The first few gamedays of ECL 10 Elite are in the rearview and boy, have we been treated to some exciting action already! There's lots more to come and the same goes for out preview series, in which we overviewed "Contenders, Swedes and Newcomers" last time around. In the third and last part, we'll discuss the remaining teams, which consist of:
Brayce Phantoms and Almost Famous both saw disappointing results in ECL 9 by finishing 15th and 14th – both relegation spots. To make matters worse, both teams were defeated by hungry Pro teams in the promotion/relegation series; Brayce by Vesa as mentioned in our previous article and Almost Famous by Gotham Knights.
But these teams weren’t going down without a fight.
With the situation unclear for a number of teams going into ECL 10 Elite, two eventually decided they wouldn’t participate in the season due to disbandment: PARRU and Butterfly Effect. This led to a scramble to fill the two spots – resulting in the ECL 10 Elite Qualification Series. Brayce Phantoms, Almost Famous, TIKI TALK, Leksand IF, Växjö Lakers, Reality Check, Black Horse and Kaupallinen Yhteistyo were all given another chance to prove they belonged in Elite.
Brayce, Almost Famous, Kaupallinen Yhteistyo and Reality Check qualified from the group stage which led to the matchups: Brayce vs. Kaupallinen, and Almost vs. Reality. Here the former Elite teams really stepped up and won their series 4-1 and 4-0, respectively – displaying an impressive amount of psychological strength after being “down and out” for such a long time.
As for the teams’ rosters, much of Brayces gameplay still revolves around playmaking genius Simon @PlaymakerSJ Junker at center, but the recent addition of Stephan @Krinke Krinke at LW could prove to be an interesting one as the man has proven to be a dependable goal-scorer in recent times.
For Almost Famous, the players behind its revival are primarily assistant captains Janne @jahajaha93 Tarvonen and Joni @Tzon93 Tuovila whereas captain Aaro @Ikavalko Ikävalko will be spending the rest of the year serving in the Finnish military. Not only are they both skilled and capable players on the ice, their contributions off the ice should not be underestimated. Jahajaha93 brought the team back from death’s door through sheer force of will after a turbulent offseason. The team with new recruits tzon93, Samu @Ojamoska Ojamo, Eemil @Sokkelo__ Soikkeli and Lassi @Lazzio Hirvonen battled through the ECL 10 Elite Qualification Series with the energetic winger tzon93 instantly taking a supportive leadership role and bringing additional fire to the team. Brayce Phantoms and Almost Famous have been in playoff mode for the past months already – could that help them in ECL 10?
It wasn’t just hReds and JYP Jyvaskyla who entered the NHL 6v6 scene ahead of ECL 10 Elite. ECL 9 teams Miracle and POGGERS each secured contracts with Finnish esports organizations; Miracle became KOVA Esports and POGGERS turned into SJ Gaming – both well-known and respected franchises in the Finnish esports scene.
For KOVA, the team will look to build on their playoff finish last season while captain Kimi @Zip player Nordberg will be eager to prove that the mid-season additions of Mattias @iSvamp Björck and Amadeus @amadee21 Carlsson in ECL 9 wasn’t the driving factor behind the teams resurgence in the back half of that season. Miracle represented another esport organization, Swedish SHL club Djurgården Hockey, during eSHL but when a split occurred between the Finnish and the Swedish parts of the roster – eSvamp and amadee21 took on the Djurgården name whereas ZipPlayer quickly got to work securing a deal with the prestigious KOVA organization.
SJ Gaming finished 12th last season in Elite but missed the playoffs by a mere two points, suggesting they are close to being a playoff contender. Captain Tero @Terodee Dahlström had a very impressive run in ECL 9 Elite, scoring 26 points in 26 games and finishing third overall among defenders in total points. This season he will look to build on that performance and lead his team to the playoffs.
Unlucky Boys HC, Roots and Checkmate are returning to Elite after all performing well last season. Roots made the playoffs as the 4th seed, Unlucky Boys as the 6th and Checkmate just barely missed the playoffs, finishing 9th with the same point total as 8th seed Symphony. Being teams of supremely high ambitions, all three have made key changes to their rosters to take the next step in their evolution.
Unlucky Boys have made two significant changes to their roster from ECL 9. Goaltenders Rami @ramseyy2 Rissanen and Janne @Jann3_67_ Saari were brought in to replace Ville @Viltzup Poutiainen, while Brayce Phantoms forward Tim @Timasy Hess joined as the primary RW with Veeti @Wenger Paloneva moving down to assume the RD position.
For Roots, goalscoring legend Lauri @Lamsa Lämsä left the team and Timi @Rimpe Rimpeläinen joined. Jim @SadaPoika Leskinen was placed on “inactive status” due to joining the Finnish military services, leading Miko @Migo_boo Nurmi (who just came back after fulfilling that very same commitment) to assume the role of main center after acting as the teams backup for more than a year. The loss of Lamsa is a significant one as he had been the team’s leading goal scorer every single season Roots (Rusty Blades) has participated in ECL competition, but with captain Juhani @Tanski87 Tanskanen leading the team in a more balanced direction – having every player contribute equally on the offense – the team looks just as strong as last season, where they finished an impressive 4th during the regular season.
Finally, Checkmate also made some key additions as “the Nikkinen brothers” (captain Jonne @TackleControl Nikkinen and assistant captain Juuso @Juizki Nikkinen) signed Markus @Makeaxl Lahti from Symphony and Ville-Petteri @vviljo Särmä from Butterfly Effect, both highly sought after, to act as the teams main defensive pairing. As 1v1 star Roni @MrNipsuli Kajan continues to ascend the rankings of “Elite 6v6 forwards”, Checkmate looks poised to build on last season and make the Elite playoffs.
With this final preview part, we've taken a look at all 16 of the ECL 10 Elite teams to some extent - some more than others. The intent of this preview has not been to rank the teams in any way, but to create an understanding for the various situations that each of these teams are in. As we've stated numerous times before, we're extremely excited to get this season started!
ECL 10 Elite continues tomorrow, Monday 13th of April with two matchups at www.twitch.tv/nhlgamer. SJ Gaming will go up against Almost Famous and Checkmate in our featured matchups.