Last week in Around the Dorm, two contestants tied… but there can be only one. In this week’s exciting tiebreaker hosted by last week’s “Ref” Sean Reis, our experts — Marc Trotochaud and Connor Smith — will spew knowledge on N.Y./N.J. hockey, League of Legends in North America and N.Y./N.J. football in a head-to-head, sudden death, winner-takes-all ATD brawl.
1. Hockey’s back! So showing as little bias as possible, which N.J./N.Y. team — Devils, Rangers and Islanders — has the best chance of a successful season?
Marc: This question is a little out of my wheelhouse, but based on what I know I will have to go with the New York Rangers. The Rangers have had the most recent success, and they have the team that looks most built to have a long post-season run. They currently lead the Metropolitan division, but that lead could be up for grabs this early in the season. The Devils and Islanders are hot on their tails, but the way that their rosters are constructed don’t seem to match the Rangers in the long run. I would love to see the Devils piece it all together, and maybe their overtime win from this past weekend could give them some momentum going forward, but for now the Rangers are the safest (and most boring) pick.
Connor: Both Hockey and my opponent return this week… At least people will be happy to see some dudes battle on ice. Local teams like the Rangers, Islanders and Devils are ready to battle their way into the NHL playoff picture. Out of the three, the Rangers were the only team that didn’t make massive changes to its roster. The Devils offense will need time to click, and the Islanders were forced to replace Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin. Meanwhile, the Rangers kept its entire roster intact, so there’s less room for error, given the team’s 46–27–9 record, last season. The Devil’s are the biggest wildcard, given the possible improvements to its offense, so the Rangers are my safe pick.
Though Mark and Connor both safely picked the Rangers, Connor wins Round 1 due to an attention to detail within his answer.
2. Riot Games took League of Legends and the eSports spectacle to Madison Square Garden this past weekend. Unfortunately, no North American (NA) teams competed, but do you think 2017 may finally be the year a NA team wins it all?
Marc: The short answer to this is no. The reality is that North American eSports won’t become a major contender until the culture in other countries shifts. In Korea and China, where the most competitive international teams come from, there are pre-established norms that support eSports. This is why even though League of Legends was introduced in Europe and North America first, they have fallen behind. Team SoloMid (TSM) was the best shot we had at making a deep run this year, but TSM fell short showing just how large the gap is for North American teams to become relevant internationally. The best thing that North American League can do is to increase consistency in their rosters to build team chemistry, and to aim at increasing the brand of eSports in the country where they play. I don’t think that chemistry or branding builds fast, so I am weary of a World Championship coming to a North American any team soon.
Connor: Despite the lack of a North American team, Madison Square Garden was electric, in part due to a historic series between SK Telecom T1 and the ROX Tigers, who disbanded and are seeking offers in North America and China. The belief is that a weakened Korea may become vulnerable. Team SoloMid came close — like this fool who somehow tied me — to talented teams like Samsung Galaxy, so there’s a chance NA can compete with Korea. Still, Samsung Galaxy proved Korea is stacked with talent to fill-in after another exodus, and KT Rolster was good enough to beat SKT. The final nail in NA’s coffin is Faker, the Michael Jordan-esque superstar that earned my amateur opponent the game-tying point. Those close to Faker know, as long as he wants to compete, he will stay in Korea. SKT pay him handsomely, and the chance at an increased prize pool will keep the eSports superstar as gatekeeper to the Summoner’s Cup.
Despite an overpowered answer from Connor, Mark takes Round 2 because the United States lacks the culture behind eSports to develop a team to win the world.
3. The Giants and Jets have had relatively average starts to the season, to say the least. Do you think each team will turn their respective seasons around or continue poor play? Why or why not?
Marc: Before this past week’s games; these two teams were the shame of New York. The Jets were the punching bag of the American Football Conference East division and were in line for the second pick in the NFL draft. Their surprise win against a shaky Ravens (so sad) improved their record, but the team lacks weapons on offense to gain much momentum from that win. The Giants had a different problem. Before they squared off in London on Sunday, they were last in the league in turnover differential. They couldn’t get any possession changes on defense, but of course they “changed” this script when they picked off Case Keenum four times. The G-Men will not face this low level of quarterback every week, suggesting that the turnover total this game may have been a very real anomaly. I don’t think either of these teams have a great chance to turn it around as they sit toward the bottom in two separate divisions with clear front runners.
Connor: Despite poor play from both teams, the Giants have a much better chance than the Jets to turn things around. The Jets must pass the Bills and Dolphins to have a shot at the wild card, meanwhile the Patriots have an angry Tom Brady to guide them to another division title. The Cowboys and Eagles are historically inconsistent, and the Redskins lack the talent — similar to my opponent — needed to win the division, this year. The Jets also need a reliable offense, while Eli Manning and his wideouts can drive on the world’s best defenders. The best case that can be made for the Giants is its strength of schedule, which is tied for second to last in the league, compared to the seventh-ranked Jets schedule. Trust me, I know a few things about strength of schedule: I faced this clown in back-to-back weeks.
Round 3 was a close-fought battle, but Connor wins it all at the last second, like Eli leading the Giants downfield late in the fourth quarter.