We’re halfway through the season now, and it’s been a very intriguing one.
We’re halfway through season 9 of RLCS, and it’s been a very intriguing one. Here's how our committee is ranking the teams!
#10 - Flight - rapid, Sea-Bass, Memory (-)
Well, what is there to say about Flight that hasn’t been said already. We all know this is where we expected them ever since they even qualified for the RLCS, but there was hope they’d be infinitely more competitive. When in reality, the only time Flight looks like they can capably take a series is due to the mishaps of their opponents. Unfortunately, at the halfway point, the team cohesion looks far from optimal, the decision to replace clutch playmaker Aeon with memory has done nothing to improve Flight’s prospects, with the new addition being bottom five in assists per game, unable fill Aeon’s shoes or even play his own boost heavy way. Now 0-5, the eUnited series next week is a must-win, as a date with Spacestation Gaming most likely means the eU series is the difference between a 1-6 or 0-7 record.
=#8 - Rogue - Wonder, Kronovi, firstkiler (-)
Rogue had their doubleheader week last weekend. Now playing NRG and losing can be forgiven, that happens to nearly everyone. Although the often reliable Kronovi seemed invisible on the pitch. Wonder had a good showing in the goals department but far too many times made the crucial mistake that led to NRG scoring. The routine loss to NRG meant Rogue vs eUnited had major implications in determining who the expected 7th & 8th place teams in the RLCS would be. And Rogue completely dropped the ball, scoring one goal from twenty-seven shots as eUnited dispatched them 3-0. Kronovi was again a non-factor in this series, and neither Wonder or firstkiller could be good simultaneously, which ultimately led to being swept. The loss puts them in the bottom three and severely cripples their game differential as again they will fight to just avoid the promotion playoffs
=#8 - Cloud9 - SquishyMuffinz, Gimmick, Torment (+1)
Cloud9 had their first match vs a top team this past weekend, and it did not go well. G2 honestly used them as an opportunity to boost their stats, Chicago in particular netting seven goals in four games. Once G2 won the first game six goals to two, Cloud9 seemed defeated immediately. Sure they’d get a consolation game but it simply delayed the inevitable. Sno now C9 is 1-3, and with even harder opponents to face next week, Spacestation Gaming on Saturday & NRG on super Monday. It begs the question, where is Cloud9 going to find another win this season? While SquishyMuffinz seems fine on the pitch as always, Torment is having a stinker of a season, bottom of the leaderboards in near all statistical categories. Gimmick while not much better, is at least consistently scoring, but it doesn’t count for much if C9 as a team is bottom three in goals against. And barring a miraculous change in fortunes, bottom three is also where C9 will end up in the league table.
#7 - eUnited - Hockser, Roll Dizz, Ayjacks (-)
So eUnited has had two games with squads above their skill level and been dominated, yet in the two games vs the teams around or below their level, they resoundingly sweep. As a result, they’re very comfortable in the middle of the pack, above relegation and below the playoffs. However, despite the close games vs Rogue, all one-goal affairs, eUnited again looked good in victory. Hockser was the obvious standout, leading goals and assists for his squad as eUnited simply out talented Rogue with their second consecutive win over Rogue after last season’s regional playoffs. Next week eU faces a triple header, Flight & G2 on Saturday, and the Susquehanna Soniqs on Monday. One series win is the absolute minimum to maintain their RLCS status, but going positive on the weekend would set them up greatly to make the playoffs.
#6 - Ghost Gaming - Allushin, Atomic, mist (-1)
Ghost Gaming was another lineup with their double-header this week We will get to the tragedy of Ghost Gaming later, but first of all, they took on Flight and came out with a comfortable 3-1 victory. Standard stuff really, all of the individuals getting to showcase their talents as the bullied Flight. Next up was the Susquehanna Soniqs, a chance to stop this season’s miracle run right in its tracks and legitimize Ghost as a top team in NA. What followed was a series that Ghost well and truly threw away. Despite every game win over SQ being comfortable, the tiny margins of their losses, all by one goal, two of which in overtime proved costly as Soniqs truly stole this series. Ghost had twelve shots per game, yet in the crucial moments, the ball had a magnetic pull for the woodwork, if not Ghost players saving their own open nets in overtime. This seems to be the nail in the coffin for Ghost as a top side. Every season they look good in offseason tournaments, and this time, their roster is stacked with talent, yet they simply can not win the big series when it comes to RLCS, and the fact they somehow lost to Susquehanna is proof of that.
#5 - Pittsburgh Knights - ExplosiveGyro, Retals, AyyJayy (-1)
While PK looks fine to make the playoffs and stand a great shot at qualifying for the world championship, their second meeting vs a top-three team in NA saw them again comfortably dispatched of, falling 3-1 to rivals Spacestation Gaming. There were expectations that Knights would be a side to ramp up towards the end of the season once the initial kinks had been ironed out, but as it is right now, at the halfway point, the decision to go with AyyJayy over retaining mist seems short-sighted. AyyJayy has gotten more prolific in the offensive third, and Retals has kept up his stellar form, however the new addition has forced Gyro into a very deep third man role, one that struggles to get involved in the action. This was very evident vs Spacestation where he had zero contribution to any of PK’s five goals vs SSG. There is no denying Knights doesn’t have the pieces to succeed, the question is whether they can figure out how to utilize these pieces best in the second half of the season.
#4 - Susquehanna Soniqs - Satthew, Shock, Dappur (+2)
On the flipside of Ghost’s crushing loss, was the Soniqs improving their RLCS record to 3-1. They put up an impressive defensive showing, most notably getting thirteen saves in the third game. Perhaps fortunate that Ghost were saving some of their own shots, but once Ghost made the tiniest mistake, Soniqs were on hand to capitalize. Shock continued his MVP caliber form, again winning player of the week, only the third player to do so twice in the same RLCS season, joining Kaydop & Jstn in a very exclusive club. Satthew & Dappur continue to not only hold their own, but take it to the biggest names in the RLCS. It really makes you wonder just how far this lineup can go, only Pittsburgh Knights & G2 present a real challenge in the second half of the season, and who’s to say Soniqs can’t take down these rosters. They’ve completely flipped the script so far, who’s to say they can’t go all the way.
#3 - G2 Esports - Jknaps, Rizzo, Chicago (-)
Another week has come and gone, another notch on the undefeated streak for G2 esports. Cloud9 was a fairly routine win for the fan favorites, firmly cementing their status on top of the RLCS standings. Potential MVP Rizzo didn’t even have to do much as Chicago & Jknaps were more than happy to combine for near three goals per game between them. However, it must be noted, G2 has had a very favorable schedule, a pretty easy-going first half of the season. They are yet to face another team in our current top four, apart from Pittsburgh Knights, the other three sides defeated are the three relegation candidates. It makes their contests in the last three weeks vs the Soniqs, vs NRG & vs Spacestation highly intriguing as G2 will push to complete their redemption arc.
#2 - Spacestation Gaming - Sypical, AxB, Arsenal (-)
SSG faced another top squad from last season and again came out victorious, winning 3-1 over Pittsburgh Knights. The awesome alliance of Arsenal & AxB did a majority of the damage to PK, with last season’s MVP more than content to play 3rd man and lead in saves for SSG. So thus far, despite being 4th in the official standings, their 3-1 record has come without playing any of the bottom squads. Bar their encounter with G2 to close out the season, Cloud9, Flight, Rogue & eUnited seem like four wins SSG should get to advance them to at least a seven-win record, and should they best G2, who knows, they might top the overall standings. Regardless, Spacestation despite the small hiccup to the Soniqs, looks to be in a very strong spot going into the second half of the season.
#1 - NRG Esports - GarrettG, Jstn, Turbopolsa (-)
And of course, for the umpteenth week in a row, NRG tops the North America power rankings. They beat Rogue and in typical NRG fashion, made them look silly, Jstn scoring double taps, NRG as a whole outclassing in every stat, the usual stuff. What’s been interesting to note for NRG this season, is Turbopolsa is actually leading the goal-scoring for NRG, hardly the expected formula for success for NRG when he joined but there seems to be nothing the four-time can’t do. Looking ahead, their last four games aren’t the easiest, Pittsburgh Knights, G2 & Ghost are not to be overlooked. Even Cloud9, who got the better of them the last time they played. However until NRG drops, it’s hard to ever believe them to be anything other than #1.
Here's how the committee came to these rankings:
Main image via ZeeboDesigns.