Darwin's Doom - closed out the season on a 3-1 run to finish 3-7, taking down #1 seeded Fire Drilled in the regular season finale. Darwin’s Doom ranked #1 in fewest turns needed in wins (6.33) on average. True to identity, they were quick out the gate and opponents struggled to damage them early on. Hence their league-leading Win-Life differential (23.67). In longer games, Darwin was man-handled. In their 7 losses, Darwin had the third worst point differential in the league at -22.29. Not surprisingly, when dropping their first 6 games of the season, games took almost twice as long as Darwin prefers (11.75 tpg). In the playoffs, their first round adversary was NLFY, which was perfect considering NLFYs weakness against quicker teams (7 tpg in losses). Both teams experienced anomalous draws, yet Darwin couldn't capitalize, falling to the higher seed in 10 turns. Irrespective of outcome in the playoffs, the 3-1 close gives Darwin great momentum entering Season 2.
Sliver Lining - Hard to find the silver lining for the Slivers. Season 1 saw a total collapse, going 0-5 in the second half of the season despite a promising 2-3 start (close loss to #1 Fire Drilled and victory over #2 NLFY). The lackluster finish has them dead last in the standings, which means certain demotion to the Qualifier bracket in Season 2. In losses, though, the Slivers were at least knocking opponent's life totals by about a third, which led the division. This tells an interesting story, but we shouldn't be fooled - the Slivers couldn't find ways to win these games. Slivers met up with #1-seed F-Drilled in first round of the playoffs and played them well, dropping FDs point total to 11 by the end of the game. Yes, we're celebrating Sliver's mediocrity here. It'll be interesting to see how the Slivers do in Season 2 against lesser competition in the Qualifier.
Black & Blueses - The Commissioner was particularly worried about this team. Why? During the pre-season, B&B was wiping the floor with opponents. No one could could cast a thing; B&B countered anything that was summoned, or copied/stole any opponent creature fortunate to make it onto the battlefield. This team was brutal. This season, though, their promising 3-1 start looks a bit misleading at this point, with only one of those wins coming against a playoff team (NLFY). B&B struggled mightily from that point on, dropping the next 5 matches by an average 20-points per game. Looks like B&B had a few mana shortages, struggled to put creatures in play, despite having 20 of them on-board, and just couldn't reach their desired game length to turn the tide. B&B is setup to win long, drag'em out sluggers, which showed through in their average turns per won games (11.25 avg.) - a mark 33% longer than the league average. Commissioner thought they had enough defense to handle the more aggressive teams, but maybe there's some addition thought that needs to put in. By playoff time, B&B ran into familiar foe in Crusade in the first round, who they went 0-2 against in the regular season, who was ended in just 7-turns despite having the early momentum.
Crusade - A prime example of a team that wins the games you should win, and loses the games it shouldn't have won. Swept the basement, mopped up by the top dogs. The key, though, were two wins against B&B, which propelled Crusade to a #3-seed lock. It looks like Crusade usually finds itself in a 10-turn game irrespective of outcome. Not sure what to make of them yet, but we’ll find out as soon as the basement gets a boost in Season 2. Crusade opened the playoffs with B&B, who it beat twice in the regular season by an average of 24 points per game. In the first round, Crusade slapped them by a whopping 33 points - the second-highest mark of the season League-wide - then dropped to NLFY in Round 2.
Fire Drilled - A simple blueprint, age old favorites and a few new combos landed FD the #1 seed after finishing 8-2 in Season 1. Not necessarily the most well-funded group, but F-Drilled made the most of its’ parts and showed that early on staying perfect thru 4 Rounds. In fact, they were one mana shortage away from being perfect thru 9. As far as pace goes, FD can play short or long, winning twice in 5 turns (only two other games finished as fast or faster), yet clocking a victory after 15 turns in Week 7. Midseason adjustments to Darwin’s Doom had them in unfamiliar territory, losing a non-essential game in Week 10. Fire Drilled opened the playoffs with Sliver Lining, enjoyed a bye in the second round, then ran out of land-to-stand on in the final against NLFY.
No Lands for You - Arguably the most well-constructed Team heading into the regular season. Armed with the second fewest number of attacking creatures, NLFY was set to win by resource depletion and that scheme played out well. In fact, there are as many mana kill cards as there are creatures in this deck. An 0-2 start was followed by a 6-game winning streak of by an average of over 20 ppg. Black Vise won MVP 3 times over that stretch. NLFY took both regular season match-ups against Darwin’s Doom, and once more in the first round of the playoffs. NLFY then bested Crusade by 12 in Round 2, and sealed the crown with a smooth victory in the finals. Quite the turnaround from their 0-2 start. All hail the victors!!
Extinction – Extinction entered S1 with strong support (favor) from the Commissioner. Despite constant revisions to core strategy and makeup, Extinction still failed to break free from the shackles of the Qualifier Division, going 3-3 against the competition. Extinction prefers a quicker pace, it seems, using only 9.51 turns per game in wins vs. 11.67 in losses. That being said, Extinction isn't exactly blowing away the competition in their victories. They sport the lowest differential in the league (13.67) and yet owned the largest point differential in losses. In other words, Extinction is quite mortal, getting hit reasonably hard in wins, and then completely slapped in losses. At least in the losses, Extinction holds on for far longer than most, forcing opponents to an average of 11.67 turns in a loss, which is nearly three more turns than the average. Looks like there’s still work needed to clean up the one called Extinction.
Thrull Frottle – Truth be known, thrulls were the focal point of the first deck ever created by your League Commissioner. Seeing the now-20yr old vision complete, at least to some degree, was pretty enthrulling :) Are they competitive? Nope, not really. Thrull Frottle went 2-4 in Season 1. There are a few positive signs for the Thrull's, who found ways to damage opponents in losses more effectively than most with the third-best average points against (i.e. Opponent life total) in a loss (12.00). The Thrull's prefer a longer game (11 tpg in a win) than shorter (8.54 tpg in a loss). The return of Hecatomb directly resulted in the Thrulls’ final win of the season – a ray of hope for Season 2. Perhaps more changes in store for the last place finisher in the Qualifier Division.
Dead Heads – The most well-funded Team in Season 1! The forever-noteworthy additions of Illusionary Mask and Phyrexian Dreadnought had the Commissioner more excited for the creation of Dead Heads than any other Team in Season 1. Truth be told, Dead Heads took on a slightly different iteration as a green and black graveyard resurrection in the pre-season and fared nicely. This season, the Heads led the division in point differential during wins (20.67), and also damaged their opponents more than anyone else when they lost, knocking them down 12.77 points on average, more than doubling the league average (5.63) Expectations were almost too high for this squad, and Dead Heads delivered only slightly, going 3-3 to close out Season 1 and earn a trip north to the Premier Division in Season 2.
Team 10 – Biggest surprise of the Qualifier Division! Team 10 slipping by the competition with a 4-2 record and, yet, the lowest Win-Point differential (13.50). Team 10 prefers a longer game with wins taking a division-highest 11.25 turns per game. One of its’ two losses came at the hands of Extinction in a blowout (20 point delta) despite going 11-turns - right in Team 10s wheelhouse. In match-ups against the other division-winner - Dead Heads - Team 10 won by an average of only 8-points with both games coming down the wire, barely standing with only 2.5 points remaining in those wins. Too early for predictions in S2, but any additional success might necessitate a little more attention from the Commissioner.