Here are some of the miracle runs that made us lose our minds.
Despite being a relatively young game, Rocket League’s esports scene has had quite a storied five-plus years. In a short time, many players have risen to superstardom and have even transcended the popular car-football title. Names like Turbopolsa, GarrettG, and Squishymuffinz are well known outside of Rocket League for what they do in the game, and not just one-off results, but consistently being a fixture at the upper echelon.
However, there are a variety of players and teams who may have only had one moment in the spotlight, but they sure as hell took advantage of it. Here are some of Rocket League’s one-hit wonders.
The Flying Dutchmen
Starting all the way back in 2016, The Flying Dutchmen was, well, a team of flying Dutchmen. Even back in 2016, Connor “Jessie” Lansink, Dogukan “Dogu” Yilmaz, and Jasper “Vogan” van Riet weren’t the biggest names on paper in terms of a competitive landscape. In the qualifiers for the first Rocket League Championship Series, they’d go no higher than fifth in Europe, being regularly trounced by the titans that were Flipsid3 Tactics and Northern Gaming. However, after the effective disbandment of Ka-pow mid-season, and Supersonic Avengers’ miracle run getting denied at the end of the second qualifier, THe Flying Dutchmen were on route to Rocket League’s first international LAN.
And it was there they truly turned heads. Thanks to a very strict rotation and set game plan with specifically positioned players following rules, and netted them a big upset over North America’s top seed Kings of Urban. They’d get swept by both eventual grand finalists iBUYPOWER and F3, but not before eliminating Genesis in five games and placing top four in the world, but soon after, The Flying Dutchmen would disband, citing a lack of faith in their playstyle to elevate them to the best in the world, and that's as good as it would get for individuals in terms of playing careers as well.
How could we reminisce on 2016 without talking about Ted “0ver Zer0” Keil? iBUYPOWER’s substitute for the first season of the RLCS casually sat on the bench as the star-studded roster of Cameron “Kronovi” Bills, Brandon “Lachino” Lachin, and Cody “Gambit” Dover ran riot over North America. However, as the second qualifier neared its conclusion, their results faltered. Gambit dealing with personal issues chose not to attend the first RLCS LAN, and this opened up the door for 0ver Zer0 to sub in.
Expectations were low, as results for iBP going in had been lacking vs NA’s best, they surely stood no chance vs Europe’s titans, especially when their first-round draw was the monstrous Flipsid3 Tactics. However, on that fateful day in Los Angeles, down 2-1 in games and in overtime of game four, 0ver Zer0 scored the first truly iconic goal of the RLCS, air dribbling the ball across the pitch to force a game five where iBP would prevail in at the death. Sweeping The Flying Dutchmen was less surprising, but it seemed that come Sunday, Northern Gaming in the upper finals would prove to be too much.
One six-game series later iBP had got a spot in the grand finals through uppers, and there was to be no bracket reset in the grand final as IBP vanquished F3 one more time to take home a miraculous world championship. 0ver Zer0 would take home the MVP award and never return to even remotely similar heights again, regardless, he’ll forever be a legend of RLesports.
We fast forward to 2018, and by this point in RLesports, substitutes had had a well-established history of succeeding on the big stage, in large part thanks to this guy called Turbopolsa. However, last-second mid-series substitutions had been less prevalent, but that changed in 2018, if even for a fleeting moment. In the qualifiers for the Rival Series in RLCS season six, Intellectuals, a roster consisting of Conor “Zee9” Scannell, Dylan “eekso” Pickering, and George “Breezi” Rusiecki was battling through the lower bracket of Rocket League’s deadliest qualifier when a Blitzers squadron was giving them some trouble, going up 2-0 quickly. Even worse, star player eekso was struggling with internet issues and had a tough time even connecting to the servers…
Enter Chris “Magu” Magu, who had literally just returned home for work in time to even enable Intellectuals to field a three-man roster before disqualification. And the following three games would see a huge reversal in fortunes, clutching up in two consecutive overtimes, the second of which Magu scored the game-winner before they’d close out the reverse sweep on Champions Field. Eekso’s internet would pick back up just in time for Intellectuals to continue their run as Magu rode off into the sunset as the hero of the hour.
Team Echo Zulu
When history looks back at 2019 in Rocket League, the Dreamhack Pro Circuit will almost certainly be viewed as one of, if not the highlight of the year. Thirty-two team LANs that gave us a bevvy of international competition, mixing up RLCS and bubble sides as $100,000 per event was up for grabs. It was at the first stop in Leipzig that our next story would come from. Team Echo Zulu was an up and coming roster featuring Mitchell “Mittaen” Driessen, Ibrahim “ImpacT” Karaca and Ronald “Tahz” Oosting. They opened their tournament with a respectable five-game loss to PSG Esports, before rebounding in the lower bracket to eliminate the recently RLCS bound Triple Trouble, but they were only just getting started.
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Day two opened up with a match vs Evil Geniuses, who had recently come off a 2018 with two fifth-sixth finishes at RLCS world championships, and had just imported Australian star Matthew “Drippay” Den-Kaat. Echo Zulu casually swept them and had a date with Renault Vitality on the mainstage. Their stalwart defence took them far, but the eventual grand finalists eventual bested them in five games, however, they had a second chance at championship Sunday vs Ghost Gaming. And in a display that showcased some miraculous goalkeeping from Tahz, TEZ would sweep Ghost and secure an unlikely top-eight appearance at the most stacked LAN in RLesports history.
Their run would end at the hands of eventual champions Dignitas in the play-off quarter-finals, but while Team Echo Zulu specifically would never reach those dazzling heights, both Tahz and Mitten have gone on to have pretty successful careers given their status at the time, currently playing for FC Barcelona and Galaxy Racer respectively.
Images via Zeebo Designs