With the undisputed championship roster of CUNY Baruch out of the way, the door is wide open this year for a new team to claim CSL’s Collegiate Counter-Strike crown. Collegiate esports are becoming official on more campuses than ever. Many teams are starting to find the foundation and structure that previous collegiate rosters have struggled to support.
That said, there are a few teams that separate themselves both on paper and in the server. The official CSL Power Rankings also see these teams as the top four contenders so far (with the ban of VCU), and with good reason.
Robert Morris University:
Koga, Lennox, Reality, Welshyy, Draggio, (SPERMY)
RMU have been contenders for years, which is unsurprising given the schools deep esports roots. The loss of in-game leader SPERMY as a mainstay on the roster would’ve hurt the team if it weren’t for the addition of veteran fragger Koga, who currently leads the way, firepower-wise.
Welshy, Reality, and Lennox all have quite a bit of experience playing with one another on this team, offering a level of raw chemistry that many other schools simply can’t match. Draggio was the star of RMU’s D2 team last year, and has deservedly been promoted to the school’s main roster where he’ll get the chance to show his talents alongside his veteran classmates.
This group has all the pieces in place to go far once again this year, and with CUNY Baruch out of the picture they are early favourites to capture the elusive championship title that evaded them narrowly in both CSL and AVGL last year.
Georgia State University:
FritoBandito, Shakezullah, SwahN, Skrubwrecker, Adil
This group have taken leaps and bounds since last season, now having a solidified roster that have the talent to contend with other top schools. Shakezullah and SwahN have been steadily on the rise, winning Season 29 of ESEA-Advanced with Intact.
The now MDL qualified players will need to lead the charge in the spring semester, but have been getting great support from veteran collegiate players Skrubwrecker and FritoBandito. Adil is a great addition to the roster bringing a wealth of experience to the team from previous CS endeavors. If anyone is going to give a school like RMU a run for their money, it’s these guys.
York University (Waves E-Gaming):
Denya, Tennls, Kyro, Skelly, Xephix, Kxn
The defending AVGL championship roster has undergone some changes that leaves them without the fragging abilities of Crux and AGN. However, the addition of Denya certainly helps compensate on that front.
Last year, he was a big reason why University of Toronto were able to give CUNY Baruch a playoff scare, and he seems to be having no trouble adapting to his new roster. Tennls is a quite talented main AWP, something other schools may not be able to compete with. Skelly has been steadily improving over the past few years and will help provide the team with direction when needed.
The Winter Invitational has pinned York and Georgia State against each other early in the bracket, and though it is only a single BO3 this should give us a better idea of where York stands this season vis-a-vis their upper tier counterparts.
University of Central Florida:
BlueSky, Chilled_Dan, Char-, JJG, meso, ^Hollywood
UCF haven’t exactly been tested so far this semester, as the west coast is where the competition generally lies in the southern parts of the United States. That said, the addition of Char to compliment veteran players BlueSky and Chilled_Dan gives UCF more to work with than they’ve had years prior.
Char was most recently known for his time with CLG’s Academy project, but has experience that dates far prior to Premier lineups under Noble, Blight, and Insomnia. Now bringing his talents to Collegiate CS, this is a player that can take over a server if given the room to do so.
Much like York, it will be interesting to see if they can contend against the likes of RMU when the time comes.
Honorable mentions for this list include schools such as UCSC, a school that’s been quietly improving their standing under the leadership of Swedish import Moopey and Californian fragger MazaParaza over the past two seasons. Carleton University always seems to have their hat in the mix come playoffs, and this year is no different as they went undefeated in the fall semester – although on paper, their team doesn’t look quite as strong as years prior.
Either way, the Winter Invitational will offer some insight into how these teams stack up against one another on a national scale rather than the regional routes they’ve run on their fall competition.
Collegiate Starleague opted to use this semester as more than a few months of placement matches by giving each conference’s top two teams a guaranteed playoff berth. As well, top teams from the fall semester will face off in an additional tournament dubbed the Winter Invitational.
This event will be a single elimination BO3 that will offer additional prizing and practice for those that qualified, and will run concurrently alongside CSL’s spring semester matches.
Featured image courtesy of AVGL, Stephanie Wahlers.
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