With the start of the playoffs comes one of the most exciting weekends of the season. Six matches will be played across each league. Wild card contenders will fall to favorites or start their cinderella runs. Four seeds will face five seeds in close knock down drag out best of fives. We’ll see highlight goals and overtimes. We’ll see upsets and blowouts. The only thing we can expect is that it will be unpredictable. But to give you a preview of what you might see this weekend we’re here to breakdown each matchup of the opening round of the Champion League playoffs.
#2 Comets vs #7 Sharks: Saturday 7 PM EST on MLESPORTSGG2
Starting with a classic; David vs. Goliath, 2nd seed vs 7th. This series, despite what it says through the standings and final placement could turn out to be a very close one, indeed. To start, the Sharks are a team that plays well against winning teams despite their overall record. They have a respectable 28-22 record there with a goal differential (GD) of 24. If they are to succeed in such an underdog scenario they’ll need to play their star player Hobo1104. Hobo has been a huge reason for the team squeaking into a playoff spot. Hobo leads the categories of goals, saves, shots, and demos for his team. The rank out of Mushypancakez does raise some questions for the sharks but with Kkube and Thepope870 both sitting at 14.5 salaries they have two solid options come playoff time.
The Comets seem to have an even easier recipe for success; putting Occam on the field. Occam tops his team in all stats except for goals and OMVPR. His 69 goals and 55 saves on the season show that he can produce on both sides of the pitch. with a 4.78 MVPR and a playoff appearance in season 10, it’s likely that GM Thunderbug will make up the other half of this playoff pairing. But I also wouldn’t count out seeing Peytoneli who put up 73 goals this season and finished with a 45.9 shooting percentage.
The main distinguishing factor I can see between these two sets of players is that the Sharks have a defensive poignancy that the Comets are missing. If it is indeed a matchup between Occam and Hobo1104 then the Sharks should fair much better in dealing with pressure in their own third. I expect excitement in this deceivingly lopsided series.
#3 Pandas vs #6 Demolition: Saturday 7 PM EST on MLESPORTSGG
Here is a series that looks, from the standings of both teams, like it could be close. But one big figure jumps out at me as very telling of where the Demolition could take advantage. The Demos have placed 3rd in shooting percentage and are 3% higher than the league average of 40.5%, a huge stat to consider. They don’t only shine as snipers, though, because they are ahead of the league average by a considerable amount in most stats except for, ironically, demolitions. Shay leads the team in assists but It’s PalmBreeze and Climax that will likely be the starters of their team. Climax had 76 goals and 74 on the season while PlamBreeze finished the season with 78 goals and an impressive 5.44 MVPR.
The Pandas are not hopeless here though, they excel in the Goals Against (GA) department being a whole 23 GA below the league average while the Demolition are a measly 3 GA below the average. Considering that both teams have a very average amount of saves I’d give the Pandas a great advantage in the defensive end. When it comes to clearing the ball they have great skill but lack the ability to capitalize with a shot conversion rate of 38.9%. Both BroskiJazz and Purpplehippo are MLE rookies this season so the team may rely on the experience of Gualbertos who had a playoff showing last season.
Despite the 3 and 6 matchup I can see the Demo taking the edge in the series. Look for the Demolition to put on a lot of shots against the tough defense of the Pandas. If the defense holds the series belongs to the Pandas but if the Demo are shooting well they may be able to stun their opponents and start running away with enough games to take the series.
#4 Pirates vs. #5 Tyrants: Saturday 8 PM EST on MLESPORTSGG
Despite the large gap in League Standings, these two teams are 4th (Pirates) and 5th (Tyrants) in their own conference. To save myself sounding like a broken record I’ll simply say that the GD stats between these two teams are astronomical; The Pirates finished with a GD of 0 and the Tyrants producing an incredible 59. 59! With a stat like that under their belts, it’s no wonder why they’re in the playoffs this season.
The Tyrants have another impressive figure to their name, a 75% series win percentage vs. the Orange conference. They should have no problem with the comfortability of playing a team in that same category. Tyrants GM TSR has had a standout season with 63 saves and a 5.37 MVPR. The rest of the team has held up their end as well and any one of them could see playtime in the playoffs. Gogurt has had 65 goals on the season and sports a 5.14 MVPR. Trusolja scored 69 goals and leads the team with 33 assists. Gamestrike only played in three series this season but averaged an OMVPR of 3.31.
The only chance I can see the Pirates having in this series is if their one-horse team of NoKompass can pull off the series of a lifetime. He leads the Pirates in every category except OMVPR. Both teams have player stats that trend toward the middle of the road but a keen eye might see the weakness the Tyrants possess in the demo category and try to exploit that in the coming series (ahem, Pirates, ahem). But in all fairness, the Pirates are still under the league average here and could benefit greatly from playing a couple of rounds of demo derby to hone their skills and take the Tyrants by surprise.
#2 Jets vs #7 Hawks: Sunday 7 PM EST on MLESPORTSGG2
The battle over the skies will take place in the first round of the playoffs as the high flying Hawks take on the cloud soaring Jets. Despite the 2 vs 7 matchup, this series has the potential to be a tricky first round for the Jets and has all the makings of a classic series.
The Hawks come in as a clear underdog at the 7th seed. Despite a solid 10-4 series record they only have a goal differential of +14 and have dropped a good number of games within each of those series to scrape by with the last spot in the blue conference. The team is led by an all-star player in Orange Monkey. Orange Monkey finished the regular season 1st in goals and saves with 89 and 114 respectively. They are also 2nd overall in MVPR at a 5.94 which means they flat out produce results against any and every opponent. They’re exactly the kind of player that makes a difference in the playoffs. Just ask the Hurricanes who took the AL title last year thanks to none other than Orange Monkey. The rest of the team, while all solid players have no superlatives to speak of. Look for KillingHabbits, JordanMG, or Rtbick to mostly be facilitating their partner.
If there is a team that won’t be flinching against the leading scorer in Champion League, it’s this Jets team. The league leaders in Defense, the Jets have put together one of the more impressive shutdown seasons in MLE. They finished 1st in the least goals allowed (157) and OMVPR (3.50). To put that into perspective, the league average is 217 goals allowed and a 4.40 OMVPR. The team would no doubt be a heavy favorite for the finals if it weren’t for the late-season rank out of one of their defensive leaders, Silence. Fellow starter Mople and now PL reserve Silence finished 1st and 2nd in OMVPR respectively. The jets picked up Britzue to replace Silence but it’s ShuTingYu that may be Mople’s partner for a playoff run. ShuTingYu finished 6th in the league for shooting percentage with exactly 50%. This makes them a fitting complement to the defensive Mople. While the Jets will try to prove that they’re as good as their seeding, the Hawks will be looking to begin an upset run in the first round.
#3 Hive vs #6 Sabres: Sunday 7 PM EST on MLESPORTSGG
As a member of the MLE content team, I feel torn about this matchup. There is a potential that two fellow writers in iAndray and RoyalGrace may be matching up against one another. And I don’t want to pick sides less I make things awkward in the discord. But instead, here are a few reasons both teams could come out on top.
The Hive doesn’t have any individual players on the major leaderboards this season. But with an average team MVPR of 4.71 the Hive is a team stacked top to bottom that knows how to dominate offensively and keep the ball in their opponent’s side. They are 1st in shots and 4th in total Goals. Their shooting percentage is low but that seems to be mostly due to the style of play which involves shooting the ball at every chance. Both team captain Black and GM DLEW19 have a proven chemistry that took them to an AL final in season 10 against the Hurricanes. Playoff experience is valuable but the Hive may very well turn to their two higher salary players in Beninem and iAndray to surprise opponents.
As a team, the Sabres fall outside the top ten in almost all major stats. The notable exception here is one stat that may matter more than any other come playoff time, series win percentage. At 9-5 the Sabres have made their way into the playoffs by edging out close games and competitive series. And in a best of 5 matchup that gives the Sabres the edge. Add to that the potential for a player like Solrak to have a stand out performance and you have the makings of a dark horse. Solrak put up 80 goals this season (4th in the league) with an impressive 46.2 shooting percentage. With a 3.79 OMVPR, Solrak is a player that can make a difference on both sides of the pitch. 35th and Lil Lettuce could both make an appearance as Solrak’s teammate but my money is on RoyalGrace who has finished 2nd in Demolitions this season with 59 and could prove to be a thorn in the sides of opponents.
#4 LIGHTNING vs #5 Foxes Sunday 8 PM EST on MLESPORTSGG
The Foxes are another team that has a deep roster of talent. With an average MVPR of 4.70 there is no combination of players that would give opponents an easy matchup. The Foxes are one of the best teams in the league at converting their scoring chances. They finished 2nd in shooting percentage and 4th in goals. Their offensive productivity is partially due to the playmaking ability of Lack who came in first overall in assists with 44 and 7th in Demos with 43. The Foxes seem to have chemistry with any pairing but with Zeta finishing 8th in shooting percentage with 49.6% there is a good chance the team will turn to them to clutch out a competitive series.
During the CL Lightning’s last game on stream in week 11, caster GrantCFO was at a loss to describe the Lightning’s play during their match against the Eclipse, at one point calling it “unconventional.” This might be due to the Lightning’s pressure in the midfield which leads to as many mistakes as goals. DomRM14 is their star player with a 4.76 MVPR and 80 saves on the season. The team has three well-rounded players in Arunos, DudTheBomb, and Seanwilllaugh that could all make an appearance alongside DomRM14. The Lightning are a team that plays fast and offensively but across the board, their shooting could be the thing holding them back. The team averages a 37.1 shooting percentage, tied for 3rd worst in the league. Seeing as they are the only winning team with a shooting percentage in the bottom 5, it seems that if the Lightning can start capitalizing on their opportunities this team has the makings of a great underdog and a fun team to watch.
The stats may lean in favor of the Foxes in this four vs five matchup but anything can happen in the playoffs. The unpredictable nature of the Lightning and their ability to apply pressure on offense could easily throw off the Foxes.
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.