Saturday, August 30, 2008
Power Rankings -- Week 1
So once again this year, I will be making weekly rankings of all fourteen teams in the league trying to gauge where each team really falls in the grand scheme of things. This will be based on a large set of factors, the main one obviously being their current record, but also things like their future opponents, how their recent matches have gone, and just general other trends about the way things seem to be headed for the team in general. For the first few weeks, I don’t plan to include the percentages (as I did last season) on what I think each team’s chances to win their division or make the playoffs to be as until a few more matches are played (at least three or four), that seems unlikely to be especially meaningful.
1st: San Francisco Mechanics (1.0 – 0.0). By my predicting them to finish with the best record in the league and to win the Championship, I clearly felt before the season that the Mechanics were the best team in the league, and their victory this week really epitomized exactly why. Coming in with a roster which weighs in at a massive 2476 average using current ratings, it seems difficult to find another legal lineup anywhere in the league which won’t be an underdog to that lineup. And they showed why, defeating the defending champions and sending a strong message from the start. At this point, the top is the only place for them to be.
2nd: Boston Blitz (1.0 – 0.0). A very sweet victory for the Blitz against their arch-rivals, despite appearing to be slight underdogs in most people’s eyes and by the numbers, is another affirmation of why I felt Boston to be the most likely team to emerge on top in the East. Boston has really gotten off to a flying start in both of the last two seasons – an obvious key to their regular season victories in those seasons, and this victory could well be the start of another such march. While one match is only one match, in a league with only ten regular season matches, none is of small importance.
3rd: Queens Pioneers (1.0 – 0.0). Another team which seemed to affirm my pre-season faith about them, and once again the lineup style they used is a definite part of the reason why. Simply, being able to use a near 2500 on Board Three is a nice luxury that no other team in the league really has, and in general it just seems the strides Queens has really taken into improving their roster in the off season are likely to be very pivotal.
4th: Miami Sharks (1.0 – 0.0). Miami is always a rather tricky team to gauge as with the two-time MVP Becerra generally leading them, they are always a very strong team when their players step up. I say when since that’s undoubtedly been their Achilles heal at several stages in the past couple of seasons. This resounding first week victory really is a step in both directions as they’ve shown they definitely have the ability to beat a very strong team like Seattle, even without their rock, and also that their players are intent on being dedicated this season. While as always, one match is only one match and perhaps too early to make demonstratives from, I always feel a team’s first match can be very telling.
5th: New Jersey Knockouts (1.0 – 0.0). Another team, who like the Sharks, really may have made some great strides as evidenced by their first match. New Jersey, while never particularly high or low in last year’s standings, really managed to stay in the game mostly due to the superb performance of Benjamin who turned in some huge victories to really keep them in contention. That they could manage such a convincing win even with him uncharacteristically stumbling could definitely be a very good sign for them. Another big positive was the nice performance by Molner, who despite playing some good league games, has really struggled with the Black pieces, and him scoring a resounding victory against the rapidly improving R Kaufman could be a sign of things to come.
6th: Arizona Scorpions (1.0 – 0.0). While their first week’s victory was obviously a nice way to start, the place Arizona seems to be distinguishing themselves with how dedicated they really are with tremendous amount of blogging. While I feel that’s always a good sign for a team, it’s nevertheless probably not something to shoot a team’s ranking up based on. Wins are of course the main ingredient for that, and they got one of those, but in later matches they will almost certainly not have a large rating advantage to work with so until I see if they can fare as well under those circumstances, this seems about the right place for them.
7th: Dallas Destiny (0.0 – 1.0). A loss to the team, who I believe to be the strongest in the league, using a lineup which I think may again be the league’s strongest is hardly a cause for concern. However, the morale issues can come into play as it certainly can never feel good for a defending champion to start off with a loss. The unfortunate larger issue with Dallas is the loss of IM Stopa from the roster, whose ability to be on third board I felt to be one of the Destiny’s biggest assets. Dallas is still a very strong team, but it seems they will have to find something else, something inside themselves, to give them that little edge a team really needs to emerge victorious in the league.
8th: New York Knights (0.0 – 1.0). The Knights early season mojo unfortunately didn’t seem to start off in a better way this season in losing to their arch-rivals. New York always seems to be a team which really needs to take some time to find their groove, and once they do they tend to be a super strong team. However, when they might happen to find it is rather up in the air and until they do, they will probably languish around here.
9th: Seattle Sluggers (0.0 – 1.0). Suffering their worst defeat in league history was obviously not the start the Sluggers were hoping for, especially arriving this season with a fairly rejuvenated roster. Once again, one match is just that, and the Sluggers bounced back well from such an opening loss last season, and I firmly expect them to do so this year as well.
10th: Philadelphia Inventors (0.0 – 1.0). A tough loss for the Inventors, who after last season’s high start, were undoubtedly hoping to start that way again. There is still little reason to be concerned as they certainly remember what it took to get them to that stage last season, it just didn’t happen to fall their way in the first match, but when it does they may well be back to their winning ways.
11th: Baltimore Kingfishers (0.0 – 1.0). A frustrating start to the season for the Kingfishers as their roster really seemed to have been markedly improved from last season, likely with a batch of players who are much more likely to be constantly playing. Their lower boards are clearly capable of much better performances than they displayed in the first week, and under the hope they do so and that Erenburg continues to play for them, especially at his recent level, they could definitely turn things around in a hurry.
12th: Carolina Cobras (1.0 – 0.0). A very nice start to the season for the Cobras, but like the Scorpions they are unlikely to enjoy such a rating advantage in their future matches. Should they score some points in the upcoming matches, their ranking here will shoot up quickly, but until they do, I feel I must keep them around here.
13th: Chicago Blaze (0.0 – 1.0). Chicago’s first match was a myriad of positives and negatives. Obviously, starting off using a much weaker lineup than they are generally capable of as well as losing the match were probably not what the fans were hoping for, but the fact that they were able to be so competitive, as the match could easily have been won or drawn with a single break here or there is reason to be optimistic. Nevertheless, the largest issue to me is the obvious internal problems demonstrated by their pre-season and Week 1 roster issues. While once again those may well be temporary setbacks which will go away soon, but until I see evidence of that, I feel I must keep them here.
14th: Tennessee Tempo (0.0 – 1.0). A disappointing loss for the Tempo who had to have felt they had a very real chance to score in, based on their last year’s results against Carolina on the top two boards. As usual, they seem to have a close but not quite ability to really get the wins they so crave. I’m sure fans are eagerly anticipating the day Ehlvest makes his debut to likely give them a big kick in regards to accomplishing that, but until I know for a fact that it will be sooner rather than later, I think they have to occupy this spot.