The Summer Series began this Sunday with the commencement of the twenty-four team group stage, here’s GM667 and daveG bringing you all the updates…
The first group of the list consists of heavy favourites and back-to-back winners of EURC, Berlin Phoenix, along with Belgian side AeS ULB, who reached the playoffs of EURC 2021, UEA Bluejays, who also played in EURC 2021 but failed to get out of the group stage, Beckett Bears, who went on a remarkable playoff run in EURC 2021, EZ Windesheim, a relatively new team who stormed their way through Open Qualifier #2, and Staffordshire Bimbam, who reached the UR Summer Series via Open Qualifier #3.
Berlin Phoenix played 3 series this week, and, rather unsurprisingly, won all 3 of them. All their series ended 3-1, as they played UEA, EZ Windesheim, and then Staffordshire Bimbam in the first week, to leave them top of group A on 3 wins and a game difference of 6. They will want to erase any elements of complacency from now on, because raw talent alone is not enough to go all the way.
On the other hand, UEA Bluejays were on the receiving end of a 3-1 defeat at the hands of EZ Windesheim and then lost 3-1 to Berlin Phoenix. With a game difference of -4, they have their work cut out and they will need to beat at least 2 of: fellow winless team Beckett Bears, AeS ULB, or Staffordshire Bimbam if they want to avoid exiting at the group stage in back-to-back European University tournaments.
EZ Windesheim kicked off their UR Summer Series campaign in style, sweeping the Beckett Bears, and then beating UEA Bluejays 3-1, proving that their sweep against the same opponent in the open qualifiers was no fluke. They were unfortunately brought back down to Earth by Berlin Phoenix, but still put in a respectable performance, losing 3-1. That leaves them 2nd in Group A, with AeS ULB and Staffordshire Bimbam their remaining opposition in the group stage. EZ Windesheim will be confident of reaching the playoff stage, preferably into the upper bracket.
Berlin Phoenix are mathematically through to the playoff stage, EZ Windesheim need 1 more win, Staffordshire Bimbam and AeS ULB need 2 more wins, Meanwhile UEA Bluejays and Beckett Bears need to win all their remaining games to be sure of a playoff place.
Group B has a somewhat similar spread to Group A, but not quite to such an extreme extent. This group features the Portsmouth Paladins, who surprisingly took Berlin Phoenix to game 7 in the winners’ final of EURC, the Essex Blades, Tilburg UNIted and the Dusseldorf Gaming Dragons, all of which had to go through the open qualifiers to reach the UR Summer Series. They are joined by minnows Error 404: Linc Not Found, and Russian qualifier winner MIREA Turtles.
Portsmouth Paladins lost their first series, 3-1 to Dusseldorf Gaming Dragons, but ironically enough, they managed to score more goals than Dusseldorf throughout the series, which will help their goal difference. They then proceeded to sweep MIREA Turtles. This leaves them on 1 win and 1 loss going into week 2 and they will need to win 2 of their remaining 3 group stage games to go through to the playoff stage. It is certainly doable, especially for a team of this calibre.
Meanwhile Linc Not Found got off to a poorer start, losing 3-2 to Tilburg UNIted, and then fell to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Essex Blades. Things do not look good for Lincoln if they want to get out of Group B, as they have yet to play either Portsmouth Paladins or Dusseldorf Gaming Dragons, and they will have to beat at least one of those opponents, as well as MIREA Turtles if they want to reach the playoff stage, which is highly improbable, but not impossible.
Tilburg UNIted got off to the perfect start in, beating Essex Blades 3-1 despite using a fairly low ranked sub. This was somewhat of an upset considering Essex were the favourites to win even if Tilburg had put out their strongest team. They then won 3-2 against Error 404: Linc not found, but were swept aside with minimal fuss by Dusseldorf Gaming Dragons. Tilburg won’t be happy with the manner of that defeat, but they are still in a good position to reach playoffs, as long as they don’t suffer any kind of meltdown in the second week.
Dusseldorf Gaming Dragons are through to the playoff stage regardless of what happens, Tilburg UNIted need 1 more win to be sure of a playoff place, Essex Blades and Portsmouth Paladins need 2 more wins to guarantee a playoff place, meanwhile Error 404: Linc not found and MIREA Turtles need to win all their remaining games to mathematically ensure a place in the playoff stage.
The Keele Krakens of our third group started their UR Summer Series in a dominant fashion. They set the tone for what was to come by opening with a 6-0 win over Birmingham Beavers in game one, and closed out the series in three with an impressive offensive display from their current star striker, Dooz. Averaging 2.5 goals a game across the first week, Dooz helped Keele keep both Birmingham and Sussex at bay, where both teams only managed to score twice in their match-ups against the Krakens. Keele finished week one at the top of group C, with a perfect game difference record,
Group C’s top-seeded team Erasmus Esports Rotterdam also opened their Summer campaign strongly. Erasmus demonstrated their ability to bounce back by winning 4-2 in their first game against the Gdańsk Lions after going 2-1 down. Erasmus demonstrated their composure again during their second series against FHDW eSports. After failing to score in game two and responded firmly by winning games three and four to take the series, where they finished week one in second place.
FHDW eSports were the third team in the group to sweep the Gdańsk Lions. Despite conceding 11 and only scoring two across the series, Gdańsk put up a valiant effort in game three, where the series was won with eight seconds remaining due to sustained boost control and offensive pressure from FHDW. The Sussex Sharks also subjected Birmingham to sustained offensive pressure, keeping the in-form Beavers penned in their own half for much of their 3-1 win over the West Midlands side. The Beavers now need to draw inspiration from their recent impressive performances in UK Uni leagues for their remaining fixtures to retain hope of qualifying for the Summer Series round of 16.
Meanwhile, in group D, Liverpool’s Arctic Eboys pulled off a reverse sweep against Spring Series runners-up Salford in what was potentially the most nail-biting series of week one. After scoring only once in the first two games, Liverpool’s Rista and Roee linked up to secure their first win in the series with two seconds to go in game three. In game four, Liverpool went 2-0 up, but a cute pass from Jiggi allowed Camo to find the bottom corner, and a huge dunk from AiiAiiRon saw Salford tie the game with less than a minute remaining. However, smashing the momentum Salford had picked up in the last 40 seconds, Roee fired back immediately from kick-off and sent the series to game five, where Liverpool survived a late response from Salford and took the game, and the series, 3-2.
In a slightly less nail-biting manner, Liverpool was able to sweep The Scebes and Esports Team Twente to finish first in Group D after week one. On the other hand, Salford was able to recover from the reverse sweep loss against Liverpool to sweep The Scebes, with substitute Jakeadams19 filling in for AiiAiiRon.
OVGU eSports began their Summer campaign with a sweep over USE Sea Stags, where an on-the-ball Mr Grony scored five from ten shots in the series. The Scebes proved a difficult task for OVGU to overcome as the series went to game five after they prevented OVGU from scoring in games one and four. Ultimately, OVGU were able to sustain a high level of offensive pressure in game five, and took the series to finish the first week without losing a series.
Without their star man Sebadam, the UWE Sea Stags recovered from their loss against OVGU eSports by beating Liverpool’s Arctic Eboys 3-1. Hydur and Theorist of Wind scored all of UWE’s goals between them and both boasted shooting percentages (conversion rate?) of 83% after capitalising on rotational errors from a seemingly restless Liverpool. The Sea Stags look to mirror this success heading into week two as they currently sit on an even 1-1 record.