PCL Atlantic Playoffs Preview
photo - Sebastian Voortman

PCL Atlantic Playoffs Preview

SFMechanics
SFMechanics
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by David Pruess, manager

Following the same methodology as in this first post on the Pacific, here is my analysis of the top lineups in the Atlantic Division and their playoff prospects.

1. St Louis Archbishops

St Louis Official Accurate Official Accurate
Caruana 2700 2752 Caruana 2700 2752
So 2700 2710 So 2700 2710
Theodoru 2535 2559 Niemann 2418 2412
Bloomer 2000 2230 Rosenthal 2180 2314
2483.75 2562.75 2499.5 2547
Official Accurate
Caruana 2700 2752
Akobian 2641 2609
Bok 2639 2635.5
Bloomer 2000 2230
2495 2556.625

These "accurate" ratings hedge against Theodoru performing more in line with his actual rating in the future (worse than his current overperformance) and Akobian doing better. But I suspect Theodoru will continue to play well, and is actually no worse than Akobian in this format currently, so the Bok lineup basically replaces Wesley So with Bok, which is not favorable. The two lineups with Bloomer have high ratings bc of his delta, but his performance still makes him likely to go 0-4 against a lot of lineups, so it may not matter that much.

Pre-season, the Caruana-So-Niemann-Rosenthal lineup was the first one that popped into my head as I surveyed the league for strong teams. I expected it to likely be the best or one of the top 2-3, however, it certainly has not been. Niemann is very young, and for whatever reasons has not been able to play up to his talent and skill in this format. Nevertheless it's a toss-up whether the Archbishops should run the Theodoru or Niemann lineup. Either way, the Bishops probably have the second best lineup in the Atlantic.

2. New York Marshalls

Marshalls Official Accurate Official Accurate
Moranda 2597 2661 Moranda 2597 2661
Azarov 2565 2574 Azarov 2565 2574
Djurabek 2508 2549 Djurabek 2508 2549
Xu 2207 2427 Jacobson 2255 2370.3
2469.25 2552.75 2481.25 2538.6
Official Accurate
Zhigalko 2610 2570
Azarov 2565 2574
Djurabek 2508 2549
Xu 2207 2427
2472.5 2530

They don't have many great lineups other than the Moranda-Grant Xu, so they basically need the 4 who got them here to keep them going. Jacobson can be substituted for Xu without ruining things or Zhigalko for Moranda, but I would not recommend either substitution unless one of their MVPs is not available. In Grant Xu, the Marshalls have a rare board 4 who actually matters no matter how high-rated the opposing boards 1 and 2 are. The team also has a certain clutch factor, seen in their 3.5-.5 final round comeback win against the Windmills earlier this season. Without that, the Windmills would have draw odds in this matchup, and the confidence to beat the Marshalls. With the Windmills the stronger team on paper and the Marshalls repeated ability to pull out the narrowest of margins, this may be the one first week match where we see draw odds decide it! Continuing on in the playoffs, it is relevant to note that the Marshalls won their regular season matches against all 3 other playoff teams.

3. Webster Windmills

Official Accurate Official Accurate
2682 2731 Robson 2682 2731
2629 2662 Jayaram 2495 2517
2626 2655 Boros 2439 2408
2000 2245 AGrabinsky 2375 2445
2484.25 2573.25 2497.75 2525.25
Official Accurate
Liem 2700 2635
Durarbayli 2629 2662
Nyzhnyk 2626 2655
JGrabinsky 2000 2245
2488.75 2549.25

The Windmills have one lineup that stands out as the best in the Atlantic Division. They can sub in Shimanov or Cordova for Durarbayli or Nyzhnyk and remain competitive, but will lose their edge. The one substitution that might still leave them with the best team would be Liem for Robson; although he did not fare well so far, with his class and some better preparation, Liem might be able to perform at a level similar to Robson. Personally I would have a lot of faith in the proven performers Robson, Durarbayli, and Nyzhnyk to continue to come through for them throughout the playoffs.

4. Montclair Sopranos

Sopranos Official Accurate gamble: Official Accurate
Sevian 2634 2666 Sevian 2634 2666
Checa 2488 2563 Firouzja 2582 2657
Sturt 2436 2489 Checa 2488 2563
Bartell 2355 2453 Yip 2218 2384
2478.25 2542.75 2480.5 2567.5
Official Accurate Official Accurate
Sevian 2634 2666 Sevian 2634 2666
Lenderman 2630 2601 Lenderman 2630 2601
Checa 2488 2563 Firouzja/Guseinov 2667 2657
Yip 2218 2384 DanSmith 2047 2131.5
2492.5 2553.5 2494.5 2514

The best proven lineup for the Sopranos is Sevian-Checa-Sturt-Bartell, but I don't see how a few over-performing 2400-2500 players can expect to win matches against the kind of lineups they will face in the playoffs, with multiple players of the class of Caruana-So or Robson-Durarbayli-Nyzhnyk. So if I were their manager I would choose to gamble on Firouzja and Yip if both were available. It might not work out as those players don't have much experience in the PCL, but the upside is there that if they do thrive, that's a lineup with the firepower to compete.

First Week Lineups and Predictions

Lineups have come out, and here are the matches:

1. St Louis Official Accurate v. 4.Sopranos Official Accurate
Caruana 2700 2752 Guseinov 2667 2639
So 2700 2710 Checa 2488 2563
Theodoru 2535 2559 Sturt 2436 2489
Bloomer 2000 2230 Michael Rohde 2356 2340.25
2483.75 2562.75 2486.75 2507.8

I don't see much hope here for the Sopranos. The Archbishops are bringing out arguably their strongest lineup, and the Sopranos are without Sevian or Bartell, Yip or Firouzja.

2. Marshalls Official Accurate v. 3. Webster Official Accurate
Moranda 2597 2661 Robson 2682 2731
Azarov 2565 2574 Shimanov 2626 2567.5
Djurabek 2508 2549 Nyzhnyk 2626 2655
Jacobson 2255 2370.33 JGrabinsky 2000 2245
2481.25 2538.6 2483.5 2549.6

Now here is an interesting matchup!! Jacobson is in for Xu, but more importantly Durarbayli is not playing, which might be just what the Marshalls need to knock off the team with the best possible lineup in the Atlantic. And by knock off I mean draw 8-8, then advance while laughing! Hopefully Grant Xu has explained to Jacobson that it's not enough to wait to beat the opposing team's board 4, you need to steal from the rich in the first two rounds. Marshalls 8-8

Atlantic Finals: Archbishops beat Marshalls

The Archbishops have shown their commitment to the league this year, playing Caruana and So every match, and this continues this week even with the U.S. Championship starting (note the absence of Xiong and Sevian from other lineups). I imagine that also in the next match they will bring an optimal lineup and edge out a hard-fighting Marshalls team.