The Champion League promises more high flying, high scoring action in it’s second week of playoffs. The Number one seeds enter the draw and we get to see just how well the rest of the field can stack up against our top contenders.
Blue Conference – Saturday, Dec. 5th
#1 Puffins vs. #7 Hawks @ 7pm on MLESPORTSGG2
In their first match, the Hawks took the 2nd place Jets by force, sweeping the series and showing tremendous amounts of skill in the solo play scenarios; whether that was dribbles, aerials, or any sort of outplay, leading to a 2v1. This Hawks team proved their capability in facing down the Jets in a dominant fashion. Now they have had the chance to get their stream nerves out of the way (not that they showed any at all) and take on a team with only one more win than their past triumph.
A place where I believe the Puffins may actually have the edge over their contemporary is putting the ball away, a stat that favors the Puffins by 26 goals in total this season. This is a faction of gameplay that the Puffins will need to use to their advantage, especially when the league leader in saves, Orange Monkey, stands guard in the Hawks net. The Hawks are no slouch in the Offensive end either and boast a 43.9% shooting percentage throughout the regular season, they showed their sniping prowess vs. the Jets as they took seemingly every opportunity they found, converting far more than their opponents.
Finally, the question of preparedness comes to mind, the Hawks played a, while short, hard-fought series and the Puffins got a by into this second round. That being said, I have been seeing 5dollarvodka ask around for scrims at all hours, seemingly every day. If they were successful in finding scrims then their preparation may be enough to handle the feisty Hawks in this series.
#4 Lightning vs. #6 Sabres @ 8pm on MLESPORTSGG
This is one of my most anticipated series of the weekend. We will get a chance to see if Lil Lettuce’s 4 goals per game performance continues after the two-week break. We also get the chance to see the winners of one of the closest, most tense games of the past weekend set in action again. I have no doubt in my mind that Lil Lettuce continued to put in the work, grind those ranked games, and hopefully, get some scrims (if potential challengers weren’t scared to play him, that is).
However impressive, and admittedly frustrating, it was to watch Lil Lettuce perform aerial acrobatics over my head and score as much as is humanly possible, I could see the Lightning taking the Sabres off-guard. The Lightning play the game with speed and tenacity unknown to many at the Champion level and while this leads to over commits once in a while, I believe that the Lightning will put pressure on the Sabres in a way that the Hive just couldn’t do. This will either be shoot out after shoot out or one of the most tightly contested, low-scoring series of all time. And if it is, indeed, a long series that goes the distance, then we know the Lightning have that second wind needed to take the win at the end of it all.
Orange Conference – Sunday, Dec. 6th
#1 Elite vs. #6 Demolition @ 7pm on MLESPORTSGG2
I talked before about the Puffins being active in the scrims chat, looking to keep themselves warm and ready for the threat the Hawks pose. The Elite, as far as I’ve seen, are not as active. Scrims are not the be-all and end-all of maintaining consistency and preparing oneself for a match, but they help a ton.
The Demolition seemed to get away with murder in their first series. Don’t get me wrong, they played well but the Pandas were unable to convert on a lot of sloppy defense from their opponents. Perhaps we were seeing stream nerves because nearing the end the act cleaned up and they really began capitalizing on chances. A big part of their success in switching momentum was demo plays. After a regular season that saw this team be very low in the demo category, we finally see them living up to their team name. In game four alone, while they did lose it, the Demolition scored twice on demo plays to cut the Panda lead to a single goal.
Some weak points for the Demolition that could help them with facing such a daunting task would be; communicating ball touches, taking time when it is given, and forcing the issue in midfield rather than letting the ball carrier gain control. For the Elite I can’t give much advice besides using your teammates. These guys seem to have a knack for team plays and could catch the iffy Demolition defense off-guard by putting the ball to a teammate instead of shooting right away. Pretty much, don’t underestimate the Demolition, I see huge potential in this team.
#2 Comets vs. #5 Tyrants @ 8pm on MLESPORTSGG
The similarities between these two teams baffle me. Both base their game on solid touches, clean-cut plays, good rotations, and it worked really well for them in the first round as they both swept their respective series’. They also share some league favoritism as well. Comets’ PeytonEli was one of the Champion League All-Stars this season and the Tyrants received an enormous 90.7% of votes to win it all in the bracket challenge.
When it came to their opponents though, these two teams did differ in the level of difficulty. What I saw was a very tough series for the Comets, that included a tough overtime finisher. Some sloppy defensive play was the main deciding factor for the Comets not sweeping their series versus the Sharks. Luckily, ThunderBug was a rock in the back end and that led to PeytonEli dominating from then on out. For the Tyrants, there was more of a team mentality involved when they were on the field. The combination of Trusolja and TSR was a force to be reckoned with, they played with the utmost calm, collected, composed plays I have seen so far these playoffs.
One of the notes I made while watching this series was: “Tyrants play is solid, solid, solid” and that really seemed to be their game plan. A plethora of open-net goals meant that the Pirates, their first-round opponents, would get a small opening and over-commit on it because of the frustration built up through having to play such a consistent duo. I’m looking forward to how the Comets can improve and if the Tyrants can continue the performance they showed us in round one.