On August 8th, players across two and a half leagues figured out what teams they would be going to with the Season 11 MLE draft. One of those leagues was Academy League (AL), and in the 105 days between the draft and the start of the playoffs, a lot has changed. Every team came in with the hope that this was their season, but now, the picture is a lot more clear. 18 teams are eliminated and only 14 remain, we have the favorites and the sleepers, and most importantly, the playoff puns are back! Who will be the Cinderella story, which giant will fall early, and who will come out on top? Let’s take a quick look at the matchups to help answer those questions.
#7 Tyrants vs #2 Elite: Saturday 6 pm EST on mlesportsgg2
Expect this series to erupt, and not just in an offensive way. These two teams are both in the Volcanic Division and have already played twice this season. The Elite took both series on 3-2 wins, including their matchup last week. Neither team used both of their two highest salary players though, so it will be interesting to see the lineups they come out with. The Elite are the favorites coming in, at 48-22 (11-3 series record), they boast the 3rd best overall record in AL. In addition, they scored a whopping 274 goals, 24 more than the next highest team, which helped them achieve a +89 goal differential, the most out of any AL team playing this weekend. They also led in demos with 139 so watch out for the physical play.
Elite will be relying on their high scoring offense to push them past this Tyrants team, and they definitely have it. Gidders (46), NoVa Matty (38), RWB (34), and Achilles (46) all have put up a good number of goals. Since Achilles is a 10.5 salary, I don’t believe we’ll see him play this weekend, but no matter who they choose, the Elite have to feel like they will get great offensive production. The biggest concern is they will need to be able to move past the late rank out of ex-teammate Froggy, who scored over 80 goals, to really get over the hump, but as they proved last weekend, they can definitely do it.
For the Tyrants, the key will be slowing the Elite down. This is definitely possible with DDia’s defense, as he made 64 saves this season which was just outside of the top 10. He also scored 74 goals this season, which tied for 8th. The Elite hasn’t gone up against him since week 1, so the addition of DDia may throw them a curveball. The rest of the team is really balanced, consisting of 11.5 and 12 salaries, so it’s tough to say who will play, but Cheeto is a good guess, as he racked up 76 saves on the season and 52 goals, second for the team. This game should be great, and it will be a battle until the clock hits 0. Definitely tune into this one.
#6 Outlaws vs #3 Sharks: Saturday 5 pm EST on mlesportsgg2
The first of two odd matchups in this conference, the #3 seeded Sharks are the team with the worse record and got their high seed due to winning their division. At 35-35, the Sharks are no slouches, but it’s not what you would normally expect from a highly seeded team. These two teams did play in match 14, and the Outlaws came up victorious, but like our matchup above, it was a close 3-2 series. And much like the above series, the possible matchups are up in the air because each team is filled with high caliber, high salary players.
Let’s start this in-depth look with the Outlaws, who had a great season at 44-26 overall (10-4 series record). If you like team play, this is the team to watch, because they led the league with 120 assists. FLaMEz led the team in this category with 38, 3rd in AL. Daywalker gathered up 32 of his own, but he is more well known for his other stats. His 79 goals ranked 6th in AL, and his 3.33 OMVPR was good enough for 5th. Expect to see him play this weekend, as he was a part of the maximum 8 series for this Outlaws team.
As for the Sharks, they had a rough go, as their schedule was one of the hardest, yet still finished with a .500 record both overall and in series. Overall most of their team stats are in the average range, although they do have a -19 goal differential. The stat that jumps out to me though is the 37.7% shooting percentage, which was the worst in the league. With Daywalker’s low OMVPR for the Outlaws, the Sharks may find themselves in a tougher than normal position to score, so the key in this series will be to convert the shots they get, as they can’t continue to shoot at the low clip they are. As for the players they have, Kjintroverted and Peech are their two main scorers, each scoring over 50 goals a pop. If they want to win, they’ll have to come together and step up to the challenge. It should be a good series, but will the Sharks be able to pull the upset? Tune in to find out.
#5 Bulls vs #4 Wizards: Saturday 6 pm EST on mlesportsgg
If you thought the Sharks were a little lucky winning their division with a .500 record, wait until I show you the Wizards, who grabbed the Mystic division crown after going 32-38. This is a team though that can’t be overlooked, as they won 8 of their 14 series. Bad losses and close wins made this possible, but it means they know how to win, and that should mean this is an interesting series against a strong Bulls squad.
The Bulls come into this series at 47-23, tied for the 4th best record in all of AL. Unfortunately, they finished a game behind Elite, and are stuck with the 5 seed. When you think of a bull, you think of an aggressive animal, and these Bulls are definitely aggressive, with 110 demos to their name. They are also aggressive on offense, tallying 245 goals, 4th in the league. The great thing about this team is that they don’t rely on any one person to carry them, they have a great all-around team. Chxppa is probably their best player and is also their highest salary at 12. With 51 goals and 60 saves, expect him to be the go-to guy for this team. ItsKai should also make an appearance in this game, as he has 58 goals himself, and should figure to be an offensive power.
For the Wizards, they have a good all-around team as well. Mario_RL is the main man. At a 12 salary, he balled out with 74 goals and 58 saves, and did I mention he is 7th in MVPR? NinjaTurry will probably be his number 2 with 55 goals and 47 saves of his own. These two have played together for a while now, so expect the chemistry to be high. The problem with this lineup though is they don’t have a high shooting percentage, but considering how many goals they have, expect them to throw a lot of shots on target and test the Bulls defense. Even though they don’t have a great record, I believe the Wizards match up well in this series and it should be a classic, so be sure to tune in!
#7 Knights vs #2 Puffins: Sunday 6 pm EST on mlesportsgg2
As the last team in, the Knights won’t go into the night without a fight (sorry I really wanted to rhyme). They squeezed into the playoffs with a 36-34 record with two teams just behind them at 35-35, including the Foxes who held the tiebreaker over them. That being said, the tiebreaker wasn’t needed, and the Knights earned themselves a date with the #2 seeded Puffins, a fan-favorite franchise. The Puffins did win this regular season matchup 4-1 but expect a better lineup from the Knights as they did play their lowest salary player in that matchup.
The Knights come into this match with nothing to lose as they know they are the underdog. At 240 saves, this team led AL in that category, so expect them to play good defense, and find their chances on the counter-attack. With three players at a 12.5 salary, the Knights have choices to make with their lineup but expect Gristly to make an impact in this one. He has 75 goals (7th in AL) and 60 saves on the season. He also makes an impact by trying to blow up his opponent’s rotations, as he is 5th in demos and leads the league in shots with 187. Tez and Gabronies are the other two players who may appear, and you can’t go wrong with either one, but I’m placing my bet on Tez to play this game. He is a save machine, with 67 on the season, which is the 8th highest in the league.
The Puffins come in at 47-23, and have proven to be a force this season. Their whole lineup is 12 salary or higher, and they have made their mark on every series they have played. Get out a glass, because there will be shots pouring from all directions. The Puffins had more shots than any team playing this weekend, which is a perfect complement to the Knights’ strong save numbers. Bango led the team in shots, with 182 (3rd in AL) of them this season, and while he only scored 64 of them, the offensive pressure he created might be enough to lead this team to victory. AubreyE would be a perfect pairing, as he has also scored a lot this season with 61 goals, but his save total at 56 is what really separates him. With two of the top three shot leaders, and the team leading in saves facing the second-place team in shots, you shouldn’t miss this battle.
#6 Ducks vs #3 Jets: Sunday 5 pm EST on mlesportsgg2
The quack attack is back in the playoffs and will go up against the Forge Division winner, the Jets. The Ducks come in with a respectable 39-31 record, winning 8 of their 14 series. The Jets on the other hand come in at 45-25, and won 10 series. They didn’t play each other during the season, so that should add some intrigue to this match.
The Jets shoot the ball very well and have the 2nd highest shooting percentage of any team in the postseason. This is in part due to BurnWanSahn being 4th in the leaderboards in that category, hitting a 51.9% clip. He will probably play alongside Grand Master Papi, who is 2nd in the league in assists with 38, and had 59 goals. This combo can potentially be very dangerous. Watch out for Grand Master Papi setting up BurnWanSahn for some shots.
The Ducks don’t have an elite finisher like the Jets, but they do have someone that loves to shoot. Schwartzy was 5th in goals this season with 81, and 4th in shots with 181. He will be an important piece if the Ducks want to pull off the upset. Expect Shnozz to start alongside him, as he scored 57 goals and had 63 saves. It is possible we see FlyinHi or Aflamingtruck too, as they are both very good players who helped the Ducks get to this point, but my bet would be on the first two I mentioned. As a team, the Ducks were 3rd in total shots (565), so expect them to try to take the offensive in this series. All in all, each team has a very good lineup and should make for a series that you’ll need to see to believe.
#5 Sabres vs #4 Hurricanes: Sunday 6 pm EST on mlesportsgg
The last game for our overview features the defending AL champions: the Hurricanes. They start their journey for back to back titles against a Sabres team which will be a tough out. The Hurricanes finished 41-29, and the Sabres 42-28, but the Hurricanes won the regular-season meeting between these teams 3-2. This might end up being one of the closest series of the first round.
As a team, the Hurricanes come in with the 8th lowest OMVPR, which will be very helpful when it comes to shutting the Sabres down. They have three very capable players who may play in this game. Frogfor20 is tied for 6th in saves with 68, and had 64 goals to go along with that. Hellfire joined the team late in the season, but made a big impact during his two series, going 7-3 overall. We may see a possible third option in Blitz who had 57 goals on the season. Any combination of these players will leave the Hurricanes in good hands going forward.
The Sabres finished the season 6th in goals, so they tend to score a lot. This is due to their two key players, The Big C and Sammy. The Big C is an all-around leader, scoring 63 goals, 31 assists (just outside the top 10 in AL), and 69 saves (tied for 4th). Sammy is their goalscorer, scoring a league-best 87 times, and added 29 assists and 68 saves (tied for 6th). This duo is a well-oiled machine, and has the talent to possibly go all the way, but will the Hurricanes’ stout defense slow them down? Only time will tell, so don’t miss this clash!
No matter who you’re rooting for, you can catch all the playoff action on both twitch channels MLESPORTSGG and MLESPORTSGG2. Support your favorite teams and MLE by watching the stream. And good luck to all the playoff teams.