Just one week of league play remains for Season 3 of the Gfinity Elite Series. And just like any final day of a league, there's permutations wherever you look. Not only are our teams gunning for the top 3 places in their divisions to qualify for Playoffs, but many will also have their eyes on the much-coveted top spot – and an automatic bye into the semi-finals. There remains a huge amount to play for across the board as we enter week 5; so we decided to break out the abacus, crunch the numbers and give you a full rundown of what our competing teams need to do to qualify for Playoffs.
It's safe to say that both FIFA 18 groups are absolutely wide open going into tonight's session. With all teams being so evenly matched across the board coupled with the potential for drawn matches and teams to only get one point from a 1-0 match win, no team has been able to pull clear of the chasing pack. And in both groups, two teams are tied for top spot on 5 points apiece. Quite simply, there is a LOT of potential scenarios here.
Let's deal with Group A first. Team Envy and Nordavind are the two front runners, and after their draw against each other last week they sit atop Group A on 5 points. Behind them are Hashtag United and Vitality, both tied for 3rd place on 4 points. And with Envy facing Hashtag and Nordavind taking on Vitality this Friday, a huge amount will ride on both results. With a strong goal difference record, it will take a lot of things to go against them for Envy to be eliminated – even a point from their match against Hashtag will be enough. It's a similar scenario for Nordavind when they face Vitality, and if both matches end in draws that will ultimately suit Hashtag United.
The only way to definitively secure qualification will be to take all three points, so expect all four teams to swing for the fences this Friday.It's almost the same story in Group B; UNILAD and FNATIC sit tied at the top of the group on 5 points. Behind them, Method are 3rd on 3 points, with Epsilon in 4th on 2 points and ARES bottom of the table on just one point. What makes this group really interesting is the fact that 2nd place FNATIC have a bye this week, so will be watching anxiously from home as everyone else does battle.
ARES and Epsilon are up first, both knowing that nothing less than three points will do to give them the best chance of qualifying and put maximum pressure on Method. One point for either team isn't really enough, particularly ARES – and it would only put Epsilon level with Method in 3rd. As for Method, they face UNILAD in the final league game of Season 3 with potentially everything to lose – and everything to gain. A 2-0 victory would see them leapfrog both UNILAD and FNATIC and steal top spot in the group at the death; conversely, even one point might not be enough to avoid elimination depending on the result in the other match. The latter scenario would also guarantee FNATIC's passage into the knockout stages.
Thankfully things are far less complicated over in Rocket League town; so much so that in fact, the playoff places in both groups are already decided. Much like last season, the race for qualification is over with a week to spare. But crucially, the battle to top the groups is far from over.
Sitting atop the table on 9 points, it's advantage Vitality in Group A. The only unbeaten team left in Rocket League competition this season, even a point in their clash with Hashtag United will see them into the semi-finals as group winners thanks to their excellent head-to-head record against nearest rivals exceL and Envy. The latter two teams are tied for 2nd place on 7 points each, and face each other first up on Saturday – whoever wins will move to 10 points, and will be relying on Hashtag United to pull off a shock result and deny Vitality any points in order to top the table themselves.
With no unbeaten teams and only one point separating 1st and 3rd, Group B is set to go down to the wire after the shock elimination of ARES last week. Method's all-stars and Epsilon's white-hot rookies are tied at the top on 7 points, with FNATIC sitting 3rd on 6 points. Wins for both Method and Epsilon will be enough to send Method through as group winners on a tiebreaker after Method beat Epsilon in an instant classic of a match last week.
But whilst Epsilon face already-eliminated UNILAD this Saturday, Method must get past a FNATIC team coming in full of confidence after they eliminated ARES last week. Should UNILAD pull off a shock upset against Epsilon, FNATIC will know that one more win will clinch the group for them – any other result sees Method top the table.
Group A in SFV is where we find the only team who have already won their group coming into this weekend. A big win over old rivals exceL last week secured the Group A #1 spot for defending champions Envy on 10 points, and with a bye this week they now effectively have a fortnight to rest before the semi-finals. Behind them however, it's absolute anarchy with the other four teams in the group all still in the race for the final two playoff spots.
Nordavind hold the advantage in 2nd on 6 points after two huge wins over former champions exceL and Envy, and in Momi and Phenom have two of the best players of Season 3 so far. Vitality hold the final playoff place as it stands on 4 points, but both exceL and Hashtag United sit just one point behind them going into this weekend. Both Group A matches this week – Nordavind versus Hashtag and Vitality versus exceL – are straight-up playoff eliminators, and it's Hashtag United who perhaps have the most potential to cause havoc with the rankings.
Their last-second clutch victory over Vitality last week kept their season alive, and if they can pull off an even bigger shock against Nordavind this week by beating them AND denying them a losing bonus point, they will snatch a playoff spot at the death. Nordavind would then be relying on Vitality defeating exceL to make sure they cling on to the final playoff spot by dint of their own tiebreaker advantage over exceL.
Even a losing bonus point makes things much easier for Nordavind – and would consequently eliminate Hashtag in the process. Still with me? Good. As long as Nordavind get at least one point from their match, exceL will still have a shot at qualifying when they take on Vitality – and from there whoever loses will be going home, simple as that.
Thankfully Group B is a little less convoluted; unbeaten ARES lead the group on 9 points ahead of FNATIC in 2nd on 6 points, with Epsilon and Method tied for the final playoff spot on 3 points apiece. One of this week's matches will decide the group winner, whilst the other will decide the final playoff spot in a straight shootout. ARES enter their clash with FNATIC as favourites and only need a single point to win the group outright; FNATIC need to beat them comfortably to leapfrog ARES on head-to-head record. As for Epsilon versus Method? It couldn't be any simpler; winner goes through to playoffs, loser goes home. There. Nice and simple, right?
With so many huge matches, the final week of league play will be absolutely unmissable. Get your FREE tickets to come and watch all the action in the Gfinity Arena here, and you'll also be able to watch live exclusively on Facebook every single week.