It seems so long ago now since Loughborough took their second summer crown. With all the games behind us and the new season just round the corner, how did the teams stack up and what can we expect from them in the Winter Championship?
One important thing to bear in mind as you read these is that the NUEL is not just a tournament for competitive play, but also for fun. The lower ranked teams shouldn’t be looked upon as ‘bad’ – they are probably just playing for fairly different reasons to the super competitive teams at the top. One thing we love to do at the NUEL is create tournaments that can accommodate this range of skill and seriousness about the game – we believe firmly that eSports has something to offer for everyone.
Right, disclaimer over (and my job at the NUEL hopefully saved). Onto the rankings!
Best of the Best
- Loughborough CS:GO (7-1)
Loughborough were, quite simply, in a class of their own this summer. Captain, dominant awper, and deagle king Wilrus led his team to their first title in a year in dominant fashion, dropping only a single map in the entire tournament. Loughborough’s successes were keyed both by their individual aim talent, unstoppable force buys, league-best map pool and savagely efficient calls and counter-strats from field general Shiftea. With all 5 of their players continuing on in the line-up, there is no good reason why Loughborough are anything other than our early favourites for their first Winter title.
- The Aston Clutchers (5-3)
- DBC (Surrey) (6-2)
Aston and DBC were both notably better than the teams below them, but proved unable to make it past the venerable obstacle of LU:CS. Aston evolved considerably during the tournament in response to the Loughborough challenge, changing callers and strategies and plumbing the depths of their respective map pools but were never able to take a map from the champions. Their success this year depends on how well they adapt to the loss of their captain and spiritual leader Revan, and how frequently they can count on the services of team star and Nerdrage Academy awper Zephyr.
DBC also had a cracking showing in the tournament. They were the only team to defeat Loughborough, but lost a nailbiter to their rivals and scrim partners Aston to miss out on the grand final. Their ranking is cemented by these results and their comfortable win over Staffs CS:GO in the third place match. DBC have most of the ingredients to form a star team but stability, and roster changes in the backend of the tournament hurt their performance against Aston. If DBC can perfect their team environment and get a stable roster on the same page, expect great things from them.
- 2ez5u (Demontfort University) (4-4)
- Staffs CS:GO (5-3)
- Sheffield Hallam T1 (5-3)
- Derby (4-4)
The DMU team in summer didn’t take the loss of star fragger Jack well. After appearing in both NUEL tournament finals and winning in Spring 2016, DMU’s spell of championship form came to an end. Losing some close games to decent sides seemed to further demoralise the team. Jack will be returning to helm the team once again in Winter 2016, however, leading to their optimistic placing in the rankings. DMU also have a strong history of responding well to defeat. After falling way short despite beating all other comers in the 2015 Winter final, they took the next tournament by storm. There needs to be some retooling of the roster but a DMU with Jack back in the lineup and a gigantic chip on their shoulders are a team to fear.
Staffs and Sheffield had very similar tournaments right up to the wire, Staffs even qualifying on a tiebreaker for the playoffs over Sheffield. If only pun team names were a tiebreaker (a department in which Sheffield very much has the jump on the rest of the league with a variety of monikers)! Both teams were able to dominate the lower ranked teams but didn’t always look competitive in action against the big boys of the top 3. This is unlikely to change until the squads implement more structure and find or develop some star talent to take them through close matchups against top teams. Both teams do have excellent team atmospheres and they come from very active gaming societies so there are sure to be plenty of roster options for them going forwards.
Derby are placed here at the expense of teams with more wins in the tier below them primarily based on their showing against Loughborough in week 2 and their tough schedule, playing half of their games against the top 3 teams. Taking the team to OT on their home map of Cache, Derby looked poised to repeat their strong showings from previous NUEL tournaments but weren’t able to capitalise down the stretch. Facing top 5 sides Aston (twice) and Sheffield Hallam in a 3 game run was admittedly a tough slate of games for any team, but without a single win in this stretch it’s hard to rank Derby above 6th.
Middle of the Pack
- Soton CS:GO (Southampton) (5-3)
- Royal Holloway (4-4)
- Solent Bois (3-5)
- NTUGO (3-5)
The teams here, although there is some disparity in the wins column, fall into a similar skill level and largely didn’t face top opponents in summer. This is not to be admonished – some very entertaining games were produced on stream by the sides here, and as the number of teams expands in the regular season we should have a much better idea of what the sides are capable of armed with fresh talent.
Work in Progress
- Team Molotov (3-5)
- Royal Ulster (3-3)
- Keele:CS (1-7)
- Ruskin Rhinos (1-5)
- Sheffield Hallam T2 (1-5)
In this tier, we have the competition’s newer sides and university second teams, along with some weren’t able to sign in to play every week. Team Molotov were a new entrant to the tournament, but were able to take a game off respectable side Ulster. Royal Ulster looked decent in limited action, and we may see further success from them in the Winter tournament. Keele have been regular and welcome participants in the NUEL tournaments. The excellently named Ruskin Rhinos are a newer side, but have the opportunity of a local rival, scrim partner and LAN opponent in the form of Cambridge University should they wish to push their development. Sheffield Hallam T2 have also been regular participants. Although they haven’t been successful themselves, the development it offers to players should set them in good stead for a callup to their top 5 main squad.
Who we Might Have Missed
?. LUGES Red (Lancaster)
As a final thought experiment, we consider former NUEL heavyweights who opted to take the summer off. Both of these teams have previously appeared in NUEL finals – Manchester, won the 2015 Winter tournament, and LUGES Red took second place in our spring tournament. There is sure to be some roster turnover in both squads, and not having played over the summer might mean they take longer to get going. They are both, however, two of the most active university teams on LAN (competing in Tournaments like King of the North and, for Lancaster, War of the Roses) and they have winning heritage. It will be intriguing to see if the two organisations can turn this into finding success in the NUEL once again.
So there we have it. Loughborough reign supreme right now, but how will the rankings change by the Grand Finals on December the 5th?
You can catch all of the action from the Winter Championship on Monday Nights at 7PM on twitch.tv/thenuel!