Rogue's Title Hopes Would Have Been Crushed If They Dropped To G2
Rogue's form has been much improved since the Fall Split, but their recent performance still left a doubt if they would be capable of winning a trophy this season. When it mattered most, though, they were able to flip the tables in a wild matchup against G2. In the final Regional tournament of the Winter Split, Rogue and G2 met in the Winner's Quarterfinals. Before this matchup, their most recent head-to-head came all the way back on November 28, so it would be a good testing point to see how the teams have improved. In that matchup, Rogue defeated G2 4-1. This matchup would look like it would go the other way when G2 came out of the gates with a 2-0 series lead, but Rogue pulled off a miraculous reverse sweep and ended up winning the entire tournament. Let's take a look at the key moments and patterns of play that helped them on their way to first place, as well as signs of how they might perform in the Major.
This game actually started out in Rogue's favour, despite the fact that G2 would go on to win it. At the 4:33 mark, Alexandre "Taroco" Reis Pedrogam was able to make a great dunk just in front of G2's box, but as the ball ricocheted off of the backboard, he was unable to put the shot away. It was a great opportunity, but it was just the first sign of struggle as he would go on to miss several chances throughout the series.
His team would make up for it, though, when Leonardo "Turinturo" hit a fantastic assist at the 3:46. He was incredibly quick with the ball up the wall, and hit the ball with surprising precision from an awkward angle. Jason "firstkiller" Corral showed off his own levels of anticipation as he was able to beat both G2 defenders to the ball to give his team an early lead. Even though the series would quickly become troublesome for Rogue, one thing that they showcased in flashes throughout the series, and the rest of their tournament, was their ability to create goals.
Rogue's troubles would begin almost immediately after as Turinturo's awkward touch off the corner allowed Jacob "JKnaps" Knapman an easy shot against an awkward Rogue defence. This, early on, showed another pattern for Rogue. Many of the goals they would concede in this series, and later series in the day, were self-inflicted wounds. For the rest of Game 1, G2 was playing some clean defence and Rogue wasn't able to sort out their defence enough to match G2.
In overtime, Taroco would go up for an easy finish as the ball crossed the goal line, but the defender and Taroco were both thrown off, as Taroco missed his second chance of the game. The flow of play would quickly go down to the other side of the pitch as a backflip basically on Rogue's own goal line from Reed "Chicago" Wilen caused both Taroco and Firstkiller to bite, and Jknaps would secure the game.
This was another game that Rogue won't be happy about, as their defence was floundering again. Only about thirty seconds into the game, when two G2 players were up for a shot, the defence hesitated and the ball almost awkwardly rolled into the net as several defenders scrambled to make a clear. At the 3:35 mark, Firstkiller had an own goal when he jumped too early for a ball. On that play, Turinturo was trying to avoid a bump, so it was understandable why Firstkiller tried to get the ball out of danger, but it backfired.
More awkwardness happened in a play that wasn't noticed much, but just highlighted Rogue's troubles at the 2:19 mark. Turinturo went up for a shot, but Taroco called him off. Turinturo was unable to get out of the way as he ended up blocking the shot.
Rogue, while unable to generate much of their own offence, was being completely overrun by G2 as they allowed six goals. As John "Johnnyboi_i" MacDonald said, "It's just too easy for G2. Too much space for Dillon "Rizzo" Rizzo to exploit in the final third." G2 was almost literally running circles around their defence. This was probably the most frustrating play of the night for Rogue as Firstkiller went for backpass, but Rizzo just simply beat out Turinturo, with Turinturo flopping by harmlessly in the air. By the end of the game, G2 had fired off sixteen shots.
Now with their lives on the line, Rogue still struggled to contain G2. At the 3:31 mark, Taroco made a great save from an incredibly crafted G2 opportunity. Throughout most of the game, all the momentum was still in G2's favour until a double demo allowed Rogue to take a lead. Less than fifteen seconds later, Firstkiller was able to punish G2 off of a poor clear. Rogue are a dangerous team, and can create some great offensive plays, but they struggled this series as they relied on plays like this to stay alive.
Despite being gifted these two goals, at the 0:48 mark, Turinturo whiffed on a crucial backboard clear. It was followed by moor panic on the Rogue defence, and G2 would bring it back to a 1-2 score line, but Rogue held on. They were still in this.
This game got off to a quick start with both teams scoring in the first twenty seconds. Turinturo went for an ambitious touch off the backboard, and missed, but it was enough to cause hesitation in the G2 defence. After Jknaps equalized on a speedy dribble, the game entered a deadlock as Rogue finally took control of the series. They were, crucially, no longer giving G2 much free space. They were forcing challenges with more frequency, and as Jonnyboi_i described, it became much more "end to end." It was obvious that G2 struggled once Rogue enforced a different style of play upon the game.
With the game winding down, a major miss from Firstkiller at the :27 mark gave G2 another clear-cut chance. Sensing a pattern? It was more self-inflicted wounds on the defensive side of the ball that caused so much anguish for Rogue in this series. With five seconds left, Taroco forced a crazy pinch to bounce off the ceiling that Firstkiller finished, taking his team into overtime. They wasted no time, as Firstkiller played a ball off the wall that Taroco was able to outpace the defenders to, tuck it in neatly in the back of the net, and force a Game 5. Finally, finally, Rogue's offence was clicking again. It was the first time they had outshot G2, 9-7.
At first, it looked like G2 found their footing again as they pressured Rogue non-stop for the first minute. At 3:53, Rogue was able to make a series of great defensive plays, but it was too much. For basically the first two minutes of the game, Rogue barely even saw the G2 half of the field. In what perfectly represented Rogue's misfortunes on the defensive side of the ball, Chicago would end up forcing Taroco to own goal when he was caught in an awkward position off the goal line.
Luckily for Rogue, G2 ended up getting stranded as well as Rogue were able to take an open goal to hit home the equalizer. Less than ten seconds later, at the 1:35 mark, Taroco missed yet another net. There was literally no G2 member in the area, due to a demolition, but he still sent the shot just a few feet too high. It was an issue which troubled him throughout the series. Turinturo was there to finish it for him, though, and all of a sudden, Rogue was in the driver's seat.
Firstkiller would finish the series in style, hitting a shot with power to make it 3-1. Somehow, they did it. Rogue were still in the upper bracket. They would go on to win the tournament, despite their defensive issues and missing a few open nets. It showcased just what allowed this team to win it all, though. They are a high-ceiling team, and when they can clean up some of their own mistakes, other teams struggle to beat them. Once they limited their own mistakes, G2 ceased to look like the dominant team that scored six goals in Game 2.
After a great Winter Split, it will come down to becoming just a bit more consistent in this play. They can flash an elite offence at times, but the mistakes in their own half has caused series to be much closer than they should be. Teams like NRG, Team Envy, and even G2, will probably not be so forgiving the next time around. Rogue are an exciting team to watch, and fans should get ready to see what they can bring to the Major.
Images via Rogue