Have Rogue finally become a contender?
Ever since the Winter Split began, it is has been a battle to the end between the elite teams looking to showcase their dominance - and the underdogs looking to prove themselves. The third Regional in North America took that narrative to heart, as teams like Jamal Jabary and the Peeps made deep runs. NRG, Spacestation Gaming, and Team Envy all finished in the top four, as would be expected. But Rogue, in the climax of their season so far, were crowned Regional champions. It was a moment built by the acquisition of key players over a long period of time, but it was well worth it.
Rogue's victory wasn't the only match worth watching, although they will feature heavily, so let's get into the top five matches of the week!
5) North American Regional Winners Quarterfinals - G2 Esports vs Rogue
Reverse sweep! Reverse sweep! It is wild to think just how close Rogue was to being knocked down into the lower bracket this weekend. G2 took a commanding 2-0 lead against Rogue, and with Game 2 being a 6-1 thrashing, it looked like G2 could put it in neutral and cruise to the next round. Rogue's quality really showed, though, as they were able to take the series. It was by no means an easy reverse sweep, but it was impressive. If Rogue lost here, they would have had to win five series rather than two in order to make it to the finals.
4) North American Regional Losers Bracket Round 4 - G2 Esports vs The Peeps
It was a tough weekend for G2, who looked to be set for a deep run before losing two consecutive series in Game 5. G2 is always in the mix, and never go down easily, but they didn't have quite enough this weekend. Meanwhile, the Peeps continue to be a team sitting just around the top five, finishing the Winter Split in sixth for Circuit Points and fourth in The Grid. They always look like a high ceiling team, but their defensive consistency is a bit suspect. The three games they won were by a single goal, while their two losses were a combined 1-9 goals in G2's favour.
Both of these teams are going to be capable of looking good in the Major, but they will have to be playing their best. This series showcased a bit of that scrappiness that makes these teams so exciting to watch, even if it wasn't as clean as gameplay between the likes of NRG and Rogue.
3) North American Regional Upper Bracket Semifinals - NRG vs Spacestation Gaming
These teams are always a joy to watch, and it was no different this time. This weekend was so full of Game 7s; it would feel disrespectful to not include Spacestation in here somewhere. The teams traded the first two games before a series of overtimes would add to the intensity. Tied at 1-1, three overtimes would fall in favour of SSG, and with double match point, they fell apart. NRG would outscore SSG 6-1 over the final two games. When these two teams are on the field, it becomes a collection of some of the most creative offensive minds in North America. They don't always win, but they know how to put on a show.
2) North American Regional Winners Finals - Rogue vs NRG
This series would serve as a predecessor to the eventual Grand Finals, and Rogue looked in form. It would go all the way to Game 7, where Rogue would win the contest 1-0 after a minute of overtime. This was it. Rogue meant business. This was third major victory of the tournament, previously beating G2, Envy, and now NRG.
The past few months certainly made Rogue look like they could compete, and this statement win would put them into the finals. Every single series of Rogue's run until the bracket reset would go to the deciding game.
1) North American Regional Grand Finals - Rogue vs NRG
Oh, boy, this is starting to feel like Jens' Team of the Week pieces, isn't it? Rogue looked great this weekend, but for the most part, were only barely able to sneak out the wins. This series was extremely close in its first go around. After previously defeating NRG in the Winners Finals, this time Rogue would fall in Game 7 to force the bracket reset. Rogue were able to make the most of their second life, though, as they swept NRG 4-0 in the second series. The goal difference was starkly different this time around. In those final four games, Rogue outscored NRG 9-2. It might not have been as close as the first set in this series, but it was incredible to see Rogue claim their first Regional trophy of the season.
There will be plenty of teams looking to impress in the Major, and it is wide open for who will take the throne. Envy, SSG, and NRG all looked great at times, and vulnerable at times. Rogue was able to showcase they deserve recognition, with this win skyrocketing them up to second in Circuit Points. In just a few weeks time, North America will have it's second Major champion.
Images via @Rogue | @RLEsports