We’ll be taking a look at how they’ve reached this point, and what they can do to steady the ship and escape their current tenth-placed position.
Heading into this season of RLCS, AS Monaco were a team many were expecting to perform strongly after they dominated last season’s Rival Series to win promotion via the RLRS playoffs. However, despite showing some initial promise against some of Europe’s top sides, they’ve struggled immensely in the last couple of weeks, slumping to an 0-5 record. Today, we’ll be taking a look at how they’ve reached this point, and what they can do to steady the ship and escape their current tenth-placed position.
A strong start
Monaco started their season with a close defeat against Kyle “Scrub” Robertson’s new-look mousesports side. Although they lost the series in 3-1, two of their three losses came in overtime and many were impressed by their play. In particular, Alex “Extra” Paoli wowed many fans with an incredible flip reset in game two. Let’s take a look at what he did.
Here, the young Frenchman has just cleared the ball from his own backboard and is preparing to go for a solo counterattack. With only Scrub to beat, he has a few options. The easiest of them is to boom the ball into Scrub’s far corner and hope that the Scot doesn’t have enough time to make the save, which he most likely would have (bar an incredible powerful strike from Extra). His second option is to go for a double touch, once again risking the fate of the counterattack on whether Scrub can reach the backboard in time.
Instead, Extra goes for a flip reset, which is by far the most effective option, albeit the hardest. Going for the flip reset means he is able to try and block Scrub’s save and hit the dunk, which he eventually does as he equalises for his team.
The only thing that seemed to go wrong for Monaco was their shooting, as their shooting percentage was over 10% less than that of their opponents. They had more shots than mouz, inflicted 0.5 more demolitions per game and were able to keep the ball in mousesports’ end for longer than mouz kept it in their end.
However, looking closely we can start to see Monaco’s underlying issues with boost usage. They found themselves without any fuel for over 1.5 times as long as mousesports per game, often leaving the French organisation exposed to quick counterattacks.
Cracks start to show
Up next for Monaco was the European titans of Dignitas. Fresh from a win over a surprisingly-strong TSM side, Dignitas were looking to continue their run of form that resulted in a top-four finish at the World Championship.
This time around, things weren’t so good for Monaco. Their shooting percentage plummeted from 17% to 9% and they were unable to find the demolitions that had previously opened up the opposition defence, going from 3 per game to 1.75 per game.
To put it simply, after a strong first game win Monaco were unable to create any offensive pressure. They could only muster up a single goal in the subsequent three games.
The previously-minor issue of boost collection became a fundamental flaw in Monaco’s system as they spent 165.48 seconds per game without a single point of boost. Compared to the lower total of 155.33 in their first series, this lack of boost allowed Dignitas to run rampant on the offence as they began to pile on goals, sending Monaco to an 0-2 record.
It was in their next series, against Endpoint, where things started to go off the rails. Up against a team known for their demolition-heavy playstyle, Monaco were completely dismantled.
They were outmatched in almost every measurable boost-related statistic. They had less boost, they spent more time with an empty tank, they spent less time with a full tank. However, arguably the most important aspect of boost is the collection of 100% boost pads. Not only did Endpoint collect six more per game (61 to 55), but Nelson “Virtuoso” Lasko and co. also stole close to twice as many from Monaco as the French side were able to steal from them.
Monaco’s constant struggle for boost and difficulties in denying Endpoint the fuel they needed came to a head at the end of the first game’s overtime.
With Extra nowhere to be seen after a botched clear, Jordan “EyeIgnite” Stellon and Maik “Tigreee” Hoffmann were stranded on their own goalline with the a combined total of 58 boost between them and the ball hurtling towards their own backboard. Without enough boost to clear it away, Tigreee was forced to try and prejump Virtuoso’s shot. After a clean fake from the Irishman, Endpoint’s offence was simply too much to handle, as EyeIgnite’s save left Nacho “Nachitow” Giminez with an open net that was truly impossible to miss.
Week four was arguably their biggest week of the season, with huge matches against an inconsistent Vitality and fellow relegation candidates TSM. Against Vitality, there wasn’t much that could be asked of Monaco as they came up against a Vitality side that was, for lack of a better term, on fire. With a shooting percentage of just under 30%, even an almost complete lack of demolitions couldn’t stop the French side from taking the series three games to one, scoring twelve goals in their three wins. It was once again a story of boost problems for the French football club, as they once again spent nearly 1.5x more time than Vitality without any boost.
Monaco’s most recent series was arguably their most important of the season, with many speculating that the loser of their tie against TSM would end up finishing 10th, immediately losing their Championship Series spot. This time, the story of boost was more positive for Monaco. Although their boost collection still wasn’t anything to write home about, they were finally able to collect more boost than their opponents, barely edging out TSM in 100% pads (63.6-62.8), small pads (201.6-197.8) and stolen pads (62.0-57.8).
However, even better boost collection couldn’t save them, as they once again spent nearly 1.5x as long without boost and less time with a full tank. This wasteful boost management allowed TSM to take control of the game, taking nearly twice as many shots as Monaco could. Despite saving 78% of TSM’s shots, they still couldn’t manage, ending the series with a -3 goal differential and losing in a tight five-game series.
It’s not just their boost troubles that have placed Monaco in their current predicament though. Watching their series’ so far paints a picture of a disjointed side trying to find their rhythm among tough competition. They’re frequently caught with at least one player out of position thanks to a wayward touch, which often leads to those aforementioned situations where the entire team is lacking boost to make a crucial save. Remember just a few paragraphs ago, when I mentioned “Extra’s botched clear”? Great, let’s take a look at what happened there.
Here, the two-time Rival Series challenger is about to clear the ball off of the side wall, with both of his teammates waiting in the middle, ready to push the ball up to the other end of the field. However, Extra instead taps the ball over Nachitow’s car, straight to Virtuoso. This clear, whilst beating out one Endpoint player, leaves both of his teammates short of boost and scrambling back to make a clear. Once Virtuoso smashes the ball towards Monaco’s backboard, he has no chance at getting back into the play and his teammates are left with it all to do, with Endpoint capitalising on the opportunity to take the game.
That loss against TSM has put Monaco in a dire position as the only European side yet to win a series and adrift at the bottom of the table. Out of their four remaining matches, their easiest opponent will most likely be waiting until the last week of the season, when a win against Singularity could very well be too little, too late.
Image via Psyonix.