RLCS S9: NA Power Rankings - Week 0
Season Nine of the Rocket League Championship Series is commencing this weekend, Saturday, February 1st for North America, and this season promises to be the most intriguing for NA yet. The offseason has been the shortest it’s ever been, but it has not slowed down the roster changes. Hell, RLCS has expanded to ten teams per league, making it the biggest league play thus far. This makes the upcoming season of NA RLCS very intriguing: How will new squads Soniqs & Flight contend? Will G2 & Cloud9 bounce back to dominate the league? Where are the new rosters of Rogue, Ghost & Pittsburgh Knights going to slot in? All of this will be answered in the coming weeks but in the meantime, let us evaluate the recent results of the ten teams in the league and see how they stack up.
THE GGINTEL POWER RANKINGS COMMITTEE:
- Ben “notblondemonkey” Hurst - /r/RocketLeagueEsports mod and writer for GGRecon, The Players’ Lobby, GinxTV and others
- John_aka_Alwayz - /r/RocketLeagueEsports mod and writer for GGRecon and Octane
- Sly - RLCS Statistician and lead writer for Octane
- Jake - Head of Operations for GGRecon & Rocket League fan.
#10 - Flight - Sea-Bass, Rapid, Memory
Flight, formerly RBG Esports, while touted to do well in RLRS, went above and beyond, taking down Chaos Esports Club & Charlotte Phoenix in the Rival Series Playoffs to secure stunning promotion to the RLCS. Thirteen days later, it was announced Aeon had been removed from the roster, thus making him the first player to qualify for RLCS and not play in it. The decision has drawn a ton of ire from fans and fellow professionals alike, though not in writing, it is an unspoken rule per say to keep the same roster if you’ve just promoted from RLRS. Regardless, it doesn’t make Rapid or Sea-Bass any less of the talents they are, both are fully capable of providing lethal flair and finesse in the offensive third. And on paper, their new teammate in Memory is at least individually an upgrade over Aeon. One of the most consistently high-level performers in the league, arguably one of the best never to grace the world championship stage. Results have been respectable, even without memory, the Rapid/Sea-Bass duo has secured top four placings in two of the three Astronaut Star Circuit qualifiers. However, the reality of this roster, is they’re in the big leagues now, it is a very lethal shark pit in the RLCS, and when 66% of the roster is unproven at this level, and the latter is a far cry from the playstyle that got Flight here in the first place, it is difficult to not have them be our bottom-ranked team for now.
#9 - Soniqs Esports - Satthew, Shock, Dappur
The former Afterthought lineup, now under the Soniqs Esports is the second new lineup to RLCS season nine, having the joint-best record in RLRS, and coming from two games down to best Charlotte Phoenix 4-2 to promote to the Championship Series. There is a lot to be excited about this squad: Shock is one of, if not the rookie to watch this season across both regions, and Satthew is back in the top flight after being unceremoniously kicked from Spacestation Gaming back in June. Odds are this roster far exceeds their current rank, with top six and a playoffs appearance is very possible. But the reality is as of writing, this team’s portfolio of results is the weakest in the league. The rosters ranked above them have had impressive showings in the Astronauts Star Circuit, while Soniq has only managed a solitary 17th-32nd placing. It is also worth noting that this is Dappur’s first appearance in RLCS since season five, back in early 2018, which ended in relegation. There is no denying he has shown a resurgence en route to promoting to RLCS, but there are still justifiable question marks in his ability to perform at the highest level. Don’t let this squad being 9th in this list deceive you however, this is a lineup that will take some major scalps this season.
#8 - Rogue - Wonder, Kronovi, Firstkiller
To say Rogue is an interesting squad is an understatement. Known for teetering perilously close to the relegation zone, even back under the Flyquest banner, their offseason showings are usually underwhelming to dreadful, as is the start of their league play campaign, until they somehow find a way to escape the relegation zone on the last day of play. While there aren’t any bad results this offseason (the same could be said for a lot of teams due to shorter downtime between seasons), star player AyyJayy depart for greener pastures. While inconsistent, in season’s past Rogue has lived or died quite literally by AyyJayy’s form. This makes the already high expectations of new signing Firstkiller even more sky-high. For those unaware, Firstkiller has been the most anticipated rookie to NA Rocket League. Ever. Only now eligible to play after turning 15 years old just a month ago. His entry into the big leagues has not been without controversy, as he was originally signed to Ghost Gaming, only to be removed from the roster and transferred to Rogue hours before the roster lock. Now while Firstkiller’s talent is undeniable, players who bypass RLRS to go straight to RLCS generally take a season to find their feet, major LAN winners like Yukeo or Fruity, or even World Champion Scrubkilla didn’t hit the ground running, so it is tough to believe Firstkiller will buckle the trend, let alone fill AyyJayy’s void. Combined with the fact he’s only just joined Rogue, leaving the trio little time to practice and iron out kinks, makes it tough to rank the team that already dances with death much higher than 8th.
#=6 G2 Esports - Jknaps, Rizzo, Chicago
G2 Esports is a roster with tremendous peaks and lows as deep as the sea. One year on from replacing Kronovi with Chicago, the following twelve months have yielded two grand finals appearances in major LANs, multiple victories over world champions past and present, yet also saw the organization get it’s lowest LAN placing ever, twice. But nothing compares to the catastrophe of RLCS season eight, placing dead last out of eight teams. Yet the last time we saw this squad play, star player Jknaps had one of the greatest individual showings in the history of professional play as G2 made it through the relegation tournament in the upper bracket. It is that insane potential level of play, and their commitment to not making a roster change despite the poor season that makes them ranked not in the relegation zone. However, it must be stressed that in the two months since last competing (one bo3 loss to Ghost withstanding), it is imperative that they’ve changed something playstyle wise. In the current system, it takes one player out of sync to mess up the entire team, and as competition continues to increase, G2 can no longer coast on the natural talent that players so obviously possess. If the same style of striving for perfection is still their MO, do not be surprised to see this organization battling for their RLCS careers again.
#=6 eUnited - Hockser, Roll Dizz, Ayjacks
eUnited might have the lowest expectations of any lineup just off a world championship appearance, at least out of any from NA or EU. Many will tell you the fact they even made the LAN finals was as a result of a Ghost Gaming collapse. Many will ignore their win over Renegades, close affair with Renault Vitality and point to being embarrassingly reverse swept by Veloce. So overall, the happy medium for now is being a mid-table squad, hence their ranking at 6th. It goes without saying that a team requires a base level of talent to even make a world championship, and for eUnited, most of that talent comes from Hockser. Yet Hockser’s talent might be eUnited’s downfall, as his performances stood out so much, that Cloud9 was willing to change their long-standing roster to acquire his services. However, allegedly, eUnited stuck to their guns and kept Hockser to his contract. It raises question marks about the attitude in the eUnited camp, especially for a player who’s still relatively new to the top flight. It makes it tough to see this roster again qualify for the world championship, but eUnited is probably the trio with the biggest potential range, anything from 4th-10th is not impossible for this squad but for now, their recent appearance in Madrid deserves respect.
#5 Cloud9 - SquishyMuffinz, Gimmick, Torment
Up until very recently, Cloud9 was a team that many people had major concerns over. The longest-standing roster in Rocket League, famed for historically placing top four minimum at every LAN attended, had hit a slump of sorts in 2019. Like G2, in RLCS season eight, they fell off a cliff, coming 7th and also going to the relegation tournament. Unlike G2, they had to retain their RLCS spot through the lower bracket. G2 won the relegation tournament, while Cloud9 just survived. Also unlike G2, the organization sought a roster change. Mist and Hockser were trialed, but come roster lock, Cloud9 was shockingly unchanged. If that was their entire offseason, they would honestly be three or four spots lower, but in the most recent Astronauts Star Circuit Qualifier. Cloud9 made the grand finals, ultimately falling to Ghost Gaming, but not before doing something quite rare in Rocket League; Defeating NRG in an online series, ending a streak of losses to them that dated back to November 2018. Now, a deeper look beyond the results shows the team cohesion still isn’t close to a roster even in the top four domestically (and NRG struggled to shoot the ball accurately compared to their usual form), but a win is a win, and it deserves kudos.
#4 - Ghost Gaming - Allushin, Atomic, Mist
For the first time in what feels like forever there is legitimate expectation and hype around Ghost’s roster. While they were valid doubts to be had about most players replacing Memory, someone who was praised for his high-level consistency, mist is a fantastic replacement. Atomic will hope to top his previous season’s heroics and Allushin will appreciate Memory’s departure as it leaves him more boost on the pitch to play to his peak. The only thing not in Ghost’s favor is mist’s arrival is very recent, and like Rogue, there is not a ton of time to gel before RLCS. But it must be noted Mist has a history of making brand new teams click very quickly, in his first LAN showing with Pittsburgh Knights (then The Peeps), they achieved a miraculous LAN victory, and most recently, Ghost won the third Astronauts Star Circuit Qualifier, besting fellow RLCS teams Rogue & Cloud9 along the way. This is most definitely a squad to keep your eye on.
#3 - Pittsburgh Knights - Retals, ExplosiveGyro, AyyJayy
The faces of the new generation of NA Rocket league, after following up on their miraculous Dreamhack Montreal victory with a 5th/6th placing at the recent RLCS World Championship, Knights are firmly established as one of the top dogs in the game. Aside from their quality LAN results which is already justification enough for their high ranking, they are one of the few teams to have competed in all three of the Astronauts Star Circuit qualifiers, and they haven’t just been playing for participation medals, being grand finalists in the first two events. However, it must be noted that the first result was with mist, who is now no longer on the roster. In his place is former Rogue star AyyJayy. Now there are arguments to be made for which iteration of the Knights roster is superior. AyyJayy, while at times inconsistent, has an explosive peak that has arguably saved Rogue from relegation in seasons past. In comparison, mist leaves a void tough to replace, reliable with near every touch of the ball, while still capable on offense as the third man, it makes you question if this roster will ever achieve another major LAN victory. Regardless, even if it’s not going to win LANs, Pittsburgh Knights is still one of the elite lineups in NA, Retals & ExplosiveGyro are two of the top talents in the game in their own right, and there is still potential for AyyJayy to improve as a player, now being on the highest-profile team in his career. As the old saying goes: Don’t sleep on The Peeps.
#2 - Spacestation Gaming - Sypical, AxB, Arsenal
If Pittsburgh Knights are the faces of the new generation of NA Rocket League, Spacestation Gaming is taking the baton and on course to run far with it. Securing a top-two finish in the regular season after going on a five-game win streak, and following it up with a 3rd/4th finish at the RLCS finals in Madrid, skeptics would tell you it was a once-off. However, Arsenal & Sypical themselves are two of the youngest players in the region, and two of the best, the latter winning MVP honors for his exceptional form in last season’s league. The dynamic duo would not be complete without French-Canadian AxB, who himself if often is emerging as one of the top midfield players in the game. Their recent RLCS success hasn’t lessened their drive to achieve further success. In the Astronauts Star Circuit Qualifiers, they have played in all three of them thus far, winning two of them, so on a purely results metric, they are looking very pretty to once again automatically qualify for the world championship for a second consecutive season, if not go one further and be the first of the new generation to truly challenge the top-ranked team in North America.
#1 - NRG Esports - GarrettG, Jstn, Turbopolsa
The boring but correct answer, they are the defending world champions after all. If LAN success is again expected, then online domination is probably a near certainty. Three times consecutive winners of the North American Regional Championships. With all due respect to the rest of the league, there absolutely are rosters that can take it to NRG, but the main question is will they go undefeated again, because the minimum expectation is being the top NA seed, anything less would honestly raise questions marks, such is the standard NRG has set. Not even an off-day performance in the third Astronauts Star Circuit Qualifier hampers their ranking,(and even then, it was a game 7 overtime loss to Cloud9 in the semi-finals) NRG is 100% the team to beat not only domestically, but in the world.
HERE’S HOW THE COMMITTEE CAME TO THESE RANKINGS:
Images via Zeebo Designs