ACL Week 3 Preview – Part 1

NOTE: This week I have chosen to test out a brand new format for my weekly article on Big Bad E-Sports. For each of the 3 league nights this week, I will be picking 1 matchup that receives an in-depth analysis of each team, as well as their path to victory. I am also including some features that will link the 3 daily pieces together. Please know the format is not permanent, as I am simply getting a feel for what people like most in their previews.

As the Midseason Transfer Window slowly closes with each tick of time, teams now begin the process of reevaluating their standing within the league, set goals, and begin the process of making potential playoff pushes. This is the point in the calendar when rivalries heat up, and the intensity levels rise to such heights that Jim Ross screams “By gawd! By gawd!” from deep inside Sooner territory.

Viva Futbol still holds its position at the top of the table. But now they find themselves tied with Unleashed CF in first with 30 points each. Viva holds the advantage of a game in hand over both Unleashed, and 3rd place Serenity who have 29 points. But this race is still too close to call and looks like it go all the way to the end with the Big Four battling it out right up until the last Thursday night.

acl yoloStarting with Tuesday night’s featured matchup the Big Four begins a series of contests against each other that will strongly influence the standings. Tonight’s matchup is a rematch of ACL 9’s Championship match, between FC Serenity and Unleashed CF. These teams are neck and neck, and a win for either team will give them strong momentum in Week 3.

The defending champions, FC Serenity were nonexistent leading into the last week of Preseason for ACL X. An opportunity to re-forge his championship roster was taken, as LickMyBalotelli brought together some of the best players from across the league to defend their crown. He returned veteran Serenity players Dylshkin67 x, Gordon l 23 l, Lucio l 3 l, FHz Ozil 11, l 16 l De Rossi, SwainAFC and Birgerk1ng to form the foundation of the squad.

The manager then added top Centerbacks Rodriguez l2l and Viva Fbn to cement his defense with Gordon and Birgerk1ng. The midfield is anchored by tgpdtp, a top American defensive mid capable of box to box play that stifles the opposition end-to-end. He also has a history with tonight’s opponent having been a player on the other side of this matchup. It will be interesting to see how the matchup goes with several players now on the FC Serenity side of the ball.

Unleashed CF are a historical powerhouse in the ACL, this is there 7th overall season of competitive clubs play. The side is looking to add to its trophy cabinet with a 2nd ACL title, and 3rd title overall. Last season saw a mass exodus of players, leading to a complete rebuilding of the side’s entire lineup and roster. The return of WarMachine199 brought eXo Cavani a major piece in the rebuilding phase. He also returned Armero l 27 l and FHz Terry 26 to establish a good beginning to a top defensive unit.

From there he began to acquire fresh blood. Bringing in new offensive ace Viva Ideen, legendary Fullback OBoyle l 14 l, and up and coming defensive mid drumdude14. The side also found itself in need of a star goalkeeper if they were to compete against the top teams, and in Skrillex l 1 l their prayers were answered. A veteran shot stopper, Skrillex while young in age, makes up for it with seasons of Pro Clubs experience.

The matchup is all about the midfield for these squads. The ability to control possession, collapse on opposing ball carriers, and creating scoring opportunities will be at the heart of this game for both teams’ keys to victory. Serenity’s use of a 3-5-2 formation, against Unleashed’s 4-1-2-1-2 could prove fruitful. Barring a surprise switch in formation for tonight’s game, Serenity will find themselves with greater numbers in the midfield. Their 2 Defensive Midfielders will be capable of collapsing quicker and more completely around the ball, likewise LickMyBalotelli will be the recipient of a one-on-one matchup against Unleashed’s DM.

Unleashed will likely find themselves having to send their attacks down the wings in transitional play in an effort to move into Serenity’s final third, where they will hope eXo Cavani’s ability to bully defenders off of 50-50 balls will create scoring opportunities. Serenity’s 3-Back could be stretched thin if Unleashed are successful in keeping play out on the wings. They should look to reserve the center of the park for scoring chances and diagonals from the winger on the opposite side to suck in Serenity defenders and midfielders to open up space.

This game will likely see Unleashed on the back foot, and having to defend for much of the 1st half while they adjust to the pressure of Serenity’s midfield. Unleashed CF should try to find one or two opportunities early and convert them into goals, or risk seeing themselves down early when the referee calls for halftime. Serenity should be weary of counterattacks as the half comes to an end, and Unleashed look for a chance to snag a goal. It will be on both the DMs and the CBs to be aware of any wide players or deep runs who might crack open their defense.

The final half of this game will be predicated on whether Serenity were capable of finding the net in the opening half. If Unleashed will be able to steal a goal, and win, it will be most likely in a 0-0 game in the middle of the 2nd half as Balotelli’s team presses further forward to try and overload Unleashed’s defense. If Serenity are up by more than a goal going into the 2nd half, I do not see UCF having much hope in achieving a comeback. A nil-nil 1st half will likely favor Unleashed, but they will have to hang on for a rough ride to get there.

My prediction is a 3-0 victory for Serenity, with goals coming in the 1st half forcing Unleashed to play more attacking football, and open the door for a 3rd goal and nail in the coffin after the 70th minute. You can view tonight’s matchup live, courtesy of FC Serenity’s FHz Ozil 11: http://www.twitch.tv/fhzozil11

 

Top 5 Power Rankings:

  1. Viva Futbol – Another week of dominance, but marred by an upset defeat at the hands of Never Unlucky FC. This should just be a blimp on the radar however. The team has a tough week ahead, with games against Big Four opponents and victories here would surely cement them in first place for the season. Last Week: 1st
  2. Divine Footwork – The team is in 4th place, but with a game in hand, could easily be tied for 1st with Viva Futbol and Unleashed CF. Divine Footwork has the second strongest overall roster, behind FC Serenity, in this competition and should prove their worth over the upcoming games in Week 3. I expect them to be near the top by Thursday night. Last Week: 2nd
  3. FC Serenity – The best roster in the competition, they need to find a little bit more offensive firepower if they want to successfully defend their title in ACL X. An inconsistent lineup up top, has stifled their ability to grab goals and that needs to change if they wish to put a few through the net against fellow Big Four members. Last Week: 3rd
  4. Unleashed CF – This team is a real head scratcher, their roster is playing well above expectations and this 4-spot in my power rankings may raise a few eyebrows but with games coming up against 3 serious opponents, I see Unleashed falling a few pegs in the standings. A bad week could see them behind Elusive and FIFA Harmony. Last Week: 4th
  5. FIFA Harmony – FH’s ability to grab a draw out of their “Ring of Fire” games is a big reason why they are still holding the 5th spot in my rankings. This roster has all the tools to challenge the Big Four, and might find a few good results in the process as the season marches on. This team is a dark horse to win the whole competition in the postseason. Last Week: 5th

 

Golden Boot:

  1. Gringo ST 7 – Viva Futbol – 11
  2. eXo Cavani – Unleashed CF – 9 (tied for 2nd)
  3. Omar l 1 l – Viva Futbol – 9 (tied for 2nd)

Golden Gloves:

  1. That Bottleface – Divine Footwork – 7
  2. Birgerk1ng – FC Serenity – 6
  3. CAMBALACHE11 – Arrechos SC – 5 (tied for 3rd)
  4. Viva Tracy – Viva Futbol – 5 (tied for 3rd)

 

Tomorrow will see me release Part 2 of my Week 3 Preview, and with it will come another close look inside the workings of 2 teams who will square off that night. Week 3 is prepped to be the most exciting week in Season 10 yet.

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