ESEA Advanced Season 40 Playoffs Preview
After two months of competition, the regular-season for ESEA Advanced Season 40 has finally concluded. The stage is now set for the playoffs, where 16 teams will be duking it out for the chance to secure promotion to ESL Challenger League Season 41. This article sets to highlight several teams' positions heading into the season and how they performed throughout their respective campaigns.
Mythic: A potential return to ECL?
The Mythic roster underwent a major revamp prior to ESEA Advanced Season 40, building a lineup centred around seniority and experience. This notably sees all five members of the team having previously played at least one season in ECL with Erik "fl0m" Flom having played across an astonishing fourteen-straight seasons.
Once the season got underway, Mythic soon hit the ground running as they managed to post a six-game win-streak with the closest scoreline being a 16-11 victory over eventual number-one seed Infinity. The squad then hit a bump in the road, losing three consecutive matches to UGK, Fourth Quarter, and Touch Point to cast doubt on the side's chance of securing a playoff berth. Regardless, fl0m and company soon found their stride again, convincingly rounding out the season with much-needed victories versus the likes of Brazen and Tempest to net themselves a fourth-place finish in the league table with a 10-4 record.
Mythic's seasoned lineup will definitely pose a challenge once playoffs gets underway with promotion certainly within the realms of possibility for a roster of such storied players. However, it's yet to be seen if the stream-team dynamic can reign supreme over some of the more regimented competition.
Infinity: Sixth time's the charm?
Meanwhile, the Latin American side have been a staple of ESEA Advanced since the core's relegation from ESEA MDL Season 34. Infinity's form thus far has allowed the roster to stake a claim as one of the division's heavyweight sides, with the gamble of making no changes following a lackluster last season seemingly paying off.
Going on a five-match win-streak to begin their campaign, Andres "spamzzy1" Correa and company looked poised to have their best season yet in the league. This strong start was only interrupted by a stubborn Mythic who managed to snag a 16-11 win after a trip to Overpass. Once more, Infinity was able to post another five wins to their tally before suffering a tragic 16-14 defeat at the hands of Philadelphia Liberty. Eager to secure the top-seed, they then rebounded by easily brushing aside Magic School Bus and Omega, posting a 12-2 regular-season record to have the first-place prize firmly within the LATAM side's crosshairs.
With both of the two losses being to fellow playoff-bound sides Mythic and Philadelphia Liberty, Infinity will need to make sure they're able to tussle with Advanced's best if they're to reach ECL again. However, Infinity are now the closest they've been to promotion since they were demoted six seasons ago and that confidence can definitely be a factor in how they play from here on out.
Levitate: A revolving door of success?
Of all the teams in the playoffs, Levitate are arguably one of the more surprising. A stream of endless departures have marred the roster for most of their ESEA Advanced campaign this season so one would be forgiven for expecting the squad to finish outside the top 16.
Levitate initially began their run in the division strongly, sporting a 4-1 record on the back of an overpowering 16-3 victory over Vireo.pro. However, a flurry of tough matches ensued, notably seeing Levitate fall 16-14 to InControl, seemingly dashing their chance of a playoff berth. Nonetheless, Drew "Drewtheshrew" Lamb and company stepped up to the plate, decisively winning their remaining four matches - including a scrappy overtime win over Fourth Quarter - to squeak a spot in the playoffs as the twelfth seed with a 9-5 record.
Although Levitate have won most of their matchups since the additions of Sam "Noxio" Goodwin and Matthew "farg" Timmons, Levitate are now set to face an entirely different kettle of fish. Any chance at promotion to ECL will be reliant on Levitate hitting the ground running and then some in their inevitably difficult matchups.
Touch Point: Running out of steam?
Touch Point's roster saw no changes during the off-season, opting to build on their previous season's 9th-12th place finish instead, with the decision paying dividends.
The beginning of the lineup's current run in Advanced saw an impressive seven-match spree, albeit with three nail-biting 16-14 matchups along the way. The squad then lost 16-12 to Infinity on Overpass which brought about an end to Touch Point's dominant start. A hard-fought 19-17 win over Mythic was welcome, but mixed results soon plagued the roster with a one-sided showing over Cosmic Wolf being negated by frustrating losses to Philadelphia Liberty and Kinship to round out the season, culminating in the squad entering the playoffs with a 10-4 record.
Whilst such a scoreline is not to be sniffed at, it's an anticlimactic end to what was a solid start for Touch Point, and an end that may dash the confidence of Brett "Beastman" Eastman and company heading into the playoffs versus expectedly stubborn competition.
InControl: Can LAN success pave the way to promotion?
InControl have shown promise since the additions of John "arcade" Rogel and William "spek" Smith at the start of the year. But the loss of Jake "STRiiDER" MacDonald may hinder the team as the post-season gets going.
The squad currently sit middle of the pack in the top 16 and clearly have potential, showcasing their skills as a unit by claiming gold on LAN at Fragadelphia 16: Chicago. InControl's league-play has also been strong for the most part, overcoming an uncharacteristic 16-12 defeat versus dinoco in their debut match by going on a six-match tear thereafter, notably taking down fellow playoff team Levitate 16-14. A couple of close defeats to Snakes Den and Mythic shorty after certainly left a sour taste, but still, InControl lived up to their namesake by winning three of their final four games versus teams such as Brazen and Limitless to enter the playoffs as the eighth seed with a 10-4 record to their name.
InControl's aforementioned loss of STRiiDER will certainly impact the squad one way or another, but the team are certainly in a position to be a strong contender if they can bring former member Alex "Khobs" Davis up to speed quickly. Couple this with the previously referenced first-place showing on LAN and InControl's time in the playoffs could be a fruitful one.
ESEA Advanced playoffs kicks off today with 16 teams all vying for that one direct invite to ESL Challenger League Season 41. The matches will be best-of-threes until the grand final while the tournament being is to be played out in a double-elimination bracket. The grand final will be a best-of-five with the upper-bracket team starting the series with a one-map advantage.
The following opening matchups are set to start from today at 08:00PM:
Infinity vs Vireo.pro
InControl vs UYU
Touch Point vs Levitate
Mythic vs Rectify
Snakes Den vs Kinship
Big Chillin vs Limitless
Magic School Bus vs Unjustified
Omega vs Philadelphia Liberty
The full bracket can be viewed here.