This weekend, the Top 6 players from each of the Xbox and Playstation online qualifiers will compete in a best-on-best bracket to decide the two finalists that will head to Winnipeg later this month.
This qualifier will operate differently than the other esports NHL events we’ve seen thus far, as it will be a Best-of-3, double elimination style bracket throughout – meaning you will have to lose two Bo3 series to be eliminated. This format is ideal for competitive tournaments because it gives players more leeway to perform their best. As in all sports, anything can happen in one game. A goaltender could play terribly, a few lucky bounces can go the other way, and the underdog can steal a win. Forcing all matchups into a Bo3 series reduces the impact that luck has on an outcome and puts more onus on the player and their skill to create success. That’s why – more often than not – the best players are the ones that win a Bo3 series.
The players that won an open online qualifier will get a first-round bye, while the remaining four will play the first games in each bracket. These brackets are also seeded, based on each players’ total points that they acquired during open qualification: 3rd will play 6th and 4th will play 5th.
The XB1 Bracket
First and second place will get that aforementioned first-round bye, meaning HK_OFs or “HockeyKings” (1st) and Miviens (2nd) will wait to see who they play. Meanwhile, EthanF74 (3rd) will play KarmuhNHL (6th) and No Regretzkys (4th) will play KosmicEA (5th) in the first round.
The favorite among the bottom four has to be No Regretzkys. He’s the only player currently signed to an esports organization, and he’s gone relatively far in some of the other events that have taken place this season. The others haven’t really made much of an impact this year, which is why I won’t be favoring them too heavily. Ethan has been a great player for a while, so he and No Regretzkys are my favorites to make it out of the first round.
Round 2 is where things get really interesting. HockeyKings has been on a hot streak lately, going deep into multiple tournaments this year – coming within one win of the Capitals finals, locking up a finalist spot in the Detriot, and falling just short of the Wild Gaming finals. Counting out Miviens going on a run would be foolish, however, as he has had some impressive finishes, but has also had his fair share of disappointments. If Miviens can remain confident, and maybe play with a lead, he can easily run the table in the Xbox playoffs to go to Winnipeg.
It would be shocking if HockeyKings and Miviens do not meet in the finals. Being a double elimination bracket, I just can’t see HK losing that many times.
HockeyKings is my pick to win the Xbox side.
The PS4 Bracket
When it comes to recognizable names in the NHL esports landscape, the PlayStation side is full of them. It features five members on our current esports Power Rankings: Regs, Joshfearless, JrPens, Keso_Paghuni, and Canadiens.
The only relatively unknown player in the PS4 bracket is ‘Desjy’. I say “relatively” because he happens to be one of the best EASHL defensemen on PlayStation. It’s just in the 1v1 scene that he has yet to make his mark.
Regs locked up the top spot on the PS4 side, which isn’t all that surprising considering he’s won just about everything he’s played in this year. Canadiens, who dominated the second PS4 open qualifier, clinched the other first-round bye. Among all the other big names in the bracket, he could be one player that quietly makes it to Winnipeg.
The first round will feature JrPens (3rd) taking on Desjy (6th), and you would have to give the edge to JrPens here as he’s been fantastic overall this season. The other opening-round matchup is going to be a battle though. Joshfearless (4th) will face Keso_Paghuni (5th) – two veterans of the competitive NHL scene. These guys know each other inside and out, and so this could end up being the best first-round series we see this weekend.
If the first round plays out without any upsets and Regs can get by the winner of Josh and Keso, I don’t see him losing two Bo3 series. That said, I don’t see any of these guys being a total shock to win since they have all performed great in the esports events thus far. It’s going to be awesome to watch.
Regs is my pick to win the Xbox side.
Make sure to keep an eye out for all the streams this weekend to keep up with the games. In addition, I will be shout-casting these games on Twitch, so be sure to stop by. Let me know who you think will be heading to Winnipeg by tweeting me @NoSleevesGaming.