After two days, 26 matches and some incredible Rocket League, The Kickoff drew to its conclusion.
Asia and the Middle East now have their first official champions, with pre-tournament favourites Team iXA and Sandrock Gaming emerging as champions after two action-packed days of brilliant Rocket League. Here’s what went down:
Middle East - Business as Usual:
Heading into The Kickoff - Middle East, there was one team at the top of everyone’s predictions - Sandrock Gaming. To put it lightly, they were absolutely dominant. Their only lost game was in the middle of the grand final against a 5Head team who were throwing everything that they possibly could at Ahmad “SENZO” Ayed’s side. However, it simply wasn’t enough as SRG won easily. Things looked moderately shaky at times, but at the end of the day, Sandrock’s victory was never in doubt as they swept their way to the grand final.
Despite Sandrock’s relatively easy victory, there were some upsets elsewhere. All three of 5Head’s victories came against teams that were seeded higher than them, with ASMR eSports (twice) and Momentum Shifters falling to Fahad “Zez0nix” Ahmed and co. The only reverse-sweep of the entire weekend came when Venom Power upset sdc to send the latter out of the tournament in last place. Finally, Momentum Shifters were able to sweep second seed Forest Hunters in Group B’s upper bracket final in order to snatch one of the first two playoff spots before they were swept by 5Head in the semifinals.
Asia - close, but no cigar:
In the run-up to The Kickoff - Asia, we asked two questions. The first one was will anyone dethrone ReaLize as the king of Asia, and the second being would the Japanese continue to dominate? The answers? Well yes, but actually no.
Team iXA had a shaky start, barely edging past bottom-seeded 1NE eSports with a last-gasp goal in game five. Things didn’t exactly become smooth sailing from there, with two overtime wins securing a 3-1 victory over HANAGUMI and a seven-game thriller against Oryx Esports securing the Japanese side’s spot in the grand final. Their opponents? HANAGUMI, who were back for revenge after their earlier defeat. In fact, HANAGUMI looked emphatically strong in their semifinal sweep over Ooga Booga. Takuma “shaolon” Kawajiri was their standout player as he scored 7 goals in 4 games to ensure that his side ensuring a quick sweep. His team’s momentum kept on going as they took the first game before going 5-1 up in game two with just a minute to go. However, what followed can only be described as pure madness. Just over 60 seconds of gameplay later, ReaLize had just sunk a buzzer-beater before iXA were able to take the game in overtime.
HANAGUMI still showed some fight, with a 3-0 win in game five keeping them alive and showing their promise after a shaky couple of games. But alas, it was not to be as Shun “mikan” Yokota scored the winning goal in overtime, making Team iXA The Kickoff’s second championship-winning side. Despite losing in the grand final, shaolon’s incredible performance throughout the rest of the event (in particular, the semifinal against Ooga Booga) earned him the title of MVP, technically dethroning ReaLize as the king of Asia.
On top of that, whilst the grand final consisted solely of Japanese players, both VELLFiRE and Xayfhers struggled in the group stage and were unable to reach the playoffs. Xayfhers went out in last after losing to HANAGUMI and 1NE, with VELLFiRE losing to Ooga Booga before being perfectly swept by Oryx Esports. Certainly not the showing those two sides were looking for after strong qualifier performances
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It’s been a historic weekend for the Asian and Middle Eastern Rocket League scenes. With Rocket Baguette’s Grand Prix closing out the Community Takeover this week, the clock is ticking down to the beginning of RLCS Season X and you can find coverage of both events on GGRecon.
Images via DreamHack