The new RLCS X format saw plenty of new talent rising up to the top.

19:00, 23 Dec 2020

After a hectic year in just about every aspect of the esport, Rocket League has come out of 2020 in fine shape thanks to the revamped RLCS format. With the Winter Split in its holiday break and hundreds of matchups having taken place in just the last four months alone, one thing has remained true throughout the year (even going back to season 9). This year’s emergence of young talent has taken the scene by storm, with plenty of new stars making names for themselves this year.

Here are GGRecon’s picks for the RLCS 2020 Rookie Of The Year.

Honourable mentions

It’s important to make one thing clear - the definition of a rookie. For the purposes of this award, a rookie is a player who, coming into 2020, had no RLCS or Rival Series experience. Sorry Team BDS, we couldn’t have all three of you tied at the top!

Although his Rogue side may have fallen slightly short of expectations, failing to win any events this year, Jason “firstkiller” Corral was one of the most hyped players coming into Season 9. With flashy mechanics, strong 1v1 performances and several deep tournament runs to boot, Corral hit the ground running in what’s looking to be a stellar Rocket League career.

When he made his RLCS debut on FC Barcelona, it felt like a long time coming for Amine “itachi” Benayachi. His first qualification came all the way back in Season 3, when he was quickly disqualified due to not residing in Europe. Over three years later, he was back and, with veteran teammates beside him, he quickly put in some strong performances. Helping his new side to a top-eight run in the Fall Major, FCB’s disbanding ended up landing the Moroccan a spot on the Vodafone Giants, who he helped cement their spot in Europe’s top four.

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Down under, not many outside of the most dedicated fans had heard of Luke “Amphis” Riddell at the start of the year. After his breakout performance in Season 9’s League Play (where he won the regular season’s MVP award), he joined regional champions Ground Zero and began to dominate. Since RLCS X’s first regional concluded, his lowest placement this season was 3-4th, in the second regional. Ground Zero have won three regionals in a row, with just an upset loss at the hands of Mindfreak in the Fall Major final denying them an even more commanding lead at the top of the Oceanic standings.

The winner - archie

Even once Season 9 had concluded, most Rocket League fans had never seen Archie “archie” Pickthall play. The Englishman’s only notable tournament placement had been qualifying for the third season of Rocket Baguette’s Superstar League. Then, he joined The Clappers alongside Gian Luca “Calix” Bruder and Joris “Joreuz” Robben. The new trio made waves by taking down RLCS sides Solary and Team Singularity to qualify for the European side of the Rocket League Spring Series. Once there, a victory over Team BDS (which prompted the team to pick up Extra in place of ClayX!) secured a top-six spot for what had been considered a team incredibly unlikely to even make it to the main event at all.

That strong run attracted new interest in the young star. On the phone was the outgoing Veloce Esports roster as they looked to replace Sandro “Freakii” Holzwarth and, despite barely missing out on qualifying for Johnnyboi_i’s Fusion, archie was on the newly-named Top Blokes lineup. It didn’t take long for their form to ignite. Earlier in the season, Blokes coach Reece “RamS” Mullins told GGRecon that “archie added a whole new level for us and really increased our ceiling.” And it shows. Almost immediately, their form drastically improves. In the first regional of RLCS X, they finished second. They took home week four of The Grid and are yet to finish lower than fifth place in a regional event. As reigning regional champions, Top Blokes sit at third place in the European standings, behind only Vitality and BDS. As they race towards a World Championship spot next year, archie has been a huge factor in Top Blokes’ surging run of form.

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With a new wave of rookies waiting in the wings for 2021, it’s set to be another exciting year of new talent in the Rocket League scene. Once again, congratulations to archie for winning this year’s Rookie Of The Year and, as always, stay tuned to GGRecon for more RLCS X content.

Images via ZeeboDesigns

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