Who can come out on top in the Fall Split Major in North America?
The biggest event of the calendar year is upon us, and the Swiss format is complete, leaving just eight teams in the playoffs. Fighting for RLCS X points and a whopping $100,000, the Fall Split is set to conclude with one reigning champion. Although it's not the international LAN that we so dearly desire, this gives a chance for some huge upsets and the competition in North America has never been so tight.
Looking back over the Swiss stage we analyse the best storylines, and then cast an eye on the Playoffs and the four quarterfinals we have lined up.
REVIEW - FALL SPLIT MAJOR QUALIFIERS
The Swiss stage had the potential to throw some question marks into the mix, with some exciting bubble teams emerging. With the top teams looking to secure vital RLCS X points and set themselves up for a punt at $100,000, here's how the Swiss stages unfolded.
FOUR TIMES KNOWS HOW TO STEP UP
COULD THE UNDISPUTED KING OF RLCS SHOW HIS CLASS IN THE MAJOR QUALIFIERS?
Turbo hadn't have needed to ignite his boosters during Swiss. After a wake-up call in round 1 versus eUnited, some favourable fixtures in the rest of Stage 2 saw them click into cruise control. Games versus XSET and BoSF was no trouble to the four-time World Champion and his trusted companions, and they comfortably rolled over a hungry Kansas City Pioneers side. With a spot at the Playoffs on the table, Envy only showed slivers of what they're capable of, and this was enough to see them through without breaking a sweat.
GYTHROW TO GYCHAMPO?
DO NOT SLEEP ON THE PEEPS
After brandishing himself as "Gythrow" after their previous performances, The Peeps were looking to secure yet another strong Playoffs placement. Although they made hard work of it, The Peeps found their rhythm, but will not be able to start like they did when it comes to the latter stage of the Fall Split Major. Losses to both Susquehanna Soniqs and XSET within the first three games left them needing to overcome both BoSF and eUnited with no faults. This woke a sleeping giant, as they went on to put 14 past BoSF and make some clutch overtime plays versus eUnited. The Peeps were nearly caught sleeping, but managed to find their form when they needed it most. Maybe this essence of panic could fare well in the future.
ROGUE SHOULDN'T GO ROGUE
FIRSTKILLER HOLDS THE KEY FOR A SHOCK SURGE FROM ROGUE, BUT UNITY IS WHERE THEY WILL SUCCEED.
Rogue, similar to The Peeps, qualified the hard way, although their tie with Spacestation Gaming was significantly harder than any of The Peeps' games. The criticism of Rogue is their dependency on confidence. When the going gets tough for Rogue, they seem to crumble. When they rely on solo plays and don't pull together, Rogue hardly ever overcome a deficit. However, when they're ticking in tandem, they tend to sweep opponents. With Rogue, it's either 0-3 or 3-0, black or white, day or night. Firstkiller has every making of one of the game's greats but needs to stick with tried and trusted Kronovi, with Turinturo feeding the pair.
BEAST MODE ACTIVATED
KANSAS CITY PIONEERS HAVE SSG'S NUMBER, ARE THEY OUTSIDE FAVOURITES?
Yes, they have the yipes over Spacestation Gaming, but that isn't enough to be contenders for the title. Lapses in concentration saw Susquehanna Soniqs sweep the Pioneers, and Team Envy showed their class beating them 3-1. Kansas City cannot rely on their ability to upset one team, no matter how much confidence it gives them. Luckily for them, Pittsburgh Knights were not at the races and allowed them to regain control in the Swiss, before they went on to trample over XSET in the deciding fixture.
A FRESH BLAZE OF GLORY FOR GHOST?
COULD LUKE, FRESHNESS, AND LIONBLAZE BE THE SPECTRAL UNDERDOGS?
How do you bury the dead? Heading into spooky season, Ghost Gaming turned their cars into spectral form, with the ball flying through them at will. Even when they were gifted chances at resurrecting, such as an overtime match versus NRG, they were sent back to the underground with ectoplasm smeared on the walls. Ghost failed to notch up a single win in Stage 2, and their remnants can still be found in Champions Field.
RLCS X FALL MAJOR QUALIFIERS RESULTS.
There were few surprises throughout the qualifying stages. Some fringe teams underperformed, such as Ghost Gaming and XSET, but teams were at full strength going into the Playoffs. The most surprising omission was Susquehanna Soniqs, who despite reinstating shock to the starting roster, failed to qualify. Even after sweeping The Peeps and Kansas City, the Soniqs lost three consecutive games and were sent packing. eUnited also missed out after losing their sudden death match versus Kansas City. The final eight consists of:
- G2 Esports
- Spacestation Gaming
- Alpine Esports
- Team Envy
- Kansas City Pioneers
- The Peeps
PREVIEW - FALL SPLIT MAJOR PLAYOFFS
It's that time of year. In what would normally be the conclusion of an RLCS Season, the new format takes a slight competitive edge off the climax, although that will be made up down the line. Still, $100,000 is up for grabs, and the winners will certainly take the bragging rights of the absurdly competitive region. Every game matters here, with points available that will transcend teams into the World Championships qualifying positions, in this marathon of a season. Top 4 is crucial, and there are some cracking fixtures.
Here's how we see it panning out...
Do The Peeps have the NRG to Get Out of Bed?
SLEEPING ON THE PEEPS IS DANGEROUS, BUT ELECTRIFYING ENERGY COULD BE THE KEY.
The Peeps, so far, have been just shy of breaking into the mould and beginning to win events. Consistently beating other great teams but just falling short when it comes to the playoffs, they have yet to snap into fifth gear. NRG, on the other hand, don't know anything but fifth gear, which can often be their demise. NRG's frantic and flamboyant playstyle is difficult to defend, especially when they often keep the pressure on teams for the majority of games. However, they are vulnerable on the counter-attack. The Peeps are more of a calculated and chemistry-reliant side, who will need to be on top of their game to overcome the first hurdle of the Playoffs. With eccentricity versus accuracy, this game will be one of the best of the series.
MISTICS OR MAJIC
IN THE BATTLE OF THE WIZARDS, CAN ALPINE BRANCH OUT, OR WILL ENVY ENTER TURBO MODE?
Mist and Majicbear have often been the pioneers for their respective sides this season, and control the "X-factor" that can make or break games. More so for Majicbear, who's team are reliant on his goals and assists. Envy have more of a balanced roster, and Turbo seldom comes to championships without his A-game. Alpine will need Majicbear firing on all cylinders to stand a chance of progressing, although this may be one branch that is too fragile to climb. It may be as far as Alpine can climb at this stage.
WHOS BLADE IS SHARPER?
SAMURAI VERSUS ASSASSIN, WHOS BLADE CAN CUT THE DEEPEST?
G2 and Rogue have exchanged blows for years, and regularly show up when it comes to the major events. Rogue's Kronovi will be feeling the heat coming into this match to upset his former teammates in Rizzo and Jknaps, especially after his resurgence in form this season. Firstkiller has also continued to impress for Rogue as they have begun to cohere much more efficiently. Rogue's recent form suggests this will be a whitewash in either direction, with them rarely reaching a game four or five. G2 also come into this game as arguably the most in-form team in NA, and will have their sights firmly set on dismantling each team that steps in front of them. With Rogue's fragility and G2's consistency, the shock of the playoffs would be if Rogue manage to come out on top.
"THE BOGEY TEAM"
SPACESTATION HAVE MET THEIR MATCH IN KANSAS CITY PIONEERS
Spacestation Gaming is a team that strikes fear into their opponents before the game even kicks off. Unless they're playing Kansas City Pioneers. If you only get to watch one match in the playoffs, this quarterfinal fixture has to be on top of your list. The Pioneers have Spacestations number and have beat them on multiple occasions since they rose through the ranks, being the one side that seems to unsettle the number 2 ranked team in the region. After a dominant start to RLCS X, SSG looked unstoppable, but their wings were clipped as KCP found form, and have since been just a shadow of what they were. This game sits on a sixpence, with the pendant swinging each way. If Spacestation comes into the tie without being scared of the ghost in the closet, they could very well come out on top and gain the confidence they have been missing. Beastmode won't let that happen without a fight though.
RLCS X FALL SPLIT MAJOR PLAYOFFS PREDICTIONS
If the weeks gone by are anything to go by, anybody could come out on top. Not even mystic meg or psychic sally could pull this one out of the bag, especially with the array of talent up and down the region. Anyway, I'll pull my crystal ball out and give it a whirl.
The bracket favours the "top four", but their opponents are not to be written off. Spacestation will be the toughest team to call, because of their turbulent form towards the end of the split and their history versus KCP, but their quality should shine. G2, NRG and Envy will most likely make up the semifinals, and working off the bracket, a brave man would count out G2. With that in mind, here are my predictions.