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Mikka last won the day on April 24

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  1. If parity was the name of the game in the regular season, it surely seemed to be the case in the first round as well. Four game sevens and two six game series, only the group winners were able to fend off their competition without lengthy nights. Who's going through now? Let's take a look. Schedule Preview (1) Reality Check vs Sulkavan Sudet (14) Due to time constraints this preview couldn't be finished before these teams already settled the score: Reality Check advances with a clean 4-0 sweep. Reality Check hasn't lost a single game in these playoffs so far, sweeping both opponents. (2) Växjö Lakers vs Herlev Eagles (12) Växjö Lakers had a fairly dominant regular season, especially offensively. That seemed to continue right away in postseason play with a 9-3 win to open off the series against Geekz Energy eSports, but they were instantly brought back to earth with a 1-4 loss in game two. After having a day off and some time to regroup, they went on to win the following three games to clinch the series, though the margins were a lot smaller with two 1-0 games and a 4-3 overtime win. Herlev Eagles played in the same group as Växjö, and were also considered among its top teams ahead of the regular season. The start to their campaign wasn't an easy one, and they had to go down to the wire to clinch a postseason spot only on the last gameday. That wasn't in any way apparent when watching their first round series against Tohtorit though: the Eagles won the first three games in a row to gain a chance to complete the sweep. In the end they needed a few extra games to get it done, finally finishing it up in game six after what proved to be a controversial end to the series with some disconnect drama. As both teams played in Group 2, we (and the teams, obviously) already have some data on how they match up against each other. While Växjö won both games that time, 3-1 and 6-3, it was one of the first meetings of the season. A month has already passed since then, so there's definitely been time for improvements. Without in any way undermining their defense or especially the exceptional goaltenders, both of these teams live through their forwards. The trios of @vibholm10 - @Mr Steffmeister (Suth98_) - @keranee and @Kattenj - @dzouvi - @Birkedal96 of Herlev and Växjö, respectively, will be going head to head with chips on their shoulders. The material advantage goes to the latter, though in contrast Herlev's roster has been together for some time now. That accumulated chemistry could really help them when trying to shut down Växjö's offensive prowess. These teams possess a lot of skill, and the series will be decided by who can use it the best and who, in turn, is able to make their opponents' life a nightmare. While the seed difference may be quite substantial, Herlev Eagles aren't as big of an underdog as it would suggest. Växjö Lakers is still the clear favorite here though, let's not get that mixed up. Watch out for an upset, but don't hold up your hopes for it too high. Prediction: @Mikka: Växjö Lakers 4-2 @jahajaha93: Växjö Lakers 4-1 (3) HanaaHC vs Renascor (11) Written by @jahajaha93 HanaaHC came out swinging in the first round of playoffs both on and off the ice, stirring the pot a bit just in time for their first games against VISU Gaming to start. The3 long-time Pro dwellers went into the series with good spirits and high confidence, until VISU Gaming struck back in ways very characteristic to their game. Despite the setbacks, Hanaa stayed in control throughout the series and we saw them even dominate possession at times, but VISU kept themselves in the game, always posing a threat with their effective counter attacking and well executed passing plays. Now, HanaaHC is up against a new kind of challenge, one they seem to have fended off quite well as they are in a commanding 3-1 series lead after the first night of gaming. The Russian outfit Renascor is a bit of a surprise to be seen at this stage of the playoffs, but they've really grown over the course of the season and overcoming the very talented Sinister squad in the first round is a commendable effort by them. The team has really rallied around the excellent play of goalie @sumskoy26 (SumkaX) and is looking to continue on that path to beat HanaaHC too. Some similarities can be found in Hanaa and their previous opponent, mainly the high level of individual skill and tendency to hold on to the puck rather than shoot at times, but HanaaHC definitely has the experience card up their sleeve. The series currently stands at 3-1 in favor of HanaaHC. (9) RCTIC vs AHJO (10) Due to the amount of first round upsets, the fourth best seed remaining is *9th*! RCTIC finished 6th in Group 1 in the regular season and followed that up by nearly sweeping Be a Bro in the last round. The clean sweep didn't end up happening after their 3-0 series lead got reduced to 3-2, but they still got the job done in the end in six games. On the other hand AHJO didn't have as easy of a time, trailing 1-2 and 2-3 against Hokurit before extending the series to seven and clutching it home. RCTIC had some troubles at the star of the season, but they seem to have found their footing recently. While @Limbe65 carried a heavy scoring load in the regular season, fellow forwards @yrjoo and @Naikou88 have stepped up to match the production come playoff time. @MrNipsuli hasn't found the points yet, but defensive performances have been stellar as expected. An interesting note from the first round, MrNipsuli-'s unorthodox build: a 178cm tall puck moving defenseman is definitely shorter than what we typically see at this level. As noted, AHJO didn't exactly cruise through from the last round. They even resorted to some lineup shuffling after the first night of play, swapping @xHatsi to center and @Eeemill_ to right-winger for the last four games. Perhaps that's what eventually helped them over the hump, but we'll see if the positions get reshuffled yet again if they start off cold. The "Icy Boyz" reached the semifinals with this exact same 9th seed last season, and it seems likely to reoccur now as well. However, AHJO can definitely mount a challenge and even end up on top, as long as they keep on improving with their relatively fresh lineup having added @Wpaanane at the transfer deadline. This series could go any way without it being a huge surprise, and it will come down to who's done their homework better and can perform when it matters the most. For now RCTIC takes the edge on paper with their experience, though we also have to remember that AHJO (then named Dynastia) took number one seeded Reality Check all the way to a game seven in their series at this same stage last season, only revamping their left side of the ice since then. Just to reiterate one last time, this should be the tightest series in this round. Does experience prevail, or will a honeymoon phase power a slight upset? Let's go with the bold prediction for a change. Prediction: @Mikka: 2-4 AHJO @jahajaha93: 4-3 RCTIC This round is a bit longer than usual, but we'll have our final four clear soon enough. Good luck and have fun everyone, whether it's playing or cheering on your favorites! PS: We would love for you to follow our social channels, as they are an integral part of the ECL season. Discord Instagram Facebook Twitch Twitter
  2. Now that we're actually a bit past the Spring season's midway mark, it's finally time to take a look at some of the hottest and coldest teams in the competition. Who's on the up and who's been on the way down? Keep on reading to find out.   Similar to the previous season, this article will be highlighting two kinds of teams: those who have been on a roll, or, in turn, performing below the expectations we set out to them in our season preview. To see exactly how the standings stack up, and to find out all the individual statistics you would possibly want to, take a look at the league page. Without further ado, let's get into it. Bear in mind that the teams within each category are listed purely in alphabetical order. Every team's record as of 22 April is in brackets. Group 1   HOT    HanaaHC (15-3-0) Written by @jahajaha93 ECL Pro mainstay HanaaHC looks to be on the up as of late, and are sporting a really hot record throughout their first 18 games of the season. They really seem to be clicking on all fronts as statistically, the squad is performing up to par with just about any top team in the division. Hanaa's sole weakness this season seems to be in the faceoff circle, in which they are only besting the opponent at a rate of 45.74%, so that is one of the quirks in their game they'll still have to iron out before the playoffs. Their goalie situation also seems to have been sorted out nicely, as both @Simbanho and @Esko-etikka have done their part in clinching some important wins, and are expected to continue sharing the workload.  Individually, left winger @xLeikku has been in a class of his own for Hanaa with his 18+22=40 points thru 18 games. This leads his team by a wide margin and puts him in 9th in the scoring race for the entire division. Also worth a mention is defenseman @ripKeisari, who in his second season with the team now leads the league in scoring for defensemen with 6+20=26 points. On top of that, he has been on fire intercepting pucks and launching counter attacks for his team.    Hokurit (9-4-3) They were listed here last season as well, but it looks like Hokurit keep proving any doubters wrong. New additions LD @Frans-Fin (16 GP, 2+8=10) and C @J-_-Jamaltheman (16 GP, 14+17=31) have seemed to fit right in, perhaps in part fueled by their old Hotbox chemistry. Especially the latter has been on fire, clicking at nearly two points per game during his first season as a forward in Pro. The team's left-winger and leading scorer @Jondeezz (16 GP, 17+18=35) has already proved his ability to put up points at this level in seasons past, but goalie @wilinhoo (12 GP, 83.58 SV%, 1.83 GAA, 1 SO) seems to have taken a meaningful step forward in his development, currently posting a SV% five points higher than what he finished with in ECL '22: Winter. While Hokurit cooled down a bit during the second half last season, the same shouldn't be expected this time: they've already played against most top opponents, opposite of last time around when their start of schedule was weaker. Don't be surprised if they keep climbing up towards higher seeds.    Reality Check (19-0-1) As the title says, Reality Check has absolutely dominated Group 1. Currently sporting a 19-0-1 record in the midst of a 14-game winning streak, the only team they dropped a point against was GIFU Hockey. Matching Delusion's (now hREDS) 29-0-1 record from ECL 9 Pro may not happen, but for example Vesa Pompa HC's 26-2-2 from the same contest or FILADELPHIA's (now Frölunda HC) 27-1-2 from ECL 6 Pro surely seem attainable. Finishing off the regular season strongly is always a big plus, but their sights are surely set on postseason success and finally getting that championship they've been yearning for. It's safe to say that the two new faces compared to last season's runner up squad, @JesseL2002 (20 GP, 14+25=39) and @Mikax222 (20 GP, 7+18=25), have fit in nicely, with the former being joint-leading scorer among their forward group and the latter leading the way for defense.   Notable mentions: Hawaii Hockey, Sulkavan Sudet   COLD   Almtuna eSport (2-14-0) The ECL '22: Winter Core Champion has had a tough time adjusting to the higher level of competition. They've only managed to claw points from fellow bottom table team Pasilan SKA, and just two of their 14 losses have been by a one goal margin. Having a 1.06 GF/GP and 4.75 GA/GP is far from ideal, with the former being 0.32 less than second-worst, and the latter a whopping 1.75 higher than second worst. They've had a lot of rotation with ten different skaters and two goalies making appearances, so perhaps having a bit more longevity in their lineup would be beneficial. Luckily for the Swedes sitting last place, multiple teams above them in the table are well within reach. All they have to do is start winning games to avoid instant relegation. Sounds simple enough, right? Most of their remaining opponents are at or below the playoff line too.    Nemesis (5-9-2) For a team predicted to be in the playoffs or at most barely missing the cut, Nemesis surely has had a lot of troubles to start off the campaign. They've been pretty good at keeping the puck out of their own net as expected, with a 1.94 GA/GP good for sixth in the group, but finding ways to put it in at the other end has been tough: they've only scored 1.38 goals per game, second lowest in Group 1. They have to win all but a few of their remaining games to even think about making the playoffs, but, like Almtuna, they mostly have bottom half of the table teams left in their schedule. They have dropped too many points thus far, but their season is still salvageable if they can right the course quickly and start performing at their own level.    RCTIC (4-4-6) Reaching the quarterfinals last season and being predicted to finish in the top four, RCTIC has had a start reminiscent of some quite big upsets from past seasons. A light at the end of the tunnel is Deadly Phantoms' performances from two previous seasons: they were able to reach the playoffs after being in a similar position at the midway mark, even going all the way to the finals in ECL 12. The "icy boyz" have steadily taken two points from every opponent, but they're soon going to have to start winning some more if they want to get there. RCTIC's playing style will thrive in postseason play as seen the last time out, but first they have to get there and a P/G of 1 isn't going to cut it. Captain/backup player @layout (JxLayout) (6 GP, 1+2=3) has slotted back into the lineup during the past week, so it'll be interesting to see whether that continues. Something of note, @Limbe65 (14 GP, 23+6=29) has scored almost two times as many goals as everyone else in the team *combined*.   Notable mentions: Djurgården Hockey, Mora IK/Pasilan SKA     Group 2   HOT    Deadly Phantoms  (11-3-4) After having cold starts to both previous campaigns since their relegation back to Pro, the longstanding German outfit has finally arrived in the hot column. Getting @Timasy (8 GP, 5+9=14) and @PlaymakerSJ (16 GP, 16+12=28) back was expected to push them towards the top again, but the acquisition of @GERxVillain (12 GP, 2+4=6) to bolster their depth options has also helped. Utilizing meaningful rotation hasn't exactly been in style for some time now, but DPH has been pulling it off with enough quality and existing chemistry. Preventing goals has been their forte as usual, with the Phantoms sitting clearly above the rest in GA/GP in Group 2 alongside Växjö Lakers.    Renascor (9-4-1) The lineup changes were expected to hit really hard on Renascor, but they've been able to pretty much continue where they left off last season. Their goalscoring hasn't been at the rate it was before, but in turn their defense has been top notch and they've been able to turn tight games into wins with the help of goalie @sumskoy26 (14 GP, 82.72 SV%, 2 GAA, 1 SO). It's not to say that they would've had a tough time scoring though, with captain @Virusactive leading the way with a solid 8+21=29 points in 14 GP. While they're currently sitting at third place, it's an extremely even group so we'll see how far their flight lasts.    Växjö Lakers (15-1-0) Offense was always going to be Växjö's strong suit, and that's definitely been the case: their 3.88 GF/GP is a whole goal more than the second highest mark in their group, Fiasko's 2.85. Wingers @Kattenj (16 GP, 18+26=44) and @Birkedal96 (16 GP, 20+20=40) have scored well over two points per game, meanwhile center @dzouvi (16 GP, 16+15=31) isn't too far off either. The players' quality was never a question, but the uncertainty around how their squad would click seems to have been cleared. They have some tough opponents left, but the group's number one spot looks slated to remain theirs.   Notable mentions: Powerhouse HC, Fiasko   COLD    FILADELPHIA ACADEMY (6-8-2) The ACADEMY started its season with @Tappu (TAPPUU_) playing four games at RD, but soon signed @Wenger (re_Wenger) (4 GP, 0+3=3) to move TAPPUU_ back to goalie. When re_Wenger left to Elite division GOONS after another four games, last season's RD @Ipana27 (8 GP, 0+3=3) stepped back in and seems to have taken the spot for now. Coping without @xAaro89x's scoring has been tough, and in addition to being one of the lowest scoring teams, FILADELPHIA ACADEMY has also conceded the most goals per game (3.06) in Group 2. They don't have the easiest opponents left, so clawing back lost ground is a tough task ahead.    GHETTO FIREBIRDS (7-6-1) GHETTO FIREBIRDS have usually been known for their tight team defense, but troubles in their own end have been prevalent this season: they've conceded the second most goals per game in their group, an even three. Their goalscoring has been decent enough, but if they want to climb towards the top four we expected of them, limiting goals allowed should be priority number one. They have ascended above the playoff line during the past week, so maybe it was just a rocky start with a changed roster and the FIREBIRDS are on the up now.    Herlev Eagles (6-7-1) Herlev Eagles have the exact same roster they reached the quarterfinals with last season, so it's unclear as to why and how they are struggling the way they are. The offseason was unusually short too, so it can't really be chalked to having a long break either. They've actually managed to keep the puck out of their net quite well, but their 2.07 GF/GP is only above Joukkue and Björklöven Esport among their group. We know they have the skill, so it's just a matter of getting out of a slump for the Denmark-based organization's squad. They need to win most of their remaining games to get into the playoffs.   Notable mentions: Björklöven Esport, Company of Geeks     There's still plenty to play for as the ECL '22: Spring Pro regular season is set to end on 5 May, so keep on following the action and stay tuned for our Round 1 preview come playoff time. If you're one of the players involved, good luck and have fun trying to clinch that postseason spot!   PS: We would love for you to follow our social channels, as they are an integral part of the ECL season. Discord Instagram Facebook Twitch Twitter
  3. The season starts tonight so I guess it's finally time to post this IN @juhkis96 from Conquer Gaming @Esko-etikka from SKYFALL @Simbanho from Armada Hockey @Johansson-37 last minute from GIFU Hockey 👀 OUT @kongi- to Tohtorit @sMiika to HIMAS Thanks to the old guys & welcome new boys! twitter.com/hanaahc_
  4. Strap up and get ready for some exciting ehockey action coming up, it is already time for the Spring season! Getting up to speed with the league is key, so stay with us and read this piece to gain an insight on what to expect. Season information To find out about the prize pool specifics, check out our earlier prize pool info article. For a look at the whole ECL framework, check out the sign-ups article. Notable dates for the ECL '22: Spring Pro season: Regular season: 4.4-5.5. Transfer deadline: 18.4. 23:59 CEST Playoffs (Best-of-7) Round of 16: 8.-12.5. Quarterfinals: 15.-25.5. Semifinals: 30.5.-2.6. Finals: 5.-6.6. (TBC) Default gamedays for the ECL '22: Spring Pro division will be on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, with a weekly broadcast on the SportsGamer Twitch at 19:45 CEST primarily on Tuesdays. Stay tuned for the season opening broadcast on 12.4. You can access the rulebook, schedule, standings, statistics and full rosters from the ECL ‘22: Spring Pro league page. Socials Here's an update to the social media instructions. Our sponsors this season are Kouvolan Lakritsi, St Hockey & Wilhelm. Twitter: When posting tweets of your lineups, matchups, recaps, clips, articles - or any other content you might want to create - please make sure to tag the following accounts and hashtag: @SportsGamerGG #ECL22Spring #NHL22 #esports #kouvolanlakritsi #MukanaWilhelm Instagram: When posting on Instagram, please make sure to tag the following accounts and hashtag: @SportsGamerGG #ECL22Spring #NHL22 #esports #kouvolanlakritsi #MukanaWilhelm Note: It is very helpful and critical for us to succeed in getting our partners tagged, so they get the necessary mentions and interaction to validate their participation in the future. That being said, it is understandable that there may be circumstances due to your other partners where you are unable to tag competition etc. Your support is appreciated. As there are quite a few hashtags by now, especially from a Twitter perspective with limited characters, we recommend using at least #ECL22Spring in the text part of the tweet and leave the sponsor tags for the end. If you need to cut out tags, remove #esports and #NHL22. For Instagram this shouldn't be an issue. Season preview Whereas there has usually been quite a lengthy break in between two ECL seasons, this time around the sojourn was rather brief. The short offseason did not make teams stand pat though, and, similarly to the other divisions, Pro squads have had their fair bit of roster roulette going on. We will dive more into those in the following team previews, but first let us quickly recap the qualifier process. The Pro Qualifier was played during the past few weeks, as usual. A number of Pro-eligible teams disbanded after last season, boosting the total of spots up for grabs to ten. The teams that succeeded in making it through include newly founded wildcard Be a Bro, ECL '22: Winter Core Champion Almtuna eSport, as well as teams who played Lite last season in Golden Nights, Powerhouse HC and Pasilan SKA. This actually marks an immediate return to Europe's second-highest level for Golden Nights, whose ECL 12 Pro campaign resulted in relegation. In the inaugural Pro Qualifier, ahead of ECL 12, none of the participating earlier Pro teams were able to retain their divisional spots. That changed last season with PENTA and RCTIC clawing their way through, though the majority (three) previous Pro teams still failed back then. The trend upwards has continued, and this time the majority in Joukkue (ex-AfroDunk), Company of Geeks, Fiasko, Hawaii Hockey and Nemesis did in fact get the job done, meanwhile Pata Hellalla and Luleå Hockey were the only ones to fail and will be playing in Lite for the foreseeable future. One thing to note is the change of power balances between represented areas: with noRex Gaming disbanding and PENTA and SPARTIATES X MCES relegated, Deadly Phantoms and Geekz Energy eSports are now the only Central European teams remaining in Pro. There is also one less Finnish and one more Swedish team this season, but the Finns are still at the forefront by a wide margin, 21 of the 32 teams being majority-Finnish. There are nine teams that did not play in Pro last season, most of them being more or less new to this level. The rest have seen some personnel changes as well, so let us take a closer look at the teams. Group 1 Written by @jahajaha93 Almtuna eSport ECL '22: Winter result: Core Champion The ECL '22 Winter Core Champion managed to pave their way to the Pro division through the Qualifiers and are now in for a massive challenge. The core for this team has stayed intact and the main addition will be @eSwahn joining them in net from Södertälje SK. Some other interesting additions are @gtasir and @albin tinglert on offense, both of whom are yet to take their first strides on the Pro ice. Despite them seeing moderate success in the Qualifiers, a very tough season could be expected for Almtuna this spring. Player to watch: @BeastBenn14 Regular season prediction: @jahajaha93: 13-16th place @Mikka: 12-16th place Djurgården Hockey ECL '22: Winter result: 16th place in Elite Djurgården Hockey were crowned Champions during their last Pro stint back in ECL 12, but their Elite journey was quite short lived. As expected, they had a tough time adapting to the speed and skill level, and at the end of the season they were relegated. In the offseason, the team has made some changes, mainly losing @Strumpan87 and former captain @Jungledonk. They've brought in four new guys, in the form of @SPB_AlexZver_22, @Mistertyppo95, @Nampa77 and @lidman1. We'll have to wait and see what kind of lineup they ice on opening night, but if they end up clicking, there is a decent amount of skill in their ranks. Player to watch: @Sorsa103 Regular season prediction: @jahajaha93: 6-12th place @Mikka: 8-14th place, extremely new team Geekz Energy eSports ECL '22: Winter result: 10th place in Pro Group 2 Geekz Energy eSports is one of those teams that are quite tough to get a read on. They have quite a wide roster with some scoring power, and a great goaltender in @PLA77NER. Some of these guys have player cards as long as my annual Christmas shopping list with all the competitive games they've played, so it definitely won't be about experience for Geekz. The team has also had time to perfect their craft in a competitive environment in the CSCL Relax Cup 5 over the past few weeks. Player to watch: @Stefan_397 (ViSi0nZ97_) Regular season prediction: @jahajaha93: 6-12th place @Mikka: 8-12th place GIFU Hockey ECL '22: Winter result: Eliminated in Pro RO16 Another team that shouldn't have too much pressure to perform, but could very well end up surprising some good teams if they have a great night. @Baranizer has grown into a solid Pro level goalie with GIFU, and their skaters are all very mechanically skilled. New defenseman @Frompa- will have to take on a big role on breakouts and puck possession play, while @OzziX35 is the more defensive of the two. @Timotei97, who spent last season in Lite with Bellizzi could end up being an important piece for GIFU's scoring. Player to watch: @Timotei97 Regular season prediction: @jahajaha93: 8-12th place @Mikka: 8-12th place Golden Nights ECL '22: Winter result: Eliminated in Lite Quarterfinals Golden Nights already made a Pro appearance back in ECL 12, but their stint was short lived that time. Now, after some success in the Qualifiers, they are back for more, with some more experience and individual growth under their belts. Especially @xSaski_ and @JJimbo- are very skilled individually and know how to handle the puck, but the biggest downfall of Golden Nights could be insufficient puck movement. Player to watch: @xSaski_ Regular season prediction: @jahajaha93: 8-14th place @Mikka: 8-14th place, boom or bust HanaaHC ECL '22: Winter result: Eliminated in Pro RO16 Hanaa has one of the longest streaks competing in the Pro division and they seem to be a lock for playoffs each year. Forward trio @Mikka - @Hazard-laser - @xLeikku is a very strong ensemble for pro and the team has strengthened their defense with @juhkis96, joining them from Conquer Gaming, so you should expect yet another playoff push. The one question mark lies in net, as the team currently has three netminders signed out of which @jg697000 (Gresu__) will most likely not play. @Simbanho could end up being their go-to-guy with zero experience above the Lite level. Player to watch: @xLeikku Regular season prediction: @jahajaha93: 1-4th place @Mikka plays for HanaaHC Hawaii Hockey ECL '22: Winter result: 12th place in Pro Group 2 Hawaii Hockey placed 12th in their group last season and had to partake in Qualifier action prior to the Spring season, which could've been a good thing for the team, as they passed with relative ease and got their competitive mindset going early. They've retained their core and acquired mainly @jiibada_ to boost their offense. This team really needs to dig deep in order to stay with the competition this season, and need big performances in net both from @JaxonRules93 and @vokial2 (SolidElli). Player to watch: @jiibada_ Regular season prediction: @jahajaha93: 12-16th place @Mikka: 10-14th place Hokurit ECL '22: Winter result: Eliminated in Pro RO16 The ECL ‘22 Winter campaign for Hokurit was an interesting one. Defenseman @MCH_98 had a sensational season, outscoring several forwards and slotting in second for all defensemen. The routine level of the team managed to earn them a playoff spot, but their berth was short lived, as they were eliminated in the first round. They lost the aforementioned @MCH_98 to Be a Bro, but have brought in very capable replacements in the form of @jamal-_- and @Frans-Fin, who should elevate the base level of the team a bit. Could end up in no man’s land. Player to watch: @Jondeezz Regular season prediction: @jahajaha93: 8-12th place @Mikka: 8-12th place Mora IK ECL '22: Winter result: Lite Champion The ECL ‘22 Winter Lite Champions step up to the next level and these are always interesting situations to see how they’ll adapt their game. Some changes have been made, but mainly the roster has been condensed. A notable absence is their top scorer from ECL ‘22 Winter @Robban kaudern (Kaudomovic), who joined Frolunda HC Academy in the offseason. On paper, it looks like Mora IK could be in a world of trouble this season, but their most important player, goaltender @Jeqque44 can salvage some big points for them on any given night. Player to watch: @Jeqque44 Regular season prediction: @jahajaha93: 13-16th place @Mikka: 12-16th place Nemesis ECL '22: Winter result: 12th place in Pro Group 1 Nemesis is another squad consisting of very skilled individuals, that need time together in order to find that perfect balance and perform at their very best, and that is exactly what they've done. After a tough ECL '22 Winter, they dug deep and decided to double down on their familiar core, only adding @profiilipakki on offense to take the center position, in which he has slotted in nicely for them based on the Qualifiers. On defense, however, they acquired @N44TTI_16, who is a great addition and will elevate their game significantly. Player to watch: @N44TTI_16 Regular season prediction: @jahajaha93: 5-10th place @Mikka: 5-10th place Pasilan SKA ECL '22: Winter result: Failed to make the playoffs in Lite After competing in the Core division and being eliminated in the Quarterfinals by Resurrection, it might be a bit confusing to see this team Pro this season, but in fact we’ll be seeing an entirely overhauled team, consisting of a Hotbox - Pasilan-fusion. The only previous Pasilan SKA players continuing are @Macentoitunu and @musta_surma1, who definitely were key players for them. Of course, a former Core team joining forces with a team that was relegated at the end of last season wouldn’t indicate a lot of success being on the horizon, but we’re not opposed to seeing these guys surprise big time. Player to watch: @Macentoitunu Regular season prediction: @jahajaha93: 12-16th place @Mikka: 12-16th place RCTIC ECL '22: Winter result: Eliminated in Pro Semifinals The icy boys had a surprisingly solid winter season showing and are looking to continue on that path in the emerging spring sunlight. The roster is virtually unchanged with the exception of the very solid signing of @MrNipsuli, who joins the team from Färjestad BK and an excellent season in Elite. The new recruit will match up with veteran @Aze down low, and the trio @Naikou88 - @yrjoo - @Limbe65 will continue potting goals up front. If the team can stay as solid defensively, while improving their firepower, they should be a lock for at least the quarterfinals. Player to watch: @MrNipsuli Regular season prediction: @jahajaha93: 1-4th place @Mikka: 1-4th place Reality Check ECL '22: Winter result: Pro runner-up Last season, Reality Check paved their way all the way to the Finals, where they came up short against JYP Jyväskylä. Postseason success is a thing these guys are no strangers to, but they do have an extensive record of never really coming through all the way. Since their last on ice appearance, they’ve replaced center @TheArska with @JesseL2002 and defenseman @jezbaru with @Mikax222, who both should be decent additions and the success of it all should come down to how their chemistry turns out. Player to watch: @Mikax222 Regular season prediction: @jahajaha93: 1-4th place @Mikka: 1-4th place Sinister ECL '22: Winter result: Eliminated in Pro RO16 Sinister is a team with tremendous offensive potential and several young, hungry players with tons of upside. Most notably, they’ve exchanged @topikeranen with @Vale16, who obviously doesn’t have the experience, but has that scoring talent that seems to be a theme for this squad. Offensively, there’s no doubt that Sinister couldn’t hang with the big boys, but their biggest downfall could be their goaltending, as they don’t seem to have that bona fide top Pro level starter in their ranks. Player to watch: @OsquuG Regular season prediction: @jahajaha93: 4-8th place @Mikka: 4-8th place Sulkavan Sudet ECL '22: Winter result: Eliminated in Pro RO16 Long-time Pro division dwellers had a solid winter regular season but fell short in a round 1 seven game series at the hands of Tohtorit. Captain @Oxdoggi has managed to strengthen his squad for the upcoming season by acquiring former HAVU Gaming backup @vviljo and winger @apettaja, who bounced around a bit last season but has a decent track record of succeeding in a scoring role in the Pro division. The wolves have quite a wide roster with several options, so it’ll be an interesting thing to see what kind of setup they will be going with and if they will make changes moving forward. Sulkavan Sudet should without a doubt be a playoff team. Player to watch: @Oxdoggi Regular season prediction: @jahajaha93: 6-8th place @Mikka: 6-10th place Tohtorit ECL '22: Winter result: Eliminated in Pro Quarterfinals Tohtorit made a splash last season by pushing all the way to the Quarterfinals against all expectations, and the team definitely has the capability to accomplish a similar feat this time around, only now we'll be able to see it coming. Whereas they've held on to their starting lineup from last season, they've built on that and added depth and several options in acquiring players like @ADETIKKI (Dillynger) and @jezbaru to star in supporting roles. Player to watch: @Wpaanane Regular season prediction: @jahajaha93: 1-4th place @Mikka: 1-4th place Group 2 Written by @Mikka AHJO Previously Dynastia ECL '22: Winter result: Eliminated in Pro Quarterfinals The former Dynastia lineup got recently picked up by esports organization AHJO, and are looking to keep on the same constantly improving trajectory as thus far. After ending their rookie Pro campaign with a first round exit in ECL 12, they had already by last season improved enough to make the second round. Can they reach the semis this time around? Losing your by far top scorer in @Pikkardz (Pikkarii) is always going to hurt, but getting experienced @TheArska (XxProArskaxX) from the runner-ups Reality Check may have made them more well rounded. AHJO should comfortably be in the playoffs and can easily challenge for the higher seeds. Player to watch: @xHatsi Regular season prediction: @Mikka: 4-8th place @jahajaha93: 4-10th place Be a Bro ECL '22: Winter result: Did not participate Even though Be a Bro is a completely new team, their players have plenty of shared history. The core of the roster in @Vaporik, @Janikka, @imosi and @Niskalaukaus all played for the hugely disappointing VISU Gaming last season, and captain @MCH_98 knows the NHL scene's longtimers @Janikka and @imosi from SIKA of seasons past. This is a chance for all of them to prove they belong back among Pro's top end. It will also be exciting to see what @rakkauspakkaus- can accomplish with another team than his old Björklöven Esport. Player to watch: @MCH_98 Regular season prediction: @Mikka: 4-8th place @jahajaha93: 5-10th place Björklöven Esport ECL '22: Winter result: 9th place in Pro Group 1 There have been some sizable changes with Björklöven, most notable being the acquisition of dynamic duo @Pappen (pappeen-) and @LukasGudinge (Gudinge) from Core's Carlstad Kings Esports. Björklöven's offense seems to be fully redone and jumping from Core to Pro is a challenge, so it remains to be seen if they start clicking. However, Tohtorit proved last season that you can jump straight from Core and do some damage, even though they had a longer offseason. Player to watch: @Pappen(pappeen-) Regular season prediction: @Mikka: 8-12th place @jahajaha93: 6-12th place Company of Geeks ECL '22: Winter result: 14th place in Pro Group 1 The team that first started in 2008(!) has been on a downward trajectory for the past few years, going from 6th to 10th to 14th place in the regular season in their past three campaigns. They escaped relegation by showing up big time in the Pro Qualifier, winning all but two games. What they need the most is some consistency in their roster composition, as in being able to retain more players between seasons. That is going to come with solidifying a spot as a playoff challenger, so the sights should really be in the long term even though another fight for survival seems probable for now. They have reportedly already lost @Mikax222 to Reality Check, so finding an ample replacement for a key player in their dominating qualifier performance is of utmost importance. Player to watch: @PyroNiko Regular season prediction: @Mikka: 10-16th place @jahajaha93: 12-16th place Deadly Phantoms ECL '22: Winter result: Eliminated in Pro RO16 The German outfit has had two quite weird campaigns at this level since getting relegated from Elite. In both ECL 12 and ECL '22: Winter, they had some troubles during the first half of the regular season, but finished off strong with a 9-1-0 L10. They lost in the finals in ECL 12, but were eliminated already in the first round last season. They have steadily, no matter what, been a playoff team, and getting @Timasy and @PlaymakerSJ back in the playing lineup, at least in some capacity, is going to be a huge help on their quest back to Europe's top. Even though they will not be playing a 100% of the games, they can alleviate some pressure off the Phantoms' high-scoring defensemen. Player to watch: @xXPsykoSkillsXx Regular season prediction: @Mikka: 4-8th place @jahajaha93: 4-8th place Fiasko ECL '22: Winter result: 14th place in Pro Group 2 Avoiding instant relegation by just a tiebreaker is something that these guys would probably call a... Alright, now that that is out of the way, a season considerably better than their last one does not seem too likely for Fiasko. Their roster has remained largely the same, adding @StuPittman, @Jammelson and @Toimitusjohtaja3 from Lite's Its a nice city. @Jammelson and @Toimitusjohtaja3 had decent statistics for their old team, but they do not appear to have the kind of skill that would mask the squad's collective troubles. Unless they can make their game a lot more organized, another season of Survivor seems to await. Looking at the bright side, they may have taken lessons from last season and now be readier to do more than surviving. Player to watch: @Xkeineri Regular season prediction: @Mikka: 12-16th place @jahajaha93: 13-16th place FILADELPHIA ACADEMY ECL '22: Winter result: Lite runner-up As previously stated, losing your top scorer is never going to be easy, let alone after you get promoted to a higher division. Even though @xAaro89x moving on to last season's Pro champion JYP Jyväskylä is a tough blow, it tells that they have been doing things right. While their new starting six has not been confirmed, the talk around town is former standout defenseman @samza96 will be making a comeback at the center position. Whoever the replacement is, the Academy should be good enough and have the resources and support behind them to make the playoffs. Worst case scenario, they barely miss. Player to watch: @TEST0-RYTZE (Rytze_) Regular season prediction: @Mikka: 5-10th place @jahajaha93: 5-8th place GHETTO FIREBIRDS ECL '22: Winter result: Eliminated in Pro RO16 Thus far there has been quite a lot of talk about losing players, and GHETTO was not spared from that either: their captain since the beginning in ECL 4, @KepakkoFIN, decided to step away from competing. Getting @Talonmies69 (TaIonm1es) back after a year away should be more than ample replacement on the ice at least, and he is not even the only old friend making a return: ECL '22: Winter Pro top scorer @Valluxet is back as well! The last time he was here they ended up getting promoted, is it finally time for FIREBIRDS to make the return to Elite? They do have the strongest squad they have had during their current Pro stint. Player to watch: @Valluxet Regular season prediction: @Mikka: 1-4th place @jahajaha93 plays for GHETTO FIREBIRDS Herlev Eagles ECL '22: Winter result: Eliminated in Pro Quarterfinals The Eagles are entering their fifth Pro season, seemingly continuing with the same lineup that got them to the quarterfinals the last time out. They are perceived as one of the favorites now, and should be one of the higher seeds come playoff time. Retaining the same starting six could be a huge advantage, with most other teams making multiple impactful changes during such a short offseason. Their forwards had way more Time with Puck than their defensemen did in ECL '22: Winter, so perhaps they should get the back end involved a bit more in the future. Player to watch: @Mr Steffmeister (Suth98_) Regular season prediction: @Mikka: 1-4th place @jahajaha93: 1-4th place Joukkue Previously AfroDunk ECL '22: Winter result: 13th place in Pro Group 1 Half of their lineup has changed, and the ride through the qualifier was far from smooth. Looking at their roster though, with the additions of RW @Sluibaaja_88 and LD @kungenkurwa (Kungenkirwa), they *should* at least on paper mount a good challenge for the playoffs. A tremendous addition with those ambitions in mind is @theMaddias from Elite's Conquer Gaming, joining his former Otukset teammates @obivop (HaaganHamilton) and @Empuuz_24. They have the potential to be playoff bound, just need to start executing like it. Player to watch: @theMaddias Regular season prediction: @Mikka: 8-14th place @jahajaha93: 8-14th place Powerhouse HC ECL '22: Winter result: Eliminated in Lite Quarterfinals After five seasons in Lite, Powerhouse HC has finally made it to Pro. They do not look the strongest, but could they be another Hokurit and impress everyone right away with the sheer experience of seasons played together? Would not really bet on it, but certainly possible. While Hokurit had some players with earlier Pro experience leading the team, @suitsukemestari is the only one in Powerhouse. He only has six games from last season and two in ECL 10, so it is not exactly like he is some extremely experienced veteran either. The chemistry built up from playing together for a long time is going to come in handy, and it is their main resource for hoping to cause some upsets. Player to watch: @Burritokuningas Regular season prediction: @Mikka: 12-16th place @jahajaha93: 13-16th place Prima eSport ECL '22: Winter result: Lite Bronze Game Winner Third place in Lite last season, Prima does not exactly have a lot of experience aside from captain @iSvamp (Svampbot). Their forwards do have a previous Pro season each though, and especially @Philip Deemus (PHDeemus) and @Daniel Asplund (Dasplund_) scored quite nicely ECL 12 Pro. As is always the case with their captain's teams, they have a strong identity. That identity is the factor that can bring them to the playoffs already in their debut season, if things go right. The competition for the last playoff spots is going to be fierce, but Prima has a decent chance to take one of those. Breakout seasons from the forwards would go a long way. Player to watch: @Philip Deemus (PHDeemus) Regular season prediction: @Mikka: 8-12th place @jahajaha93: 8-12th place Renascor ECL '22: Winter result: Eliminated in Pro RO16 Not much remains of the old Renascor, with most of their big pieces now gone. New additions @Winci (Winci-_o) and @TuomoP83 have huge shoes to fill, having played last season in Core and Lite respectively. Both have performed at a decent level in Pro in the past, but time has passed since then and the competition has gotten better. Forwards @ilyagolubev (tendeerly) and @Virusactive, along with veteran defenseman @MAYZIIX, need to step up and take a big role if they want to achieve anything. Player to watch: @ilyagolubev (tendeerly) Regular season prediction: @Mikka: 10-16th place @jahajaha93: 13-16th place Växjö Lakers ECL '22: Winter result: 9th place in Pro Group 2 If any team has a wide range of possible outcomes this season, it is Växjö Lakers. They had an uninspiring Winter season, but since then they have already gained some silverware by winning the eSHL. Granted, they did have some extremely important loanees and should not be expected to be at that high of a level moving forward. But to get to the point, they signed forwards @dzouvi and @Birkedal96 from Elite teams, and are now looking like one of the strongest sides in Pro. There is practically zero data on their play though, and the uncertainty comes from that. If they can get their game rolling, they should be one of the top contenders. If not, the regular season is quite short... Player to watch: @dzouvi Regular season prediction: @Mikka: 1-6th place @jahajaha93: 1-4th place VISU Gaming ECL '22: Winter result: 11th place in Pro Group 1 Last season's result was a straight up farce for VISU, who were not too far off from getting promoted in the Elite qualifier ahead of the contest. Changes were made, and now is the time to prove it was a one off incident. They had a tough time finding new players, but got them in the end with @IKarkkiI and @Pontinho (I-CLAUGHTON-I) joining the organization. @jubex0r (jubeex0r) should also be a nice addition in between the pipes. VISU's strength has always been tight defense and collective play, we will see how well gelled the squad is without much practice under their belts. Should constantly improve as the season goes on. Player to watch: @hpkfani (MuKiMaisteri) Regular season prediction: @Mikka: 6-12th place @jahajaha93: 4-8th place WannaCry ECL '22: Winter result: 11th place in Pro Group 2 A newly formed team ahead of ECL '22: Winter, WannaCry did not have an easy time during their first campaign. They managed to avoid the qualifier only by a tiebreaker after a tumultuous season. There has been some time to reset though, and are now looking to get into the playoffs for a taste. Captain @Okke40 (hifk_FANI) moves down to defenseman after being the center last season, with @selänne8 (BiggestEight) and @Jjomppa joining the forward group from now-disbanded Boomers. A lot of things need to go right for WannaCry to make it, but there is a chance. Player to watch: @kkostiiii Regular season prediction: @Mikka: 8-14th place @jahajaha93: 5-12th place With that, it has come time to wrap up the season preview. Stay tuned for the first Pro broadcast on 12.4. and we will be right back at you with the midseason report in a few weeks! PS: We would love for you to follow our social channels, as they are an integral part of the ECL season. Discord Instagram Facebook Twitch Twitter
  5. With two playoff rounds past us, we are now down to the final four. Some huge upsets nearly happened in the quarterfinals, though the sole materialized surprise was RCTIC topping Herlev Eagles. Interestingly, the remaining teams’ starting lineups consist of just Finnish players. How do the semifinals pairings match up then? Let's take a look. Schedule   Preview (1) Reality Check - Stargazing  (10) Dynastia delivered an upset in the first round, and were not too far off from doing that in the quarterfinals either. The top seed Reality Check first clawed their way back from a 0-2 deficit to tie the series 2-2, before losing the fifth game and giving the match ball to Dynastia. Despite only being one loss away from having their dreams crushed, Reality Check proved their ability to execute under pressure. By winning the last two games they secured their spot amongst the Pro division’s top four, along with at least a qualification series against an Elite team and some more cash. Opposite Reality Check, Stargazing was the one trying to take down a higher seed in their own series. In fact they almost swept Tohtorit, leading the series 3-0 after the first night of play. They lost the following two games in overtime though, before finally finishing it off in the sixth one. A 4-2 series win was pretty much as expected, even though their opponent had done better in the regular season. For some reason, Stargazing is in a way somewhat reminiscent of Enigma (now IQUE) from a few seasons back. They even have a common factor: @Pirtsa89 between the pipes. Stargazing’s regular season was more like the ECL 10 Pro runner up version of Enigma, which actually did not yet include Pirtsa, instead of the ECL 11 Pro Champion squad he played a big part in. It remains to be seen if they can follow those footsteps all the way to the end, or if Reality Check will take them down before they even get to the finals. Reality Check definitely have their own ambitions as well, looking to take home back-to-back championships and promotions after their Lite success last season. One interesting storyline is @James (Jamechkin) facing his old team: he played for Reality Check in ECL 9 and 10, and in the ECL 12 Pro Qualifier. The reunions do not stop there though, as Reality Check’s @FINSeRe was @xColeslaww’s (koleslaav_) and @Flopper71’s teammate in ECL 10 and 11. They played for Rookie Mistakes, which merged with Stargazing ahead of this ongoing season. Stargazing surely got a significant morale boost from the nearly completed sweep, along with some added mental toughness from being able to avoid getting reverse sweeped. A bit similarly, Reality Check is also sure to have toughened up from the climb back they had after an unfortunate start in the quarterfinals. Both teams have had some uniting, team-building experiences, so there is only one question – who has gained more from those and can turn it into triumph? This will most likely be an incredibly tight series that is decided on the smallest of margins. Reality Check is the more experienced of the two, though Stargazing seems to have better momentum coming into this week. Betting against the number one seed in a series like this might be a little bold, but what are we here for if not bold predictions? The players know each other reasonably well outside ehockey too, so some friendly competitiveness will definitely add its own spice into the mix and provide extra motivation when it is needed the most.   Prediction: 3-4 Stargazing     (2)  JYP Jyväskylä - RCTIC  (9) Like Reality Check, JYP Jyväskylä did not have the start of their dreams in the quarterfinals. They went down 0-2 as well, though they won the following three games before their next loss. In the end, they too were able to turn the game 7 bout into a win, ending noRex Gaming’s hot playoff campaign. Having a close call in the second round was perhaps needed after going through the first round unbeaten, it is at least sure to wake up the veteran squad to focus on the task ahead. Thus far in the playoffs RCTIC has been plowing through opposition with surprising ease. They were not really predicted to win either of their previous series, but they did it anyways – and in what fashion: a 4-1 series win in both the first round and quarterfinals. No team has lost less games in the Pro playoffs this season. Similarly to Stargazing and Reality Check, there are also some familiar faces between these teams: namely JYP Jyväskylä’s @vSilenttio (vee_SILE). He played with RCTIC’s @yrjoo and @Naikou88 for SIKA back in ECL 6 Pro. Naikou is a RW meanwhile vee_SILE an LD, which provides an interesting head-to-head battle between two players who certainly have some hunch about each others’ playstyles. Also of note, outside the virtual ice @Aze (AzeStiNe) has been co-hosting vee_SILE’s live ehockey podcast as of late. JYP Jyväskylä had a proper wake up call with noRex Gaming’s form, and now face a stylistically somewhat similar RCTIC side. They will have to have learned the cause of what happened last week, and to have improved upon that, or RCTIC will capitalize ruthlessly in the same way they did when they took down Renascor and Herlev Eagles. If JYP can improve distinctively and play true to their full potential, RCTIC, or really any other team on this level for that matter, will not effectively be able to stop them from getting that championship without some impressive heroics. Both RCTIC and JYP Jyväskylä have a tremendous amount of experience, we will see which one of the two still has more gas left in the tank. The stakes are big and there are some personal connections in this matchup as well, so on the other hand finding motivation should not be the toughest of tasks. Hunger and sheer will are what RCTIC needs to tilt this their way. JYP Jyväskylä should be quite comfortably ahead of RCTIC, even though the “icy boys” have proven a lot of doubters wrong. Can RCTIC keep this flaming hot streak going for a while longer and make it to the finals? It does not seem too likely at the moment, however, neither did it before either of their previous series. Maybe it is indeed plausible in the end. Nevertheless, do not count RCTIC out before the games have even started. If things go right their way from the get go, they have shown the ability to do some damage even against perceivedly stronger opponents.   Prediction: JYP Jyväskylä 4-1     That is it for our semifinals preview, enjoy the action and stay tuned for the finals next week! For individual statistics, check out the team pages. To the teams, good luck and have fun, it is the journey not the goal that makes it all worth it   PS: We would love for you to follow our social channels, as they are an integral part of the ECL season. Discord Instagram Facebook Twitch Twitter
  6. The Pro playoffs’ opening act is now done, once again with some more or less surprising results. Now it is time to turn our eyes towards the quarterfinals, beginning already tonight. The teams have so far secured around 300€ each, which of them can go even higher? Schedule     Preview (1) Reality Check - Dynastia (14) The number one seed not only in their group but also the whole division, Reality Check had a rather impressive showing in the first round, as was expected. It was not a perfect sweep though, with Hokurit taking the third game by a three goal margin on Friday before Reality Check rebounded yesterday with a 6-1 win in game 4, fueling them to another win in the next one to get the job done with a 4-1 series score.  The game scores were a bit all over the place in Reality Check’s series, showing their ability to find wins in different ways. Other than in games 3 and 4, the eventual winners did have the majority of puck possession when looking at the statistics. An interesting note is the amount of deflections: they did not have a single one in the whole series. Even though the numbers were expected to go down a bit after the recent patch, it is surprising to see how much of a difference it has actually made. While Reality Check were naturally the favorites in their first round matchup, Dynastia had to overcome Group 2 runner ups GHETTO FIREBIRDS to get here. Before the series it was clear they could compete IF they found a way to return to their early season form, which they did. In the series’ first and last games Dynastia were seemingly able to put on a lot more pressure than their opponents did. In between though, the stats were nearly identical as the teams’ respective routine levels of play would have suggested. They suffered a devastating 5-0 loss in the fourth game on Tuesday, but were able to bounce back and close out the series on Thursday with a 4-2 series score. Now that we are up to date on their recent performances, let’s get into this pairing. Reality Check should remain favorites in every matchup at least until the finals, though Dynastia proved in the last round to perhaps be better than their initial seed shows. As was said before the last round, Dynastia can make this one close but they still have a cliff to climb to get it done all the way. The games should not necessarily be expected to have any crazy fireworks and a ton of scoring, instead showing much more conservative play where small margins are the deciding factor.   @Mikka’s prediction: Reality Check 4-2 @viivimaria's prediction: Reality Check 4-1   (2)  JYP Jyväskylä - noRex Gaming (13) JYP’s first round performance was, at least results-wise, what should be expected from a team that has been the clear number one contender since the beginning. They took GIFU Hockey down cleanly with a 4-0 sweep, only conceding one goal in the process. GIFU was able to mount a challenge surprisingly well, but JYP’s experience showed when it mattered and they were able to turn the tight games into wins. Similarly to Dynastia, noRex Gaming were able to take down the opposite group’s runner up in six games to get here. The first three games against HanaaHC were quite high scoring, though still decided in the overtime. One goal margins and overtimes seemed to be the name of the game, as the series wrapped up with three 1-0 contests, the last two of which went to OT. Even though the scores were similar, each individual game played out in quite different ways. In the end the German organization found multiple ways to win and were able to prevail. Thus far this season, JYP has seen a bit of a dip in their performance every time they have been exposed to the Central server. For that reason noRex’s chance to strike should be in their home games. It will be interesting to see if the Finns can steadily plow through another opponent with a clean sweep, or if they meet some actual challenge in noRex. Patience is a virtue, and noRex will need to find that against JYP. In the first round they were at times able to defend relatively well against HanaaHC’s possession, they just need to shut down the net front and keep JYP cycling on the outside. The center matchup will be crucial in this series which is quite heavily tilted to JYP’s side.   @Mikka’s prediction: JYP Jyväskylä 4-1 @viivimaria's prediction: JYP Jyväskylä 4-2   (5)  Tohtorit - Stargazing  (10) After a surprisingly good regular season, Tohtorit had a tougher time than expected with Sulkavan Sudet, only getting the deciding fourth win in game 7. Another series with solely one goal margins except for the third game, Tohtorit were still able to dominate at times. Quite a meaningless, though still interesting fact is that the home team won every game in the series.  Based on the small sample size of a six game series, Stargazing’s points distribution seems to have evolved towards being more even throughout their forwards. They took down a similarly skilled Sinister side with a 4-2 series score, yet again with one goal margins after a 0-2 loss in the first game. A big percentage of goals from both sides were scored during the last few minutes of play. Even though Stargazing did not get their goal scoring rolling at the same top level as Tohtorit did during the regular season, both teams are at their core more offensively inclined and possess a lot of individual skill. Still, hopes should not be held too high in regards to eventful high octane hockey. Mistakes will be costly and either team could win, but Stargazing takes the edge on paper due to the big difference in experience. Goaltending and neutral zone play should be at the center of this matchup, as well as overall team defending.   @Mikka’s prediction: 2-4 Stargazing @viivimaria's prediction: Tohtorit 4-3   (6)  Herlev Eagles - RCTIC  (9) Written by @viivimaria For the upcoming playoff series, Herlev Eagles will go out as a slight favorite after beating Deadly Phantoms 4-1 in the first round of their postseason. That series was a very tightly contested fight and all games were low-scoring bouts. It's very telling that two of those games extended to overtime and three matches ended with a difference of only one goal. In the first round of the playoffs against Deadly Phantoms, Herlev Eagles' decisive players were Jere @keranee Keränen, who totaled 10 points throughout the series, whereas Steffen @Mr Steffmeister Sutherland and Martin @vibholm10 Vibholm both scored eight points each in the five games played. RCTIC also defeated Renascor 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs. If the series between Herlev and Deadly Phantoms was eve, so was this one. With four out of five matches ending with a difference of just one goal and three requiring a decisive goal in overtime.  RCTIC's win in the first round series was guaranteed by the teams attacking trio, who managed to inflict a lot of damage at the opponent's defensive end. In the first round, the teams top scorer was Janne @Limbe65 Lindberg, with his ten points through five played games. Tomi @yrjoo Nenonen and Niko @Naikou88 Heikkilä are at nine points each. We're expecting these two to fight it out in a very tight series, which is why high-scoring games and beautiful connections might not be the theme. Accurate defensive play and high conversion percentage on chances given are the main points. Both teams certainly have the skill and desire to advance, now it comes down to the form of the day. @viivimaria's prediction: Herlev Eagles 4-3 @Mikka’s prediction: Herlev Eagles 4-1   As always, thanks for reading and good luck to the remaining teams! PS: We would love for you to follow our social channels, as they are an integral part of the ECL season. Discord Instagram Facebook Twitch Twitter
  7. Teams like Tohtorit and GIFU Hockey managed to exceed expectations over the hard-fought regular season, meanwhile perhaps the biggest upset was Elite Qualifier runner up VISU Gaming completely failing to make the playoffs. The competition is only starting to ramp up, so join us in taking a closer look at the playoffs! Structure & Prize Pool Schedule Broadcasts As you have grown accustomed to during the regular season, there will be at least one Pro broadcast per week on Tuesdays, with a 19.45 CET start time. You can access that and our other live content on the SportsGamer Twitch, where you can also find our up-to-date stream schedule. Preview (1) Reality Check - Hokurit (8) Reality Check had a powerful showing in the regular season, amassing 50 points en route to the Group 2 top spot. They had the best penalty kill (90.91%) in the whole Pro division, along with a 3rd best 36.17% powerplay. They have been plowing through the opposition quite steadily without dropping too many points, especially with Geekz Energy eSports being the only team outside the playoff picture that managed to beat them. Hokurit on the other hand have been more streaky: they started out hot off the gates with only three losses in their first 12 games, but fell soon after into a six game losing streak against tough opposition. They rebounded a bit in the end though, winning five of their last eight. Hokurit’s story of the season so far has been their left side of the ice, with LW @Jondeezz (30 GP, 29+22=51) and LD @MCH_98 (30 GP, 12+35=47) combining for a total of 98 points, more than twice what their right side amassed (45). The dynamic duo leads the team in almost every stat category, including Time with Puck (TwP) by a significant amount. Looking at the TwP stat for Reality Check, we can notice the same trend: the puck spends the most time with their LW @vvlampela (cTunkeilija) (30 GP, 35+32=67) and LD @jezbaru (30 GP, 4+30=34). Individual points within the team are more even by a lot though, which would suggest that Reality Check’s production is not as reliant on their leading puck possession players. The general opinion seems to be that deflections have been nerfed in the latest patch, even if that was not announced in the patch notes. It will be interesting to see how that affects Reality Check’s play, as their center @TheArska (XxProArskaxX) (30 GP, 30+25=55) likes to operate the netfront, especially on the powerplay. He finished top of the division with 42 deflections during the regular season, with the next closest tally being only 32. Hokurit have been rotating both of their goalies evenly, and with them having roughly equal stats it remains to be seen which one they will trust to carry them through. Reality Check have two goalies on their roster as well, but @FINSeRe (30 GP, 83.83 SV%, 1.43 GAA, 4 SO) has played every single one of their games thus far. He boasts the division’s second best save percentage, so definitely watch out for him. These teams faced each other last season in the Lite Quarterfinals, with Reality Check taking the edge with a 4-3 series score on their way to the title. Hokurit have only swapped @Oicteppotulppu for Jondeezz since then, meanwhile Reality Check has changed half of their lineup and gotten some sweet additions in those players. Hokurit got 24 out of their 37 points in the regular season against teams that failed to make the playoffs, so they still have a lot to prove against top competition. What better way to do that than to take down the #1 seed? Honestly though, they may very well take at least a game or two but winning the whole series does not seem too likely right now. Prediction: @Mikka: Reality Check 4-1 @Franky__2768: Reality Check 4-0 (2) GHETTO FIREBIRDS - Dynastia (7) Runner up in Group 2, the former Elite side embarks once again on a quest back to the top. Last season they were upset in the quarterfinals, as the #1 seed, by the now-Deadly Phantoms. Looking to build from that disappointment, they made some changes in their offense which propelled them to another nice regular season finish (22-5-3). Dynastia is another team that was clicking right away with only two losses in their first 12 games, and their season has been eerily similar to that of Hokurit: they fell into a seven game losing streak a bit after the midpoint, but bounced back to win five of their last six. @Pikkardz (Pikkarii) has been clicking with 30 GP, 29+30=59 points, 17 more than offensive partners @Majuri20 (Diktaattori62) (30 GP, 20+22=42) and @xHatsi (30 GP, 24+18=42), though he does have the worst passing percentage in the division (59.7%). Either way they need to find a way to work as a tight unit to be able to compete against the FIREBIRDS’ strong game identity. Similarly to Dynastia, and apparently countless other teams, GHETTO FIREBIRDS has been running a lot of their offense through LW @Jertsicc (30 GP, 33+33=66). Their play seems to revolve a bit more around that side, as all of their RWs and RD @jahajaha93 (30 GP, 4+20=24) had significantly lower TwP than the other players. Center @Santtu (santtu3333) has respectable stats as well, 30 GP, 21+31=52. They had some turmoil on the RW spot early on, though deadline-day addition @Jerax13 (20 GP, 22+9=31) has since put those question marks to rest. While Jertsicc and santtu3333 only hit around once per game, Jerax13 had 78 hits in 20 games to go along with the 244 hits their defensive pairing dealt out. Dynastia does not hit nearly as much, with @FakiiR1 (TheFakiiR1)’s 114 hits accounting for 42,6% of their team total. That seems to only be a difference in playing styles, as a difference cannot really be found between the teams’ amount of takeaways or interceptions. @Jeresti (30 GP, 85.11 SV%, 1.53 GAA, 9 SO) takes the goaltending battle over the less-experienced @Vamoux (24 GP, 76.92 SV%, 2.13 GAA, 2 SO) by quite a margin on paper, being the Pro division leader on most statistics this season and showing stellar play throughout the years. A lot of this matchup will be decided by the form of Dynastia. They could make this tight and even run away with it, if they can do what they did at the beginning of the season. Should they fail to do that though, they could even be facing a sweep. One of the more exciting matchups to look out for if both perform true to their level. Prediction: @Mikka: GHETTO FIREBIRDS 4-1 @Franky__2768: GHETTO FIREBIRDS 4-2 (3) Herlev Eagles - Deadly Phantoms (6) Finishing 3rd in Group 2, the mixed nationality roster repping the Danish hockey club Herlev Eagles delivered as they were expected to, perhaps even a bit better. It must feel good to have a strong regular season after missing postseason play the last time, but surely they will not be complacent with just that. Looking to march on to Elite, they face an extremely tough opponent immediately. Deadly Phantoms are a team with long traditions going back years and years, and it remains reflected in their play even if the roster sees some changes. They had an almost identical regular season as last summer, struggling during the first half before going on a tear towards the end. They went all the way to the finals that time, leaving them full of hunger after losing the series. They have won 12 of their last 14 games, ten of which were in a row, so there should definitely be some good momentum carrying over. Herlev on the other hand has fainted a bit, losing their last three games. RW @keranee (30 GP, 22+42=64) and C @Mr Steffmeister (Suth98_) (30 GP, 31+31=62) carry the Eagles up front points-wise, though LW @vibholm10 (Vibholm_10) is no slouch either (30 GP, 28+22=50). On the contrary to most other teams, they seem to run the game a lot more through the right side: RD @Dreamickie (30 GP, 6+19=25) has the team’s highest TwP, 136:53, meanwhile LD @oSandello (30 GP, 1+15=16) has the lowest: only 85:47. This is reflected in their points as well with Dreamickie clearly taking the edge. While Herlev gets most of their offense from forwards, Deadly Phantoms has two of the division’s top three scoring defensemen: @xXPsykoSkillsXx (30 GP, 6+44=50) and @Franky__2768 (30 GP, 5+39=44). The pairing does not score a lot of goals, but they clearly have the puck on their sticks the most and dish out some sweet assists. Both teams had the best FOW% in their respective groups, so stay on alert for the battle on the dot between DPH’s @Pathen-21- (30 GP, 28+24=52) and Herlev’s Suth98_. The edge goes to Suth98_’s 56.9% on paper, though Pathen-21-’s 54.8% is really good as well. Also, faceoffs are always a one-on-one mind game. Even though the clash between the pipes does not initially look as close as the faceoff one, @RPH_31 (30 GP, 74.75 SV%, 2.53 GAA, 3 SO) can still steal games for the Phantoms on his own. Granted, Herlev’s @TeikDaun (26 GP, 82.03%, 1.77, 7 SO) clearly has the edge on consistency at the moment. Deadly Phantoms loves to throw the puck to the net, which is reflected on their stats as well: only JYP Jyväskylä and Sulkavan Sudet had more shots on goal during the regular season, in addition to the the Germans’ center Pathen-21- having the 2nd most deflections by an individual player. As was previously mentioned, the latest patch could affect teams with a playstyle reliant on redirects and tip ins, so it will be interesting to see how they adapt. They have scored the most goals out of any team thus far though, and it must also be noted they have won five out of their six ECL games since the patch went live. The server aspect plays into this matchup as well, with Deadly Phantoms playing their home games on the Central server as opposed to the currently dominant Northern one. Herlev Eagles took three out of four possible points from the two higher-ping Central games they played during the regular season, so based on that minimal sample size it does not look like too big of a problem for them. If there is one series to watch in the first round, this is it. Prediction: @Mikka: Herlev Eagles 4-3 @Franky__2768 plays for Deadly Phantoms (4) Renascor - RCTIC (5) Renascor were a slight surprise last season, taking since promoted HV71 to a game seven in the quarterfinals before falling short. They are now back where they left off with some more shared experience, only replacing @Tiltsson with @ilyagolubev (tendeerly) (30 GP, 41+35) at the LW spot. They had a bit of an up and down regular season, taking full points from top teams like Reality Check and Herlev Eagles, but on the other hand also dropping way too many points to weaker teams. After last season’s letdown performance, RCTIC came into the season with the task of making it through the Pro Qualifier. They did just that, and then clawed their way to a decent #5 finish in Group 1. The last time they were in Pro playoffs was ECL 11, where they actually managed to upset a higher seed Inter Iceland in the first round. Time has passed since then though, and captain & RD @layout (JxLayout) (30 GP, 1+32=33) is the only one still left from the lineup that got swept by current Elite top team GOONS in the quarterfinals. Even though Renascor’s play has been streaky thus far, at least they have gotten their offense clicking at a high level. As expected, the Elite-experienced captain RW @Valluxet (30 GP, 40+40=80) leads the pack and even won the division’s scoring title. If the team has in the past perhaps been too reliant on Valluxet’s scoring, that does not seem to be the case anymore: tendeerly finished second in points, as well as assist machine @Virusactive (30 GP, 14+60=74) joint-third, making them the only team to have three players in the top ten in scoring, let alone top five. Even though TwP is distributed almost evenly between everyone in the Renascor squad, except RD @Serg1vratar (Nyabml4) (24 GP, 4+10=14), the goals appear to be mainly coming through the forward trio’s play with LD @Motov (zMotzz) (30 GP, 6+19=25) being under a point per game as well. RCTIC have a lot of experience on starting lineup with leading scorer RW @Naikou88 (30 GP, 37+26=63), C @yrjoo (30 GP, 22+25=47) and LD @Aze (AzeStiNe) (30 GP, 4+18=22) all being ECL 1 originals. JxLayout and LW @Limbe65 (30 GP, 31+26=57) are not exactly rookies either, so the Finns should have a good routine level and knowledge around what to do when the games get tight. They clearly build attacks from out back with AzeStiNe and JxLayout having the lion’s share of puck possession. Neither of the matchup’s projected goalies have eye-popping stats, 30 GP, 76.07 SV%, 2.23 GAA, 2 SO for Renascor’s @sumskoy26 (sumkaX) and 26 GP, 74.52 SV%, 2.54 GAA, 0 SO for RCTIC’s @Jjmakkeli (JussinSisko). Looking at the GA/GP and GF/GP stats, both teams seem to have had a bigger focus on offense while getting by with rather mediocre defending. Could high scoring matches be the name of the game, or will the focus switch more towards defending as it usually does in the playoffs? RCTIC’s offense is not at the level of Renascor, but they should be able to compete if they can tighten up a strong team defense and be clinical in counter attacks. Prediction: @Mikka: Renascor 4-2 @Franky__2768: Renascor 4-3 The rest of the matchup previews were written by @Franky__2768 (1) JYP Jyväskylä - GIFU Hockey (8) The former Elite division team JYP Jyväskylä is trying to fulfill their ambition to climb up again directly. They topped their group with an impressive 23-5-2 campaign - they have a strong offense (3.2 GF/GP) and strong defense (1.77 GA/GP) with good special team numbers (29.27% PP, 73.17% PK). In the offense JYP lost @Joukki, but replaced him with who? Well, @Buantso (puantso). I do not know if you can even call that a “replacement”, he can be considered one of the scene’s best players. The former Elite champion delivered with 30 GP, 29+38=67 points (8th in scoring), while center @tbnantti is their finisher (30 GP, 35+30=65, 10 GWGs) which is quite atypical. Captain @indi969 contributed offensively as well (30 GP, 21+36=57 points), but JYP’s clear strong side is on the left: Well known @vSilenttio (vee_SILE) (30 GP, 5+37=42) had another strong season and is the engine in this team. He scores as well and finished 4th with his 42 points, while dishing out nearly 1 000 passes over 30 games. His counterpart @Sakkem (Sakkem95) (26 GP, 6+18=24) backs him up pretty good and even had three more takeaways in four less games, but he also has an awesome 84.7% passing percentage as well. @Kaz_zu, their addition in net, played pretty good as well - 19 wins with five shutouts in 26 games. His 77.78% save percentage might not look THAT good, but I guess that is the curse of being the goalie of a top team: facing high percentage shots more likely than anything else. GIFU Hockey gained their Pro Ticket via the qualifier, and they are pretty happy to qualify straight for the playoffs especially after starting the season with four losses. What comes now is a bonus for the team. GIFU’s defenders @N44TTI_16 (Naatti__) (30 GP, 2+24=26) and @OzziX35 (30 GP, 1+12=13) are driving the plays while the left side from Naatti__ and LW @Sluibaaja_88 (30 GP, 22+28=50) seems to be the dominating one. Nevertheless it is @krospi (krosspi) on the right wing who finishes the plays and got himself a nice 35+20=55 points in 30 games. Captain @seegasormi (30 GP, 14+26=40) contributes besides his points in the defense as well, as he has 30 blocked shots. Goalie @Baranizer’s season so far has been decent: winning 14 of his 24 starts with a 77.08% save percentage and even a shutout, posting a 2.42 GAA. This series is probably one of the clearest ones, as GIFU is the only playoff team with a negative goal differential. They might be able to steal a game or two if they can keep the scores close, but JYP is probably too strong both defensively and offensively. Prediction: @Franky__2768: JYP Jyväskylä 4-0 @Mikka: JYP Jyväskylä 4-0 (2) HanaaHC - noRex Gaming (7) HanaaHC, the runner-up from Group 1, hopes to make a deeper playoff run than last season. Back then they fell short in six games to the eventual Pro champion Djurgården Hockey in the quarterfinals. The Finns revamped their defensive core with @ripKeisari (30 GP, 6+24=30) and @kongi- (30 GP, 3+23=26) joining, and got them a new offensive idea in LW @xLeikku (30 GP, 33+36=69) who directly fulfilled all of their hopes by finishing 6th in the division in points. ripKeisari’s and kongi-’s TwP indicates that they have had an immediate impact as well. They both also finished in the top three in pass attempts and passes completed. Captain @Hazard-laser (30 GP, 29+28=57) on the other wing still has a high scoring value (9 GWGs), while @Mikka (Mikkaah) (30 GP, 19+32=51) can dish out some apples. HanaaHC’s special teams should scare every playoff team out there – while they scored on 32.08% of their PP chances, they also have a 86.84% PK while xLeikku even scored 4 shorthanded goals, most in the division. After a slow start with a 3-3-0 record after six games, they found their footing with a seven game winning streak and they never took their foot off the pedal. @jg697000 (Gresu__) in net had a decent regular season as well, as he recorded 19 wins in 24 games with a 82.05 SV%, 1.75GAA and five shutouts. HanaaHC has a rock solid defense (1.83 GAA) while not playing that physical (190 hits), and one of the better offenses with 90 goals in 30 games. On the other side is noRex Gaming, the ECL 12 Lite runner-up whose goal was to stay in the Pro division – that goal has been achieved, with some playoff sprinkles added in. They lost their two top scoring forwards and replaced them with two Swedes, @Tiltsson (30 GP, 32+21=53) and @Melguss (26 GP, 22+19=41). They knew pretty quickly in the offseason that this offensive combination could click and it did. Well, except for the start of the season when they went 4-8-0 in the first 12 games. @DiMatteo70 (10 GP, 65.98 SV%, 3.3 GAA, 1 SO) started in net over @Fightlocke3 but was not able to replace him, going 3-7-0 in the process. At the same time @Nagneigel (10 GP, 0+6=6) had a tough time doing the same thing with @Paddyy1903’s RD spot. After Paddyy1903 (20 GP, 2+15=17) and Fightlocke3 (20 GP, 83.59 SV%, 1.6 GAA, 5 SO) rejoined the squad, the team went on to one of the most impressive regular season comebacks in quite a while: a 14-2-2 record to turn around the season while beating or splitting against Renascor, GHETTO FIREBIRDS, Stargazing and Herlev Eagles. Assistant Captain and RW @Keuschemisch is their go-to-guy - topscorer with 22+38=60 points and 130 minutes TwP in 30 games, while Tiltsson does the finishing (32 goals, 8 GWGs). While Paddyy1903 and Keuschemisch are their dominant duo on the right side, @GERxVillain should not be forgotten either. He is a physical defensive partner, while still doing his job on the first pass and contributing to the offensive side with nearly a point per game. The special T-rex teams are well rounded – 28.57% PP and 77.08% PK – but sometimes they find themselves in penalty trouble (97 PIM). The big question is: can noRex keep their brilliant form and turn the regular season hype into a deep playoff run? Or does the more experienced HanaaHC cool their heads immediately in the first round? Prediction: @Franky__2768: HanaaHC 4-2 @Mikka plays for HanaaHC (3) Tohtorit - Sulkavan Sudet (6) Tohtorit’s way to the top is quite impressive – after gaining a chance for the ECL ‘22: Winter Pro Qualification due to their semifinal performance in the ECL 12 Core division, they had a nearly perfect record there (18 Games, 15 Wins, 3 OTL). After a “slow” start with a 6-3-1 record in the first ten games the squad around @Ojala16 stood its ground and won nearly all of their remaining games to finish the regular season with a 22-6-2 record. The captain at left wing led the internal scoring race with 30 GP, 28+46=74 points, which makes him a top 3 scorer in the division. RW @Wpaanane was directly behind him with 30 GP, 39+34=73 points (3rd highest goal scorer, 5th highest point total). Between those two high danger weapons, @Ristimaki12 (Ristimaeki) stands a little bit behind in the point department with 30 GP, 22+31=53, but still has quite a portion of their game winning goals (6). On the defensive side @Kkarkass (30 GP, 8+17=25) is the more physical one (88 to 36 hits), while @johtaja_lebi (28 GP, 5+23=28) is crucial for their passing game. What stands out the most is that Tohtorit do not have any dominant go-to-guy, they all have around the same puck possession time so you cannot focus on only one player, you have to neutralize the whole team to be able to beat them. Tohtorit had a pretty impressive offensive output and achieved the third highest goal total (103) all around the league while not disregarding their defense (53 GAA) doing that. Their special teams (PP: 34.15%, PK: 77.27%) can give them an advantage in tight battles. @Stammer70 in net has had himself a season as well: 22 GP, 79,13 SV%, 1.77 GAA, 7 SO and 58 shutout periods, he is definitely one of those guys you can rely on. Sulkavan Sudet had nearly the same record as last season: while finishing second last time, they “only” got to the 6th place in Group 2 this time. Their season was embossed with ups and downs, no real winning or losing streak was going on. Both RW @jjokke19 (28 GP, 24+30=54) and C @Oxdoggi (30 GP, 19+35=54) had team-leading 54 points, while jjokke19 wins the goal-tie-breaker (24G, 7 GWG). The biggest question for Sulkavan Sudet will be: where does @Koppipelaaja (jamoyy) (28 GP, 14+29=43) play? He played 20 games as LD, but mainly switched to LW after the deadline day acquisition of @Prom99 (Svetsjenko) (10 GP, 6+11=17). @Luokkala_ (18 GP, 18+15=33) was their LW at the start of the season, while @Kemppane_ (4 GP, 6+2=8) played the position in the last few games. @Pirkkalope (30 GP, 4+22=26) is the other incisive defensive player who loves to throw some bodies around (111 hits). Sudet’s lineup rotation does not stop between the pipes either: a total of three goalies laced up their skates this season: @Jaakkomusta won five out of his 14 games with a 72.9 SV%, 3 GAA, 0 SO statline, while @eissi83 put up the more impressive numbers in ten games (8 W, 80.46 SV%, 1.7 GAA, 2 SO). @TheSpeedo also played 6 games before transferring to Arkham Asylum. Will the rotation stop in the playoffs or will Sudet change throughout the series to gain advantages for special matchups? That will be exciting to see! In general the wolves can put some numbers on the scoreboard (3.03 GF/GP) but concede a little bit much as well (2.4 GA/GP). They do also shoot quite a lot (406 shots, 2nd most in the league) while their special teams are not that effective (PP: 21.31%, PK: 75.56%). Which philosophy comes out on top? Steady line up vs rotation? Prediction: @Franky__2768: Tohtorit 4-1 @Mikka: Tohtorit 4-1 (4) Sinister - Stargazing (5) Sinister improved from last season, where they fell two points short of the postseason. In this campaign they managed to gain home-ice advantage in the 1st round of the playoffs with a 19-7-4 record. They are known for their well-controlled game and outstanding defense, which has actually been one of the league's best (only 47 GA). They had quite a good start with ten wins in their first 12 games, followed by a small losing streak (3L, 2 OTL) and ending the season with a little bit of ups and downs. RW @JerePaloranta (Harlowi-) leads the team with 30+16=46 points in 28 games (they had two WO wins), while LW @OsquuG and C @topikeranen finished with 20+24=44 and 11+24=35 points respectively in their 28 games. Their faceoff percentage of 42.56% can be quite alarming, and they tend to get themselves into penalty trouble (92 PIM), which could be a disadvantage with a 69.57 PK%. SInister clearly has the “weakest” offense among both groups' top four teams, with 78 GF, and their PP is not that strong either (22,73%). As stated in the beginning, Sinister’s strength is the defense anyways: @Thewix93 (thewix_1) (28 GP, 6+17=23) is the architect for the team's success, while @PuukAesi (rransu) had a strong season between the pipes: 17-7-4 record in 28 GP, with a 82.46 SV%, 1.68 GAA and division-leading 9 SO (tied with Jeresti). On the other side, Stargazing is a “new” team which had an impressive start for their new mix of players, finishing 5th in Group 2. Captain and RW @xColeslaww (koleslaav_) leads the team with 30 GP, 26+23=49 points, and LW @Flopper71 (Flopperii_) is right behind with 30 GP, 23+24=47 points. The biggest factor in their game might be @Bobiraataja (nikhaa27) (30 GP, 7+31=38) on the right defensive side though. In general, Stargazing’s defense draws up the game (141 and 124 minutes Time with Puck). nikhaa27 is joint-third in team-scoring and 6th among defensemen in the division, while both he and LD @James (Jamechkin) (30 GP, 7+23=30) contributed 7 goals each. In net for Stargazing @Nisse142 (I-Nisse-I) (16 GP, 76.32 SV%, 2.25 GAA, 0 SO) and @Pirtsa89 (Pirtsa-) (12 GP, 78.41 SV%, 1.58 GAA, 5 SO) shared playing time. Will they continue that in the playoffs, or will they choose a starting netminder? Special teams are in general a big factor, and they need to get better (19.05% PP) in the first round to beat their opponent who leans towards drawing some penalties. Furthermore Stargazing need to shake off their sloppy finish of the regular season (5-5-0 record) that they had after a pretty promising start. Prediction: @Franky__2768: Sinister 4-3 @Mikka: 2-4 Stargazing That wraps it up for now. Good luck in the first round everyone, and remember to tune in tomorrow for our Pro broadcast at 19.45 CET. Drop your flaming hot takes and predictions in the comments as well, if you have any! PS: We would love for you to follow our social channels, as they are an integral part of the ECL season. Discord Instagram Facebook Twitch Twitter
  8. Your whole team has had a good season so far so yeah I agree, I could’ve definitely picked some other players too. I tried to keep it somewhat concise though, and only pick max a couple of names that stand out instead of listing a ton of people just for the sake of listing. The time aspect does play into it as well, an article like this has to be written quite quickly so that it doesn’t become old & useless information, there’s not much time to perfect the craft so even some kind of obvious things may get left out due to that. Thank’s for the feedback though
  9. Around two and a half weeks of competition have passed. Now it has come time for us to take a look at the teams exceeding expectations, and on the other hand the ones who have been underperforming. This time for the Pro mid-season report I have decided to mainly highlight teams that have either played better or worse than they were expected to prior to the season. To see how even the as-expected teams have done, along with a few milder surprises like Geekz Energy eSports, please take a look at the standings. On the league page behind that link you can also find out all the individual statistics you would possibly want to. Now without any further delay, let’s take a look at who has been flaming hot and who, in turn, icy cold during this ongoing regular season. NOTE: This article was written based on the standings and statistics after the games played on Monday 17 January, and further updated after Tuesday 18 January with honorable mentions and up to date info. Any further results are not reflected. Group 1 HOT Hokurit This is a team that definitely took their time to reach the Pro division, having played in Lite for five seasons prior to finally gaining the promotion through the qualifier. Even though their lineup has obviously changed over the years, all that chemistry building seems to have led to an instant adjustment to the higher level. Based on points per game Hokurit currently sit tied at first place with Dynastia, JYP Jyväskylä, Tohtorit and HanaaHC. Elite-experienced @MCH_98 in his second Hokurit-season is having an otherworldly one for a defenseman, 7+24=31 points in 16 games and leading his team in scoring by a clear margin. We will see if the team can keep up on a similar pace during the second half, as thus far they have not really faced any of the fellow top-table teams. They even lost one game against each of the teams currently in the bottom three. Sinister With a 1.44 ppg (points per game), just below that of the top5's 1.5, Sinister is another team that were expected to be in the playoff battle but perhaps not by such a margin, the next highest ppgs being 1.14 by AfroDunk and 1.13 by Björklöven. ECL rookie @JerePaloranta (Harlowi-) (14 GP, 16+8=22) has been firing goals at around a 1.14 per game pace and is leading the team in scoring, meanwhile our season preview’s player to watch @PuukAesi (rransu) has been backstopping the team with decent enough stats as well: 14 GP, 79.34 SV%, 1.79 GAA, 5 SO. Whether or not Sinister will cool off during the remainder of the regular season remains to be seen, though it seems likely with most of their opponents being below the playoff line, similarly to Hokurit. A cooling of some sorts has already started happening with them losing their last four games. To change that trajectory they will have to try to feed off of the strong start, as well as the upset of narrowly missing the playoffs last season. It should also be noted that two of their wins were walkovers from SPARTIATES X MCES. Tohtorit Tohtorit sit firmly at a playoff spot amongst the five-way tie for first place, which in itself is a surprise. Although they only got one point against JYP Jyväskylä, they have not dropped more than two to anyone else while taking down some strong names. Granted, both VISU Gaming and Deadly Phantoms have had rough starts, but getting full points against projected top teams is not a small feat for an inexperienced team that only has one Core season under their belt. After making the team miss the first week of play due to his beach vacation, @Wpaanane (14 GP, 17+15=32) has more than made up for it with his scoring. The break of a couple weeks does not seem to have done any harm to Tohtorit, and it will be exciting to see how their second half will fare. Dynastia Top of the table, Dynastia went on a solid nine game winning streak soon after the season started. Most of their opponents have been around the mid-table, but they also showed up against top competition by stomping JYP Jyväskylä with a convincing 6-2 result, even if they lost the first game 1-4. In their last two matchups they lost one game against both RCTIC and PENTA, which is a trend they need to stop on its tracks immediately if they want to stay in the tight battle for the top seed. @Pikkardz (Pikkarii) (16 GP, 17+21=38) has been truly on fire, scoring 1.46 times the points his fellow forwards @xHatsi and @Majuri20 (Diktaattori62) have. Honorable mention: AfroDunk took another three points on Tuesday and have thus clawed their way to seventh place in points per game. Initially predicted to only have an outside shot at the playoffs, it will be interesting to find out if they can keep this up. COLD VISU Gaming Widely seen as a title contender prior to the season, the Finns have performed nowhere near to the expected level. After losing their season opener against Deadly Phantoms they went on to win the next four, losing the next five before snapping the streak with an overtime win against Hokurit on Monday. With their routine and amount of time logged practicing, it seems only a matter of time when they will return to what they can be. On the other hand, Rookie Mistakes showed last season how those title dreams can evaporate in no time unless they start executing on a proper level. They lost their last game 7-1 against RCTIC on the NHLGamer broadcast on Tuesday night. Deadly Phantoms Another team that was expected to be surefire playoff caliber, this former Elite side has not had a dream start either. Even though there have been way too many losses, some of their wins have been quite convincing. There is another beacon of hope for the Germans though: their current record after 14 games is 6-6-2, meanwhile last season they went all the way to the finals after only having managed 4-7-3 at the same point. Repeating that feat may be quite a task to ask, but they have only lost one player from their starting six since then. PENTA PENTA is currently sitting at third last, which is not an ideal position to be at near the midway point for a team that was predicted to be battling for the playoffs. They have some extremely experienced names on their roster, so perhaps that is the way they will have to look at to help turn the ship around. They only have two wins if the walk overs against SPARTIATES X MCES are left out of the equation, though those came against top table teams Hokurit and Dynastia. Maybe there is something to be implemented from those wins, or otherwise the Germans will be looking at another trip to the qualifier for the second consecutive season. SPARTIATES X MCES The third Central European side on our list of underperformers, the French outfit has been in big trouble thus far. Having to give out four walk over losses is not doing them any favors either. The ten game losing streak (including the WOs) needs to be snapped as soon as possible if they want to even avoid immediate relegation, meanwhile a playoff spot is looking practically impossible at this point. Even if they were not expected to repeat their playoff berth from last season, this kind of start has been a sizable letdown. Trailing the second-to-last place Company of Geeks by only 0.07 points per game, they both need to do something if they want to keep on playing in Pro next season. Honorable mention: Company of Geeks. While somewhat expected, with a 3-10-1 record and 15th place there is not much that needs to be said here. Group 2 HOT Hawaii Hockey For a team that did not even have a forward trio locked up just days before the season begun, Hawaii Hockey has been doing extremely well. They have played a bit more games than most of the others, so their position in the standings drops from third to seventh when sorting by points per game. That is still above the playoff line though, and if they can continue at a pace around their 1.25 ppg they will make the playoffs quite comfortably. Fiasko is the only team Hawaii Hockey managed to win in both games, but they have still been able to get at least one win against everyone except GHETTO FIREBIRDS. Not many full point nights are needed if they can keep on getting 2-3 points steadily from every team they face. Herlev Eagles After finishing 3rd in their group in ECL 11 Pro, the Eagles missed the playoffs last season. That led to some changes, and now with a revamped roster led by the whole division's top two scorers, @Mr Steffmeister (Suth98_) (16 GP, 21+22=43) and @keranee (16 GP, 13+29=42), they are second in their group by ppg. Backed up with @TeikDaun's unreal 12 GP, 90.65%, 0.83 GAA, 6 SO statline, a playoff spot seems inevitable at this point. That should lead to their focus being shifted towards making it past the first round this time, something they failed to do in ECL 11. GHETTO FIREBIRDS We predicted GHETTO to be a contender, though with the uncertainty regarding their roster this kind of a start has been a slight surprise. Their first try for a new RW in @Chevikov (Hikoilija__) did not work out, but bringing in @Jerax13 just before the transfer deadline will be a tremendous addition, if he can play often enough. Aside from Reality Check they have not really faced any top table opponents, so it remains to be seen if they cool down as the challenge ramps up. @Jeresti (12 GP, 85.71%, 1.42 GAA, 5 SO) has been great as usual, sitting in second place among starting goalies' SV% in the league. Reality Check The Finns' return to Pro level after a few seasons' absence has been quite successful thus far, with them sitting firmly at the top of the table. @kim_johan (18 GP, 3+21=24) and @vvlampela (cTunkeilija) (18 GP, 17+20=37) have been able to fit in to the ECL 12 Lite Champion right away, along with netminder @FINSeRe (18 GP, 85.35%, 1.28 GAA, 2 SO). Reality Check has been able to rack up wins left and right no matter who they have played against, even going on a nine game winning streak. The playoff spot is practically clinched at this point with only a few more wins needed, so there is only one question: can they become back to back champions? Honorable mention: GIFU Hockey fought their way through the qualifier and are currently in the last playoff spot with an 8-6-2 record. COLD noRex Gaming With one more Central European team entering the cold category, one has to start thinking how much of an effect the current matchmaking system has on these teams' seasons. Last season we saw most of the Central teams starting to heat up towards the end, so maybe noRex is another team that just needs some high level games to get used to the competition again. Sitting near the bottom in both points and points per game at the midway mark is definitely not what they wanted, nor what was expected. There is still time to turn the course though, with the German organization still having 16 games left to play. Getting RD @Paddyy1903 back from an absence and immediately beating top team Renascor twice in regulation could corral them on that path. Pata Hellalla Pata's lack of practice seems to finally have an effect on them now that the game changed so much compared to the last version. This friend group is near the bottom of the table, so a quick u-turn is needed to keep the race on. They have been scoring at a decent enough rate, but a GA/GP of 3.5, the worst in Group 2, is dragging them down. After only winning two of their first six, they were on a better path with three wins out of the last four games before losing twice to top table Stargazing. Avoiding relegation should be the priority at this point. Hotbox Another ECL 12 Pro playoff team, Hotbox was not predicted to repeat that feat either. Currently tied with Fiasko for last in their group by points per game, they better start getting some wins on the board to avoid instant relegation and hopefully the qualifier as well. Defense should be their main focus for improvement with them having the group's second highest goals allowed per game (3.31), though a 1.69 GF/GP, worst in the group, is not looking great either. A huge step up all over the ice is needed right away. Fiasko A team with an unfortunate name, Fiasko has already played almost all of their games without much success. Avoiding instant relegation is not going to be easy, with all of their remaining opponents being near or clearly above the playoff line. Many of their players were part of ECL 12 Core Champion Resurrection, and the huge difference in competition level between the divisions has been thrown to their face quite hard. Honorable mention: WannaCry. After the addition of @Crisu_rottis they seemed to have picked up the pace a little, but they fell further under the playoff line again after having to throw in defenseman @Nikiiz_89 as an emergency backup LW against Reality Check, resulting in two losses on our Tuesday broadcast. There are still a lot of points left up for grabs as the ECL ‘22: Winter Pro season is set to end on 3 February, so good luck and have fun as you look to clinch that coveted playoff berth. We will be right back at you come playoff time with the Round 1 preview, see you then! And as always, feel free to comment with any interesting tidbits you might have PS: We would love for you to follow our social channels, as they are an integral part of the ECL season. Discord Instagram Facebook Twitch Twitter
  10. The new year has come, and with that a new season as competitive as ever is once again set to begin. Among the improvements there will even be a weekly Pro division broadcast on our Twitch channel, so join us in taking a look at how the contest stacks up this time around! Season information To find out about everything that's new with ECL '22, check out our earlier season information article. Notable dates for the ECL '22: Winter Pro season: Regular season: 3.1.-3.2. Transfer deadline: 16.1. 23:59 CET Playoffs (BO7) 7.2.-1.3. Default gamedays for the ECL '22: Winter Pro division will be on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, with a weekly broadcast on the SportsGamer Twitch at 19:45 CET primarily on Tuesdays. You can access the rulebook, schedule, standings, statistics and full rosters from the ECL ‘22: Winter Pro league page. The exact prize pool for the Pro Winter season will be confirmed in the upcoming days, but it is expected to be around 5600 EUR and will be split as visualized in the below image (see the leftmost box for Pro). Social media Here's an update to the social media instructions. Our sponsors this season are Kouvolan Lakritsi, Wilhelm & Xbil. Twitter: When posting tweets of your lineups, matchups, recaps, clips, articles - or any other content you might want to create - please make sure to tag the following accounts and hashtag: @SportsGamerGG #ECL22Winter #NHL22 #esports #kouvolanlakritsi #MukanaWilhelm Instagram: When posting on Instagram, please make sure to tag the following accounts and hashtag: @SportsGamerGG #ECL22Winter #NHL22 #esports #kouvolanlakritsi #MukanaWilhelm Note: It is very helpful and critical for us to succeed in getting our partners tagged, so they get the necessary mentions and interaction to validate their participation in the future. That being said, it is understandable that there may be circumstances due to your other partners where you are unable to tag competition etc. Your support is appreciated. As there are quite a few hashtags by now, especially from a Twitter perspective with limited characters, we recommend using at least #ECL22Winter in the text part of the tweet and leave the sponsor tags for the end. If you need to cut out tags, remove #esports and #NHL22. For Instagram this shouldn't be an issue. Season preview We are once again on the brink of an exciting season, with ECL ‘22: Winter bringing on a new era of virtual hockey. The addition of a new qualifier system prior to ECL 12 already brought the Pro teams some added pressure to raise the bar, but now with the introduction of prize money the competition is sure to become even fiercer, hopefully elevating the hunger further up a notch and on to another level. The long and hard fought qualifiers have concluded, and with that comes a fresh set of teams joining the ones whose Pro status were already secured based on last season’s merit. Along with new squads WannaCry and Fiasko, we also find some familiar returnees from seasons past in Reality Check, Nemesis, noRex Gaming and Vaxjo Lakers. After gaining qualifier eligibility from the lower divisions last season, AfroDunk, GIFU Hockey, Hokurit and Tohtorit were also able to successfully match the challenge. In the Pro qualifier preceding last season, not a single earlier Pro team wounding up there got through. This time, two of the participating ECL 12 Pro outfits, PENTA and RCTIC, were able to fight through the battle and regain their spots. At the same time Golden Nights, Sjukstugan and EHC TATNEFT AK BARS (previously METALLURG MAGNITOGORSK) were not as fortunate and now find themselves down in Lite for the Winter season. An extra Elite qualifier had to take place over the holidays as well, after the last second disbandment of SAWO ESPORTS left a spot open among the continent’s best. Last season’s Pro quarterfinal teams and Elite relegate JYP Jyvaskyla took part, with Pro semifinalist BoxinElite (now Roots Gaming) emerging at the top. They may not have Elite in their name anymore, but in the end they proved to be just that by gaining the promotion to join Europe’s top 16. Their departure decreases the total number of teams returning from last season down to 20, while increasing the amount of new ones up to twelve. Not only is there a good amount of possibly unfamiliar teams, a lot of the returning ones have seen big changes too. It has also been quite a long time since we have seen any ECL Pro action, so taking a brief look into every team taking part could be relatively nice. If anything, just to help refresh memories, right? Keep on reading to get familiar with the teams just in time before the new campaign gets going! Björklöven Esport, Group 1 Björklöven barely squeezed through to the playoffs last season and were instantly eliminated by GHETTO FIREBIRDS (then known as Conquer Gaming) in five games. Other than losing defenseman @vVoDee to newly Elite bound Roots Gaming, they seem to have retained largely the same group and can keep building on that foundation. Player to Watch: @rakkauspakkaus- @Mikka's prediction: Battling for playoffs @Keuschemisch's prediction: Battling for playoffs BOOMERS (previously Sack Brothers), Group 1 None of the original Sack Brothers remain, thus the name change. On the offensive side they have lost two important forwards in @snippystatue and @Tukexi (MATILAISKA_), but have strengthened a bit in net with the addition of @jubex0r. Despite the decent outing in FCL during the fall, the Boomers haven’t found the same touch yet in NHL 22. If they can start off good and build on the momentum, there’s a chance they can barely sneak into the postseason. Player to Watch: @kemppainen39 @Mikka's prediction: Outside shot @Keuschemisch's prediction: Outside shot Company of Geeks, Group 1 The Geeks got quite close to the playoffs with good under the radar signings last season, and it looks like they are trying to do the same thing for the second season in a row. Losing top scorer @xLeikku and defenseman @ripKeisari to HanaaHC only a few weeks ago could hurt, so they need to hit on the unknowns again to make it happen. Captain @Jesus (JezuzKristuz) will be making the switch to defense to make some room in the offense for ECL 9 Neo Champion @Hagerstrom_99, meanwhile @Chevikov (Hikoilija__) is hoping to have as good of a debut ECL season as xLeikku did. We will see where they end up but at the moment playoffs are not looking likely. Player to Watch: @Chevikov (Hikoilija__) @Mikka's prediction: Outside shot @Keuschemisch's prediction: Outside shot Dynastia, Group 1 The roster of Dynastia keeps on changing seemingly after every competition and even in between them, but they have a good foundation in place. The two young and hungry offensive guns @xHatsi and @Pikkardz (Pikkarii) should be good additions along with new starting goalie @Vamoux. They should not have too much trouble reaching the postseason if they can play on their own level. Player to Watch: @Pikkardz (Pikkarii) @Mikka's prediction: Battling for playoffs @Keuschemisch's prediction: Battling for playoffs GHETTO FIREBIRDS (previously Conquer Gaming), Group 2 Even though they fell short of the playoffs in the Elite qualifier, the Firebirds still got two points in a way or another against every opponent they faced. They proved to be able to win against anyone in Pro, just need to find a way to consistently reach that level. It will be interesting to see how they will be affected after parting ways with forward @Iltapeli (apetttaja) mere days ago, as it remains to be seen what kind of value they can find by foraying into the transfer market this late. @Santtu (santtu3333) gets a good chance to step back a bit and focus on the lessons learned after a hard last season in Elite with Rusty Blades, jumping there straight from Lite and then getting instantly relegated. Player to Watch: @Jertsicc @Mikka's prediction: Contender @Keuschemisch's prediction: Contender Hotbox, Group 2 After winning bronze (and promotion to Pro) with Hotbox in ECL 11 Lite, assistant captain @ItzPoro stayed back there with Reality Check for one more season, adding a championship to his trophy case. Now he is back in Hotbox, though in turn they have lost @James (Jamechkin) to Stargazing. An important piece, Jamechkin joined a 1-7-1 Hotbox from Reality Check last season and helped them turn that into an eight game win streak on their way to a playoff berth. Hotbox has also signed the former Elite goalie @s_w1ld_rus (someth1ng_w1ld) and a high scorer from Core in @Macentoitunu. Reaching the postseason would not be some huge shock, but there are too many teams looking better right now. Player to Watch: @ItzPoro @Mikka's prediction: Outside shot @Keuschemisch's prediction: Battling for playoffs Luleå Hockey, Group 2 In the footsteps of Hotbox, Luleå Hockey will try to follow up their ECL 12 Lite bronze with a trip to the playoffs in their Pro debut. @Buffy (Duh-ha) brings in a ton of high-level experience to complete a fairly promising looking forward trio with @Tkautto98 (Kautto_) and @Jarvinder. Their defensive end and goaltending remains to be tested though, with only the fresh signing of @Toobbiiee (Vesterberg89) having experience higher than Lite. Luleå’s focus should mostly be on trying to learn and gain experience during the season, with the hope of avoiding the qualifier. They only managed a win and an overtime loss in ECL Warmup. Player to Watch: @Tkautto98 (Kautto_) @Mikka's prediction: Outside shot @Keuschemisch's prediction: Outside shot Nemesis, Group 1 Having made the last appearance with this name in ECL 5 Pro during a season that resulted in relegation, Nemesis is finally back! In fairness, most of their roster did play on the Pro level in ECL 9, 10 and 11 under the We Kings banner. Even though they should be able to cause some trouble to unsuspecting opponents, in the end they are not going to get into postseason play without a rather sizable hot streak. Player to Watch: @Viltzup @Mikka's prediction: Outside shot @Keuschemisch's prediction: Outside shot noRex Gaming, Group 2 An ECL 11 Pro team, noRex failed to gain back their spot in last season’s Pro qualifier, but then went all the way on to a finals game 7 against Reality Check in Lite. They are now back stronger after having had a season to grow and reflect on what went wrong the last time. Bringing in @DiMatteo70 adds years of experience between the pipes, and @Tiltsson should be hungry to push the team far after already getting a good taste of Pro playoffs last season with Blackdawgs. @Melguss, while inexperienced, adds on another hungry Swede to the roster. Making the postseason should be a realistic goal for the German organization. Player to Watch: @Tiltsson @Mikka's prediction: Battling for playoffs @Keuschemisch plays for noRex Gaming Pata Hellalla, Group 2 Pata had a bad showing in the Warmup, wounding up at the bottom of the table. Though as it has previously been stated over and over again, never count out Pata Hellalla. On a good day they play like a good Pro team should, meanwhile on others… Not quite. Finding consistency is key for them, and having good goaltending plays a massive part in that. It remains to be seen what the inexperienced @XAPPN is capable of doing inside the crease with a winning team in front. Player to Watch: @kungenkurwa @Mikka's prediction: Battling for playoffs @Keuschemisch's prediction: Battling for playoffs RCTIC, Group 1 Despite having had a tough stretch during ECL 12, RCTIC managed to claw their way back to Pro through the qualifier. They have added two former VISU players in goalie @Jjmakkeli (JussinSisko) and LW @Limbe65, who should be a nice upgrade after @meicci retired. They have also managed to upgrade at the LD spot with the tremendously experienced @Aze (AzeStiNe), so they are looking a lot better on paper. Player to Watch: @Aze (AzeStiNE) @Mikka's prediction: Battling for playoffs @Keuschemisch's prediction: Outside shot Reality Check, Group 2 The ECL 12 Lite Champion managed to lure some big fish, adding first time Pro players @vvlampela (cTunkeilija) and @kim_johan from Elite team Northern Ascendancy, although the latter acted only as a backup last season. They have also strengthened in net with the addition of @FINSeRe, who was a part of the inaugural Reality Check in ECL 8. Winning back to back championships will be tough, but they will have a chance if they can keep on getting better throughout the whole season. Player to Watch: @vvlampela (cTunkeilija) @Mikka's prediction: Contender @Keuschemisch's prediction: Contender Sinister, Group 1 Having lost their former captain @Jimisebastian to WannaCry, Sinister went on to add quite a few new names to their roster. Former HAVU backup @topikeranen has been playing in Lite for the past few seasons, but he has a lot of experience, including the title of ECL 5 Pro Champion from the last time he played in the division. They have also added ECL 2 Champion @Hoosii (Hoo-Sii), who was the ECL 6 Pro runner up with FILADELPHIA. The final new addition is the inexperienced yet promising forward @JerePaloranta (Harlowi-), making his ECL debut. Player to Watch: @PuukAesi (rransu) @Mikka's prediction: Battling for playoffs @Keuschemisch's prediction: Outside shot Tohtorit, Group 1 A team that took the scene by storm in the FCL this past fall, Tohtorit made Pro through the qualifier, having clinched eligibility by finishing 4th in ECL 12 Core. Jumping from Core straight to Pro is a big challenge, but they are going to be just fine if they can play at the level they showed at their best in FCL. They have not done much to tinker with their roster after that, other than adding @Wpaanane who already made a successful run through the Pro qualifier last season with Dynastia. After the qualifier he decided to step back to Lite for one more season though, so he will be finally taking his first strides in this division alongside the other Tohtorit players. Bringing in the only Pro experience in their squad, @Kkarkass also joins them from the now-disbanded Patience. Player to Watch: @Wpaanane @Mikka's prediction: Battling for playoffs @Keuschemisch's prediction: Battling for playoffs Växjö Lakers, Group 2 Making a return after a season’s absence is Växjö Lakers, who paved their way all the way from a Pro Wildcard Battle to make it back. They have retained almost half of their old roster, so there is some chemistry already built. The positions have been changed a bit though, with former defensemen @EDHOLMEN3 and @Hockeyjohannes seemingly stepping up to forward positions alongside @Kattenj. Their defensemen are a bit inexperienced, though they will be receiving a good amount of help from their goaltenders, especially after managing to snag ex-SAWO goalie @Mehukatti10. The Lakers need to keep their heads cool and execute on a steady level to fulfill their talent and make the postseason. Player to Watch: @Kattenj @Mikka's prediction: Battling for playoffs @Keuschemisch's prediction: Battling for playoffs WannaCry, Group 2 Built on the ashes of a decent FCL run by Reign, WannaCry is another Wildcard team that made their way to Pro. All of their three defensemen played together in the ECL 11 Lite BoxinElite, so there is already some common chemistry within the backline. They played the qualifier with @zMikkeez, who has already departed onwards to Roots, knowing that they would have to replace him due to his conscription service beginning right at season start. Finding the replacement took some time, so it remains to be seen how well the late addition @Jimisebastian can gel together with the team, and how it may affect their game. Player to Watch: @kkostiiii @Mikka's prediction: Battling for playoffs @Keuschemisch's prediction: Outside shot The rest of the team previews were written by @Keuschemisch AfroDunk, Group 1 Another team that managed to pave their way through the qualifier into ECL Pro. AfroDunk squeezed themselves into Europe's second highest division by a small margin in the second stage of the qualification tournament. After being eliminated by Project X in the second round of ECL 12 Lite, the Finnish outfit added [email protected]_24 who played a decisive role in Otukset’s FCL run, as well as announcing a huge move right before the start of the season: @apettaja will reinforce AfroDunks offensive power. The team needs their perfect game in every matchup to make a postseason appearance possible. Player to Watch: @apettaja @Keuschemisch's prediction: Outside shot @Mikka's prediction: Outside shot Deadly Phantoms (previously Team LEISURE), Group 1 Under their old and new name the famous German powerhouse Deadly Phantoms are back! After falling short in last season’s ECL Pro finals against Djurgarden Hockey and losing the relegation series against KOVA Esports, the team around captain @Franky__2768 is keen on bouncing back. After the return of their lost son @Timasy from YMCA Esports, the Germans added @Pathen-21- to their roster. Taking a look at their lineups during the warmup tournament as well as the Elite Qualification Tournament it seems like Timasy and center veteran @PlaymakerSJ are going to take the spots as backup players in the coming season. It will be crucial if Pathen-21- will be able to follow in PlaymakerSJ's footsteps. Player to Watch: @Pathen-21- @Keuschemisch's prediction: Battling for playoffs @Mikka's prediction: Battling for playoffs Fiasko, Group 2 The freshly built squad around @tkantola fought their way throughout the Pro Wildcard Battle and both Qualification stages into Europe’s top 48. Finishing on a strong third place behind WannaCry and RCTIC, Fiasko has to prove consistency in the regular season to prevail in ECL Pro. @Xkeineri and @Tzon93 have been their top scorers in all competitions so far and they will need their scoring touch to fight their way through ECL Winter. Player to Watch: @Tzon93 @Keuschemisch's prediction: Outside shot @Mikka's prediction: Outside shot Geekz Energy eSports (previously Inter Iceland), Group 2 The former side of Inter Iceland has been part of ECL Pro for the 5th consecutive season now. Only adding @rene hackberger (NoFun4U_96) in the offseason we are seeing familiar faces in the German-speaking outfit. After falling short to, later on promoted HV71 in the first round of last season's playoffs, the squad around @PLA77NER (Hasek-39—) is always a bit of a surprise box. Winger veteran @Stefan_397 (VISIONZ97_) will be once again their key player. If he maintains his scoring abilities Geekz Energy Esports will surely find themselves in the playoffs. But will they have the ability to persist in a best-of-seven series? Player to Watch: @Stefan_397 (VISIONZ97_) @Keuschemisch's prediction: Battling for playoffs @Mikka's prediction: Outside shot GIFU Hockey, Group 2 Seed #3 of last ECL 12 Lite. GIFU Hockey found a quite early exit in round 2 with a heartbreaking game 7 loss against Hokurit. Participating in the offseason transfer carousel, the Finnish side managed to gain their Pro spot throughout the Qualifier. ECL Season 1 veteran @Sluibaaja_88 will be a key player to GIFU's success as well as captain @seegasormi who has been on a long ride with the team since FCL 2020 and ECL 11. Player to Watch: @Sluibaaja_88 @Keuschemisch's prediction: Outside shot @Mikka's prediction: Outside shot HanaaHC (previously Kiekko-Espoo Esports), Group 1 The former Kiekko-Espoo Esports made a big comeback under their old and new name. The Finns who started back in ECL 9 Lite played a big role in the Elite Qualification tournament, right before the start of the season. After finishing on rank 1 HanaaHC found an early exit against later on promoted Roots Gaming, though they were forced to play goalie @jg697000 (Gresu__) at the LW spot with @xLeikku absent during the playoffs. Adding xLeikku from Company of Geeks to their roster gives the experienced squad a big offensive boost. Player to Watch: @xLeikku @Keuschemisch's prediction: Battling for playoffs @Mikka plays for HanaaHC Hawaii Hockey, Group 2 Paving their way through last season’s Wildcard battle and qualification tournaments, Hawaii Hockey finished on rank 11 of last ECL Pro. With the departure of their two strong forwards @Kumbik and @theMaddias, Hawaii Hockey had a rough time in the Warmup Tournament. It will be crucial for captain @MaciPapi to find adequate replacements to get their game going in the regular season. Will Hawaii Hockey turn things around and find their level in time? Player to Watch: @MaciPapi @Keuschemisch's prediction: Outside shot @Mikka's prediction: Outside shot Herlev Eagles, Group 2 Herlev Eagles will be one of the biggest contenders in the upcoming season. Reinforcing the whole team around their core of @oSandello, @Dreamickie and Danish dynamite @vibholm10, the Eagles added huge offensive power to their side. Norwegian center @Mr Steffmeister (Suth98_) and Finnish veteran @keranee will give them the edge in tight matchups and are well known for creative plays all over the ice. If Herlev maintain their consistency they will have a long season ahead of them. Player to Watch: @vibholm10 @Keuschemisch's prediction: Contender @Mikka's prediction: Battling for playoffs Hokurit, Group 1 After being among the top teams in the last ECL Lite seasons Hokurit have finally found their way to ECL Pro! Reaching the Lite quarterfinals gave them the crucial spot in the Pro Qualifier where they made nearly no mistakes. Adding @Oliverigood gives them the needed depth in their roster. It will be interesting to see if Hokurit can prevail in a very tight league. Player to Watch: @Jondeezz @Keuschemisch's prediction: Outside shot @Mikka's prediction: Battling for playoffs JYP Jyväskylä, Group 1 Yet another big contender for ECL ‘22: Winter Pro. JYP Jyväskylä got relegated after spending 6 consecutive seasons among Europe’s best teams in competitive virtual hockey and surprisingly fell short in the Elite Qualification. This will surely incite JYP even more to fight their way back into ECL Elite. Former HAVU winger @Buantso (Puantso) joined the SM Liiga side in the offseason and is one of the most exciting forwards to watch in the upcoming season. If JYP finds their consistency the Finnish outfit is the top contender on this season's ECL Pro title. Player to Watch: @Buantso (Puantso) @Keuschemisch's prediction: Contender @Mikka's prediction: Contender PENTA, Group 1 The third German Esports organization in the upcoming season. After winning their first title in the GCL 7 Cup, PENTA added two experienced players to their roster. Former Elite players @Krinke and @gzell60 found themselves in the starting six, after joining from the German Lite participant Central Hockey Canucks. By a very small margin the German outfit defended their Pro spot in the Qualifier and seem to be in search of more consistency. After rotating @Domi_PENTA back to the right Defense it will be very interesting to see how their offensive game will develop throughout the season. Player to Watch: @Krinke @Keuschemisch's prediction: Battling for playoffs @Mikka's prediction: Battling for playoffs Renascor (previously Blackdawgs), Group 2 The RCL powerhouse Renascor, formerly known as Blackdawgs, will be a very exciting squad to watch. The squad around Ukrainian winger @Valluxet smashed their opponents in RCL 2 Cup during last summer but could not find their way into the Elite Qualification playoffs, even though beating many strong teams. Renascor had a strong preseason and is keen on continuing their offensive striking power in ECL Pro as well. The key to success will be consistency and improving on defense. Player to Watch: @Valluxet @Keuschemisch's prediction: Battling for playoffs @Mikka's prediction: Battling for playoffs SPARTIATES X MCES, Group 1 For the first time in NHLGamer history we will see five teams from the central server in ECL Pro. SPARTIATES X MCES will play their second consecutive season among Europe’s top 48 but are expected to have a rather tough time next season. After losing their top forward @Winci (Winci16) to Toceny Salamy in ECL Core, and the eNLA 1v1 champion, Defenseman @Tron1x90 (Komir_90) to HC Lausanne Esports, the French side is in desperate need of adequate replacements. Captain @Tromi13 rotated from center to left defense after adding Finnish Center @vizka13 (Vizka-) to their squad. The Spartiates will be underdogs in most matchups in upcoming ECL Winter Pro. Player to Watch: @Tromi13 @Keuschemisch's prediction: Outside shot @Mikka's prediction: Outside shot Stargazing (previously Rookie Mistakes), Group 2 Stargazing, taking the spot of Rookie Mistakes, is a new team on the horizon of ECL Pro. After combining players from ECL Core semifinalist Stargazing and Pro veterans Rookie Mistakes, the Finnish side decided to attack under a new name. With an exciting combination of talented and experienced forwards and an important allrounder like @James (Jamechkin), the new club on the block will be one of the favorites to qualify for the postseason in ECL '22: Winter Pro. When might their journey end next season? Player to Watch: @Flopper71 @Keuschemisch's prediction: Battling for playoffs @Mikka's prediction: Contender Sulkavan Sudet, Group 2 The experienced roster around @Oxdoggi is set for their 4th season on Pro level. Last season the Wolves finished in an astonishing second place but fell victim to Team LEISURE (now Deadly Phantoms) who just found their excellent form which led them to the finals of ECL 12 Pro. After a few changes in their lineup and a solid FCL performance during autumn, Sulkavan Sudet is once again another team which should be on everyone's playoffs participant list. How far their journey will go will depend massively on their chemistry within the team. Player to Watch: @Koppipelaaja (jamoyy) @Keuschemisch's prediction: Battling for playoffs @Mikka's prediction: Battling for playoffs VISU Gaming, Group 1 After falling short in the finals of ECL 11 Lite as Exerceo, the squad around captain @Saviinainen has arrived among the top teams in ECL Pro and is one of the few big contenders on the Pro Title – or at least promotion to ECL Elite. Being beaten by Roots Gaming in the finals of the Elite Qualification the Finns will be keen on taking the next step this year. Drawing the right consequences from the preseason will strengthen the mentality and consistency of VISUs game and might lead them to Europe’s Elite. Player to Watch: @hpkfani (MuKiMaisteri) @Keuschemisch's prediction: Contender @Mikka's prediction: Contender And with that it is time to wrap up our Pro season preview. Predictions are never perfect and the more the merrier, so if you think you know better or have some interesting nuggets of info, please let us know in the comments down below We will be back with the midseason report in a couple of weeks, good luck everyone & see you then! PS: We would love for you to follow our social channels, as they are an integral part of the ECL season. Discord Instagram Facebook Twitch Twitter
  11. (ECL Pro) The grass wasn't any greener on the other side, and some pieces fell in the right places so here we are.... Back again, for real this time. ROSTER @xLeikku - @Mikka "A" - @Hazard-laser "C" @kongi- - @ripKeisari @jg697000 "A" Backups: @Raikkoneeh & @sMiika Follow us on twitter.com/hanaahc_
  12. This guy was a good Pro player on every position and even better as a G, def worth the shot for at least some Lite or especially a Core team to help him get used to the game again
  13. After two years full of ups and downs with HanaaHC/Kiekko-Espoo Esports, the downs have finally become too many and it’s sadly come to a place where something new must be found. So, free 20yo LW/C/LD looking for a starter role in a motivated, long-term team. At the moment I can play pretty much every night. I’ve played LW for the past few years but before that I was mostly a C, in addition to occasional games as a defenseman. I’m pretty much open to trying any of those. Obiviously C or especially LD I’d need some time getting used to. I try to keep a light mood in the party and overall I value a good team spirit. I’d like to join a team where people feel comfortable with each other outside of the game as well & where the game isn’t their main focus in life. I’m the most comfortable in finnish & english, but I understand everything in swedish and speak it pretty much fluently too, even if some words escape me sometimes 😌 I realize it’s getting pretty late and beggars can’t be choosers, but ideally I’d want a team that plays on the North server & is at least in Pro Qualifiers. I’ve been part of the captaincy group in every ECL I’ve played, so being a regular player for once might do some good hopefully. If this sounds like a match, swipe ri contact me on PSN (Mikkaah), Twitter (@xMikka31) or here on NHLGamer. In memoriam ⚰️ HanaaHC 🪦 2019-2021
  14. Kiekko-Espoo Esports @Raikkoneeh & @Frilander have decided to step down from the active roster for the time being, so new defenders were needed in addition to the 2nd goalie spot that was already left open after the last ECL. Thus we welcome our new additions: In @kongi- from Project X @vVoDee from BoxinElite @Vamoux from UNI Gaming We also want to thank our loanees @benu & @Toneee9 for the help during FCL 💙💛 Edit: @vJokkee- has also decided to search for a new team, thanks for your time and good luck!
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