RLCS Spring Major preview: oKhalid's chance, cementing BDS, and wet underdogs
The ghost of Jstn rings around the Copperbox stadium, haunting the crevices of the keyboards. It's believed that on a cold day, when the winds are blowing, the screams of his name can still be heard rolling through the air, like a warped chorus of metal and rubber. "It's Jstnnnn", says the blank air. "Jstttnnnnnnn" the howl continues. Legend has it that the ghoulish murmurs have been growing stronger and stronger, particularly in the last two months. Cheers of jubilation have began escaping from the creaking seats. The lights randomly flicker with bursts of life matching the phantom's cries. Expecting. Waiting. Poised.
If you move to the centre of the room, suddenly, silence falls on the Copperbox. An eerie sense of anticipation fills the stadium, almost like the ghost's heart skipped a beat. The seats that have been empty for years now all stand unfolded. The air seems like it's closing in, and you can see your breath billowing in front of you. A low rumble then ensues. A car engine?
Pandemonium erupts in an instant, the engines burn with a bright orange trail as they take to the air above your head, whizzing by with fits of smoke and fire. A ball slams through a net on one side of the arena and the vacant seats all flip up in an instant, freeing the crowd in its thousands yelling and bellowing for Jstn. "This is Rocket League!" screams the ghost, bringing the Copperbox alive once more.
The dormant haunted playground is bouncing again, as Rocket League is returning to London!
While Jstn's ghost may be the only remnants of NRG that have qualified, the beautifully haunting history between Rocket League and the iconic esports stadium is set for another chapter, as the Spring Split Major prepares to crown another champion.
oKhalid finally gets his chance
For Team Falcons, previously Sandrock Gaming, their breakthrough into the upper echelons of Rocket League has been hindered by travel woes. Once destined to be the first team from outside of EU and NA to break the mould and become world beaters, the MENA representatives were forced to play the Fall major without their X-factor Khalid "oKhaliD" Qasim, while the Winter Major was ruled out altogether amid VISA woes.
But finally, Team Falcons has their superstar trio together at an international event for the first time, and we can finally see how they stack up against the best teams in the world.
Alongside his trusted duo Ahmad "Ahmad" Abdullah and Mohammed "trk511" Alotaibi, eyes will be on oKhaliD to live up to his hype. Falcon's come in to the Major off the back of nine straight Regional wins - the first team to ever accomplish this feat - and it'll be down to oKhaliD to propel them into the global stratosphere.
The only problem for Falcons lies in their bracket run. An equally exciting Team Liquid come up first, who follow a similarly enthralling story arc for their LAN debuts. FaZe Clan are also expected to be awaiting in the next round, unless PWR cause an upset, meaning Falcon's best chance of success could be through a quite intense lower-bracket run.
Cementing a BDS dynasty
Although they remain as arguably the best team that the game has ever seen, Team BDS are one of the biggest question marks going into the Spring Major. Is anything less than first a failure? Are we finally prepared to call this as a BDS dynasty era if they win? Or do they need a World Championship too?
Rocket League's adolescent stage has been blessed with Team BDS' dominance over Europe, which was topped with a nice international win in the Fall Major. But for a dynasty team, is a single LAN win enough to have them don the crown of goats? Here in the Spring Major, BDS could lay to rest many doubters who slap an asterix next to their online regional success.
To kick things off for Team BDS, a favourable first fixture against Team Secret should ("should") get them off to a promising start before things get serious. If the bracket goes in the way of predictions and upsets are limited, Spacestation Gaming and FaZe Clan come up for Team BDS, making their run somewhat a route of death.
Either a win at the Spring Major or the World Championships will likely see Team BDS go down as the best team that Rocket League esports has ever seen, equalling the two international Majors that Gale Force/Dignitas won back in Season 4 and Season 5. With Enzo "Seikoo" Grondein already proving his worth on the roster, this is Team BDS' chance to cement their dynasty, legacy, and legend status.
Underdogs? We like them wet
Everyone loves an underdog story, and where else should we see one than a London-based Major? With a combined age of just 50 (16, 16, and 18 respectively), Team Liquid is one of the most elusive teams at the major.
Outside of the ferocious competition from BDS, FaZe, Mosit Esports, and G2 Esports, Team Liquid's unknown potential could see them be a force to be reckoned with. In their first split together, the European prodigies managed a second-place and a fourth-place finish in the Regionals, falling Team BDS on both occasions.
Despite being washed by BDS, who seem to have the right counter to Liquid's playstyle, over on LAN it may be a different story. The trio represent Team Liquid whose story in Rocket League has been abysmal so far, which will likely relieve any pressure of expectations, freeing them from any shackles, and nothing is more fearful than somebody who has nothing to lose.
Team Liquid's startling young trifecta will be back on the stage next year with actual expectations of them, but without a care in the world at this major. The pressure is off, and Liquid could prove to be a dangerous foe. Liquid shouldn't be mixed with electricity, but when their playstyle is plugged into the mains, maybe, just maybe, we might see some sparks.
The copperbox is waiting to be exorcised from its past Rocket League demons, and the Spring Major is bringing its full force to rewrite the history books of Landon.