League Play has concluded, and it’s been a wild 5 weeks. With so many talented teams, it’s sad to see half of them being eliminated from this season of CRL, but the top 8 from each conference have shown why they belong in the playoffs. In this article we will discuss the results of Week 5 by detailing the performance of the top 8 teams from each conference and going over what to expect from these teams moving forward.
Northwood Blue were able to surpass the UCF Knights last week, finishing in the #1 spot in the Eastern Conference despite the Knights holding that position for the entirety of League Play. Northwood Blue won 3/4 of their final matches last week, which gave them a final record of 13-2 in League Play. Northwood’s single loss against Seton Hall last week was certainly an upset as Seton Hall finished twelfth in final League Play standings and didn’t qualify for the Playoffs. Northwood’s only other loss was to UCF who finished second. While this upset from Seton Hall had little to no effect on the final outcome of League Play, it’s still a bit of a questionable moment in the team’s performance this season. Northwood Blue will continue into the Playoffs with the confidence boost of being the #1 collegiate team in the Eastern Conference, and they will certainly shoot to be the #1 collegiate team in North America, if not the world.
The UCF Knights finished second in final League Play standings, playing only 2 games last week and losing both. These final games were against Stockton and the Akron Zips, both teams that also qualified for Playoffs. UCF’s impressive, undefeated record came to an end a few weeks ago when they took their first loss against the OSU Beanz, which was a major upset at the time. While the Knights may have faltered at the end of their League Play run this season, they are still one of, if not the best team in the Eastern Conference right now regardless of what their record says. Northwood will certainly have to play better than they did in their last series against the Knights if they want to defeat them in the Playoffs, and the Knights will need to bring their A-game if they want to defeat Northwood.
Stockton University have finished in third place in the Eastern Conference despite losing 2/3 of their final games last week. As mentioned above, they were able to take a win against the UCF Knights, but they were unable to come out on top against Northwood Blue or the University of Florida. Stockton’s loss against the University of Florida was an upset, as Florida placed eleventh in final League Play standings. Stockton had already gained a guaranteed spot in the Playoffs after their performance last week, so their losses against both UF and Northwood were somewhat insignificant.
The St. Clair Saints Gold finished fourth in final League Play standings, winning 2/4 of their final matches for the week. They lost against Northwood Blue and Oakland University, but were able to win against Northwood White and Valleyfield. The Saints have put up an impressive display this season, and it will be interesting to see how they perform moving forward into the Playoffs.
The Akron Zips have finished fifth in the Eastern Conference after their monumental win against UCF and a bonus win against the University of Florida. Akron made a huge comeback after their performance last season, where they didn’t even make it to League Play. This came as a shock to many of their fans, as they’ve performed so dominantly in the past and have won multiple championships. So far, they haven’t had a full return-to-form. However, they could very well surprise us all in the Playoffs and move closer to the top, especially after a win against a team as prestigious as UCF.
VESPA, or the Virginia Esports Association, hold the sixth place spot in final League Play rankings. Last week they finished their final 3 games in League Play, winning against RIT and losing against both the OSU Beanz and Oakland Esports. VESPA will need to up their game moving forward if they want to best the teams above them in the playoffs.
Oakland Esports are ranked seventh in final League Play standings after 2/3 of their final matches last week. Their final record is tied with VESPA, though they place below them because of their game difference of -2; VESPA’s final game difference is 5. Oakland were a bubble team going into this season, so it’s nice to see them qualifying for Playoffs. However, similarly to VESPA, they will have to improve drastically to move past the Playoffs.
Valleyfield were able to make an impressive jump from 11th place, which they held last week, up to eighth place in the final League Play standings. This was due to their final 3 wins against Seton Hall, the Indiana Hoosiers (who held eighth last week), and the University of Florida. Valleyfield actually hold a 3-way tied record with USF and the OSU Beanz. Their higher game difference is what placed them in eighth and prevented USF and the Beanz from qualifying for the Playoffs.
Columbia College, to the surprise of no one, have placed first in the final League Play standings for the Western Conference. This team has decimated their opponents in every single series they’ve played this season, finishing with a 15-0 record – the best in the League. They won their final 3 matches last week to hold their perfect record, and will undoubtedly continue to dominate in the Playoffs. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, if there’s any one team this season from the Western Conference who can defeat the top teams of the Eastern Conference, it’s Columbia College.
LSU have placed second, and besides Columbia College who they lost 3-0 to a couple weeks ago, this team is next to none. LSU won their final 3 matches last week, and actually hold the second place slot in all of League Play, not just in the Western Conference. LSU have come looking for blood this season, and it seems they got what they came for, finishing with an impressive 14-1 record which places them above the #1 team from the Eastern Conference, Northwood Blue. If LSU and Columbia College can keep up their top-tier gameplay, both will undoubtedly cut through the playoffs and head straight for the National Championship.
UT Arlington finished third in final Western Conference League Play standings, winning all 3 of their final matches last week. UTA have placed lower in League Play in the past, but have made some major improvements this season which have paid off in the form of Playoff qualification. If they can continue to play as well as they’ve been playing, they have the chance of qualifying for the National Championship, which would be a huge deal for this team as they’ve been unable to do so in the past.
UNLV have finished fourth in the Western Conference, winning 2/3 of their final matches last week. Their loss against Columbia was to be expected based on Columbia’s performance this season, but UNLV have still been playing great despite their fourth place spot. If UNLV’s performance in the Playoffs last season is any indication of how they’ll do this season, they could surprise everyone and move up to first place in the Western Conference. However, this is unlikely based on Columbia College and LSU’s astounding gameplay this season. They still have a good chance at taking the third spot in the Western Conference for the National Championship if they make a marginal improvement over UTA.
Mizzou Gold have finished fifth in final League Play standings after winning all 3 of their final matches last week. Mizzou have had a solid performance this season, finishing with a 10-5 record which is only a one series-win difference from UNLV. If they can improve before/throughout the Playoffs, they might be able to snag that third spot for the National Championship.
SDSU Red were able to finish sixth in the Western Conference after winning 3/5 of their final matches played last week. SDSU may not have as impressive of a record as their higher-rated counterparts, but they are a very solid team who deserve their spot in the Playoffs.
Missouri S&T finished in seventh place in the Western Conference despite losing 2/3 of their final matches last week. Missouri S&T hold the same record as SDSU Red, but were unable to place above them because of a lower game difference. Missouri have a game difference of 1 while SDSU have a difference of 4.
The Ottawa Braves were the final team to qualify for the Playoffs in the Western Conference, taking the eighth place slot with a record of 7-8. The Braves have a lot of work to do if they want to make it past the Playoffs. The fact that they were a bubble team going into this season already shows a high level of improvement, which both the team and fans of the team should be very proud of.
LOOKING AHEAD TO THE PLAYOFFS:
The Conference Playoffs start on Monday and Tuesday at 8PM EDT. Tune in to see the top 8 teams play on both the Rocket League channel and the College Carball Association channel. Check out the CRL Spring 2022 Mastersheet to find out where and when to cheer on your favorite teams!