AUTHOR: CHRIS "BEARLIGHT" LEE / @BEARLIGHTCASTS
Another day, another opportunity for high school esports student athletes on the Stay Plugged In platform to connect with, and perform in front of collegiate programs. Not too many other opportunities are as big as the SPIN Showcase Series though, aside from Carry2College and your local Stay Plugged In recruiting LAN (see info and register here). VALORANT and Rocket League earned the featured spots for the Showcase this time around as a way to promote and preview players who may turn out to be All-Stars this December, and it did not disappoint in the slightest.
Connections between students and collegiate reps were buzzing this past Saturday. A healthy dose of well-known recruits proving consistent, and new stand-outs emerging was a recipe for success for everyone involved. A big thank you goes out to every recruit, recruiter, family member, staff member, as well as anyone else who supported this event.
Let's reflect on the weekend as whole, as we crown winners and highlight strong performers in this edition of the BearLight Showcase Breakdown.
AEGIS and TORQXZ. I've spent the past year speaking to their upside potential and how we will witness a breakout from these two at some point in the future. The future is now and looks pretty sweet for the duo, as they joined forces with senior ARISO and junior EMERALD on free-agent team "Starlight" to advance to the Grand Finals. Falling short of resetting the bracket in overtime may feel like heartbreak, but I assure you that this will not be their final appearance in the title game before the year is over.
HyphenD and Terrier Blue were both teams on the radar coming into the weekend. Predicted to be the dark horse (HyphenD) & "Team to Watch" honorable mention (Terrier Blue), and finishing top 5 & top 3 respectively, you can say they both met expectations. What wasn't expected was HyphenD being the ones to knock Terrier Blue down to the lower side of the bracket as early as Round 2. Perhaps one could chalk it up to Terrier Blue coming in cold versus HyphenD who had the play-in. Either way, Terrier Blue became red-hot on the lower side, as BOOEY and company won four straight to capture their second straight top 3 SPIN Showcase finish.
Speaking of streaks, it was indeed the Engineers who sneak out the Showcase victory in the overtime of the Grand Finals, becoming the first team to 3-peat in the Series' new format structure. Congratulations!
VALORANT CHAMPIONS: ENGINEERS
Feeling a bit blue that I wasn't able to fire out the "ben There Done That" headline I had locked and loaded for this one. Team "ben", our TTW in the Rocket League section of our event preview was still able to provide themselves a top 4 performance, indicating perhaps that TIDE and RESONAL still have that synergy and will just need some reps to get back to the dominance we've seen.
Appropriately enough, it was team "Corn Bread" (also mentioned as favorites) who took them out in the Semifinals. After the recent run with Spate Esports came to an end earlier this month, AYOOMALII made quite the statement for future potential teams in this one. He and his squad ZEXY & PIGEON won 12 out of 14 games played through the Semifinals. Their run would end in the Finals, however, as the biggest surprise and story of the day took place there.
Sometimes, it's the teams you know about that catch you by surprise and exceed expectations to win it all. In this case, it was a team that few of us saw coming. Now, I'm not saying they are unknown by all, nor am I saying that they had a small percentage chance to win (being an all SSL team), but it is certainly the first time we've seen them on top here in the SPIN Showcase Series. Team "An Eyedea" certainly had a good one regarding how to approach this bracket. They go 13-for-17 in games won to take home the September SPIN Showcase title in Rocket League.