The Aqua Centurions’ win in ISL’s Match #10 cements their placement in the Playoff round of competition and sets up the lineup for the Play-In Match next week.
The Aqua win was significant not only for this season’s standings, but for history too: coming into Season 3 of the ISL season, the Italian team not only were winless in ISL history, but they had never placed anywhere but last.
They already broke the latter streak, and in fact didn’t finish last in any of their four meets this season, and now they’ve grabbed their first-ever ISL victory.
This also means that the hero of Italian swimming, Federica Pellegrini, whose star transcends sport, won’t have her final match in front of a home crowd in Italy. She was the biggest draw of the ISL season this year, and while it would have been a fairytale ending in one sense for her to race her last meet on home soil, it’s maybe even more perfect for her to be counted out, and win again, to trudge onward – as she did so many times in her career.
ISL Play-Off Locks, After Match 10:
- Cali Condors
- Energy Standard
- LA Current
- London Roar
- Toronto Titans
- Aqua Centurions
ISL Play-In Match:
- Tokyo Frog Kings
- DC Trident
- New York Breakers
By design or happenstance, the ISL’s meet schedule lined up 4 of the bottom 5 teams in the league in Match #10, which aside from the short straw for the DC Trident, gave those teams a fair chance to grab the sixth position – the only significant movement possible on the last weekend of the year.
Now teams in the Play-In match will need to finish top 2 in order to advance to the 8-team Playoff round. From there, 4 will advance to the Final.
Iron had their best performance of the season in Match #10, which gives them designs on a spot in the 8-team Playoff round, but we can’t overlook the Trident, who have improved all season long, on the basis of their Match #9 loss.
The Breakers appear, on paper, to be odd-team-out headed into the Play-In match. The other three teams have a legitimate chance at a top 2 spots, as the absence of the top 6 teams will dramatically change the dynamic of the meet: events where teams might be mediocre against the Cali Condors, for example, they might be strong against the bottom four teams.
If it comes down to the Skins race, that’s an advantage for Iron. Their 257 Skins points this season, anchored by Ranomi Kromowidjojo, are second-most in the entire league behind only the Cali Condors.
In a season that hasn’t featured many competitive outcomes, the Play-In match, even without most of the league’s stars or any of the league’s best teams, should be one of the more exciting matches of the season.