Our ISL Power Ranks are our best analysis of overall roster strength in the ISL format. As with our NCAA power ranks, these ranks are meant to be a snapshot in time, rather than an exact prediction of season finish order – that allows us to see more rising and falling among the teams, rather than seeing a more static ranking of our end-of-year predictions reframed each week.
The opening week of the 2020 ISL seasons has already shifted our #1 ranking after an upset of the defending champs.
Changes from last weeks ranks are listed in parentheses, with plus (+) showing a move up the ranks and minus (-) showing a move downward.
#1: Cali Condors (+1)
Jackpot scoring was the friend of the Condors, even if it stung some of their weak points on the men’s side. When you have Lilly King and Caeleb Dressel, any rule tweak that increases the value of your top-end stars is a net gain. When will Nic Fink be back to save the men’s breaststrokes?
#2: Energy Standard (-1)
Energy Standard didn’t swim particularly well in the season opener, and it wasn’t close. Still, Energy has a clear path to a repeat title: they get a much-needed bye week next week with the hope that Femke Heemskerk returns from COVID quarantine after that. And the rest of the year? ENS has zero matches against Cali, zero against London, zero against LA, and just one matchup with Tokyo. Instead, Energy gets to face the bottom four in our rankings in pretty much every remaining match.
#3: LA Current (-)
The Current made things closer than expected with Energy Standard in the season opener, and swept the men’s relays. Their backstroke dominance should only get stronger if Zane Waddell can make his ISL debut alongside star Ryan Murphy. And Tom Shields just continues to be the most under-appreciated swimmer in the entire ISL. Murphy and Shields lead the #2-scoring men’s roster in the entire league so far this year.
#4: Tokyo Frog Kings (-)
We haven’t seen Tokyo compete yet, but the more we see of the new format in action, the more valuable a swimmer like Vladimir Morozov looks. Next week, Tokyo gets to debut against the #3-ranked LA Current in a battle that could shake up the top of our rankings considerably.
#5: London Roar (-)
London absolutely dominated their match, but their incredible scoring ranks (the #1-scoring men’s roster and #2-scoring women’s roster this season) are a little inflated by swimming against much weaker competition than the top teams in our power rankings. One matchup we just can’t wait for: London vs LA in the men’s backstrokes. That’ll really put Christian Diener and Guilherme Guido to the test after they obliterated DC, Aqua, and Iron.
#6: Iron (-)
The backstroke skins were about the worst-case scenario for Iron, and they still managed to get a woman and a man into the second rounds. Match MVP Ranomi Kromowidjojo is a game-changer in almost any skin stroke, but we’d only expect her production to go up if she gets to compete in free or fly down the road. Iron actually has a pretty soft upcoming schedule – outside of Cali, their grouping next week includes two of the bottom three teams in the league, and then Iron gets a bye.
#7: Toronto Titans (-)
Like Tokyo, we haven’t seen the Titans debut yet. It feels like Toronto might have sneaky relay depth like the Current – but their lineup is also going to take some creativity. We have Louise Hansson as a top-two swimmer in five individual events on the team’s depth chart, and picking her best lineup without overextending her endurance is going to be a major hurdle.
#8: NY Breakers (+1)
The Breakers got the worst possible grouping last week, swimming against the three best teams in our power ranks. Things get a lot easier this week with #6 Iron and #9 DC in the mix. But the Breakers are also at the bottom of the league standings and have to get something going to avoid the risk of being cut before the semifinals. Marco Koch has been a bright spot so far, coming up with one of the league’s biggest jackpots in the 200 breast in match #1.
#9: DC Trident (-1)
It feels wrong bumping DC down after week 1 – after all, they had Zach Apple put up arguably the breakout performance of the week, and Linnea Mack was extremely impressive in sprint back and fly. But even in spite of Apple’s brilliance, DC had the lowest-scoring men’s roster of any team in week 1. The schedule isn’t favorable either, as they’ll face a brutal slate of #1 Cali this week, #3 LA/#4 Tokyo/#5 London together in week 3 and then #2 Energy in week 4 with no matches remaining against the bottom-ranked team.
#10: Aqua Centurions (-)
The Aqua Centurion men were shockingly good: they were the #3-scoring men’s roster in the entire league this week. But they sorely missed captain Federica Pellegrini (out with a COVID positive) and top backstroker Simone Sabbioni, who withdrew from the league. Szebaztian Szabo was a major bright spot, and arguably the highest-impact free agent of the league so far. Aqua also got the worst draw possible with the men’s skin race going to backstroke, so they should get a bump if any other stroke gets mixed in next week.