A look at the favourites heading into the CCL Playoff Finals being held in the Belong Gaming Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
The time has arrived. Teams will soon be heading to Columbus, Ohio, for the first ever College CoD (CCL) LAN, the CCL Playoff Final. The top 8 teams have fought through two stages of regular season play, playoff pool play and then a qualification bracket for this moment right here.
We've got the four best teams out of the West - St. Edward's, Ottawa, Westcliff and SIUE - and the four best teams out of the East - Davenport, Bay State, Northwood and St. Clair. Who will turn up on LAN? Who will fold under the pressure? Let's take a look at my final placement predictions.
1. Northwood University (The Favorite for CCL Playoff Finals)
This team has been my #1 team all year long. They've dominated the collegiate competition throughout Vanguard no matter what league they were competing in, and the CCL Playoff Final looks destined to be theirs.
Northwood University destroyed Bay State in a best-of-9 grand finals (5-0) of the NACE Spring 2022 Call of Duty Varsity League, swept them again in the grand finals of the UGC Vanguard Spring League (3-0) and are now poised to take a third championship this year over the Bulldogs again.
Radial is going to end a legendary collegiate Call of Duty career as a two-time CCL champion, an Activision Blizzard Collegiate champion, a UGC Vanguard champion and a NACE Varsity Call of Duty champion. Not to mention, he never lost a regular season game in his two years in College CoD (CCL) between his time at Ottawa and Northwood.
2. Bay State College (The "God Squad")
The star-studded roster that the Bulldogs shook the collegiate Call of Duty scene with this year has had their way with the competition – except when it came to Northwood. Outside of their 3-2 victory over Northwood in stage two play in the CCL, Bay State has been swept twice in grand final capacity to the Timberwolves and lost in the regular season of the NACE Spring 2022 Call of Duty Varsity League.
Bay State College haven't been as dominant as I'd have expected given the roster's individual accolades, but they're still some of the most familiar names in the scene. Don't think they'll be happy with it, but I have them dropping yet another grand final to Northwood.
3. St. Edward's University (The CCL Goats)
Call it what you wish on this pick, but the Hilltoppers played lights out during the qualification tournament. They gave SIUE their first loss of the CCL season and swept the Sun Devils of Arizona State, who they went 0-5 against this year in various leagues and tournaments, in dominant fashion.
Thresh has had an amazing Vanguard season in the Challengers scene, Eons has been one of the most efficient submachine gun players in the league and Reality and Vanity are playing with new found confidence that'll carry over on LAN. The passion is at an all-time high for this St. Edward's squad. Their Academy counterparts just won the CCL Academy playoffs and they'll be poised to make a similar run.
4. Ottawa University (The Defending Champs)
The defending champions have certainly not looked as dominant as last year. Despite going undefeated in regular season play this year, they've shown vulnerabilities we haven't seen out of the Braves in the past.
Ottawa University struggled against a Nicholls State Colonels team in the hardpoint win (250-214) in the West region playoffs before they were knocked down to the loser's bracket by Westcliff in a 3-2 series upset loss.
Ottawa University turned it up a notch in the loser's bracket on their way to qualification, but this isn't the year to play without momentum. I think they get their revenge against Westcliff but drop to St. Edward's who will conquer yet another squad that they haven't beaten all season.
5-6th Westcliff University (Warriors of the West)
The Warriors are coming off an intense high after cleaning house in the winner's bracket of the West region playoffs, including an upset win over the Ottawa Braves, 3-2. Their biggest hurdle during the regular season was their hardpoint, which they improved tremendously in the last month.
Westcliff University took both hardpoints over Ottawa and clutched up against Texas State to qualify for the LAN playoffs through the winner's bracket. BBeasten has called this year his "revenge tour" after his transfer from the University of Arizona and will have his eyes on the prize. If all players on this roster play like they did in the regional playoffs, we could see some upsets at the CCL Playoff Finals.
5-6th St. Clair College (The Cinderella)
The Cinderella story of the playoffs is coming out of Canada this year. The only squad from the north will look to represent its country in style. This may be the best team in the entire league when it comes to team chemistry. They boast an all-locally recruited roster with tremendous talent. Priestly, who's only gotten better year-to-year in the CCL, has had yet another all-star caliber season this year.
St. Clair College finally overcame their hurdle by defeating Davenport in the East regional playoffs, took a map off Bay State, upset the #10 ranked Rutgers Scarlet Knights squad, swept a surging Georgia Southern team and swept their Canadian counterparts in McMaster University on their way to qualifying for the LAN playoffs. My only concern here will be how the players will respond under the bright lights of LAN.
7-8th Davenport University (The Underdogs)
After being knocked down in the first round of the regional playoffs at the hands of St. Clair, the Panthers made a stellar run through the loser's bracket with a 3-1 win over the 11th-ranked Florida State Seminoles, a 3-1 win over the 8th-ranked Penn State roster and a 3-0 win over the #13 ranked Concord University squad.
Davenport University has been led by Gekko and Anthrax all year long and their success will depend on the supporting two players: ShelDON and North. ShelDON played great in regionals and North held his own, but both have been inconsistent overall during the course of the season.
7-8th Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (The Unforgotten)
After a weird end to the Western regional playoffs, the Cougars punched their ticket to the LAN after all. They've looked the least dominant of the LAN playoff teams in recent weeks despite the score lines in the West regional playoffs. They did finish the regular season undefeated, but it was in a relatively weak region.
They were tested by a scrappy Oklahoma State team in round one of regionals and then exposed by St. Edward's in the winner's round two of the regional playoffs. They get a tough draw facing Northwood in round one at LAN where they'll fall to play either St. Clair or Westcliff – both teams have the capabilities of beating the Cougars.
Will the blackout jerseys provide a much needed spark for SIUE? I don't think it will, but hey, the jerseys are fire.
Final predictions for top 4 at CCL Playoff Finals:
- Northwood University
- Bay State College
- St. Edward's University
- Ottawa University
When is the CCL Playoff Finals and how do I watch it?!
If you'd like a chance to be part of the live audience, CCL Playoff Final spectator tickets are on sale – doors open at 10am EST (June 11) and 11:30am EST (June 12).
Don't miss a moment of this historic moment for collegiate Call of Duty! We'll be covering more collegiate events in our brand new Collegiate section.