It has been a very fun six weeks in the States Chess Cup. We've had a lot of great chess being played, with no shortage of upsets and nerve-wracking finishes! Here’s a quick update on the playoff picture for the league heading into the final week of the regular season.
As a reminder, the top two teams from each division qualify for a single-elimination playoff bracket. The top two third-place teams from the East, Central, or West, will also qualify for playoffs as a wild-card, to compensate for their larger division sizes compared to the South.
In the East, the standings are pretty clear. #1 Michigan, at 5/6, will clinch the 1st seed in the division with either a win or a draw against #4 Pennsylvania. With a close loss, Michigan would drop down to a wild-card spot, but a decisive win by Pennsylvania could see them overtake Michigan. #2 New Jersey and #3 New York both have 4.5, and will clinch playoff spots with wins against #8 Massachusetts and #6 Maryland, respectively. NY’s better projected tiebreaks would mean that they jump into the second seed, while NJ will have to settle for a wild-card spot.
In the South, #1 Virginia is in clear first with 4/5, and will clinch the 1st seed with either a win or draw against #3 Florida. Thanks to their great tiebreaks, a loss would still keep them in the playoffs, if they can keep it close against Florida. #2 Georgia, with 3/5, will clinch playoffs with a win against #5 Alabama.
In the Central, the playoffs have essentially already begun! #1 Minnesota and #2 Iowa, both with 5/6, are playing a match with everything on the line - the winner takes 1st seed in the division, while the loser is eliminated! #3 Missouri and #4 Illinois, both with 4/6, are playing an equally important match. The loser is eliminated from the league, while the winner most likely advances to the playoffs, overtaking the loser of MN-IA on tiebreaks.
In the West, arguably the strongest division, there are still 5 teams remaining with a chance at the playoffs. #1 California-N has a full-point bye this week, so they will end up with 5.5/7, clinching the top seed in the playoffs. #2 Washington, at 4.5/6 could join them in the playoffs with a win against #7 Hawaii. #3 California-S, #4 Arizona, and #5 Oregon are locked in a battle for a wild-card spot. CA-S looks to be in the driver’s seat with their higher tiebreaks, but they’ll need to win against #6 Nevada first. Even then, there’s still a chance for Arizona or Oregon if one of them wins this week by a sufficiently larger margin than a CA-S win.
Here’s a screenshot of the match schedule for next week. Note that stream links will start to be populated over the next few days, check the schedule page before the start of your match to find the stream link. To look at all of the standings yourself, please check out the main google sheet at saumikn.com/scc-schedule. I’ve also added a new, interactive worksheet tab, so people can play around with hypothetical results to see who makes it into the playoffs.
Finally, I have one announcement to make: to cover the costs of running this event, I am holding a GoFundMe campaign to raise $600. If you've been enjoying the States Chess Cup so far, as a player, streamer, or spectator, I would appreciate any amount you can contribute towards the operational costs of the league. Reaching the $600 goal will help ensure that we can continue to organize the league for future seasons.