ECL Elite 16 in 16 is a season preview series we're implementing ahead of ECL 7. The idea was conceived by @chavelski, but due to time constraining the man himself, the project is now being carried out by the rest of our Elite writing team. The series will be released in 16 parts, one article for each team. The teams have been ranked by all team captains, and articles are being released in order from predicted last place finish to predicted champion of ECL 7. The objective of this series is to give an idea to the community of who is representing which team, added by a small insight into the team with an interview of the team captain.
What's up my NHL gaming friends and foes?
This time in our 16 in 16, we're talking about Swedes - those beautiful, blonde haired people who seem to be talented at everything they do. You know, they're almost like Finns but instead of being grumpy, anti-social, pale and generally weird - Swedes are happy, social and tanned people who are mostly easy to like.
Does that sound even close to Northern Stars - perhaps the most victorious Swedish EASHL club in history? At least for me they have always been easy to like - and even though I haven't heard anyone else than their captain talk out loud during the last eight years, they surely seem like happy bunch of good guys! Their ECL 6 was solid once again as they fought their way to the playoffs after an intense battle between them (8th with 35pts) and Evolution (9th with 30pts). While NOS ended their regular season with the record of 5-3-2 (12pts), Evolution failed to challenge NOS for the 8th spot as they ended their ECL 6 with the record of 3-5-2 (8pts). The problem is, when you enter the Elite playoffs from the last possible place, you will more likely than not meet the best team of the regular season and that's what Written In The Stars undisputedly were after losing only three games in a 30-game regular season. Written knocked out NOS from the playoffs after beating them 4-1 in a series where every game except the fifth were one goal games.
However, another NHL game is here once again and ECL Elite seems to get tougher season after season. This entails more work for the "old guys" in a team alike the Northern Stars.
KattenJansson <-- Quality
MZK-Trophyhunter <-- Quality
ma0niii <-- "retirement"
mullweiser <-- Break from NHL
Tbnantti --> Symphony
MajLeN-Gaming --> N/A
Kibenibe --> N/A
cHIIMEERa (C) @cHIIMEERa
Floor17 (A) @Floor17
ma0niii (A) @ma0niii
MZK-Trophyhunter @Mike Zigan
*Correct PSN of #92 at right defenseman is ma0niii.
I had the pleasure of interviewing captain & founder @cHIIMEERa:
As one of the oldest ECL teams out there, how have the Northern Stars prepared for the upcoming ECL7? With the amount of games under your belt you must be taking it a bit easier than most guys out there - have you been playing at all during the last months? At least I've seen some shiny logos being made by you!
You are right, we took the summer off. I think it has to do with for how long we have been playing together. Back in the days, like in NHL 09-11, I'm pretty sure we were still going strong well into the summer months, but the motivation to grind games in the off season is not there anymore. As long as we are putting in the hours when the new game drops I don't think we'll put ourselves at a disadvantage by being inactive during the summer.
I'd say your roster has remained very close to unchanged, right? Is that the secret behind the everlasting success of the Northern Stars? I believe it's a long lost skill to gel with guys and keep grinding together for more than just a couple of months.
I think there are many different reasons why the team has mostly remained the same all these years. The two strongest reasons have to be our prior success on the Xbox 360 and our Swedish nationality. As some people know, Northern Stars won a bunch of EHL titles on the 360. As we haven't been able to win anything on the PS4 yet, I guess we're still hoping to win one more title with this team. Also with the community having an abundance of Finnish teams I would say it's easier for the Finns make roster changes and create new teams left and right.
We are doing some changes to our roster compared to the previous ECL. Antti (@tbnantti) left the team and @KattenJansson97 replaces him. With Antti being as skilled as he his, it's obviously hard to replace him with a player with same skill set, but Katten is offensively talented and we are happy that he wanted to join the team. With the release of NHL 19 we have been working hard to find set plays in the offensive zone so we can repeatedly and continuously get to the dangerous areas. At this moment it's looking promising and we are optimistically looking forward to ECL 7.
On the defensive side of things, @kibenibe decided that he wanted to go back to being a forward in a new team, which resulted in the RD-spot being open and @ma0niii making a comeback. No real explanation needed here. People that have been in the scene for a while definitely know who ma0niii is. Goalie-wise we are seeing some changes. Törna aka @MajLeN-Gaming/Mr Magic (who the F knows what his PSN is, honestly) has moved overseas and we brought back Mike aka MZK-Trophyhunter (@Mike Zigan).
We have experimented with @Floor17 on center and @cHIIMEERa on the right flank in EASHL. That doesn't mean that we are planning on doing that in ECL, but don't be surprised if that is the outcome. Whatever works best in EASHL the upcoming weeks will determine our starting roster. It's also worth noting is that thanks to EA we haven't been able to use @BUM3R at all due to the dressing room errors, but we plan on using both Bumer and Mike in ECL.
It's been a few years since you guys won the European championship the last time. I'm gonna be blunt and ask how much do you think there's left in you? Is it already time for those "one more year" chants inside your team or do you still see yourself as one of the best contenders for the championship now and for years to come?
I slightly touched on the subject above, but to dive a bit deeper I think that if we were to win ECL 7 I wouldn't be surprised to see us call it quits, once and for all. That is sort of keeping us going. The motivation to win another European championship. It has been a great run, but at this moment we are taking it a tournament at a time. We don't have any long term goals so it's hard to predict the future of our team. Who knows, maybe Northern Stars don't play in ECL 8? Maybe we are still chasing that title two years from now?
Lastly - who do you see as the biggest threats for you this season due to their style of play - are those the same teams that could be the biggest championship contenders this season as well? What advice would you give to teams that might struggle this season?
Because of the dressing room errors we haven't been able play many of the ECL Elite teams yet so it's hard to say who will be competing for the ECL 7 title. All we can do is look at the rosters and their past accomplishments. A safe assumption is that the best teams from NHL 18 will be just as good this year. All we can say is that ECL Elite is only getting tougher for each iteration. There are no bad teams and that is going to make the standings real interesting.
As for any team that might be running into a slump mid-season, I would say that at least give yourself the chance to win the game. Play tight defense and put the puck on net. It may sound cliché, but it works to some extent - even in Elite.
It's been a pleasure and huge thanks to cHIIMEERa for the extensive answers and insight of a veteran player. Good luck for the upcoming season to the team!
ECL Elite 16 in 16 so far:
8. Northern Stars
9. Unlucky Boys
10. Rusty Blades
11. Almost Famous
12. _____________ (To be released)
14. Gotham Knights
15. Falun Coal Miners
16. Team Frosty
Tomorrow we'll take a look at another Swedish team, who made a lot of changes during the offseason. We're excited to share it with you, can you guess who's up?
Edited by jahajaha93