Might be a little late, but better late than never right? We are into the home stretch now, and every new look we take into the Power Rankings has shown us the dominance of a few teams that are looking to confirm a playoff spot within the next couple of weeks. Which teams are gunning for number one?
Yes, it is true. The Foxes have been dethroned by the ferocity of the Bulls, led by the absolute monster that is Floms. Aside from this outcome, pretty much everyone was here last week, apart from the Sharks. It does not seem like there are many teams making headlines now that we have had a decent amount of time to confirm the top teams. The Bulls with their 5-0 against the Spectre, and the Foxes 4-1 over the Spartans were probably quite expected from most other people. Do not get me wrong, the Spartans and the Spectre are fantastic in their own right, but there is way too much skill being cooped up in the Bulls and Foxes for them to have had much of a chance at all.
With the Canes, Hive, and Sharks though, it was much less a battle of skill for the top 5 here, but who could lose the least amount of games. The Canes, despite the 2-3 loss against the Elite, boosted them up into a 3rd place spot in Power Rankings. Why is that? Well, the Canes in their past performances have played against some of the toughest teams the league has to offer. We definitely got to see them work to mitigate their losses in their match against the Dodgers a couple of weeks back, which they did manage to hold it to a 2-3 loss. The Elite are no laughing matter either. However, in the games the Elite won, the Canes just could not shoot to save their lives, averaging only about 3 shots between both Synthex and Iguane. But when the Canes won, none of the shooting habits changed for either team, but what did change was the sharp uptick in defense from the Hurricanes. Both games were completely scoreless for the Elite, a feat that is pretty much unheard of.
Much in the same way with the Canes, the Hive were just trying to lose the least amount of games possible, and the Sharks looking for a solid, convincing win. With the Hive, they would plummet down the rankings, and with the Sharks, they might be looking at a difficult chance of making a playoff run. With a 4-1 win for the Sharks, both teams vaguely accomplished what they wanted to do. The Sharks won their games very handily, and the Hive managed to scrape a win together. Just how handily is noted by the rise in only one place for the Sharks and a drop of only one by the Hive. Not much has changed for this league. It seems we have got our first group of playoff berths right in front of us.
“All right, so let us see what went down in Champion League (CL) last week… Bears got a 5-0, okay that is a bit better than I expected but okay. Puffins got… Oh dang, another 5-0! Over the Aviators too, wow. The… Tyrants fell? Eh? They lose or something? …Tyrants vs Dodgers… 3-2 Dodgers!? And the Spartans went up by 5 too? WHAT? THEY DID NOT BEAT THE FOXES 5-0, WHAT IS HAPPENING ANYMO-” That is what my brain was doing as the week progressed. A lot of outcomes here were pretty expected. I do not think anyone thought the Bears, Puffins, Shadow, or Tyrants would fall out of the top 4. They seemed pretty solid. Now a couple of these high-risers in the middle of the pack, hoo boy. They did some WORK this week. Let me show you.
Like I said earlier, the Tyrants lost 2-3 to the Dodgers. At the time of the match, the Tyrants were 2nd in the league at a 12-3 record, and the Dodgers were in the middle of the pack at 8-7. How could the Dodgers possibly have beaten them? On paper it seems so wrong, right? Well, there can only be one reason if it is the Dodgers. Minamacky. At the end of week 4, he is one of only 4 people in the 6+ MVPR club, held by two players on the Bears, and the legend of the Lightning, Sough. Not only were the games that the Tyrants won close, not only did the Tyrants have to shoot twice as many shots as the Dodgers to score one or two more goals, but they also got reverse swept. Not just any reverse sweep. Probably the most sudden “flip-a-match-on-it’s-head” kind of reverse sweep I have ever seen. You do not go from losing 2-3 and 1-3 to absolutely smacking the other team 3-2, 5-2, and 6-1. Absolute savages.
With the Foxes/Spartans match, it seemed like it was split down the middle. 3-2 either way, both teams seem really solid, Cali and Thunderballs have been really really good for their teams, so there is no way a team can sweep here. I was quite wrong. The match was very, VERY close to be fair. The first three games were all narrow one-goal wins, followed by a two-goal win, and finally, a three-goal win. It took all 5 games before the Spartans could really break through and seem dominant. However, not dropping the concentration after three incredibly hard-fought wins is incredibly difficult in its own right, so a 5-0 of this caliber is nothing short of astounding.
The Jets and the Express had very narrowly lost/won matches against the Comets and the Eclipse. They managed to perform well enough against other decently difficult teams in order to stay pretty much right where they were the week prior. Now the oddities. The Knights and the Outlaws. We have seen other Amber Division teams poke their heads in, and quickly duck out in the past, but I feel as though these two teams are staples we will be seeing for the next few weeks. A 4-1 win by the Knights over once top 10 Sabres catapulted them up to a 13-7 record, the closest strike the rest of the division had on the Bears. And despite being at an 11-9 record by the end of the week, the Outlaws proved themselves incredibly capable as well with a well-fought 3-2 win over the Pirates top-tier roster. Do we see a potential usurping in the works over in the Amber Division? With the pace these two teams are looking at, the outcome seems somewhat grim for the Bears.
…Now as a statistician, I essentially have to take a look at numbers and make some kind of sense out of them, to put it simply. I can not make sense of this. Even the people on the Power Rankings Committee agreed that this is crazy. So instead of attempting to pretend like I am some know-it-all and seem like I can make sense of everything, this specific one I will take you on a trip into my thought process and try to make sense of it on the fly, cause… +5? +8?! -4?! What is this, even!?
Okay, starting from the top, the Spartans… Ugh. 5-0’d the Foxes. Okay, that explains the rise to the top, and the very steep drop the Foxes had. For the past few weeks, we have seen many Foxes rosters make, and stay at 1st in Power Rankings. But 5 losses in a row is just unheard of, especially when despite losing 5 whole games, they are still 4th overall in standings. The games were only narrowly won too. For the Spartans to not drop concentration for 5 games over what looked to be the guaranteed 1st overall is absolutely amazing.
Onto the Express! …They did not move at all? Wow, for this week, I think that is the most impressive part of all of this. And it was because of… A well-fought 3-2 win. All right, something manageable for once! Thank you Express for being kind to the PR Committee. We appreciate it.
…Oh no. +8 with the Spectre. What did they d- …Oh. Yeah, that would do it. A supremely dominant 4-1 win over the Bulls, who had an incredibly similar record to them. 7-2, 6-5, 5-1, 4-3, that is some high-octane offense if I have ever seen it. The weirdest part about all of this is the Bulls were not even doing badly in the shot category either. There was only one game where they just could not shoot at all. Even more strange is the lack of saves from the Spectre. So clearly the Bulls were probably pegged to win by most, missed many shots on net, and paid for it by the Spectre being in the right position to rebound to the other side.
Let us get some of the small changes out of the way now while we are at it. Elite, Outlaws, Hawks, and Shadow. A back and forth, close 3-2 series between the Elite and the Canes kept the Elite at the top of their division, just barely. For the Outlaws, it was a combination of a “close-when-losing” and a “crush-them-when-winning” mentality that propelled them to a 3-2 win over the Pirates. …Like, come on. 8-0 in Game 2? Kerwood you need to calm down there bud. And now the Hawks with a… Oh wow, a 4-1 win over the Blizzard. Brought them up to an even 10-10 record, took down the Blizzard’s new FL prospect CaliforniaDays, very nice work from them. The Shadow received a decent 2-3 walloping by the Lightning, who employed a very similar mentality to that of the Outlaws. Gus, in the same way as Kerwood, calm down bud.
And that brings us to the final two. The Rhinos and Knights. Now these gains of +5 and +3 respectively are probably due t- Sigh. Okay, who let the Rhinos 5-0 the Demo? 7-0, 4-0, and 6-0?! Do they just not feel remorse or anything? Now, in these kinds of situations, I would advise other teams to stay as far away from Zeaks and Meddler as possible, but I do not have to because it seems like they drive away people just by their presence. Three scoreless games for the opponents is incredibly difficult to do, especially when they put on a decent number of shots. And the Knights? …Okay, phew. Just a 3-2 over the Sabres. Very closely fought by both teams, especially when both teams are incredibly close to each other in standings.
Ooh. OOH. Now, THIS is what my statistician self can handle. The Wizards and the Bears duked it out last week, and despite a 1-4 loss to the Bears, nobody can really say that it was not expected. The Bears, while a great roster, and still in the top 4 overall despite the loss, pale in comparison to the dominance the Wizards have put on so far. Despite that, the match was still surprisingly close. The first four games were either won by a margin of one or two goals. It was only when the Bears finally lost their third game in the 4th game that they let down their defenses, and let the Wiz Kids drill in a 5-1 win to end strong.
That +3 from the Express is no joke. Not only did they 5-0 the Eclipse, but they also did so in a marvelous fashion, with a +16 goal differential. What was even more impressive, is that before Week 4 had finished, both the Express and the Eclipse were tied at 7-8. Two teams, that on paper should be relatively equal, had an abnormal sweep that was insanely convincing. That is the stuff I live to see, and I hope the Express can treat us to more what with their newer, higher outlook on life.
…I will save the Outlaws game for last. You’ll understand why. Now, the Lightning/Shadow match, I do not think anyone expected the Lightning to lose. Tied with the Bears and the Wizards for 1st overall after week 3, they seem to be the dominating force that will probably take the Sapphire Division Champion title. A 4-1 win over the now 2-18 Shadow on paper seems about right, but it must have been a blowout, right? Yeah. It was. The match started slow, a 3-1 Shadow win to get them their 2nd game win of the season starting the match off. As the match progressed though, you could tell the Lightning were getting warmed up quickly. 4-2, followed by a 6-2, 7-1, and to top everything off, an 8-0.
And here is why I saved the Outlaws/Pirates match. *inhales* YOU DON’T 10-0 TWICE IN ONE MATCH, WHAT THE HECK GUYS!? If you want to see things that are almost NSFMLE, you can check out the results in #fl-series-results, because I think all I need to say is the double 10-0. You can get the gist of the rest of the match from that. It was not pretty. Viewer discretion is advised if you do look at the results. Heck, you might even want your parents to make sure you can even look at it. Even if you are in your 40s. Do not say I did not warn you.