The second season of the SC2Improve Team League has been flying by! Four of eleven weeks of the round robin stage have now been completed and we have seen it all - from the expected to the surprises with an absolutely amazing number of great quality games in between. This article is here to guide you all through the story of the SC2ITL Season 2 so far!
Previous Champions are not Immortal.
mYinsanity and Cascade were the talk of Season 1 in the SC2Improve Team League - both teams were favorites from the start and clashed in the group stage producing a fantastic series. Placing top in their group they did not meet in the playoffs until the finals when mYi made it look a bit easier than the first time around. Coming into Season 2 we expected to see both teams be almost untouchable - but currently we are far from that vision.
mYinsanity sit in Group A with a 2-2- match score having fallen to Team MiA as well as ESC ICY BOX. Both are strong teams but it definitely comes as a shock that mYinsanity dropped both of these matches so early in the competition - the result of which applies a lot of pressure to mYi to make it to the playoffs. They have tough games ahead notably against AT Gaming much later in the tournament. Another loss will really begin to endanger their chances of advancing forward.
Cascade sit in an even worse position with a 1-3 score, their only victory coming against ReG Gaming. The most worrying thing for Cascade is that they are yet to play the three teams currently positioned at the top of the league - Nuit Blanche, Vega Squadron and Team ALTERNATE. Winning the majority of your remaining games is already a tough ask, but with the teams ahead of them Cascade are going to have to pull out all of the stops if they want to repeat their Season 1 performance.
Other notable mentions are last seasons semi-finalists. Team MiA and Alien Invasion both sit in the middle of their groups currently, with 2-2 and 2-1 scores respectively. Both teams have some of the harder matches out of their way already, meaning they still have a reasonable chance of hitting the desired playoffs.
Is anybody else finding this too easy?
Currently four teams sit undefeated in Season 2 - AT Gaming, Nuit Blanche, Vega Squadron and ESC ICY BOX. ESC stand at 3-0 and look to defend their winning streak as I am writing this, while the others are 4-0. Interestingly enough AT Gaming and Nuit Blanche went undefeated for the whole of Season 1, up until the reached the playoffs and they were both eliminated in their first match.
It isn't much of a surprise to see these four teams dominating so far - they are definitely some of the stronger teams we have playing in the league with a good spread of WCS-level players between them. Nuit Blanche are possibly the weakest of the four and have definitely had the easiest path up until now having faced three of the bottom four teams in their group already.
If I had to pick one team to really watch out for between these four for the upcoming weeks it would have to be Vega Squadron. One of their strongest players, elfi, just decided to take a break from the game - but they responded to this with a fantastic pickup in the form of LiveZerg. Over the past months their roster has only gained in strength - which is scary if you knew how good of a team they were before.
Who to watch out for?
I don't know if I should really begin to write this section - I think every team in the league could perform strongly in the coming weeks and surprise many. Kaos Latin Gamers, ALTERNATE and against All authority have all had strong starts - but I'll limit myself to writing about two teams specifically who I think will push past expectations.
Team Spectre have picked up an astounding roster recently and have really upped their game when it comes to the level of competition they are able to play at. The best thing about Spectre? They now have results to back up what's written on paper. Just days ago they defeated Vega Squadron 5-3 in the RSTL Finals, impressive on it's own before you even take into account they defeated Cascade as well in the semi-finals.
After a tough first two weeks Spectre are currently on an upswing having recently defeated MiA 4-1 and TSI 4-0. This is a trend I can see continuing - they play against PunchLine!, RuW and Kaos Latin Gamers in their next three matches, all of which are games which can go in Spectres favor if their players put out the performances we know they can. If they keep building up this momentum they are going to be an unstoppable mass as they propel into the playoffs.
Team DarkStar are a team I feel I have written about in Season of the SC2ITL as a team to watch out for. Back then they were on a hot streak and looked as though they were going to cause an upset and make it to the playoffs. Unfortunately they fell just short, but their performance was still fantastic and they are bringing a similar performance to Season 2 already.
The Swedish team has built up a lot for itself in the past months, securing notable sponsors including Logitech for the team. Their roster is the strongest it has ever been and their players are on a constant rise in skill, competing with the very best in online cups & Swedish LANs. They play MaxFloPlay on Saturday and ALTERNATE next week - two matches which will really begin to set in stone whether DarkStar are heading for the top or the middle of the group in this season.
The SC2ITL is going amazingly so far in Season 2 and plans and preparations for Season 3 are already underway - so let's hope Season 2 continues to produce the sick games we have already seen for the rest of the season! Next week we see some fantastic games including ESC ICY BOX vs Team MiA, Karnage eSports vs AT Gaming and MaxFloPlay vs Alien invasion.