We have finally made it, playoffs! Congratulations to all teams who have made it this far. The draw show has been completed, the pools have been set, and now it is time to start looking at the group stages as teams have a month to play their three matches. There are bound to be some exciting matches headed our way in these groups, all striving to get in those top two spots to have a chance at the bracket round. Each group has been assigned a difficulty rating, of which the top 8 teams in Division 3 are assigned 1-8 points, and the top 8 teams in Division 4 are assigned 9-16 points. The lower the total score, the more “difficult” the group. Let’s take a look at our groups…
Group A: Titanes Revolution, ProBUs, Hello Kitty Action Squad, The Core Bouncers
Pool A hosts the #3 and #5 team from Division 3, along with the #1 and #7 team from Division 4. Both Divisions hosted a previous match during the regular season, with ProBUs besting Titanes Revolution 2-0 in Week 4, and Hello Kitty taking the series 2-0 against the Core Bouncers. Of note, all teams were undefeated at the time of their head-to-head. The pool is sure to bring some games down to the wire. While it appears that Titanes and ProBUs are the favorites to get out of the group, do not be surprised if these Div 4 teams give this pool a run for their money.
Group B: Artemis, Team Rainbow Strike Go, Big Boi Club, Council of Mages
Pool B hosts the #4 and #7 team from Division 3, along with the #4 and #5 team from Division 4. Council of Mages took a 2-1 series against Big Boi Club in week 7 of the regular season, while these two Division 3 teams never met during the regular season. I believe this means to prepare for some spice in this group as there is a lot of potential for anyone to steal maps from each other. Looking at this group, Artemis looks like a favorite to get out, but the second spot may be a fight to death. I would not be surprised at all if either Big Boi Club or Council of Mages pulls off an upset and gets out of the pool. However, Team Rainbow Strike has 5 wins in what looked to be a brutal Division 3 and seem to be the gatekeepers to the Division 4 teams in this pool.
Group C: Los Popochas Team, Phoenix Rising Citrine, One More Fight, Not Today Nerds
Pool C hosts the #1 and #8 team from Division 3, along with the #2 and #8 team from Division 4. Los Popochas Team took a 2-1 series against Phoenix Rising in Week 6, and our two Division 4 teams never met. But this is where this author makes his bold prediction and puts all his chips in one basket: One More Fight is getting out of this group! While the undefeated #1 team from Division 3 is a clear favorite to take one of the spots, the second spot can be anyone’s game. While Not Today Nerds has shown fortitude and a knack for coming in clutch to make it into the playoffs, they have some stiff competition to make it into that next round. The matchup between One More Fight and Phoenix Rising should be a fantastic match to watch, and likely the battle for that second spot.
Group D: ChoGalls Angels, RandyNewman, Phoenix Fledgling, FAT Loch Ness
Pool D hosts the #2 and #6 team from Division 3, along with the #3 and #6 group from Division 4. Phoenix Fledgling took a 2-0 win over FAT Loch Ness in Week 4, and these two Division 3 teams have not met. With ChoGall and RandyNewman both having 6 wins in a tough Division 3, they are the expected favorites to get out of this difficult group. However, Phoenix Fledgling had a very strong second half of the season and are coming into the playoffs on a hot streak looking to continue that ride. And as the only solo FAT team in the Epic Cup, FAT Loch Ness are my dark horse, hopefully riding into that final bracket of 8.