The new year kicks off with a wild weekend.
With the new year comes new narratives around all of our favourite teams, and even though the Christmas season was great, we were in desperate need of some Rocket League esports. While some teams are already fulfilling some of their New Year's resolutions, there are some teams that wish they could return to 2020 form. Since the European Grid was the only event this weekend, we can take a deeper look at the Grid Playoffs.
5) Europe The Grid Semifinals- Guild Esports vs Dignitas
This series wasn't close, and from a pure entertainment standpoint, there were plenty of more fascinating matchups even in the group stage. But, the importance of this series shouldn't be undermined simply because it wasn't a Game 7 thriller. Dignitas look like a team revived after such a poor Fall Split. Bringing in Jack "ApparentlyJack" Benton has led to a complete turnaround for this team this far into his tenure on Dignitas. While Guild has slowly been turning around its own fortunes slowly but surely, Dignitas came in and offered a dominating performance by completing a perfect sweep. Yep, perfect. Not a single goal allowed over the four game series. Interestingly, this was the first ever in the history of Rocket League esports in a BO7. Dignitas have been looking great, and this defensive masterpiece was a great showing for the team on their road to the finals.
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4) Europe The Grid Grand Finals- Dignitas vs Endpoint
Dignitas is going to appear in this list a lot. But that is one of the great things about only having one region to focus on. Highlighting just how great Dignitas' weekend was is important in figuring out how seriously this team will be able to compete for a top spot in Europe as the Winter Split nears its close. Endpoint were playing very well themselves up until this point, but they got outclassed by a red-hot Dignitas. The tone was set from Game 1 as Dignitas beat Endpoint in a whopping 8-2 scoreline. Over the final three games of the series, Dignitas would outscore them 8-2 again. This win was enough to draw Dignitas level with Top Blokes for first place in the Grid standings. The commentators mentioned after the series that Dignitas hadn't even lost enough games through the entirety of the playoffs to drop a single series.
3) Europe The Grid Quarterfinals- Top Blokes vs Dignitas
Last Dignitas match, I promise. But this was the only challenge that Dignitas faced through their trophy run. Top Blokes, the reigning Regional champs, struggled to take Dignitas to a Game 5, but it was a threat nonetheless. With a pair of overtimes, it was Dignitas' defence that won the day in the end. Their offensive prowess has continued to develop as ApparentlyJack settles in with the squad, but his team was able to limit Top Blokes to one or zero goals in three games. It was those same three games that Dignitas was able to secure the victory. Dignitas have quickly become a threat in the European region, especially with some of the elite teams like Renault Vitality and Team BDS seemingly playing below the insane standards they have set for themselves over the past year.
2) Europe The Grid Quarterfinals- Renault Vitality vs Giants Gaming
Although Vitality would end up falling short to Endpoint, this series continued to show their previous flashes of brilliance as they were coming into the series on a four game win streak. The Giants, meanwhile, looked shaky throughout the group stage, but were able to force a Game 5 against Vitality. This series was back and forth with Vitality playing at the level expected of them as they took the first two games in convincing fashion with a combined goal total of 7-2. Needing the reverse sweep, Giants came back and took Games 3 and 4 by decisive margins themselves. They forced Game 5, and gave everything they had as the teams entered overtime in a 4-4 deadlock. Alexandre "Kaydop" Courant won a challenge on the wall that popped out right in front of net for the lurking Victor "Fairy Peak!" Locquet to finish. Even if Vitality have to bounce back with a first place finish soon to show they are still at the top, they continue to put up impressive offensive performances as they averaged three goals a game through the series.
1) Europe The Grid Semifinals- Endpoint vs Team Vitality
Endpoint haven't had an amazing Winter Split. They currently sit 16th in the Regional ranking and were able to climb as high as seventh in the Grid with this week's final appearance. But, even if they haven't been spectacular, this was one of their greatest series this season. They took Renault Vitality, a team that fits the mould of "elite," and took them down with conviction. Vitality took a close Game 1 in overtime, but Endpoint were able to sweep the next three games, and that would be too much for Vitality to come back from. Endpoint's play shined on both sides of the ball, with their defence limiting a dangerous Vitality roster to only six goals over the final five games of the series. Their own offence proved powerful as they scored at least three goals in four of the six games. This led to the Dignitas vs Endpoint matchup in the Grand Finals, a much-needed result for both squads.
2021 is already proving to be a good year for Rocket League esports as a revitalised Dignitas and surging Endpoint provided some great gameplay throughout the tournament. The pressure is on as there is only one week left of the Grid and one more Regional for teams to qualify for the Major.
Images via Liquipedia | @TeamVitality