We'll be taking a look at how they took down Vitality, as well as what they’ve been missing in their other matchups so far.
Welcome to the first of a (hopefully) regular column, where I dive into a particular team or player in order to give an idea of how they’re getting along in the RLCS.
Heading into this season of RLCS, Team Singularity were firmly placed as Europe’s tenth-best team. However, they shocked the Rocket League community when they took down Renault Vitality in a thrilling five-game series. Despite having a 1-3 record, many have backed the Danish organisation to reach the playoffs and secure their RLCS spot for another season. In this piece, I’ll be taking a look at how they took down Vitality, as well as what they’ve been missing in their other matchups so far.
Partially thanks to his stunning shot against mousesports last weekend, many have pegged Joseph “noly” Kidd as their rookie of the season. After all, he’s not only scored some magnificent goals already but he’s also consistently found himself on top of Singularity’s leaderboard.
By far his most unbelievable goal this season was that impossible redirect against mousesports. With both of his teammates in no man’s land after bumping each other, he decided to take matters into his own hands, dispossessing Kyle “Scrub” Robertson before using his flip perfectly to slot the ball straight past the remaining mousesports defenders. It was truly a sight to behold, reminiscent of some of Linus “al0t” Mollergen’s redirects back in season four.
Statistically, noly has also been on top for Singularity. He’s scored the most goals, made the most saves and has earned over 38% of their total score, finishing all but one series with the most points on the team. It’s clear that his explosive mechanics and all-around offensive capabilities are a huge factor in his team’s striking prowess,
But stats don’t tell the whole story, and I’m not yet convinced.
From watching his gameplay it often feels like his decision making fails to live up to his incredible mechanics, with the former ZeNoMoon player often making questionable touches and going for hopeful-at-best flip resets when he has teammates waiting in the wings with a wide-open net to shoot at. Let’s take a look at some examples.
The first example is just a few seconds into Singularity’s third game against Reciprocity - the only game in that particular series that they would end up winning. Here, noly has Leon “Godsmilla” Mares to his left, in a totally open position and having just collected a 100% boost pad in the midfield. Noly’s first touch, off of his own post, placed it in a perfect position for him to send it over to Godsmilla and start a Singularity counterattack.
However, noly instead decides to go for a dribble play by tapping the ball slightly to his right. The dribble is immediately stopped by Thibault “Chausette” Grzesiak as Singularity are forced into a defensive position, with Godsmilla eventually coming to the rescue with a last-minute goalline save.
The second example is from the same game, just over a minute later. Here, noly goes for a hit off of the wall and is presented with two options. He can either pass the ball over to ThO or attempt to beat Victor “Ferra” Francal to the ball.
He opts to go for a flip reset in order to try and get the ball past Ferra, instead being dunked by the Frenchman, wasting a huge opportunity to score at a point when momentum is firmly in Reciprocity’s favour and leaving him stranded in the opposition corner with not a single point of boost in his tank.
I was able to find these two clips by watching not even two minutes of Singularity gameplay, in a game that they won, in a series where noly outscored his closest teammate (Godsmilla) by 144 points. Let’s take a look at a different game.
My final example is one that many will already be aware of, which is his missed save in the final moments of SNG’s match against mousesports. Noly goes up for a save, gets close enough to the ball to trigger a ‘ghost hit’ and it sails over his head into the back of the net. However, looking more closely at the situation shows us that, even if he hit the ball, mousesports would still have had a fantastic opportunity to take the series in those dying seconds.
Looking at the positioning of noly’s car when he goes up for the ball (and assuming that he would be slightly further up due to actually hitting it), it’s likely that the ball bounces straight off of the ceiling and lands roughly on the dot. With Godsmilla on his way to the back corner, and Kyle “Scrub Killa” Robertson having more than enough boost to catch up to the wayward clear, it’s not unlikely that the Scot would have been able to put it home. In the end, it didn’t matter as noly missed the save, handing mousesports the series on a silver plate.
If you go back and watch Singularity’s matches so far, you’ll find plenty of situations similar to these, not just from noly but from his two teammates as well.
Part of the problem could be their boost usage. Despite having, on average, a lower amount of boost than ThO., noly has spent 70.86 seconds per game with 100 boost. This is the highest in the league by far, with FC Barcelona’s Hrant “Flakes” Yakoub in second with 54.36, the only other player with over 50 seconds. Despite having 100 boost so much of the time, noly comes out dead last when it comes to small pads, picking up 41.72 per game, with Godsmilla one place ahead, picking up 55.28 per game. This inefficient boost collection and usage starts to add up when a team is stuck on the back foot, and that’s a situation that Singularity have found themselves in often in their opening matches.
After all of that, there’s just one more question:
How did they beat Vitality?
Coming into Week 2, nothing was expected from Singularity. They hadn’t looked fantastic against Reciprocity and Vitality were eager to show off new signing Yanis “Alpha54” Champenois’ offensive capabilities after a rather lacklustre win over Endpoint. Nonetheless, going against all predictions, Singularity took the win in a stunning game five overtime series that finished with an unbelievable flip reset pool shot from Godsmilla, forcing three-time world champion Alexandre “Kaydop” Courante into an own goal. How did they manage it?
In fact, looking at the statistics you’d be forgiven for not realising that Singularity had actually come out on top. They scored fewer goals, had 18 fewer shots and had to make 11 more saves over the duration of the series. Still, they were able to take the victory in the end thanks to winning tight overtimes in games one, three and five. So, what happened to Vitality? The answer was their shooting. Despite being on top for a large amount of the series, Vitality could only convert 9 out of their 56 shots - a 16% shooting percentage. Had a player finished the European online season with that percentage last season, they would have been the fifth-poorest shooter in the League.
Even so, it still takes something to beat the reigning World Championship runners-up, but what was it for Singularity? Well, noly was once again the crucial player, with four of his six assists this season coming in just one series. Singularity were also effectively able to control the large boost pads, picking up 60 more than their opponents. While possession was often very even during the series, SNG spent more time in Vitality’s third and less time in their own when compared to the Frenchmen. Most importantly, their shooting percentage was far higher than Vitality’s (7%, to be exact). To put it simply, Singularity hit their shots when it mattered most, securing a historic upset as they found their first win of the season.
Could Singularity still reach the playoffs this season? Well, that depends. Whilst they’re certainly capable of winning some more matchups, especially with all of their matches against, according to the GGRecon Power Rankings, Europe’s four best sides out of the way already. However, it’s clear to me that they still have plenty of issues to solve before they face off against Veloce on Sunday, and I’ll be delighted to see them fix these mistakes.
Image via Psyonix.