Gen.G fire shots at NA Rocket League pipeline: 'The players aren't good enough'
"America is a tune. It must be sung together." — Gerald Stanley Lee
The problem is that America isn't singing in Rocket League. It's murmuring, a soft hum and a comfortable toe tap, whilst the rest of the world is rock and roll.
Other regions are bursting into melody, blessed with harmony and the willingness not to let their notes run off their tongues with complacency.
The RLCS World Championships has only highlighted the frailty of the North American region, as "import teams" such as Gen.G and Complexity are continuing to be encored, whilst FaZe Clan's set has ended with boos and rotten tomatoes.
But how does this change?
How does America become a conqueror again? How does the region that is so esteemed in esports culture change their mindset and begin their resurgence in Rocket League? Is it possible for North America to be a powerhouse again, or are we now destined to continue seeing the French production line evolve and grow, while the USA stifles and plateaus?
It's the question that GGRecon posed to Gen.G stars Joseph "Noly" Kidd and Jack "ApparentlyJack" Benton, as the two English imports have spent a year at the height of American Rocket League, learning their trade and comparing it to that of their homeland.
Noly criticises American Rocket League players' effort
Speaking at a press conference, Noly told GGRecon that there is a glaringly obvious solution for American players to break out of this lull.
"I think the motherf**kers need to be playing the game," Noly said.
Although the answer was met with a chorus of laughs, Noly wasn't kidding.
Credit was given to the calibre of talent that the echelons of the scene have though, such as that seen in G2 Esports and SpaceStation Gaming.
"This debate goes around all the time, we talk about this as a team. The fans and viewers always say 'How is this team doing better?' or 'This team is looking worse,' but once it gets to LAN it always balances out, and that's showing right now," he continued.
"G2 is coming in hot. FaZe obviously isn't having the best moments. Obviously, Complexity going up against Karmine next - they very well could take that game."
Noly's comments have joined a long discourse about "comfortable" teams in North America, which has recently been heightened by FaZe Clan's managing dramatics, where former Head Coach Raul "Roll Dizz" Diaz claimed that his team, specifically Nick "mist" Costello, didn't play enough Rocket League to sustain themselves at the pinnacle of their region.
Interestingly, G2's Reed "Chicago" Wilen recently revealed that they were using friendly side-bets to grind Rocket League, seeing the roster fly into the in-game 2v2 leaderboards, getting reps in to win money off each other. A method that has seemingly come up trumps after their revival at the end of the year.
ApparentlyJack slams the American Rocket League talent pipeline as 'not good enough'
One of the biggest critiques of NA is that they "gatekeep" rising players by refusing to make changes to long-standing rosters and taking chances on younger talents, a rule that Gen.G broke to pick up the youngster Nick "Chronic" Iwanski.
But ApparentlyJack says this take is mythical, and teams aren't willing to make changes because the talent pipeline simply isn't good enough.
"I have a very different opinion, compared to the general narrative," Jack told GGRecon.
"The narrative going around the scene - comments and Twitter posts, Reddit posts, whatever - is that 'the talent is there in North America, you just need people to give them a chance'. I disagree. I think that Europe just has a far deeper pool.
"We see it time and time again. These teams from Europe don't just pluck players out of nowhere like people keep saying. I don't know how the narrative caught on. The players that they pick have proven themselves on bubble teams. They've had good results elsewhere. There are not really many outliers in that pool.
"But for some reason, the general community seems to say that these players are just being plucked out of thin air when they're clearly not. They're proven.
"NA does not have that talent right now. The players aren't performing at a high level. Bubble teams, they're not getting the chances because they don't deserve the chances right now. It's a harsh reality, but it's true. The players aren't good enough right now. They're not, I'm sorry."
America needs more nourishing idols, claims Gen.G
As for the future, Noly claims that America needs to utilise their icons in a better way, picking players to focus on who embody Rocket League, such as the French community has seen with the devotion that Alexandre "Kaydop" Courant had for the game, leading to multiple World Championship titles.
"It also comes down to - not necessarily picking with these players out and playing with them - but being someone who players can idolise," Noly said in a press conference, in response to a question from Beyond The Game podcast host Gregan.
"When you look at America, the people who tend to get idolised are the ones who don't play the game. They're not good people to idolise. That's definitely what America lacks. Whereas when the French people were coming up, the reason why they're so dominant now, is they had people to influence them like Fairy Peak!, Alpha54, Kaydop ("times five," added Jack). These are players who show that they want to win and they have good attitudes. The players in America tend to not show that similarity."
For Gen.G, Worlds could be their last hoorah as a roster, depending on whether Jack and Noly want to stay in America rather than head back to England, but they will be looking to end off their season with a swansong that will echo around both regions, showing that harmony and a risky note can lead to perfection.