One round down and already we have had a couple upsets with Dynasty (5) and Rusty Blades (6) besting Deadly Phantoms HC (4) and Symphony (3) respectively. In fact, this marks the first time in two playoff seasons where a higher seed was knocked out in the first round, and the first time since the inaugural season that more than one fell. Proving, quite illustratively, that at the very top of the ECL structure the parity amongst teams is very strong, and that trying to make any predictions as to how the teams will finish can only be described as a ‘fool’s game’. Nevertheless, we will try to outline our thoughts regarding each team in the coming matchups for your viewing pleasure.
The ECL 8 Elite semi-finals are going to be played on Monday 18th of February, Tuesday 19th of February, Thursday 21st of February and Sunday 24th of February. Please see a full schedule at the end of this post.
These are the matchups for the ECL 8 Elite Semifinals:
The setup for this series is very much similar to that of the previous matchups of these teams. Written In The Stars is expected to control the pace of the play with their strong puck possession play and impressive passing whereas Rusty Blades is expected to rely on counter attacking and converting their chances efficiently. SKY won both regular season games with scores of 3-0 and 4-2 respectively. @Dominointi and @Buantso were the most prevalent players in those games, so a suggestion would be to keep your eyes on those two in this series. Rusty Blades will look to rely on the duo of @Foppatofflan and @MartindalexC, but undoubtedly they will need some secondary scoring and a whole lot of good fortune if they are going to see the series swaying their way.
Written in the Stars (Regular season record 26-3-1)
Written In The Stars have played an outstanding season so far and their playoff start has been nothing less than that. SKY dominated the eighth seed Northern Stars in the quarterfinals and advanced with a series score of 4-0. SKY wasn't really tested in that first matchup and the aggregate score of 16-3 speaks volumes of how dominant they were. Their scoring has been clicking well so far with 4 GF/GP and the team will surely look to stay on that path. All five of their players pose a threat in the offensive zone, which translates to an endless amount of opportunities when creating chances up front. The teams defense hasn't really been tested yet and we'll be expecting Rusty Blades to put forth some dangerous pushes. @willekunq and @Nassustelija will need to stay alert.
Leading point scorer (D): @willekunq // 30pts (8+22) in 30 games
Most winningest goalie: @Hansulinho // 86.36 SV% & 0.75 GAA in 16 games
Rusty Blades (Regular season record 15-10-5)
The Blades had an impressive showing in the first round where they bested a strong Symphony. RB went into their first matchup with a clear underdog status and will be doing the same in the semi-finals. Symphony had made their quarterfinal matchup 2-0 before Rusty Blades decided to bounce back with four consecutive wins including two shutouts by @Supreex along the way. They've only scored two goals per game so far, but as long as they keep up the solid play in their own zone and Supreex stays hot they have every chance to steal some wins in this series. Beating SKY is never easy, but we've seen that it won't be out of the question. Rusty Blades need to find the holes that are there and run with it.
Leading point scorer (F): @MartindalexC // 45pts (26+19) in 30 games
Leading point scorer (D): @The_Alpha_Furyan // 22pts (2+20) in 30 games
Most winningest goalie: @Supreex // 79.93 SV% & 1.96 GAA in 30 games
Prediction: Written In The Stars wins 4-1
Similar to the series outlined previously, this one between FILADELPHIA and Dynasty has a clear favourite / underdog division between the two teams. Not only because of FILAs pedigree over the past year (not least the fact that they are the current reigning champions) but also due to Dynasty having looked somewhat out of sorts at times in the 1st round, something that should, and in all likelihood will, get punished by a FILA team looking to become the first team in ECL Elite history to win two tournaments on the trot.
FILADELPHIA (Regular season record 23-6-1)
Despite an early stumble by FILADELPHIA against Butterfly Effect, they find themselves in the second round after performing the biggest beatdown from the first round, as they disposed of FLY in 5 games with a goal differential of +19 (the next closest was Written with +14). Even with this in mind however there are still some question marks going forward, specifically whether their defence can hold up against the pressure that Dynasty will invariably apply over the course of the coming series. It should be noted however that whilst this may become an issue, FILAs offence seems to be almost as effective as ever right now and should the series turn into a back and forth affair, then the advantage largely rests with FILA as opposed to Dynasty who are quite a bit less offensively inclined.
Leading point scorer (F): @PleeMaker // 60pts (23+37) in 30 games
Leading point scorer (D): @jtorro1233 // 21pts (6+15) in 28 games
Most winningest goalie: @FinKonna // 86.66 SV% & 1.00 GAA in 14 games
Dynasty (Regular season record 18-10-2)
Emerging from an all-out brawl in the first round we find Dynasty, who are probably counting their lucky stars that they were able to beat out the Elite entrants Deadly Phantoms HC in 7 games, with all games bar one being decided by a single goal. In fact, to illustrate how much of a struggle Dynasty had against the German side, they enter the final four on the back of a measly +2 goal differential (the lowest out of the four remaining teams). Despite this, there is perhaps some hope for an upset to be staged by the DYN side, as they seemingly came alive after dropping game 1 & 2 to DPH, going on to win four out of the next five games. Of course, waiting until game 3 to start playing may just about work in the 1st round against playoff rookies DPH, but against the tested FILA such a start would all but seal their fate. So, realistically if DYN are to come out on top in this matchup they will need to carry over as much momentum as they can and not afford FILA the chance to become comfortable, otherwise their time may very well be numbered.
Leading point scorer (F): @hpkfani // 48pts (30+18) in 30 games
Leading point scorer (D): @Haldeem // 14pts (3+11) in 18 games
Most winningest goalie: @Sandr0hh // 85.28 SV% & 1.70 GAA in 20 games
Prediction: FILADELPHIA wins 4-1.
ECL 8 Elite Semi-Finals Schedule:
Monday, 18th of February
19:30 CET FILADELPHIA - Dynasty (Game 1 & 2)
21:00 CET Written In The Stars - Rusty Blades (Game 1 & 2)
Tuesday, 19th of February
19:30 CET FILADELPHIA - Dynasty (Game 3-5)
Thursday, 21st of February
20:00 CET Written In The Stars - Rusty Blades (Game 3 & 4)
21:00 CET FILADELPHIA - Dynasty (Game 6 & 7)
Sunday, 24th of February
20:00 CET Written In The Stars - Rusty Blades (Game 5-7)