Playoffs Preview: Academy League Conference Semi-Finals

The first week of Academy League playoffs showed us exciting game five overtimes, a big upset, and several highlight plays. This week the number one seeds enter the bracket and it’s sure to only get more competitive from here.

Blue Conference – Saturday, Dec. 5th

#1 Hawks vs. #6 Ducks @ 6pm on MLESPORTSGG2

The battle for the Sky Division is shaping up to be a must-watch match this weekend.  As playoffs often do, the first week has shown just how tough it will be for any team to win handily in the postseason.

The Hawks weapons strangely mirror their orange conference counterparts for the number one seed. They finished 2nd in goals scored, just behind the Elite and in front of the Bears(by 3 goals). In goals allowed they also finished 2nd, just behind the Bears by 6 goals). Perhaps the biggest difference between the two top seeds is the most exciting one to note. The Hawks finished the regular season with a perfect 14-0 series record. The Hawks achieved this by having four top players on the starting line up. With no player sitting below a 12 salary, ITSLAPPY, Lawrence, Vecinzz, and Anarchy make up a roster that could be virtually interchangeable and still make a deep playoff run. The notable offensive leader is Vecinzz who was 3rd in MVPR this season with an average of 5.33. But with 4 stars on a team, I hesitate to have any expectations beyond a dominant team.

The Hawks will face a tougher test than they perhaps expected in the form of a soaring Ducks team. Schwartzy and Aflamingtruck surprised a good amount of the league with a 3-0 sweep over a favored Jets team. Not only did the Jets enter with a superior record, but the Ducks also entered a starting line-up that was a full one salary point lower than their opponents, which is frankly pretty rare in a postseason dominated by 12.5 salary players. The Ducks achieved the win thanks to team chemistry and lethal counter-attacks. Both Ducks struck long-shot goals from their own half in game three to take the wind from the wings of the Jets and leave them sputtering.

The Undefeated Hawks took both series in the regular season but looking at the matchups closer, they were hard-fought series. The Ducks went 2-3 in both matchups and the total scoring differential across both series was +3 to the Hawks. If the Hawks hope to continue their undefeated season to a championship finish, their division rival may be their toughest hurdle.


#2 Puffins vs. #5 Sabres @ 7pm on MLESPORTSGG

On the other side of the Blue conference is yet another division rival that promises explosive plays and a tough fight to the finish. The Sabres weathered the storm of a high-powered Hurricanes offense in the first week of playoffs. Sammy and The Big C combined for 25 saves in a back and forth series. The goal-line defense held off a shooting heavy attack from the Hurricanes. Despite the Hurricanes outshooting the Sabers 46 to 31, it was the Sabres who were able to capitalize on more chances. The set up plays fromThe Big C to Sammy made sure that each counter-attack was a lethal one.

When it comes to the Puffins, Bango is the name-o. While the Puffins have put together a stand-out team performance to return to the academy league playoffs this season, their deep run looks to be coming from the highlighted potential of their star player Bango who put up seven goals in a confident 3-0 sweep against a tough Knights team. To take nothing away from team captain AubreyE who has been a long-time staple of this Puffins team and appears to be putting together the best season of his Puffins career. The two players managed to control the pace of play and possession for the majority of the series, holding the Knights to just six goals. Though the game appeared to be back and forth at times, the match always seemed to be the Puffins’ to lose.

With this game being a division rivalry there will be a lot on the line. In the two regular-season matches the Puffins took both series 4-1 and 3-2. With both teams seemingly gaining confidence in their first-round matchups, this series is sure to be anything but chilly for these Arctic division teams.


Orange Conference – Sunday, Dec. 6th

1# Bears vs. #7 Tyrants @ 6pm on MLESPORTSGG2

The top seed of the Orange conference vs the seventh seed may seem like the most cut and dry of the second round. But there’s plenty to watch here and will be an interesting test for what is shaping up to be the first test for the conference favorites.

The Bears really know how to bear down on their opponents. That’s really all I wanted to write for this preview. And when you see the Bears pinning their opponents into their own half in the playoffs you will know what I mean. The Bears allowed the least goals in the league this regular season, averaging just 2.1 goals per game. Despite the impressive defensive stat, there are zero Bears players on the top 10 in saves. This means that the Bears’ defense starts at the midfield and they are very successful at shutting down opponents’ offense before it starts. The Bears team took a blow with a late-season rank out of Ex but Nty, Bacon, and team captain Brokarian have all put up impressive numbers over the season that are perhaps too many to mention.

The Bears’ first test will come from a Tyrants team that is coming off a big upset and is now looking to turn that first round into a Cinderella story run. The pair of Cheeto and Glyphss started out shaky and a bit inconsistent but as the series went on they visibly grew in confidence and closed out a five-game series with a 4-2 and 4-0 win. The defensive performance from Cheeto was a big reason for the Tyrants taking a crucial game two overtime victory and staying alive in the series. Last season’s FL champion, Cheeto brings in a good amount of playoff experience and his 9 saves and 6 assists helped the Tyrants overcome an Elite team that was number one in scoring during the regular season. Now the Tyrants face off against the defensive leaders in the league and it will take a whole new strategy to overcome this next obstacle and prove they can be the ultimate underdogs.


#4 Wizards vs. #6 Outlaws @ 7pm on MLESPORTSGG

Though I want to break down the Outlaws and Wizards matches from round one, I will start by saying that these were series that you should really just watch for yourselves. Both teams won close game fives. Both had three overtime games and won two of them. Both series would probably make a list of 10 all-time best MLE playoff games purely for their level of close competitive play throughout the series. I can’t stress enough that these matches are the reason MLE streams every playoff series.

The Wizards kicked off the mainstream action for the weekend and it looked as if the series was going to be a disappointing one for the franchise. Losing the first two games close to a solid Bulls team. Mario_RL was patient and shooting well throughout all five games but it wasn’t until game three that his teammate in NinjaTurry seemed to come alive and spark an incredible reverse sweep. NinjaTurry began to hit shots with power, find his positioning in crucial goal-line stands, and feed Mario_RL the ball for what continued to be inspired offensive finishes. Mario_RL finished off a game 3 overtime with a clutch mind game on the defenders that seemed to shake the Bulls so bad that they never quite recovered to the level of their first two games.

The Outlaws series shook out a bit differently. The Sharks took the first game 2-0 and the Outlaws responded with a 3-1 win of their own. The next 3 games were hard-fought overtime games, finishing off with an OT lasting almost four minutes. Flamez’s clutch defensive plays kept the Sharks’ chances to a minimum while Daywalker’s consistent flicks burned the Sharks’ defenders time and time again. Ultimately it was the midfield play and the team chemistry that gave the Outlaws the edge. Even though both teams fought hard for their week one wins, one team must go home in week two. It’s hard to say who has the edge in this fight but I can promise you neither side will relinquish the series easily.


You can watch all these matches and matches from each league at MLESPORTSGG and MLESPORTSGG2. Support your favorite teams and MLE by watching the stream. And good luck to all the playoff teams.