It was a mixed bag for teams with some earning praise and others earning some odd looks.
The past weekend of Rocket League action saw the first Major champions of the season with Spacestation Gaming claiming the throne in North America, and BDS reinforcing their claim as the best in Europe. While many predicted these teams to be the winners, the weekend as a whole left some interesting takeaways for the top tier of Rocket League esports. As the Winter Split will be even tougher with fewer teams in the running, stakes even higher with Circuit Point distribution, and an upcoming transfer window, how teams react to this Major could determine the rest of their season.
The Good: Galaxy Racer
Although BDS and Renault Vitality were obviously the best on the day, Galaxy Racer was the only team that came close to pushing the two elite teams in Europe. It was dangerously close to being a full-fledged upset when Galaxy Racer went up three games to one. At that moment, it felt like their potential had finally been reached. This team has the tools to compete for a top spot in Europe, and showcasing that against a team like BDS will be a major morale boost.
Earlier in the day, they had even swept Triple Trouble while only allowing one goal in three games. However, they fell short as BDS finally clicked and won the final three games of the series without allowing Galaxy Racer to score in over nineteen minutes of game time. It would be hard to criticise Galaxy Racer too much though. They have shown they can do it, even if they fell short when it mattered most, and going forward they should push to be a top-three or four team in Europe, especially after dominating other teams like Triple Trouble. BDS is arguably the best team in the world, so taking them to a decisive Game 7 is a bright spot in a region that has seen BDS and Vitality jump far ahead of the competition.
The Bad: Vitality's Chances of Being #1 in Eu
Vitality is a good team. A really good team. But are they the best? It took them over fourteen minutes to score against BDS in the Grand Finals which is, frankly, unacceptable. They walked through the rest of the bracket leading up to the finals without losing a game to either Giants Gaming or Endpoint. They looked flat against BDS though. Their phenomenal level of play will allow them to easily beat teams they are expected to beat, and it would be insane if Vitality weren't in the top three conversation by the end of the season. However, they seem to lack the killer instinct in the final third necessary to defeat a team so solid on defence like BDS. They have already beaten BDS this season, and it shouldn't be thought that Vitality will never have a chance against BDS. Vitality is a very talented team and didn't lose by more than one goal in any of the finals' games, but BDS looks to be a step above the competition.
The Ugly: The Gap Between Vitality and BDS and the rest of the league
Considering that BDS look to be on a significantly higher level than Vitality as of right now, and the gap also between them and the remaining teams in EU, it seems to be the case that the consistently high level of play from these two dominant forces are going to completely nullify the rest of the competition throughout the rest of the year. BDS and Vitality held their opponents to less than a goal a game over the tournament and made it look like the other team's defence couldn't even play the game. It is incredible to look at the EU field and see that matchups featuring talented teams like Oxygen and Barcelona still seem to be considerably in BDS and Vitality's favour. The field of these teams that are fighting for the rest of the top five spots will have some work to do if they want to dethrone BDS and Vitality.
@RLEsports NA CHAMPIONS!!
The Good: NRG's Offense
The North America region showcased some incredible matchups, but one of the biggest highlights was NRG's offence in their first two series. Spacestation Gaming seemed to be playing below their peak level recently, but it was still obvious that if NRG were going to be the best in NA, they would have to figure out how to work through SSG's structured defence. It seemed like that would be exactly what would happen as they outscored the Peeps 13-3 over four games and following with an electric performance against Envy with a scoreline of 15-6 in five games. NRG stunned Envy with some massive comebacks as Envy led 2-0 early on in Game 2 but would end up losing 2-5. After that comeback, NRG did it again by coming back from 0-3 to win 6-3. Although they weren't able to put up the same numbers against SSG, NRG are certainly capable of putting up performances like that again. Obviously, NRG would have enjoyed the win, but it is fair to say that things look bright going forward as they look to separate themselves from the likes of G2 and Envy.
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The Bad: Rogue
This team is supposed to be good, and it is obvious why. They have a lot of individual talent on this team, but they have fallen short all season long in the playoffs. Although they got swept in the Quarterfinals, the 300 Circuit Points allowed them to move up from 13th to top eight in the region; it was a disappointing performance all around. The three teams they had to beat to make it the playoffs were Plot Twist, Frontline, and the Soniqs. They simply haven't threatened the top tier teams enough this season to be considered a top team, and it feels like an opportunity missed to switch the narrative around their season. Through all three Regionals and the first Major, they have only made the quarterfinals once.
The Ugly: The Peep's Defense
This team has some work to do. It feels like a similar situation to Rogue where, on paper, this team has the names to make an impact in NA. They have put up consistent results throughout the season, making the semifinals of the first two regionals, but this weekend put a spotlight on some issues. After giving up eight goals in Game 2 against NRG, they stopped the bleeding as far as pure number of goals conceded, but failed to get out of their own third of the field consistently. The players were constantly caught trying to push out with almost no boost, and their counterattack was virtually nonexistent. This is another team that can put up results against lower-level teams, but sometimes just look flat against elite-level competition. Giving up eight goals in Game 2 won't likely happen again, but the fact that it can happen is a bit worrying for a team on the brink of being in talks for one of the best in North America. As we advance, if they want to push past teams like G2 and Envy, they will have to prove they can perform in big matches with more prize money and Circuit Points on the line.
Images via Liquipedia | @SpacestationGG