just the same.
Toronto Defiant showed great progress over the course of this Stage, and their prospects for a top four finish are well within reach heading into playoffs. There are still a few question marks surrounding this team regarding their ability to play on the back foot. Look for Defiant to make it past the quarterfinals, but they are still a step away from being a finalist in playoffs anytime soon.
On the outside looking in, London Spitfire and Seoul Dynasty have also put themselves into position to sneak a playoff spot, the problem is both teams play against each other in Week Five, and only one team can leave victorious. If Seoul or London are able to win by more than 2 maps, they will likely bump Guangzhou Charge out of contention.