On paper, some games looked set in stone. Although it didn't turn out that way!
With tickets going on sale for the RLCS finals in Dallas (and selling out just as quickly), the teams competing hoped to continue their road to Dallas. With the matches per week extending from five to six, let’s recap all the action from a very competitive week of NA RLCS.
Cloud9 vs Flight
A must-win series for both teams, the loser would find themselves the sole winless team going forward, and the favorite to claim the wooden spoon for this season. Perhaps due to the quality of their opponents, Cloud9 found themselves with a lot of space to work with from the off, but didn’t do much with it. This proved costly as a rapid challenge from rapid in the midfield got the sole goal in the first game to put Flight up. Poor defense from Flight would give C9 the lead twice in game two, yet Sea-Bass was on hand to spectacularly tie it up both times as overtime was forced. As quick as overtime started it ended, Gimmick taking six seconds to tie up the set for C9. Memory would give Flight the edge in game three but that’s as good as it good for Flight, a combination of big clears and defensive mishaps gave C9 that game, and Gimmick continued his good scoring form, notching four of C9’s goals in the fourth and decisive game as C9 ran away with the series 3-1.
Susquehanna Soniqs vs Rogue
The top two rookies of NA clashes, as Shock’s Soniqs faced firstkiller’s Rogue. The tempo of the series was clear from the outset, as both squads looked to outpace each other. However it was the physicality of the Soniqs that gave Shock an opening to put them up. Rogue would respond, Kronovi cleaning up a poor touch from Satthew to continue his heroics from last week. Shock couldn’t be kept quiet forever, and thanks to a quality pass from Dappur, got the decisive re-direct in game one. Rogue nearly tied up the first game, and looked to keep up with the SOniqs, responding twice to two Satthew goals. Both teams had quality chances as they entered overtime, but a small lapse in the defense let Shock score another game-winner to double his squad’s lead. Lapses in their defense would give Rogue a game to half the lead, whether it was Kronovi scoring a weird ceiling pinch or a firstkiller brace off defensive mishaps. However despite Shock’s bona fide MVP status, Dappur is the big story for the Soniqs this week, finding Shock with two incredible passes, downfield and off the wall to put Soniqs in the driving seat. Wonder would respond quickly, and Rogue would heavily press the issue, but if the cross bar wasn’t denying them, Dappur was, with miraculous goal-line stops as Susquehanna Soniqs took the series 3-1 in a good showing from both rosters.
G2 Esports vs Flight
After being comfortably dealt with by C9, hopes weren’t high for Flight to withstand the hot hand of G2, especially after G2 opened their account with two quick goals. To their credit, Flight showed a lot of fight this series, bouncing back with two of their own, before Jknaps would find Chicago to get the decisive third goal in game one. Flight would not be deterred, even after falling behind to a ripper of a shot from Jknaps, rapid would spectacularly take the second game for Flight, with both a ground pinch and a double-tap to give Flight their second of the game. Flight would then seek to take the lead, responding to a Jknaps double tap with one of their own from Sea-Bass. rapid again would score as Flight went 2-1 up in the third game and nearly the series, before Rizzo would get a solo effort to force overtime. Why was G2 struggling vs Flight? Last week’s shooting inaccuracy was rearing its ugly head, a multitude of chances came and went in overtime, twenty three shots in total for game three, as Flight to their credit held a solid defence full of long clears and free of double commits. However, Rizzo again would go solo to put G2 up 2-1 in the set. G2 looked comfortable to take the series 3-1 with an early goal, before a huge over-commit left the net wide open with seconds left for Flight to force OT. Another long overtime followed, another plethora of G2 shots rebounded off the past. With Jknaps & Chicago missing their scoring boots, Rizzo again stepped up, burying a shot to take the series 3-1. Rizzo would go on to be player of the week.
NRG Esports vs eUnited
Another expected series of domination basically went as expected after the first game, where Roll Dizz would get two goals, one courtesy of a poor touch from Turbo, and another from a booming clear that went past GarrettG. From that point onward, NRG looked unbothered as eUnited would fail to score for the next thirteen minutes. NRG would score four goals in game two. Even with Turbo still being sloppy on the backline, when presented with chances, Hockser could not score. eUnited would inherit the poor defense from then on, demos and poor backboard touches gave NRG game three, and while they upped the aggression in game four, an individual moment of magic from Jstn down the left flank tied the knot on the series for NRG 3-1.
Pittsburgh Knights vs Ghost Gaming
With a lot to prove, Knights started the series out hot, Ayyjayy with a double-tap dunk in the opening twelve seconds. Ghost would respond and set the trend for the series with Atomic finding Allushin. This series would become a battle of the in-form PK offense vs Ghost Gaming’s passing ability. Retals would get a close goal-line save and counter-attack by himself to give PK the edge, before Atomic again would assist Allushin to net the equalizer. However PK’s return to physical plays allowed Retals to get the winning goal for game one. The second game was opened by Gyro booming a clear, before yet another passing play saw mist set up Atomic. Not to be outdone, AyyJayy & Retals would link up with a one-two, and the resulting shot forcing mist to own goal. Mist would then air dribble to allow Atomic to equalize again, however again it was the physicality as mist bumped his former teammate out of the air to leave an open net for Gyro to secure game two. The back and forth affair continued into the third game, Atomic would find mist twice to give Ghost their first lead in a game, and despite an incredible boomer clear from AyyJayy, Ghost got a game on the board. The fourth game was so defense strong on both sides. The Knights backline was noticeably more solid than last week, double commits on defense were near absent as game four entered overtime. It was here the Ghost defense would break, Gyro forcing an awkward save before slotting the rebound to give Knights the 5th 3-1 victory of the day.
NRG Esports vs Spacestation Gaming
The top two teams of NA clashed in the most anticipated match of the week, and it sure as hell delivered, even if it looked like it was going to be another walk in the park for NRG based on game one, scoring three goals, holding SSG to none, and doubling their shot output. The second game saw Spacestation get more into the series, upping the aggression. Eventually, NRG defense would be forced into errors, a whiff gave Arsenal a chance that needed no second thinking, as he rifled it top corner. Arsenal would double his total off the kickoff, and another Turbo mistouch gave Sypical the 3rd goal for Spacestation. The third game was another even affair, Sypical was standout as a 3rd man, but his stellar saves couldn’t hold out forever, it took Turbo getting physical to break open Spacestation and put NRG up. Spacestation tried to respond, but their passing was constantly intercepted and NRG got a buzzer-beater to seal the game. The respect for each team grew as the defense clenched up even harder on both sides. The tense affair went to overtime with no goals scored, and then AxB arrived, with an incredible double touch to take the game, identical to his effort vs Soniqs last week. And that’s all SSG needed to open the floodgates. Every individual had done their part to take NRG the distance, and everyone contributed in the fifth game, as Spacesation would score six goals. A big flick from AxB set up Sypical to open the scoring, and the tough shots would continue to force NRG into rough saves. Arsenal would air dribble over the NRG defense for the second, a poor challenge by GarrettG in the corner set up Arsenal for the third. Down 3-1 in-game, NRG missed a glorious chance to halve the deficit, and SSG would counter to make the game 4-1 and effectively end the contest. The last-minute or so was essentially a victory lap for Spacesation, as they closed out the series with a 6-1 victory, netting a couple more goals and defeating NRG for the second consecutive time, perhaps signaling a new era for the North American RL scene.
Here are the league standings after week three:
Image via ZeeboDesigns.