Saints Rocket League pulled out all the stops as they battled through the best of the best to claim a Top 4 finish in the College Rocket League (CRL) World Championship.
The Saints Esports varsity team headed south this past weekend as they traveled to Dallas, Texas for the first-ever CRL World Championships as part of Dreamhack Dallas. The Saints qualified for the event as they finished 3rd in the Eastern Conference Playoffs earlier this year.
Entering the tournament as the 9th seed of 16 teams, the Saints had their work cut out for them as they entered Group Play on Friday. Their first opponents, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (8th ) of Karlsruhe, Germany, brought it to the Saints right as they put us on our heels and down 0-2 in the best-of-five series. The resiliency of the Saints prevailed as they battled back to win three straight to advance to face off against their Eastern Conference Rival and top seed Northwood University.
While Northwood prevailed, 3-0, the Saints still had one more shot to advance in the tournament as they would take on the University of Salford (16th), of Salford, England, on Saturday to decide who would move on to the Playoffs. The Saints didn’t let the previous loss get to them as they left nothing on the table, running through the Lions with a convincing 3-0 sweep. The win would move them on to the Top 8 and Championship Sunday.
In the Quarterfinals, The Saints faced off against the hometown squad of University of Texas Arlington (10th). Though they were a higher seed, the Saints were considered an underdog going in. An emergency substitution was also needed for the Saints as Bailey “Nitryx” Lamont stepped in for Josh “Jay” Podruzny. The adjustment didn’t faze the Saints squad as they adjusted their gameplay and slowed the pace of the game down to put UTA off balance. The game plan worked as the Saints pulled out a dramatic 3-2 series win to move on to the Final Four.
Moving on to the semifinals, The Saints took on another Eastern Conference rival in Stockton University (5th). The nail-biting series could have gone either way but ultimately went to the Ospreys as they took down the Saints, 4-2.
”Words cannot describe how proud we are of what our team accomplished. Achieving a Top 4 finish in the world is a great accomplishment and how we got there are the lessons that will serve our players for a lifetime,” said Head Coach Mike LePine. “Not only did we put in the work over the last year, but we also were able to maintain our momentum when things didn’t go as planned. When we were met with adversity, we maintained our poise and accomplished something great. This was their moment and they showed up.”
The 16-team CRL World Championship tournament featured 10 teams representing North American universities and six teams representing European universities.
“I am unbelievably proud of what this group accomplished this year,” said Assistant Esports Director Chris Funston. “The players, the coaching staff, everyone put in the work and it paid off. To be a Top 4 program in the world, that is saying something. We made a statement this year and that’s just a sign of things to come for the future of this team.”
St. Clair shared the 3rd-4th place position with Cégep de Valleyfield, of Quebec, who were eliminated by eventual World Champion Northwood in the other semifinals.
"We came to play and that’s exactly what we did," added Assistant Coach Ajay Singh. "Canada placing 3rd-4th was against all odds. Also, seeing how all the teams were hanging out with one another and having a great time is truly what these events are all about."
The tournament was broadcasted on twitch.tv/rocketleague in front of over 60,000 live viewers each day of the event and over 500 audience members.
Saints Rocket League
Ben “Spoods” Talbot, Windsor, ON — Computer Systems Technology - Networking
Josh “Jay” Podruzny, Grande Prairie, AB — Computer Systems Technology - Networking
Josh “Comp” Byrne, Edmonton, AB — Business Administration - Marketing
Bailey “Nitryx” Lamont, Windsor, ON — Esports Administration & Entrepreneurship
Head Coach Mike LePine
Assistant Coach Ajay Singh — Biomedical Engineering Technology - Equipment and Devices
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