AUTHOR: CHRIS "BEARLIGHT" LEE / @BEARLIGHTCASTS
For the first time this year in the Stay Plugged In Showcase Series, VALORANT and Rocket League will coexist as featured titles this coming weekend. This event comes just one month after the official announcement of the Stay Plugged In Coca-Cola All-Stars campaign, one which will feature 40 elite VALORANT and Rocket League upperclassmen selected from an open nomination process (more information below).
Active participation and placement in these Showcases go a long way in the All-Star voting process, and it also sparks some fruitful conversations with college esports coaches and directors. These collegiate representatives will be present within the Stay Plugged In Player Discord Server during the bracket, and will connect with players directly during College Fair hours.
Bracket play includes a $500 prize pool per game title in addition to the potential scholarship opportunities that exist upon the SPIN network. For today, let's breakdown our Showcase participants game-by-game and dive into which teams & recruits to keep an eye on.
Two teams with familiar names return to the SPIN Showcase for VALORANT this weekend. Engineers, led by MAJESTIC goes without saying, having won the last two Showcases and pursuing the SPIN version of the Triple Crown. HyphenD is also making a return, looking to bounce back after a bit of misfortune led them to face-off with two top-four teams in their early matches, and sent them packing before they could get anything going. With talented seniors GH0ST and DUCK leading the charge, look for this team to be a dark horse to make a splash in the bracket this weekend.
Don't be fooled by the name change of last Showcase's runner ups, RHS Esports. First of all, "Terrier Blue" (which is what will be listed on the bracket this time around) is the official team name of the Redlands High School (RHS) esports team from California. Secondly, this will be the same roster that forced a bracket reset against Engineers last Showcase, and came up just a few rounds short. As an honorable mention in the "Team to Watch" category we're keeping our eye on Terrier Blue, especially senior and Showcase MVP, BOOEY, who put up an impressive 1.52 KDA (96/63/39) and shined in every single clutch moment he faced last month.
TEAM TO WATCH
As previously mentioned, this squad is looking for their third straight Stay Plugged In Showcase Series title for VALORANT this weekend. We don't typically default to previous champions and recency bias when selecting the TTW, but it doesn't hurt. What we are more excited about with this roster is the undeniable team synergy shown by the core-four that is consistently invited to their lobbies. Majestic, Moonke, PotatoTap, and bd0n move across maps like birds in perfect synchronicity. When one agent drops, the next is always positioned in a way to either trade out or trap that opponent in a util cage while the rest of the team rotates. Taking a day off with this level of competition is a true elimination sentence for any team, but it's difficult to foresee a path that doesn't include the Engineers in the Finals.
Team recognition among our recruiting specialists, aside from our personal favorite name in "The Lieutenant NRG" (poking fun at the sponsorship name change of The General NRG), indicates there is a drive and dedication to show off in front of colleges. PSA Mustangs, for example, crushed the competition the last time the SPIN team visited Hartford, CT for the PlayVs Road to College LAN. We expect senior striker OXY and juniors HAZ and SWAZZ to show a bit of that magic this weekend and place within the Top 5.
They will need to deal with teams like "Dugtrio", who will feature senior superstars MORVEU and OPP_BOMB, as well as team "Corn Bread" made up of ZEXY, PIGEON and AYOOMALII to claim the title. The field is so stacked this weekend, meaning there are plenty of other teams with a reasonable shot that I haven't mentioned yet. One of them is our Team to Watch.
TEAM TO WATCH
Ahhh yes, back together at last. For months now we have seen Resonal and Tide split up onto different rosters. Where there is pure talent, there will always be strong results. In fact, Resonal is defending his title from last SPIN Showcase following his win with BLAZE and JERRYJERRY in early August. However, within the collegiate esports recruiting process it is not all about winning. An overwhelming percentage of college coaches and directors are looking for players who can work with one another to put aside differences and be the best they can be. Trust us when we say that every time these two join forces, the results have always been truly outstanding.
STAY PLUGGED IN COCA-COLA ALL-STARS
Charlotte-based Stay Plugged In (the premier recruiting platform for esports scholarships) and Coca-Cola Consolidated, the nation's largest Coca-Cola bottler, have teamed up to highlight the important role gaming plays in advancing student opportunities. The All-Star Campaign was announced on August 22nd via Stay Plugged In's social media platforms (ex: Twitter/X), and is set to feature top high school VALORANT and Rocket League players with 40 Juniors and Seniors from across the country named as 2023 Stay Plugged In Coca-Cola All-Stars. All-Stars will be chosen by a Selection Committee consisting of leading industry figures and representatives of Coca-Cola Consolidated. The Committee is looking for the next college player - selection will focus on technical skills, contributions to the community and team orientation. All-Star Weekend takes place in December - where the All-Stars meet college recruiters and show their skills in a challenge and tournament - with $20,000 in prizing available with a format that sees that every player receive a minimum of $250.