(by Steve Hopkins)
After a busy final regular season in Germany, the top three positions are locked up with Borussia Dusseldorf entering the 4-team playoff as the top seed, and Saarbrucken and Ochsenhausen matched up against each other as second and third seeds. Ochsenhausen will play Bergneustadt for their final match of the season later this week, and Saarbrucken will host Dusseldorf in their final match – second position hinges on the outcome as the two teams are currently tied. That fourth position has yet to be decided.
ASV Grunwettersbach currently holds the fourth position with one match remaining. However, that final match is against Dusseldorf where ASV will be a big underdog. If ASV were to win on Tuesday against Dusseldorf, then they would secure the fourth position – a win with some interesting subplots because (1) the win would mean they face Dusseldorf in the playoff, and (2) ASV’s best known player, Dang Qiu, will be moving to Dusseldorf for next season.
If ASV loses, then they would watch closely to see if Neu Ulm defeats Rhonsprudel – which could set up a two way tie which would be determined by TTBL’s tie breaking rules.
Of the top three, Saarbrucken surprised the field a year ago to win. However, it was Ochsenhausen that won the previous year, and Dusseldorf the year before – so these are three squads with great results in recent years. For 2021, Timo Boll’s Dusseldorf team has been dominant, but Ochsenhausen has the advantage on paper (with Hugo Calderano as the top ranked player in the whole TTBL and Simon Gauzy as the top scoring player in the whole TTBL) – and Ochsenhausen won the last time the two teams played. Of course, focus on Ochsenhausen and Dusseldorf only is exactly what happened a year ago – so maybe Patrick Franziska can lead his Saarbrucken team to back to back titles?
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