The LA Gladiators pulled off a massive victory against the New York Excelsior to boost their chances of securing a playoff spot.
A huge reverse sweep against the top team in the league could be crucial for the Gladiators in an incredibly tight playoff race.
Only six teams will qualify for the $1.7 million end-of-season playoffs. So far, only one of those teams is confirmed – the New York Excelsior themselves had locked in a playoff spot before the fourth stage even began, and confirmed the number one seed in just week two of the stage.
The Gladiators didn’t hold a top-six position at the end of Stage 3, but managed to work their way up the rankings as the final stage progressed. Ahead of the Gladiators’ match against New York, however, teams five through eight in the overall standings each had 21 wins to their name.
For most teams in the playoff race, it will generally be assumed that a match against New York is likely to result in a loss added to their record, if they haven’t already faced them. Over the first three stages, the Excelsior conceded a mere three series in total.
It looked likely that the Gladiators were set to fulfil the anticipated narrative after going down 0-2 in the series, but a huge turn-around saw the team complete a reverse sweep to claim the victory.
For the Gladiators, the win means a massive boost to their playoff hopes. Wins against the Excelsior are so rare that in practical terms they act like a bonus, a surprise win where most teams must account for a likely loss.
With all three of their remaining opponents currently sat in the bottom half of the Stage standings, the Gladiators need only win out in favored match-ups to ensure playoff qualification.
For the Excelsior the loss means little – they’re already guaranteed the top seed for the season playoffs, and they’re still on track to reach the Stage playoffs. These matches matter little to them, and there has been speculation that the team has been taking it easy and saving strategies to prepare for the matches of actual importance later on.
This is the first time, however, that New York has suffered more than one loss in the regular season of a stage, having also lost to the Los Angeles Valiant in the previous week.