MLE has the bragging rights of helping many lower-ranked players shoot up from Gold and Platinum to Champion ranks in record time. The Foundation League Playoffs are often where you see these players who have been learning new skills and grinding the game transform into mechanically gifted players who are soon on their way to the top ranks. This season is no different as we have seen in the first round. The skill level of these players is at a higher bar than ever before and the longer we go into playoffs the more competitive it will get. Let’s take a look at what action lies in store for the Conference Finals.
Orange Conference – Saturday, Dec. 12th
#3 Demolition vs. #4 Spectre @ 6pm est on MLEsportsgg
In the Foundation League, the landscape of the competition can change rapidly. Come playoff time it doesn’t matter who has dominated the during the season, it matters who are the best players on the field in that round. In the first round of this season’s FL playoffs, the Demolition and the Spectre unseated two teams who had been clear favorites the majority of the season. They did so with individual performances and smart team play. Now they will have to see whose late-season strategy is more effective.
Defense wins championships seems to be the mentality on this Demolition squad. Sobes and UhSpicey held the Outlaws to just five goals in four games, including a game four 1-0 shutout in overtime. It seemed the answer to the offense of the Outlaws was a composed rotational defense and solid shadow plays. The Demo executed several key challenges at the point of the shot and limited any double commits on their side of the field. That kind of diligence and team chemistry earned them the majority of possession. The Demo of course had their fair share of offense to complement their defensive performance. Sobes often looking for UhSpicey in space and UhSpicey making several key goals including a mind game chip shot around a goaltender and a couple of great flicks.
The other side of the orange bracket was perhaps a battle of MVPs and what a showdown it was. BeanMachine and Lavar Ball have been regular fixtures on the player of the week from week one. If there was going to be a difference-maker in the series it was going to come from one of these two players and it was Lavar Ball who answered the call in game two and put on a true playoff performance. Lavar Ball showed a combination of physical play and first touch ability that began to dominate the midfield during the series. Meanwhile, his teammate in Idjo proved why they were perhaps the most underrated player this season, getting booming clears over the attacking Rhinos and setting up backboard plays for easy put aways by Lavar. This team has the potential to control any game with their playstyle, keeping the ball close and never giving away possession. In a Foundation League where games just as often decided by the mistakes you make rather than the plays you make, the Spectre won’t be making the mistake of giving their opponents possession of the ball.
Blue Conference – Sunday, Dec. 13th
#1 Jets vs. #3 Hive @ 6pm est on MLESPORTSGG
Someone should tell the Jets that their players are under salaried for their matchups because clearly, this team is playing like they don’t know or care how good their opponents are. The number one seed played two 9 salary players against the two 10 salaries of the Hawks and made their opponents look inferior. Meerkat and IguanaParty held ItsGogurts, who was 9th overall in goals scored, to zero goals for the entire series. The defense of this team has led the league all season and still, teams are struggling to find the answer to how to get by them. Couple that with their individual offensive abilities and these two players have a formula for stunning teams. After some back and forth play in the first game in which both teams were feeling out the pace of play the Jets came to life in a 6-2 win and from that point on seemed to be playing their style for the remainder of the series.
The Hive had a slightly different path to a four game victory. After coming out hot with a 6-1 win, both teams settled into a close battle with three one-goal games. Starters Woah and Sir Lunix are still new enough to the team that they are feeling out how to perform together in league matches but you wouldn’t know it by how they played on stream in round one. Both players were spacing out well and always rotating back to be there for the clean save. They showed great patience to simply push one player up and keep one waiting on the clear ball until they saw an opportunity where the Knights were out of position. This clean play gave them full use of the field and allowed them to frustrate the Knights offense who didn’t get many opportunities on over commits or counter attacks.
These two styles will clash in the Conference Finals and it’s hard to say which will prevail in the Foundation League but you can be guaranteed that neither team will go down without a hard-fought series.
Everything is on the line for the final four. A chance at being the Conference Champion and more importantly, a shot at the ever so elusive MLE Championship Title. Find out this weekend who will prevail over on the MLE Network.