Our writers got together to discuss the upcoming Winter Major.
With the European Winter Major just around the corner, the Rocket League writers at GGRecon came together to discuss the upcoming tournament. Zoning in on specific teams, underdogs, and the biggest obstacles to BDS, the Winter Major will have a lot to offer.
Team Queso made it to the finals of the second Winter Regional, but didn't perform in the third. What are your takes on Team Queso?
Matt: Personally, I thought they looked pretty weak after getting reverse swept by Oxygen. They have obviously had high skill moments, but against Oxygen, they didn’t have a single game with more shots even though they won the first two, and lost the last three.
Tom: Queso, even with Marius “gReazymeister” Ranheim was always a really hot and cold side. They popped off in Regional one, but I don’t think we saw them again until the Major.
Jack: I personally think they lack consistency, they’ve got that pop-off potential, especially with Sergio Perez “Atomik” Cortes but, especially in Europe when the competition is so fierce, they lack a lot of consistency. Especially towards the latter stages of competitions, they seem to somewhat fizzle out when the other people are starting to heat up a little bit.
Ben: I think they are a very mentality-based team, which is a big factor towards them being sort of hot or cold. Where if they start losing, they really start losing. I think the epitome of that was last split when they were still with Greazy when they lost that game 11-0. There’s a reason why that Oxygen reverse sweep may not have been that surprising once Oxygen sort of gathered momentum. Queso tend to sort of; I don’t want to say collapse...
Jack: I think that sort of rings true, even though that 11-0 did with Greazy on it, they lack an experienced head alongside them to guide them through those sorts of moments. Obviously, they are all quite young and very new to the scene. They are exciting, one of the many exciting teams that have come through, but they lack the experience to dig themselves out of a hole.
Jens: When they just about win, they don’t really stand a chance against the top teams. But when they are actually feeling well like in Regional Two when they beat Vitality, they swept Vitality in three games, and ended up getting beaten by Top Blokes, but Top Blokes went on to win it. Then they went 4-2 against Redemption, 4-0 against Giants. So yeah, when they are hot, they are really hot.
Jack: Like Ben said, it looks like it's very confidence based. When they were going through that one Regional where they were just beating teams left, right, and centre, they went through a run of beating Vitality, Redemption, Giants, BDS, and they were all quite convincing wins. None of them took them to like a Game 7 until Top Blokes finally did in the Finals. But it appears they were very confidence based, and as soon as it started looking bad, they seemed to start fading off.
Ben: I feel like we are going to find out almost immediately if it's going to be a deep run or not. Because if they start off hot, they will most likely continue.
Jens: It's not just that though, because, yeah, they swept Vitality in that Regional, but Vitality also got swept in the lower bracket by Galaxy Racer. Vitality was just not feeling it that Regional.
Ben: To be fair, I still think that in the second EU Regional when they came second, that was them playing exceptionally well because they did beat BDS.
Jens: Yeah, they played well, but they got lucky because not all the top teams showed up.
Ben: I still feel that’s a bit harsh to Queso because this was the Regional where Redemption made their first sort of really strong run. They swept Giants who had just swept Galaxy Racer and beat BDS 4-2.
Matt: Yeah, and it wasn’t just a sweep over Giants, it was super convincing. They only allowed two goals in the four games. And, yeah, obviously beating BDS, but I’m kind of on the same idea that it’s going to be pretty quickly decided. In the most recent Regional, they looked so floppy on defence sometimes where there were like two or three of them flying around at the same time, and they looked very disorganised. If they’re not playing with that really great peak, that I don’t know if they are going to be able to take down Giants, and BDS, and Vitality, to be able to get a win or anything like that.
Ben: It’s like there are two different Team Quesos. The one that came second in the Regional, then the one that didn’t qualify for the Grid. I do think this conversation would be far easier if they qualified for the Grid. We would have a much better understanding of where their inconsistencies lay.
Jack: That also rings true of their performance as well. About the confidence, if they were a team that fed on confidence, we probably would have seen them go into the Grid and qualify, but the fact that they didn’t has been the start of their capitulation almost. Ever since then, they’ve kind of spiralled downwards.
Jens: They’re a little bit middle of the pack, but they can pop off.
Ben: I think they will either finish top three, or they will go 0-6. That’s my official prediction.
Now we move on to discuss who is best suited to take down BDS. They have dominated Europe, and a few teams have gotten close, but they certainly are the favourites to win another trophy. So who is their biggest obstacle?
Ben: Definitely no bias here at all, but an in-form Top Blokes is definitely the biggest obstacle to BDS in the Major, in my humble opinion, and unbiased opinion.
Tom: I’ve got to hand it to Top Blokes because they are the only other team to win a Regional. Like Giants, they made the finals once in the final Regional, but they haven’t finished the job off once.
Ben: It’s like when we were talking about Queso, with them being hot or cold, they had their miracle hot run beating Redemption, Giants, BDS, and they still lost to Top Blokes.
Jack: I think Top Blokes on their day are the team that would beat them. If everybody is playing at their peak potential, I would probably say Top Blokes would be the one to beat them. Again, you can’t really count out someone like the old guard. Like Team Vitality knows how to get a win in certain instances. They obviously haven’t been playing as well as they have been, but we have seen them in the past when it comes to the likes of Alexandre “Kaydop” Courant tend to find a way to win.
Ben: I will say, I’m sceptical of Vitality because there is no Day Three, so we don’t get a Day Three Kaydop.
Jens: Out of Top Blokes and Giants, I would still give it to Giants based on recent performances.
Ben: Yeah, based on recent performances, Giants are still the logical choice.
Jens: Yeah, Top Blokes has beaten BDS in the Grid, but Giants managed to do it in the Regional.
Jack: We haven’t had as much Rocket League as we have in the past, it’s been a bit of a break.
Ben: Yeah, I think the reason for that, the Grids were one day, nine times, as opposed to two days, four times. It feels that, plus the Christmas break, has made it feel like a bit less.
Jens: And also, the Grids with the Group Stages means nothing anymore.
(We went on a bit of a tangent here, discussing our opinions on the Grid format, but we’ll keep it relevant here.)
Tom: Is it too late to throw Dignitas into the ring for this one? They had that incredible run of form at the very start of the winter break. They took those, and the Grid after break. They’ve been alright, and they got third in that third Regional. I guess that leaves them in a solid spot for the Major? I don’t want to say they will take down BDS.
Matt: Yeah, if we are discussing who is most likely to take down BDS, I don’t if it is Dignitas because they went 0-7 against BDS in the most recent Regional.
Tom: This is true, yeah.
Matt: I definitely think Dignitas has turned around their season since the Fall split, which is really good, but I don’t know if they are quite there yet.
Ben: There was the one Grid week where they absolutely clobbered everybody. If they can bring back that form, I think they have a very good shot at winning this.
Jens: They are a very promising team, but I don’t know if they are ready yet for it.
Ben: Yeah, the question is, can they bring that form to the Major as opposed to the Grid?
Jack: It was that week they went 3-0 against Galaxy Racer, 3-2 against Top Blokes.
Ben: Yeah, so they perfectly swept Galaxy Racer and Guild. Was that the first-ever best of seven perfect sweep?
Jens: At A-Tier level, yes.
Ben: Still proud of Top Blokes for taking a game off of them.
Matt: I think my money would be on Giants for the best. I do love Vitality, but considering the Giants in the most recent Regional were able to beat BDS in the Winner’s Finals, and even though they lost both in the bracket reset, every single game except one was a one goal difference with like, you know, fifteen overtimes almost. I think right now; Giants are going to be the most competitive against BDS.
Jens: The thing you do here, a lot of pros say though, they actually don’t struggle all that much against the other top teams that are in the conversation for taking those top three spots. It's actually the underdogs that they’re not as used to; they aren’t as comfortable with playing, that can actually get the upsets.
Tom: Are you suggesting that WOO is going to win the Major?
Speaking of underdogs, who do we think are the underdogs we should be watching? The dark horse candidates that could pull off a crazy upset run. We’ve mentioned WOO, Dignitas, who else?
Jack: Rix. Rix. Rix. All day.
Ben: Yeah, I think Rix. I think Endpoint are ones to watch. I think there is a big chance- or there is at least a chance- that if they can recover some of their form back, I mean this is a while ago, but from back in the Spring series and towards the end of the Fall Split, that if they can recover that form, I think they are going to surprise people.
Jack: What I find interesting about Endpoint is that while other teams come and go, and have some people get the odd anomaly where they get knocked out in the Round of 16, they are always in the top six, like pretty much minimum. They are always there, or thereabout, and I think it’s probably about time that they begin to step up and make it into that upper echelon and try to win a tournament. They tend to be finishing like second, third, fourth, third, and another second there. It’s probably about time we saw them have that one win.
Matt: What do you guys think of Oxygen? They were going to be my pick because Oxygen was actually able to, even though they lost to BDS four games to one, they held them to under two goals per game, which Giants didn’t even do in the series they beat them in. I think Oxygen; I don’t think they are an elite team; they are very awkward on defence sometimes. Even though they gave up less than two goals a game, they still allowed over eleven shots a game. I think that is the kind of pressure you just can’t allow against a team like BDS. But if they still manage to keep them under two goals with that much pressure, there is the potential that if they start clicking like we know they can, there is a chance they can be an underdog here too.
Tom: The thing about Oxygen is you have Maello “AztraL” who is this mechanical god, can’t lose a fifty, flip resets left, right, and centre, you’ve got Thibault “Chaussette45” Grzesiak who is a solid second man, and then there is Victor “Ferra” Francal who is getting paid fifteen grand a month to miss an open net. There are clips and analysis going into that, and as long as Oxygen have him, they aren’t going to break through. They are so close, and it’s painful, but I don’t want to call them underdogs because they have two really solid players.
Jens: They lose too many random matches. Even in the Field where, if you are playing the Field as an RLCS team, you should basically be winning almost everything. And they lost just on the thirtieth of January to Atlantide Wave, a French bubble team. Like, don’t lose those kinds of matches 1-3. That’s just, if you are doing that, I don’t have any faith in a Major performance.
Ben: This is a slightly unrelated point, but I think it’s an interesting one. What would you guys define, right now, as an RLCS team?
Tom: Any team in the Grid, I guess?
Ben: That’s what I was thinking, but given that a lot of teams don’t put as much emphasis on the Grid, I feel like that may not be- for example, by that Metric, Queso aren’t an RLCS team.
Matt: What about if you are either in the Grid, or made two of the three Regionals?
Tom: That’s still like forty teams.
Ben: Yeah, it feels like people that, even though it’s been a while since Season 9 finished, people are still used to RLCS just being the top ten. Now there are up to thirty-two teams in every RLCS event. It’s slightly tricky to figure out where that cutoff lies.
Jack: It depends how you want to define the term. Where you draw the cutoff point. Say if you were to define every split, say the top sixteen teams are all RLCS that made Regional one, and it kind of changes of every split. Or, you want to have an overcoat to define everyone as an RLCS team. It depends on how often you want to refresh that term.
Jens: It just feels like there a bottom eight teams or so in any Regional that aren’t really up to the level, but just made it in. It has expanded, but it is not as many teams that get into a Regional. Looking at the third Regional, after Winter Split, you see the closed qualifiers. Basically, the lowest teams that made it in. There are your Wolves, and Singularity, and maybe Triple Trouble even. But there is also WOO, and SauceSquad, and Fadeaway. So, I think somewhere between those is the line of what I would call, or just my mental vision, of what an RLCS team is.
Matt: Alright, any other notes on EU?
Tom: Team Liquid has been playing awfully, and I hope it changes very, very soon. That’s it.
Images via Dreamhack | @RLEsports