Collegiate Rocket League: Qualifier Two Recap
Introducing Qualifier Two
Upon the conclusion of the first Collegiate Rocket League qualifier, teams unable to make the cut spent the week leading up to the last qualifier practicing and scrimmaging top teams, hoping to get that edge over the schools still hoping to qualify for their conference. This weekend, unlike the previous, provided heartbreaking scenarios to the fans of many top schools that were unable to make it. Although the majority of teams were left sullen and demoralized, a few teams brushed the stress of elimination off of their shoulders and have deservedly secured their school a spot in conference play.
Collegiate Rocket League was provided with its final sixteen competitors in this last weekend of qualification. As I did in the previous week, I will talk briefly about each conference and then take a deeper look into each qualifying team’s road to conference play.
Similar to the first qualifier, the Northern Conference provided a plethora of high-level competition and not a single team from this region made it through without a tight match against another talented squad. A few formidable teams that did not participate in the first qualifier surprisingly showed up in this last weekend’s qualifier.
A school which prior to this second qualifier was completely unheard of in the collegiate scene, Ryerson University had quite the impressive first showing by taking down many teams that were predicted to qualify for the Northern Conference. In the quarterfinals, the Rams swept the capable University of Wisconsin - Madison squad, giving them a one way trip to the loser’s bracket. To finish their already strong weekend of competition, Ryerson defeated York University to qualify with a dominating 3-1 victory.
In the first weekend of CRL qualification, ISU exited early in the loser’s round of 16, being defeated narrowly by Carleton University. Entering the final weekend of conference qualifiers, Iowa State University made the changes necessary to qualify and they did so with very little difficulty. The improvements made by ISU helped them defeat highly ranked Purdue University, and their opponents from the first qualifier, Carleton University. Their qualification match was against Kansas University, a team predicted to qualify, Iowa State showed their prowess by defeating this skilled team by a margin of 3-0.
CU Boulder’s first round of qualifying consisted of a strong run up until the winner’s semifinals, following up with a brutal 0-3 defeat to Indiana University. In the loser’s bracket, Boulder was eliminated due to an agonizing 2-3 defeat to University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point in the loser’s semifinals. Boulder’s second qualifier provided a much more challenging run, as they were placed in the loser’s bracket after a tough second round loss to Kansas University. However, Boulder’s A-team was not ready to roll over and die that quickly. With huge wins over Michigan, Kansas State, UW-Eau Claire, CU gained the confidence needed to eliminate their previous opponent in Kansas University, and gave themselves a well-deserved spot in the Northern Conference.
The Ravens of Carleton ended qualifier number one on a harsh note, being reverse swept by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the loser’s semifinals. However, determined to find a place in the Northern Conference, CU returned in week two with tenacious drive to qualify. After sweeping their opponents in round one and two, Carleton unfortunately suffered a 2-3 loss against Iowa State University, sending them to the loser’s bracket elite eight. Losing to ISU did not demoralize Carleton, rather, it did the complete opposite. CU pulled themselves together and crushed their remaining three opponents, sweeping each team with incredible score margins.
In the second qualifier, the Eastern bracket provided some of the most agonizing stories of established schools not quite making it into their conference. Many people consider the East host the majority of the weaker opponents, however, within the conference, competition is ferocious and many of these match ups came down to high-stakes game five situations.
Eliminated in the first weekend due to a crippling 2-3 loss in the loser’s semifinals against Wentworth Institute of Technology, RIT knew that the second qualifier was theirs to win. After dominating Pennsylvania State University White and the University of Pennsylvania in quick succession, RIT was challenged by West Chester University. WCU not only swept RIT in the first qualifier, but they didn’t allow them to score a single goal! Unfortunately for WCU, RIT was really feeling it on Saturday and they continued their winning streak by defeating West Chester 3-1. Their qualifying match against Carnegie Mellon seemed like a complete blowout in favor of RIT, however, the 3-0 scoreline doesn’t give justice to how close each game’s scoreline was.
RMU made a strong run through the first CRL weekend, however their path to qualification was halted in the loser’s quarterfinals by Rochester Institute of Technology. Luckily being placed on the opposite side of the bracket from RIT, RMU had quite an easy path to qualification. Drexel University gave RMU the best match of any team, however Drexel was unable to seal the deal in game five of their series. Look for Robert Morris University to give problems to many of the Eastern Conference teams.
Although DU didn’t quite show up in the first qualifier, their performance increased significantly in this second weekend of qualification. Drexel’s winner’s bracket run was very strong, eliminating SIT and RIT’s C-team. In the winner’s semifinals, Drexel’s close 2-3 loss to Robert Morris sent them to the loser’s bracket semifinal against Alfred State University, a strong bubble team in the Eastern region. After a game one loss against A State, Drexel came back with fire and qualified for the Eastern Conference through a strong 3-1 victory.
CMU’s path to qualification was one of the hardest of any team. Saying that Carnegie Mellon deserves to qualify after this past weekend is an understatement, to say the least. After a narrow 3-2 victory over York College of Pennsylvania in the first round, CMU played a very strong competitor in Alfred State University. Once again, Apple’s team narrowly pulled through with another 3-2 win. In their winner’s semifinal match against RIT, CMU finally had met their match and were crushed with a score of 0-3. In their last match before qualifying, Carnegie Mellon played the University of Connecticut. The UConn Huskies took an early loss in the first round, followed up by five consecutive series wins over a wide variety of top-tier teams. Exiting the winner’s bracket from a crushing defeat, challenging an opponent that had more momentum than any team in the tournament, Carnegie Mellon managed to pull out a 3-2 win, despite all of these factors.
Although many top teams from the Southern Conference qualified through the first weekend, it seems as though the constant flow of talent from the south never stops. Not only did four especially talented teams make it into the conference, but there were copious amounts of skilled teams that couldn’t quite make it through this challenging region.
Bach_in_law/Lord Leon/ JSavvv/Larold Lizar
The University of Louisiana-Lafayette was the dark horse for this second qualifier in the Southern Conference. A team that was unable to find much success in the CCA (College Carball Association) Summer Series tournament, ULL was unexpected to have much of an impact on this bracket. Although their opponents in this bracket were for the most part considered on the weaker end of the spectrum, their winner’s semifinals match against the University of Texas - Austin should not be taken lightly. ULL and UT-A, both entering this match with sweeping their previous opponents, had quite a bit of momentum influencing how they played. In this matchup, however, ULL managed to take the series 3-2 in their favor, taking down one of the giants of Collegiate Rocket League.
During the Summer Series and previous tournaments, KSU massively struggled to take games off of any top-tier teams. However, with the recent addition of talented player, FiveT00l, KSU has become a huge threat to any team in the Southern Conference. During their second qualifier, Kennesaw State managed to lose a whopping total of one game. The most impressive series they played was their qualifying match against another capable team, Georgia Tech. KSU struggled to take games one and two, however they absolutely dominated game three. Look for Kennesaw State to steal games from nearly every top team in the Conference Round-Robin.
UT-Austin was previously considered one of the top teams in the Southern Conference, however their recent statistics have proved otherwise. After a rocky qualifier number one, being eliminated by Clemson in the loser’s bracket, Texas hoped to show the Southern Conference how talented they are, and they did exactly that. UT-Austin swept their opponents in the first three rounds, displaying their confidence as a team. Despite their shocking 2-3 loss to the University of Louisiana - Lafayette, Texas maintained their focus in the loser’s bracket and managed to defeat the team that previously caused them issues, Clemson Unviersity. University of Texas - Austin will need to improve their consistency to stay at the level of the top teams in the Southern Conference.
GT is considered one of the stronger bubble teams in the Southern Conference, and were expected to be fighting for that eighth spot in the round-robin. Georgia Tech began this weekend with sweeping their first two opponents, including GT’s B-team! In the winner’s quarterfinals, they played another school considered to have a strong bubble team, Clemson University. GT had a strong start in this series, but Clemson’s victory in game three did not have an effect on mocha’s team as they took the series confidently with a score of 3-1. In the winner’s semifinals, Kennesaw State University managed to sweep GT, sending them to the loser’s bracket semifinals against the University of North Carolina - Charlotte. UNCC nearly reverse swept GT in one of the closest match ups from the second qualifier, resulting in a 3-2 win in Georgia Tech’s favor.
It seems as though talented schools from the Western region keep on showing up to play Rocket League in these qualifiers. I would not dare consider any of the teams that qualified to be a weak team. To qualify in the Western Conference is to beat many of the top teams not only in the west, but also in all of Collegiate Rocket League.
ASU’s first qualifier performance was unfortunately poor due to roster changes and a lack of consistency in their starting three, so they looked forward to performing strongly in the second. In the winner’s quarterfinals they shockingly defeated one of the teams considered to be one of the best in the Western Conference, University of Utah. Not only did they defeat Utah, but they swept them 3-0, only allowing one goal to be scored through their defense. Due to an issue with their winner’s semifinals opponents, California Polytechnic State University - Pomona, they received a win by no-show and were granted a spot in the Western Conference. Many believe that ASU has much to prove in the Conference Round-Robin.
Yes, you’re reading this correctly. No, this is their B-team. If this doesn’t say how strong Cal Poly SLO is as a Rocket League University, then I am not quite sure what does. CP SLO’s B-team consists of some of the top players in the Western Conference, and they showed this by defeating University of Redlands, University of Washington, and even Washington State University. None of these teams managed to give them a run for their money, and CP SLO’s B-team will look to take a top-four seed in their conference.
Utah is considered to be one of the top teams in Collegiate Rocket League, however these two qualifiers were unable to justify this, as they had very poor performances. Much of this lack of consistency could be credited to the difficulties with their best player, Brizzy, not being able to participate. After an unfortunate, and shocking 0-3 loss to Arizona State University, Utah managed to get their you-know-what together and sweep their remaining opponents. Their most surprising victory was over Washington State University, a team that many fans of Collegiate Rocket League expected to have a strong showing in the Western Conference. Utah will need to work on their issues with consistency if they hope to make their way to the National Championships.
Pomona was unable to participate in the first qualifier, due to a teammate not being able to play. However, most people expected them to qualify through this past weekend without a problem. However, after sweeping their first two opponents, GoodJobKev was unable to make their match against ASU, which meant they were sent to the loser’s bracket by no-show. The frustration from this situation was fortunately turned into motivation to qualify, as Cal Poly Pomona confidently beat their loser’s bracket semifinals opponent, University of Nevada - Reno. They are expected to perform well in the Western Conference.
Schools from North America that were unable to find themselves a spot in their respective conference will be going head-to-head in this eight week long competition. Each week a team will play matches against teams from any region, which is used to calculate that team’s MMR (Match Making Rating). Every team will be placed on a leaderboard, ranked by MMR. Four weeks into the Open Ladder, the top two teams from each region will be placed in the Conference Playoffs, given the opportunity to fight for a spot in the National Championships. The remaining teams in the Open Ladder will be competing for a portion of the $1000 steam wallet prize pool.
While the teams unable to qualify are competing in the highly competitive Open Ladder, those teams who earned a spot in their respective conference will be practicing until the Conference Round-Robin begins on October 9th. In this competition, teams will play each other within their conferences for four weeks, deciding the seeding of each team before entering the Conference Playoffs.
Upon the conclusion of the playoffs, the top two teams from each conference will enter the National Championship bracket. There, the top eight schools from North America will fight for $50,000 in scholarship prize money. There has been speculation about the details of the National Championship, but nothing has been determined thus far.
Photo credit to Psyonix.