With the first two weeks of NA Contenders underway, we are finally beginning to get a sense for how good some of these teams really are. With big wins from both ATL Academy and Second Wind, the top of the table is beginning to get very crowded with a host of 2-0 teams. Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the spectrum, the Skyfoxes continue failing to take flight, or even a map win, early in the season. They join a growing group of teams that have started the season off on the wrong foot at 0-2.
To fully track the movement of these teams beginning in the Preseason, you can check out my Preseason Power Rankings and my Week 1 Power Rankings. From there, we arrive here at the week 2 Power Rankings for NA Contenders 2018 Season 3. Let’s see who made the biggest moves this week:
1. XL2 Academy: 2-0 (No change)
Week 1 Result: 3-1 Victory over Team Envy
Week 2 Result: 4-0 Victory over NRG Esports
This team staying at number one is likely a surprise to no one. NRG was a team that was potentially looking very scary after a week 1 victory, and XL2 absolutely embarrassed them in a clean 4-0 sweep. The same cast of characters could be praised from this team week in and week out and it looks like XL2 is a team that is already bound for the Grand Finals.
The only thing better than winning is winning without dropping a single map. Oh, and the satisfaction from seeing @LogixOW nail those sweet Graviton Surges.
— XL2 Academy (@XL2) December 6, 2018
Next week they get a Skyfoxes team that has yet to take flight in any major way. With how shaky the Skyfoxes GOATS comp has looked in the first two matchups, look for them to throw a curveball at XL2 next week. Whatever the foxes may try, I’m calling XL2 in a grand slam 4-0 victory as they continue rolling to start the season.
2. ATL Academy: 2-0 (+1)
Week 1 Result: 3-1 Victory over Mayhem Academy
Week 2 Result: 4-0 Victory over Uprising Academy
ATL finds themselves one spot higher in the rankings due to yet another convincing win against an academy team. After a 3-1 victory over Mayhem Academy in week 1 and a 4-0 over Uprising Academy this week, Atlanta has embraced their role as the new kid on the block and have absolutely run with it.
This most recent victory over Uprising Academy is truly telling of how dangerous ATL may really be. This is a UA team that took Fusion University to five games in week one and have a very respectable roster and coaching staff. For ATL to have 4-0’d a team of this caliber ought to send shockwaves throughout the league. ATL is at the top, and here to stay. Considering they are playing Kungarna next week, anything else but a 3-0 start is out of the question for this team.
3. Fusion University: 2-0 (-1)
Week 1 Result: 3-2 Victory over Uprising Academy
Week 2 Result: 3-1 Victory over Kungarna
After dropping a map to Kungarna and having gone to a fifth map in week one, Fusion University continues to show that they may not be as invincible with this new roster. But, while there may be some kinks in the armor, it’s still pretty thick. Don’t believe me? Try to find a player that is a weak spot on this team, or even a position that they are weak at. It’s very hard to do.
Things won’t get any easier for Fusion Uni as they face a surprisingly hot First Gen team looking to prove themselves against a more worthy opponent. This matchup is absolutely the match of the week and whichever team wins may very well be on their way to a deep playoff run. Watch this matchup.
4. Second Wind: 2-0 (No change)
Week 1 Result: 3-2 Victory over Gladiators Legion
Week 2 Result: 4-0 Victory over Skyfoxes
There were certainly some doubters after this team made a seven-point jump in last weeks rankings. I think many of those doubters have motivated Second Wind to continue to roll, running through a Skyfoxes team in brutal fashion. This team, while it may not always be pretty, continues to find ways to win.
If you watched the match against Skyfoxes, then you know that the 4-0 scoreline doesn’t accurately represent what the game looked like. There were several maps that Skyfoxes found themselves one fight away from taking the map from Second Wind. While they failed to close out a single one of these fights, the Skyfoxes were certainly in this game.
Second Wind looks to squelch any of their remaining doubters as they face up against a down on their luck Envy team. If Second Wind can keep clutching out these close fights, it’s likely that they will continue onto a 3-0 start. However, if any 0-2 team is going to bring the upset this week, it will be Team Envy.
5. First Generation: 2-0 (No change)
Week 1 Result: 3-1 Victory over Kungarna
Week 2 Result: 4-0 Victory over Mayhem Academy
First Generation continued their surprising run with a 4-0 sweep of Mayhem Academy. Because of MA’s shakiness so far, this decisive victory does not move First Gen in the rankings. Despite being in the #5 spot, this is still a team that looks very good moving forward. In particular, their veteran former-OWL player David “nomy” Lizarraga Ramirez has been impressive at the main tank role.
This team gets arguably their first real challenge next week as they match up against Fusion University in the must-watch match of the week. Fusion Uni has looked vulnerable against lower-tier teams and First Gen has yet to play a top-tier talent, making for an interesting week 3 matchup for both teams.
6. Gladiators Legion: 1-1 (+3)
Week 1 Result: 2-3 Defeat by Second Wind
Week 2 Result: 2-1 Victory over Team Envy
After an absolutely heartbreaking loss in week 1 against Second Wind, the Legion bounced back in a big way in week 2, beating Team Envy 2-1. Byung-ho “Panker” Lee showed the Legion that he is every bit of the player that they hoped he would be. Going up against Ashley “Trill” Powell is no joke, and Panker handled it with absolute class.
The Legion match up against a wishy-washy team in NRG. Both teams have been beaten in a devastating fashion and also won triumphantly, making this a tough one to call for week 3. Looking at the strength of the win over Team Envy, I give a slight edge to the Legion heading into this match, but it very well might go to a fifth map.
7. NRG Esports: 1-1 (No change)
Week 1 Result: 4-0 Victory over Skyfoxes
Week 2 Result: 0-4 Defeat by XL2 Academy
Some may have been confused as to why NRG only jumped three spots after a 4-0 over Skyfoxes in week 1. This week helped put it in perspective. In their defense, NRG did have to play XL2 who is playing at an OWL clip at the moment. A 0-4 loss isn’t completely without respect against such a talent. Regardless, if this team wants to compete at the top of the table, they are going to have to perform better against the top teams.
Next week, as just mentioned, they get Gladiators Legion. In what is sure to be a close match, we may finally get to see an accurate representation of who this NRG team really is. This is their time to prove they belong at the top.
8. Envy: 0-2 (-2)
Week 1 Result: 1-3 Defeat by XL2 Academy
Week 2 Result: 1-2 Defeat by Gladiators Legion
Last week I said that whichever team lost in the Envy vs Legion match would be extremely disappointed to start 0-2. This is certainly where Envy finds themselves especially considering that they were a team that was projected to finish towards the top of the table during the preseason. Now, 0-2, this is a team that needs to rally in order to finish the season with a respectable record. Considering the talent present on this team, you’d have to think their fortunes will turn eventually.
Just a Dorado 1 trick team I guess ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
— Envy McGravy (@McGravy) December 6, 2018
Sadly, this team finds itself matched up against Second Wind in week 3. Perhaps Envy can rise to the occasion if the Second Wind doesn’t have a third wind ready for them. It will be an uphill battle for Envy, but with the talent present, this may be the week that it all comes together. A 0-3 start would be panic-inducing for one of the more hyped teams in NA Contenders this year.
9. Uprising Academy: 0-2 (-1)
Week 1 Result: 2-3 Defeat by Fusion University
Week 2 Result: 0-4 Defeat by ATL Academy
Speaking of team’s shrouded in hype that have significantly underperformed… Uprising Academy is a team with a new coach, exciting new players like Nicolas “Klaus” Ferrari and Cameron “Fusions” Bosworth, and so much more talent that has struggled early on this season. Before last week’s games, most felt like this was a team that was going to keep it close with ATL Academy. The result of that match and the overall performance of this team so far have been almost as jarring as Envy’s season so far.
One thing that needs to be said about Uprising Academy is that they have the toughest strength of schedule so far in Contenders. Matching up against Fusion University and ATL Academy in the first two weeks would be a challenge for every team in the league, which may help to justify the 0-2 start. Because of this and their overall talent, if there is any team at the bottom of the table with the potential to turn their season around, the Uprising are that team.
And, lucky for Uprising Academy, they are matched up against an equally lackluster Mayhem Academy team next week. While UA fans ought to be confident heading into this one, there’s still a sense that this one could go either way. In the end, we have to give a slight edge to UA here due to their talent and tough schedule so far.
10. Mayhem Academy: 0-2 (No change)
Week 1 Result: 1-3 Defeat by ATL Academy
Week 2 Result: 0-4 Defeat by First Generation
This team has truly lived up to their namesake and have given us an opening two games that have been absolute mayhem. This team was fourth in the overall preseason rankings and has severely underperformed so far this season, despite their wealth of former OWL talent.
The only defense for them comes from the quality of the teams they have played so far. With ATL and First Gen both exceeding expectations, these are, at least, quality losses for Mayhem Academy. Next week, they get an Uprising Academy team that is in much of the same boat as each looks to rebound from a disappointing start.
11. Kungarna: 0-2 (+1)
Week 1 Result: 1-3 Defeat by First Generation
Week 2 Result: 1-3 Defeat by Fusion University
While this team moves up one spot in the rankings, it is more due to how poorly the Skyfoxes have started things off than anything Kungarna has done so far. All this team can say for themselves, realistically, is that they have taken a map off of two of the better teams in the league. Starting off the year against First Gen and Fusion U has proven to be a too much for Kungarna who has performed nearly as expected.
We’re unable to close out Route, and we end the series 1-3. A good effort with a lot to be proud of. We’re just getting started! GGs pic.twitter.com/E4OYGH4e0J
— Kungarna (@Team_Kungarna) December 5, 2018
For as tough as their season has been to start, it may only continue to get tougher from here. Next week, they play one of the best teams in the league in ATL Academy as they look for a miracle upset that would send shock waves throughout the league. Don’t hold your breath quite yet for Kungarna.
12. Skyfoxes: 0-2 (-1)
Week 1 Result: 0-4 Defeat by NRG Esports
Week 2 Result: 0-4 Defeat by Second Wind
Last and, well, certainly least is Skyfoxes. This team has yet to win a map in NA Contenders this season and has looked dismal in each match they have participated in. The question of whether the massive staff and roster experiment was a total bust is yet to be fully answered, but it has certainly not produced in the short-term.
Sadly, the Skyfoxes go up against XL2 next week in a true David vs Goliath matchup. Perhaps XL2 will have planned so far ahead that the Skyfoxes will be able to steal their first map. Or, maybe XL2 starts sandbagging like their predecessors in order to hide strategies for later. Barring one of these bizarre uncertainties, the Skyfoxes may very well begin the season 0-3 with a 0-12 game record. For all 28+ members of that organization who want to hold onto their jobs, we certainly hope not.
Who do you think will make the biggest move in next week’s rankings? To find out, make sure and check out my week 3 Power Rankings here, at The Game Haus. Also, as a reminder, you can catch all the NA Contenders matches on their twitch channel when the action picks back up on Tuesday, December 11th at 6:00 pm CT.
Follow me on Twitter: @GoopyKnoopy I would love to dialogue with you about anything I’ve written!
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Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
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