We examine who will prosper and who will suffer from the end of league play.
One of the big changes in the new format of the Rocket League Championship Series is what is effectively the elimination of the gap between RLCS & RLRS. The Grid will essentially morph the two leagues into one, and regional events present a chance for unknown bubble teams to come in and instantly rise to top tier status. We’re here to examine which teams will benefit the most from the new system, and which sides could potentially fall even further.
Winner - Stromboli
Stromboli was a bit of an unknown quantity heading into last season’s RLRS. An interesting team formation saw JPow & AlRaz rotate between Hec & Andy as their third players, and a challenge for automatic RLCS promotion fell just short. Having to settle for the promotion playoffs, they’d take Rogue all the way to seven games before falling to Charlotte Phoenix in a sweep. Since then, JPow & AlRaz have brought on AlphaKep, and they’ve been slowly rising up the NA ranks. At worst a reliable fixture outside North America’s top ten, Stromboli’s record with Kep has seen them notch up wins vs Charlotte Phoenix, Susquehanna Soniqs, and even RLCS titans like Rat Enterprises & G2, with the bulk of their losses coming to high flying Omelette & Rogue in competitive showings. There’s no super deep tournament run from them, but they don’t need to wait in Rival Series for another season, they can and have taken some big names already. For Stromboli, it’s looking like a case of when they go far, not if.
Loser - Susquehanna Soniqs
The biggest surprise story of last season’s RLCS may just have ended as quickly as it started. Expected to place last by even their fellow professionals, the Soniqs would make an incredible run at even second-place in NA, being the only side to best then top dogs Spacestation Gaming for the better part of two months. However, since bombing out of the regional championship without a game win, they’ve been an afterthought. Their sole wins in the off-season are all five-game victories, vs the old Stromboli & Charlotte Phoenix rosters, and an eUnited side that struggled with internet issues. In that same three month period, any tournament they have played they’ve come either last or second to last. Recent weeks have seen them cycle through new thirds and that has not brought a change in fortunes. The potential is clearly there, especially with NA MVP Shock in their ranks, but with struggles vs sides even outside of the RLRS, it seems they’ll struggle to even place in the top sixteen of the fall split, let alone be the side that was top five in NA three months ago.
Winner - Giants Gaming
RCD Espanyol had one of the hottest starts to a Rival Series campaign in recent memory, however, after being swept by Team BDS, they would miss out on automatic promotion to RLCS by virtue of head to head, and collapse in the promotion tournament. Despite those two off-days, the motivation of Stake, Zamue & Toxtraptonized has not been deterred. Back to back fourth places in the Spring Series & The Eurocup 10K earned them the signature of Giants Gaming. And now the side that many flat out called RLCS quality is on the same playing field as the Dignitas & Oxygens of the world, two of many a top side that has fallen to the Giants.
Losers - Solary & Alpine
From sides that came close to promoting to RLCS to a couple of rosters that actually did it. If you had to pick three sides to promote from last season’s RLRS, the former Block Block & Affinity squads probably weren’t high up on many’s lists. However, those two & Team BDS would qualify for the big leagues, only for what was the big league to essentially be dissolved. Now while Team BDS have grown leaps and bounds and stands to be top three in Europe, Solary & Alpine in their current form are basement dwellers of their region. Yes, their hard work invites them to the latter stages of events for the first split, but two sides that earned their way to the top must again slog it out vs lesser sides to retain their status.
Winner - Omelette
And finally, the arguable biggest surprise of the off-season, that seen the fifth-best side of last season’s RLRS rise to fifth-best in NA overall. Under the Mirage banner, Freshness & Luke retained their RLRS spot with JRuss, but the latter’s departure to Valence had had them trying out ZPS to considerable success. Wins over the Soniqs, Rogue, Rat Enterprises & Pittsburgh Knights and a 5th-6th placing in Codename: COVERT put them on the map. But in the recent Summer Shuffle ran by BeyondTheSummit, they had a miracle run for the ages with new third LionBlaze. Now under the Omelette name, they got routinely swept by NRG, but would rebound by beating both G2 & Rogue in five games to advance to the playoffs. This was followed by besting Envy in the upper semi-finals and rebounding from another thrashing at the hands of NRG by eliminating Rogue in seven games and coming second in a $45,000 tournament. If one were to remove the nametags, they look the real deal, and previous results show that consistent top-five placings are no accident, making them the biggest winners from the new RLCS format, as they’ll look to ride this momentum into RLCS X.
Image via ZeeboDesigns