What we learned from WSOE.
With the Winter Split of RLCS X on the horizon, WSOE Online III offered an exciting competition and a chance to analyse some of the top teams in North America before the next part of their season. Taking a look at the top four teams from WSOE is a chance to learn what their performances might look like as the Winter Split begins.
Kansas City Pioneers - Inconsistency Might Haunt Them
After a breakout Fall Split, the Pioneers will certainly be aiming to finish in the top five this Winter Split, proving they deserve a spot among the elite in the NA scene. However, things have looked shaky for the Pioneers lately. They scraped through the group stage of WSOE after losing to Down 2 Earth in a matchup KC was easily favoured in, looking flat against NRG, and being forced to reverse sweep EUnited, another team that the Pioneers should be favoured against. Despite this weak group stage, they took Team Envy to Game 7, proving they still have what it takes to compete with the top teams in the region.
Although this was a solid showing, despite losing, they failed to follow it up in the third-place match when they fell to Alpine in another Game 7. The fact that KC was unable to easily beat teams lower than them and failed to be clinical in clutch Game 7s might cause a problem for the team if they want to stake their claim as one of the best in North America.
Alpine Esports - Close, But Not Quite
Alpine has become a fan favourite in RLCS X, but they have yet to make a major statement on the field. Their seventh-place finish in the Fall Split Circuit Points was respectable, but not frightening for other teams. Although they have been discussed as breakout candidates all season, they haven't put together many strong performances against elite teams. This showed in the Fall Major when they fell to Envy in the quarterfinals, and it was more of the same at WSOE. The two biggest teams they faced were Envy in the group stage and NRG in the semifinals, both eventual losses.
The NRG series was particularly worrying as Alpine was outscored 3-15 in only four matches. Their solid showing in the third-place match against the Pioneers gave them one big win over a top-five team, but their defence obviously was still a weak point as they gave up at least two goals in all seven games. This team has the talent to be a good team, but is unclear if they will develop into much more than that this split.
Team Envy - Top Tier, But Lacked Firepower
WSOE was an opportunity for Envy to add another trophy to their shelf from this season after winning the third Fall Regional, but fell short to NRG, who also knocked them out of the Fall Major. All season, Envy has been in conversation for one of the best in NA, but their performance in WSOE might be predictive of the chance they will go another split failing to look great against other great teams. This was shown in their lack of dominance over the shaky Kansas City Pioneers, and their poor offence in the finals against NRG. They have consistently earned spots for themselves deep in tournaments, but their lack of a lethal touch came back to bite them. They never scored more than one goal in the entire six-game series against NRG.
All three of Envy's players are incredibly talented, so there is no doubt they will be able to repeat their performance by making some deep runs this split. But will they be able to take home many trophies? If the offence can improve only a little bit, it is easy to say that Envy will be taking trophies off of Spacestation Gaming and NRG throughout the next few months. If not, it will be a tough run against the explosive offences their opponents can boast.
NRG - True World Contenders
This team is explosive, fun to watch, and consistently making it to finals. So far this year they have already made it to the finals of two Regionals, the Fall Major, five Grid tournaments, and now WSOE. What truly makes this team scary is that, although their defence is good, their spectacular offence means they rarely have to play on defence.
Throughout WSOE, NRG played a total of 24 matches and only lost four of them. Their offence has been the main aspect of play that fans notice, and for good reason. In the semifinals and finals, NRG scored an average of 2.4 goals per game. This is what gives NRG the potential to not only be favourites for the Winter Split, but favourites to be one of the few NA teams capable of winning the World Championship come next season. Any true contender for that throne has to boast an incredible offence, and that is exactly what NRG is showcasing. Spacestation Gaming is the only team in NA that seems capable of matching them. NRG will be looking to avenge their loss to SSG in the Fall Major, and it will be an exciting split to watch for fans of the team.
Images via @WSOE | @NRGgg