There were no surprises in three out of the four Chinese National Football League quarterfinals games as all three winning teams won by large margins.
The Shanghai Titans and the Shanghai Warriors continued to show that despite the continued improvement around the league, the older and established Shanghai teams are a force to be reckoned with, and they are joined by the new-blood Wuhan Berserkers, who have made a strong case to be considered the best team in China.
Titans overwhelm Troops 62-0
Just as the Titans were the masters of old in various mythologies, the Shanghai Titans were the masters of the football field against the Taiyuan Troops.
The Titans were paced by Ben Wong (#32) and Dominik Pflumm (#13) as they combined for a majority of the Titans’ points. The Troops had some success on offense moving the ball through the air, but ultimately, they were unable to convert any of their drives into points thanks to a stout Titans defense.
The Titans advanced to the semifinals for the fourth straight year, where they will await the Hong Kong Warhawks.
For Taiyuan, the season ends here. However, they made great progress in just 3 short years, having gone from playing their first games in 2017, to making the final 8 this year. With a little more seasoning, the sky is the limit for the Troops.
Warriors cut down Barbarians 36-8
In Beijing, the Shanghai Warriors made their third straight trip to the semifinals with a definitive 36-6 victory over the Beijing Barbarians.
After hard-fought first quarter on a snow-covered field, the Warriors would score 28 unanswered in the final 3 quarters to win by a very comfortable margin. While the Warriors struggled at-times offensively against a strong Barbarian defense, they were led by #11 Johnson Lu who had 6 catches for 41 yards and a touchdown, and also led the Warriors with 20 rushing yards on the ground.
The real story of the game was the Warriors Defense, as they outscored Beijing by themselves with 2 touchdowns and a safety. They were led by DE Franz Dueck (#50) who would finish the game with double digit tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble.
While the Barbarians will be bitterly disappointed with the result, they will end their season as division champions and will be poised to come back stronger next season.
The Warriors advanced to the semifinals for the third consecutive season, and their next step is a semifinal matchup against the Wuhan Berserkers in Wuhan.
Wuhan declaw Tigers 52-8
In Wuhan, the Berserkers shook off any rust they might have had and left no doubt as to why they’re widely the favorites for the title this year as they beat the Foshan Tigers 52-8.
Wuhan quickly jumped out to a 28-0 lead with several beautiful throws by QB Jared Evans (#3), and despite the Tigers trying to claw their way back with a short touchdown pass to Eason (#1), they just couldn’t keep up with the Berserkers.
Wuhan was able to bomb away with a devastating passing attack led by pass-catchers Shakeem (#85) and Wu Jinjin (#80). Shakeem also did double duty on defense, scoring on a pick-six as well. Along the trenches, Big DE Robert Williams (#9) proved to be an unstoppable force in the trenches.
The Tigers will no doubt go home disappointed after a trying season on and off the field, but after getting a taste of the bar being set by Wuhan, they will no doubt be motivated to reach that level next season.
Wuhan will be at home for the semi-finals as they take on the two-time defending champions, the Shanghai Warriors, in what could be the game of the year.
Regular season officially comes to a close
In other news, the final game of the CNFL regular season finally took place on December 8th as the Shanghai Street Cats closed out their season with a 20-2 victory over the Hangzhou Generals,
*The Chengdu vs Hong Kong game was cancelled when Chengdu was unable to make the trip, and as a result the Hong Kong Warhawks automatically advance to the semifinals.