RLCS X: Winter Split Major - Vitality Almost Dethrone The Kings
Team BDS did it again, as we all probably should have guessed. But despite the favourite coming away with the trophy, there was a multitude of exciting series along the way. Seriously, even the earliest rounds of the Rocket League tournament were chock-full of Game 5s and intense overtimes.
5) European Major Winner’s Semifinals- Team BDS vs Team Vitality
In what would be a precursor to the Grand Finals, Vitality would showcase some of what puts them among the few teams that are capable of challenging Team BDS. In a nail-biter, they grabbed the first game 4-3, but BDS was able to snag three consecutive games by outscoring Vitality 8-2. On triple match point, BDS fell to Vitality to one-goal margins in both Games 4 and 5. After the teams had combined to score seven goals in two of the first three games, it was clear they had settled into each other’s playstyle more as this one ended in BDS’s favour, 1-0. It was close, but the ability to come out with the win in those situations is what you expect of a Major champion.
4) European Major Winner’s Semifinals- Oxygen Esports vs Dignitas
If you are looking for the cleanest gameplay, don’t look to this series, but it had a lot to offer. Dignitas, who have completely flipped the script from the Fall Split, were able to take down Oxygen after seven games. Even though Dignitas would go on to challenge Vitality in the Loser’s Finals, Oxygen’s defence was able to limit Dignitas to three goals over the final three games. Unfortunately for them, their offence was stifled by an in-form Dignitas. It could be argued that Oxygen cost themselves the series with their extensive amount of double commits. They put themselves in too many awkward situations which cost them, but it made for an entertaining contest.
3) European Major Loser’s Semifinals- Team Vitality vs Guild Esports
Fresh off of a Game 5 defeat to Team BDS, Vitality looked like they would meekly exit the Winter Major. Guild jumped out to a 3-1 series lead, with their only loss coming in overtime. Another series with Vitality, another triple match point. This time, however, they would consistently become more dominant as they looked to pull off the comeback. First, they won 2-1, then 3-1, and finally, in a decisive Game 5 where they scored three goals in the first minute, 4-1. If they pulled off this run to the Grand Finals to take down BDS, it would be quite a story. But, so far, it was a series score of BDS 1-0 Vitality.
Guild would exit the tournament here, but it shouldn’t go unnoticed how exceptional the level of play was from Joseph “noly” Kidd throughout the tournament. He was the team MVP here, and it was almost enough to get them through to the Loser’s Finals.
2) European Major Loser’s Finals- Dignitas vs Team Vitality
Even though they didn’t look very impressive versus Team BDS, Dignitas came into the match against Vitality with many of the analysts predicting them to take down Vitality. Throughout the entire series, the teams would trade wins. Neither team won two games in a row. Everybody knows how high Vitality’s ceiling is as a team, but Dignitas looked like they had suppressed them as they took a dominant 3-0 win from Game 6. However, just before the three-minute mark, Vitality would convert on this insane pass to give them the lead. Vitality jumped to a 3-0 lead, and it was enough to fight off Dignitas’ last-minute comeback attempt. And that, of course, meant another rematch with Team BDS.
1) European Major Grand Finals- Team BDS vs Team Vitality
Alright, so, the first series went to BDS. No big deal. Vitality came out of the gates screaming, looking they were ready to force a bracket reset. If anybody could do it, it would be Vitality. They have proven their class over and over as other teams have faltered. Giants Gaming didn’t make it through the first Loser’s Round, and Vitality had already taken down Top Blokes. Vitality were the favourites to take down BDS if anybody could.
Vitality had already faced the stress of a triple match point twice in this tournament, against BDS and Guild. They were able to pull it off against Guild, but the twist for this Grand Finals was that it was Vitality who held the series in their hands. If they only won one more game, they would force the bracket reset. Team BDS, however, weren’t about to let that happen. They won Game 5 by a score of 4-2, and after that, they didn’t allow Vitality to score. Game 7 would go all the way to overtime in a scoreless draw. Both teams had chances throughout the entire game, but Vitality was never able to convert. Forty-eight seconds in, it was BDS with their second consecutive Major. Game, set, match, Team BDS.
Images via @RocketBaguette | @RLEsports | @TeamVitality