1. Columbus Clappers
Well, they did it. A reverse sweep in the grand finals led the Clappers to completing the 3-peat this past season and come into Season 3 as clear favorites once again. The Clappers are running a new roster this time around with Occelloth and Tyrant coming to Ohio to join Panarin in the starting lineup. On paper the Clappers have an even stronger lineup than last season, however one has to wonder if their chemistry might take a dip without Dream as a part of the starting 3. Still, it's hard to imagine any team topping our champs, except….
2. Miami Vice
The Vice got as close as any team had to taking down the Clappers empire last season and while they fell short last time, they are poised to try and do it again. The Vice are the only Pro team not to make a change to their starting lineup this offseason and it's not hard to see why. Meat, Rodeo, and Reno can all be considered top 5 players and I don't see that changing any time soon. The Clappers have gotten stronger, but hopefully the Vice can use that season of experience together to give the Clappers a good fight. Also don’t let this second place ranking make you forget the fact that the Vice blew a 2-0 series lead.
3. St. Louis Storm
I’m just going to be real, I don’t see any team other than the 2 I have already mentioned making the finals this season. However, as my casting has shown, I get proven wrong often and the team that I think has the best chance of doing that are the St. Louis Storm. FSI has left the baguettes name (and players) behind and has brought in MDub and Rath to fill the holes. Overall I feel this roster is weaker than what FSI had a season ago, but Rath and MDub are both solid offensive threats that should complement FSI’s excellent defense. Don’t be shocked if these boys pull off an upset or two during the regular season.
4. Chicago Sail
This ranking may surprise people and that's fair, but I genuinely believe that Walster is an upgrade over Vorq and the Sail will be a better team as a result. Walster has been kept quiet these past two seasons but I think he has what it takes to make a big impact for the Sail. He has a solid supporting cast between Spleen and Yuri “100 Saves” Gagarin that should allow his offensive talents to shine. While the Sail might not be equipped to take down our top 2 (though they somehow find a way to beat the Clappers each season) they are looking like a solid competitor.
5. San Jose Surge
Another team with a new name and a new look (kinda). Kyle and Walrus have left, with Kyle taking the Smokers name, leaving this team fully in Kspyre's hands. He has brought in Criz and Slime to make a lineup that I’m….not sold on to be honest. Criz is technically a 3-time champion but has only played one SPL game in the past 3 seasons while Slime got one game in last season while spending most of it riding the bench. I personally feel that Slime is slightly overhyped which is why I am putting this team here. Worst comes to worst I believe in Kspyre’s ability to keep this team in playoff contention.
6. Brooklyn Bandits
ANOTHER REBRANDED TEAM LETS GOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! This time it's the one new team we have in Pro this season. Led by Derek, who has left his former Barrage members behind and has picked up Panther and Qslvr to take their place. Panther is coming off a short, but very successful, season with the Pepe Tactics that saw him pick up the Most Improved Pro Player award while Qslvr had an excellent season in IM, winning the MVP award for the division. This team has some serious talent on it and I could see them shocking some people this season. It all depends on if Derek and Qslvr can live up to the performances they put up in Intermediate last season
7. Portland Platypus
My old team :(
After managing to shock the world and keep their place in Pro, Lazytrout has taken control of the Portland squad and has given it a complete makeover. C0ckyWalrus has been brought in and with him comes Jak and Kush Mama. Walrus and Jak performed well with each other last season on the Smokers while Kush Mama helped the Hoots turn their season around and earned the Best Rookie award for his troubles. This team was hard to rate for me, having 2/3rds of one of the most red-hot teams to finish last season has to mean something but at the same time they don’t have the one that made it to the All-Star game. Also, like the other players moving up a division, there is a large question mark hanging over Kush’s head. Still, I think this team will put up a good fight this season and we might see them in the playoffs by season’s end.
8. Denver Omelets
I hate to do this to my man Balucha but when I look at all the teams this season, this one is the weakest on paper. Losing Dyno and Kyler, Balucha has picked up 2/3rds of the demoted Tactics squad and former Captain-for-a-day EW to try and build a lineup out of. Overall I have a feeling this team is going to struggle. Balucha is a great asset to have when you are able to put good players around him, however he has been a 3 the majority of his slap career which is the same role that Timmy has filled. Assuming both of them end up in the starting lineup I just don’t see this team having enough offensive power to compete. However, I am ready to be proven wrong and have the Omelets shock me once again.
1. Carolina Smokers
My new team :)
Attempting to set my bias aside, the overall consensus seems to be that the Smokers are IM’s top team and I have to agree with that. Kyle has taken back control of the Smokers brand and has picked up the great offensive duo of Kacktus and LemonBond to join him. It's pretty easy to see why this team is being held as one of the best in IM, two players who found themselves as MVP candidates in this division last season joining forces with a competitive slap veteran seems like a recipe for success on paper, we will have to see if it can translate to real success on the ice. Also, for my team’s sake, let’s hope I don’t have to play this season
2. Quebec Baguettes
The second team on my list is another former pro brand that has been remade in Intermediate, it's the Quebec Baguettes! After FSI left his french-canadian pals behind Renard has taken the helm and has picked up Evil to help fill out the roster. Evil could go down as the best offseason pick up by any intermediate team this offseason and it has me extremely interested in this team. Also, with the recent tier-lists and such being thrown around the discord, this team also has a bit of a chip on their shoulder which could give them even more motivation to challenge for a chance at promotion this season.
3. Olympia Omegas
Next up is a team that I would call the most “volatile” lineup in Intermediate this season. Shieldz has managed to gather up a good looking lineup of Vorq, Kyler, Random Player and himself. This team certainly has the talent to compete with the best of the best here in Intermediate, however, I don’t know if they have the chemistry. Vorq has been attached to Yuri for his entire SPL career and from what I heard can be….difficult to play with at times. I know both Vorq and Kyler like to take control of the game for their teams so they are going to need to make sure to give each other enough space to make this lineup work to its fullest.
4. Baton Rouge Barracudas
Now here we have a lineup consisting of two players who already managed to earn a promotion to Pro last season so surely they should be favorites to do it again right? While I believe Duker is a solid enough pickup to keep this team around the same skill level they had last season, their problem isn’t that they got worse, the problem is that IM got better. Still, while I don’t have them in my top 2 to start with, I do believe that this squad can easily compete for a promotion spot, especially if Donut can keep up his frankly underrated performance from last season
5. Midwest ShrimpRiders
Now this team might still be named the ShrimpRiders but almost none of the same pieces remain. MDub, Qslvr, and EW are all gone leaving LOVE as the lone survivor. In their place are Cape, Highflyer, and Domikus. Overall while I do think that the ShrimpRiders have a weaker lineup then they did last season they could still be a deadly threat if teams are not careful. As Walster mentioned in his rankings a lot of this lies on Highflyer’s shoulders, however we should not overlook the other talented players at LOVE’s disposal. Cape can be great as long as he, ya know, doesn’t act like Cape and Domikus has proven himself to be a solid asset when he makes his way onto the ice. This team could turn some heads this season and even if they don’t, they could still scare some of the top teams in the division
6. Bangor Yetis
The Yetis find themselves as the only team in IM that have decided to not make a single change to their roster. Whether this is a good or bad idea is yet to be determined, however that experience together has to count for something, right? While this team’s record last season was not the prettiest, they did manage to keep most of their games pretty close. Still, a team that went 4-9-1 doesn’t really rile up the greatest amount of confidence, however I still believe that this team’s talent and chemistry should be enough to keep them away from a possible relegation.
7. Oklahoma Exotics
One of two former open squads that got promoted at the end of last season, the Oklahoma Exotics have come into IM looking to make some noise. After almost sweeping every Open award known to man, Green looks to continue his dominance with Dolen, Booyah, and newly acquired Hoodie. Truly speaking the only reason the Exotics find themselves this low is because while this lineup tore apart Open last season, I don’t know how well they will stand up to the increased competition of IM. If I do make rankings each week this season (which I want to but we will see) then don’t be surprised to see the Exotics be the fastest climbers this season.
8. Drumbo Cows
Long time Cows captain LemonBond has left the squad in the hands of Toker as he traveled south to Carolina with Kacktus. With Random Player taking his talents elsewhere as well, Toker was left in the difficult spot of building a new lineup from scratch. Now that the offseason has come to a close, Toker has brought in veteran Ghetto Starfish, former Omaha Ogre Sapster, and Kappa to make a roster full of….meh. I feel this lineup is going to suffer from the amount of talent that IM finds itself with this season. However, this team does have the chance to surprise me. Sapster has a decent rig now, Kappa is getting his first real shot in SPL, and Ghetto is a man Toker has a lot of experience playing with outside of the SPL format. We will see of the course of the season if the Cows can outperform my expectations of them, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are fighting to keep themselves in this division by season’s end.
9. Tokyo Ghoulz
Last, and by definition of a ranking system, sadly least are the Tokyo Ghoulz. The team that, somehow, didn’t win Most Improved Open team after a HUGE late season comeback that got them this spot in IM. Not much has changed for the Ghoulz during the offseason, other than convincing ChillDonut to make his SPL debut to bring our pastry based player name counter up to 2. This roster, much like the Exotics and Cows, is full of players that are going to need to prove themselves before I can believe this team is a contender. However, Ghoul has proven himself to be a solid team leader in the past and last season this team proved to never count them out, even when they are at their lowest.
Now that the offseason is over I think it might be fun to highlight a couple of key names that found themselves without a team.
The man, the myth, the legend. The former Milwaukee Talkies star has made himself available on the SPL FA market. If any pro or IM team needs a new sub during the season don’t be surprised if this man is who they go for
The only censored name in SPL history, b*tt was captain of the Detroit Mighty Clucks these past two seasons but that team has met its demise. B*tt is a talented player so I can see him finding his way onto a IM roster at some point this season.
Maki put up some solid performances last season as a part of the St. Louis Goons, racking up 16 goals and 10 assists in just 5 games played. I would love to see an IM team give him a shot, but if that is not the case I can imagine plenty of Open lineups would be improved with this man as part of them.
I just want to see Zexter play an SPL game please that is all I want I am begging you just pick him up I promise it's a good idea I jus-