skill gap

NA closing the skill gap

It’s no secret that many consider Europe to be the dominant region when it comes to Rocket League esports. However, North America appears to be closing the skill gap.

Major LAN Events

Take a look at the top four teams from major Rocket League LAN events in the past. It’s easy to see EU’s domination over NA at the beginning.

RLCS World Finals

iBUYPOWER, a former NA team, won the first ever Rocket League Championship Series world finals. Regardless, EU was still dominant overall. Flipsid3 Tactics, Northern Gaming and The Flying Dutchmen, all EU teams, took second through fourth place respectively.

In fact, in all three seasons of the RLCS thus far only one team has represented NA in the top four of the world finals:

Season Two

  1. Flipsid3 Tactics (EU)
  2. Mock-It eSports (EU)
  3. Northern Gaming (EU)
  4. Take 3 (NA)

Season Three

  1. Northern Gaming (EU)
  2. Mock-It eSports (EU)
  3. NRG Esports (NA)
  4. The Leftovers (EU)

Since the season three finale of the RLCS, there are several tournaments one can look back to which suggest this skill gap is narrowing.

DreamHack / FACEIT

The RLCS features equal representation from EU and NA at the world finals. DreamHack Summer 2017, taking place in Sweden, only featured one team from NA. Of the 15 teams total who competed, the NA team, Rogue, placed in the number 3-4 spot.

skill gap

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The most recent major LAN event to take place was the FACEIT X Games Invitational. The tournament featured eight teams in total, four from NA and four from EU. The bracket was broken down into two groups, each consisting of two NA and two EU teams.

While EU looked strong as always, NA certainly showed up to play in this tournament. Out of nine matches that were played between an NA and EU team, NA came out on top five times. This includes the finals, in which NRG Esports beat Gale Force eSports four to three in a best of seven match.

Five out of nine games is relatively even, which is exactly the point I’m trying to make. The skill gap is closing. On top of this, the ending placements were just as even. Gale Force eSports took second. After that, the 3rd-4th, 5th-6th and 7th-8th slots each had one NA and one EU team.


It’s difficult to lock down a group of players, let alone a single player, as the top mechanically. There are too many top tier players in NA and EU, not to mention from other regions of the world.

When it comes to mechanics, top players may have certain mechanics that they are known for executing frequently and nearly flawlessly.

skill gap

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David “Deevo” Morrow is well known for his double taps; Francesco “Kuxir97” Cinquemani is well known for his mechanical ability playing off the wall; Jacob “Jacob” McDowell is known for his unusual mechanics; Chris “Dappur” Mendoza and Kyle “Scrub Killa” Robertson are known for their one-on-one abilities, just to name a few.

That being said, you don’t make it the top without being proficient in all mechanical aspects. Pick the “worst” mechanical pro player you can think of, and they’re still miles ahead of the average player.

So, I’m confident in arguing that NA and EU have been relatively equal, in terms of mechanics, since the beginning of the professional Rocket League scene. Decision making, on the other hand, is a different story.

Decision Making

Perhaps the most important aspect of decision making in Rocket League is knowing when and when not to rotate back. For those who don’t know, rotation is when you decide not to pursue the ball, rather opting to fall back and allow a teammate to attack.

It only takes one poor decision regarding rotation before you quickly find your team getting scored on. Watch past seasons of the RLCS and you’ll see EU’s superiority when it comes to rotation. That’s starting to change.

skill gap

Jacob. Image courtesy of

NA teams are refining their rotations, making effective decisions. One team worth taking a look at, regarding rotation, is NRG.

Along with his unusual mechanics, Jacob is known for his sometimes unusual positioning. While that has been advantageous at times, making it difficult for the opposition to predict, it has also been the cause of breaks in NRG’s rotation.

However, as the skill gap tightens and NA teams make increasingly better decisions regarding rotation, Jacob’s unusual positioning makes NRG more dangerous than ever. Without impeccable decision making, unusual positioning is a recipe for breaking rotation and ceding goals. Add in proper decision making and it becomes a recipe for breaking the opponent’s rotation instead.


With the skill gap getting smaller and smaller, there has never been a better time to be a fan of NA Rocket League. Fans should psych themselves up.

A closing skill gap means tighter competition and, in turn, tighter matches. The best Rocket League matches are won by one game. The best Rocket League games are won by one point.

With DreamHack Atlanta beginning today and season four of the RLCS just on the horizon, it promises to be a great few coming months for Rocket League.

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Season four

Season four changes

Three, two, one, go!

Season four of the Rocket League Championship Series kicks off in just a few short weeks. Registration ends August 8, and open qualifiers begin August 12 and 13 for North America and Europe respectively.

Psyonix announced some important new changes to format and qualification, in regards to season four and five. These changes will make Rocket League, as an esport, more accessible to new and long-time viewers.

If you haven’t seen the changes yet, here’s what is happening with NA and EU and why the changes are important. Psyonix has yet to announce information regarding Oceania.

Rocket League Rival Series

Season four

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The Rocket League Rival Series, a second, lower division, makes its debut in season four. This division effectively doubles the number of teams competing. The RLCS and RLRS each feature eight teams per NA and EU regions, raising the total to 32 teams.

Twitch, official partner of the RLCS, will continue to stream RLCS matches on Saturdays and Sundays. RLRS matches will take place on Fridays.

The benefit to fans here should be obvious: more Rocket League for everyone.

Auto-qualification, Promotion/Relegation

Perhaps one of the most difficult things for esports fans to keep up with season to season is rapidly changing team compositions. However, some esports are taking measures to limit or discourage this.

For example, Riot Games is moving away from a promotion/relegation system, opting instead to franchise the North American League of Legends Championship Series. The goal is to have permanent partners in the form of professional gaming organizations.

Season four

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Psyonix, on the other hand, implemented a promotion relegation system into the season four and five format. Instead of permanent partners, a promotion/relegation system focuses on roster consistency.

Psyonix tested this system in season three, relegating five auto-qualification spots for season four. The top two teams from both NA and EU, after the season three regional championships, auto-qualified for season four. These teams include NRG and Rogue for NA and Flipsid3 Tactics and Mock-It for EU. As the current world champions, Team EnVyUs, formerly Northern Gaming, won the fifth auto-qualification spot.

There are two stipulations for retaining auto-qualification: teams must retain two-thirds of their starting roster and they must abide by league rules. Mock-It lost auto-qualification due to not retaining two-thirds of their starting roster.

In a promotion/relegation format, a team’s organization doesn’t affect their auto-qualification.

The RLCS announced they will be expanding this format in the coming seasons. Here’s how the promotion/relegation system looks moving forward.


Twelve season five spots are up for grabs during season four. The six teams that make it to the regional championships in each region auto-qualify for season five.

Four teams in each region will battle for the remaining RLCS slots in a promotion/relegation tournament, set to take place between the regional and world championships. The bottom two teams from the RLCS and the top two teams from the RLRS will compete in a double elimination tournament to determine who qualifies for the remaining RLCS slots in season 5.


Four teams in each region will auto-qualify for the RLRS division of season five. The bottom two teams from each region’s promotion/relegation tournament, along with the third and fourth place teams receive auto-qualification.


There’s a huge benefit to viewers when it comes to a promotion/relegation format. Teams are encouraged to stick together due to the two-thirds roster requirement for auto-qualification. This allows viewers to truly become fans of teams, knowing that the chance of the team entirely splitting up after the season isn’t as high.

Season four

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Along with seeing more stability in top level rosters, we will also have the chance to see the rise of new teams. Four RLRS slots in each region, beginning in season five, go to teams competing in open-qualifiers.

The new format provides some roster stability, while at the same time still offering up and comers an opportunity to break into the professional scene through RLRS open qualifiers.

A franchise system such as the one the NA LCS is working on implementing would be closest to a traditional sport. That being said, the additional stability under the promotion/relegation system should still make Rocket League even more appealing to traditional sports fans than it already is.

We’re one step closer to cementing Rocket League as a top-level esport.

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Rocket League World Cup

Rocket League’s first ever World Cup is set to take place summer 2017. The event is destined to be a huge new milestone for the competitive Rocket League scene, despite anyone’s personal grievances.


The Rocket League World Cup will feature 16 teams, 48 players, each competing for their home countries. Along with featuring countries from the regions included in the Rocket League Championship Series, North America, Europe and Oceania, the tournament will showcase teams from Asia and South America.

League of Rockets is presenting the event and John “JohnnyBoi_i” MacDonald is producing it. In addition to being

Rocket League World Cup

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streamed on the League of Rockets’ Twitch channel, videos of every broadcast will be available at

Organizers haven’t revealed details about the bracket or tournament style yet. There is a $5000 prize pool, which will be divided among the top three teams. The prize pool pales in comparison to the RLCS and only the top three teams will get their hands on any of that money. That being said, the RLCS is a different beast entirely and the prize pool is formidable compared to other Rocket League tournaments. Along with the glory of winning in the name of your country, the prize pool distribution provides all the more reason for teams to put everything into every game.


Of the 16 countries invited to take part in the first Rocket League World Cup, 11 are from EU, two from NA, one from OCE, one from Asia and one from SA. The countries and teams are as follows:


  • Japan: ReaLize, Lime, Nemoto


  • Denmark: Nicolai “Maestro” Bang, Nicolai “Snaski” Vistesen Andersen, Kasper “Pwndx” Nielsen
  • England: David “Deevo” Morrow, Ryan “Doomsee” Graham, Dan “Bluey” Bluett
  • Finland: Joni “JHZER” Humaloja, Joonas “Mognus” Salo, Otto “Metsanauris” Kaipiainen
  • France: Courant “Kaydop” Alexandre, Victor “Fairy Peak” Locquet, Alexandre “Mout” Moutarde
  • Germany: Philip “paschy90” Paschmeyer, Sandro “FreaKii” Holzwarth, Alexander “Sikii” Karelin
  • Italy: Francesco “Kuxir97” Cinquemani, Mx22, darkpier96
  • Netherlands: Remco “Remkoe” den Boer, Jos “ViolentPanda” van Meurs, Niels “Nielskoek” Kok
  • Norway: Marius “gReazymeister” Ranheim, Martin “Sniper” Wulsrød, Tormod “Reganam” Lien
  • Scotland: Mark “Markydooda” Exton, Kyle “Scrub Killa” Robertson, David “Miztik” Lawrie
  • Sweden: Pierre “Turbopolsa” Silfver, Linus “al0t” Mӧllergren, Jesper “Flarke” Johannson
  • Switzerland: Nico “Stocki” Stockenberger, Kevin “Skyline” Carvalho, Oliver “Continuum” Meier


  • Canada: Jacob “JKnaps” Knapman, Mariano “SquishyMuffinz” Arruda, Timi “Timi” Falodun
  • United States: Cameron “Kronovi” Bills, Garrett “GarrettG” Gordon, Jayson “Fireburner” Nunez


  • Australia: Phillip “Dumbo” Donachie, Michael “Bango” Eason, Jonathan “Express” Slade


  • Brazil: Caio “Caio TG1” Vinicius, FirefoxD, Haberkamper


Anyone who has seen them knows videos in the League of Rockets series are filled with theatrics. And I don’t mean to imply any negative connotation when I say ‘theatrics.’

Rocket League World CupWhoever narrates the League of Rockets videos’ videos, going by the name of Sal, uses a voice changer, giving off a movie sounding tone. Add in high quality montages and well-timed background music and noises, and the League of Rockets videos are sure to leave you with goosebumps.

For example, take the Twelve Titans tournament. Rather than broadcasting the tournament live, League of Rockets released a video of the event the next day. Callum “Mega Shogun” Keir and JohnnyBoi_i casted the event, as any Rocket League tournament would be. But there was more to the video than that. It included cutscenes narrated by Sal introducing maps, players and rivalry history. Another noticeable feature was slow motion goal replays, really giving viewers a better look at the play that just previously took place.

While fans can stream the Rocket League World Cup on Twitch, videos of the broadcasts will be available on post air. According to the site, “There will be additional exclusive content only on Bad Panda” as well. If the exclusive content is more of the League of Rockets theatrics, it may even be worth waiting for the video rather than watching the live stream.


Rocket League World Cup

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Head over to Twitter and it isn’t difficult to find some less-than-pleased fans, agitated that their home countries won’t be represented in the first ever Rocket League World Cup. Although it’s easy to understand that sentiment, I implore those fans to look to the future.

This is the first of, hopefully, many Rocket League World Cups to come. So, your country isn’t represented in the first one, then that’s even more reason to support the event. Success of this event may be the catalyst for not only seeing a second World Cup, but an expanded version including more countries.

So, please, put your personal grievances aside and support the first Rocket League World Cup. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want it to be the last.

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Possible EU season four rosters

We’re back with more potential Rocket League rosters you may see showing up to compete in season four of the Rocket League Championship Series. This time we’ll be focusing on Europe.

There are certainly many potential teams we may see coming up in season four. That being said, this guide is focused on potential teams containing players who competed in season three.

If you missed it, you can check out the predictions for NA rosters here.

RLCS season three contenders

Season four will be the first time Rocket League fans will see auto-qualified teams competing in league play. Where North America has two auto-qualified teams, three teams from Europe earned auto-qualification. Although that means one fewer league play slot for EU, there are some stipulations. One team has already lost their auto-qualification, opening up that slot back up.

Along with the auto-qualified RLCS veterans, there will surely be other teams with season three veterans showing up as well.

Auto-qualification was granted to the top two teams in NA and EU during the regional championships of season three. A fifth auto-qualification spot was up for grabs by the team crowned world champions, assuming they weren’t already auto-qualified.

Since the season three world champions, Northern Gaming, didn’t place in the top two during the regional championships, three teams from EU auto-qualified for season four: Northern Gaming, Flipsid3 Tactics and Mock-It eSports EU.

Northern Gaming/Team EnVyUs

This is another team that has competed in all three seasons of the RLCS. Under the name We Dem Girlz, the initial roster consisted of Remco “Remkoe” den Boer, Nicolai “Maestro” Bang and Marius “gReazymeister” Ranheim. This squad was acquired by Northern Gaming during the first season. They came in third at the season one world championships.

Image courtesy of


Between season one and two, gReazymeister left Northern Gaming and David “Miztik” Lawrie joined the team. Again, Northern gaming placed third at the season two World Championships.

By season three, David “Deevo” Morrow replaced Miztik as Northern Gaming’s third roster member. Maestro was unable to attend the season three World Championships, and Pierre “Turbopolsa” Silfver subbed in. The team was finally able to break past third place, becoming the season three World Champions.

Since the end of season three, Remkoe, Maestro and Deevo left Northern Gaming and joined Team EnVyUs. This suggests that there are no plans to change rosters.

Flipsid3 Tactics


Flisid3 Tactics left to right: Kuxir97, gReazymeister, Markydooda. Photo courtesy of

Another veteran team of the RLCS, Flipsid3 Tactics has had only one roster change since season one.


The initial Flipsid3 Tactics roster consisted of Mark “Markydooda” Exton, Francesco “Kuxir97” Cinquemani and Michael “M1k3Rules” Costello. After season one, M1k3Rules left Flipsid3 Tactics to take a break from competitive Rocket League and gReazymeister joined the roster, making up the current roster.

This roster was crowned season two world champions and placed in the fifth-sixth during the season three world champions.

Since season three of the RLCS, Flipsid3 Tactics took first place at DreamHack Summer 2017 in Sweden and doesn’t appear to be planning any roster changes.

Mock-It EU

While the Mock-It organization has been a part of all three seasons of the RLCS, they have had drastically different rosters each season. Season three’s roster consisted of all new players from the previous seasons, including Miztik, Courant “Kaydop” Aledandre and Victor “Fairy Peak” Locquet.

Despite placing first in the season three regional championships and second at the season three World Championships, it appears that Mock-It will be the only team to lose their auto-qualification for season four. Kaydop left Mock-It to join Gale Force eSports, alongside Turbopolsa and Jos “ViolentPanda” van Meurs.

While it is uncertain what team Miztik will be playing for, if any, he is no longer a part of the Mock-It roster. The new roster consists of Fairy Peak, Philip “paschy90” Paschmeyer and Sandro “FreaKii” Holzwarth.

Xedec Nation/Cow Nose

Originally qualifying under the organization Xedec Nation, this team quickly left to reform their Cow Nose. In a Twitlonger, the Xedec Nation manager of the team explained the reason for their departure.

The roster consisted of Niels “Nielskoek” Kok, Hampus “Zensuz” Öberg and Danny “DanzhizzLe” Smol. As of now, it appears that Nielskoek and Zensuz will remain on team Cow Nose. DanzhizzLe, on the other hand, announced his departure from Cow Nose with a Twitlonger shortly after the run at season three of the RLCS came to an end.

The Cow Nose Twitter account lists the team members as “@NielskoekRL, @ZensuzRL and …” suggesting they haven’t locked down a third roster member. As for DanzhizzLe, it seems he has not made any announcements about a future team.

Pocket Aces/Gale Force eSports

Pocket Aces showed up to season three of the RLCS with a strong roster. The team consisted of paschy90, ViolentPanda and Thibault “Chausette45” Grzesiak. During the season they were acquired by Gale Force.

As mentioned above, Mock-It and Gale Force have done a bit of player shuffling since the end of season three. Kaydop left Mock-It, despite having auto-qualification to team up with ViolentPanda on Gale Force. Gale Force later announced the addition of Turbopolsa as their third. On the other hand, paschy90 moved from Gale Force to Mock-It to team up with Fairy Peak and FreaKii. Chausette45’s Twitter name is currently “Chausette45 LFT,” or looking for team.

The Leftovers

The Leftovers left to right: Sikii, Ferra, Snaski. Photo courtesy of

As their name implies, The Leftovers teamed up at the last minute because they weren’t on teams already. Despite that fact, they went on to take third in regionals and fourth at the world championships.

The Leftovers main roster consists of Nicolai “Snaski” Vistesen Andersen, Alexander “Sikii” Karelin and Victor “Ferra” Francal. So far, it does not appear that The Leftovers will be making roster changes.

PENTA Sports

Although PENTA placed 10 in qualifiers, falling short of league play by two slots, they made it to league play on a technicality. The team consisted of FreaKii, Kasper “Pwndx” Nielsen and Danilo “Killerno7”  Silletta.

Initially, ZentoX secured eighth league play slot, however they were disqualified due to Amine “Itachi” Benayachi’s ineligibility. PENTA went on to win a round-robin tournament in order to secure that spot.

After FreaKii made the move to Mock-It, Killerno7 and Pwndx decided to disband. Both Pwndx and Killerno7‘s Twitter accounts list them as looking for a team.

Secrecy/Resonant Esports

Beginning as Secrecy, they were picked up by Resonant during season three. The roster consists of Otto “Metsanauris” Kaipiainen, Joonas “Mognus” Salo and Linus “al0t” Möllegren.

While the roster hasn’t changed, the team name has. After season three they left Resonant and created Element. Shortly after, Element was acquired by Method.

Moving forward

There seems to be some more certainty with potential EU rosters compared to NA ones. There are some players who are LFT, such as Killerno7, Pwndx and Chausette45. That being said, there quite a few rosters which seem to be locked down already.

What other teams do you expect to see in season four of the RLCS? Drop a comment below and let us know.

Tentative/Potential season four teams (with season three contenders)

  • EnVyUs: Remkoe, Maestro, Deevo
  • Flipsid3 Tactics: Kuxir97, Markydooda, gReazymeister
  • Gale Force: ViolentPanda, Kaydop, Turbopolsa
  • The Leftovers: Snaski, Sikii, Ferra
  • Method: Metsanauris, Mognus, al0t
  • Mock-It: Fairy Peak, paschy90, FreaKii

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OWL Contenders Week 5: Finals preview

The finality of finals finally. We made it. Back to the bracket (no more group stages!), eyes on the prize, $25,000 to first place plus an invitation to Season One of Contenders, $10,000 to second and so on. But we don’t know who’s going to be featured on the weekend streams and there are only three matches to be shown nightly. The catch? They’ll be the best teams in those games so it’ll be a good series regardless. Capping it off, every match is a best of five which gives teams a lot more time to feel each other out.

Who’s ready?!

Europe Predictions

Eight teams are ready to annihilate one another for the top spot. Forged in the fire of groups, these eight are eUnited, Movistar Riders, Singulairty, Laser Kittenz, 123, Rest in Pyjamas (NiP), Misfits and Bazooka Puppiez.

eUnited vs Movistar Riders and 123 vs Rest in Pyjamas would be my two must see matches. eUnited has been a force of nature within the European portion of the tournament but Movistar Riders has been resilient, to say the least. Their records combined are nearly identical in groups with only Movistars sporting a loss. Add in that they supplemented their team with Destro and replaced Finnsi, and this would be a show match for sure. At the same time, eUnited losing seems farfetched but they had a rather easy group stage.

eUnited beats Movistar but it will go the distance. Five matches played out to the tune a jumping Winston slamming carts, points, backlines, jams, hoops. Counting out Logix, Cwoosh and Destro for Movistar is harsh but seeing Vallutaja’s Tracer chew up teams match after match begs to temper such enthusiasm.

As for the 123 vs Rest in Pyjamas match, it may be upset city. Pyjamas have been on the major stage a long time. High-risk games where mistakes cost matches, they’ve shown their composure. Remember they were a pro-team until a week ago. They gutted out their matches and fought through groups despite the possible blow to their confidence. The problem is that 123 makes matches look as easy as their name. They play aggressive but have their hand on the shifter, knowing when to reverse when necessary. In the matches that were streamed they showed incredible poise in group fights, a mastery of good dive mechanics. The match may go in 123’s favor but Pyjamas likely wins out in a best of five. For 123 to win out over Pyjamas it will hinge on if Pyjamas runs out of steam. They went the distance getting into the final bracket but maintaining such a push? That’ll be harder than getting there. Sprinting is difficult but there’s a reason tournaments can be called marathons. Well managed tempo for Pyjamas and stifling 123’s Snillo and Mistakes will be the keys to the match.

Laser Kittenz takes out Singularity in a roll because they want to rematch with Misfits. Destiny and magnets are the two strongest forces in the universe and that will win out eventually. Singularity is an amazing team and their matches deserve a real look into.

Misfits handles Bazooka Puppiez and this one is not going to be close by any means. Puppiez is staring down the barrel of Misfits who only want to fight Laser Kittens to the death. Puppiez tied eUnited but ultimately had to make a tiebreaker to win out over Team expert.

That leaves us with eUnited vs Laser Kittens and 123 vs Misfits. That’ll be a hell of a lot of good matches till the end of the evening for the Euro crowd. Everyone gets to see eUnited (with Boombox playing out of his mind hopefully) going ham against the rest of the bracket. 123 surprising the world with their out of the woodwork storyline. I’m sure deep down a rematch between Misfits vs Laser Kittens would arguably be the best possible outcome for their fanbases.

North America Predictions

(Quietly hopes the matches don’t go late. Yep, WOOO!)

Half the teams are breathing a silent relieving sigh. Immortals aren’t in their bracket. FaZe will likely fall to Immortals in a rout but discounting ShaDowBurn, the best Genji in the tournament, seems cruel. FaZe clutched out wins in a ridiculous stacked group. The thing is that meta feels a bit tilted after the Reaper buff and Sombra has been rearing her head in the matches, especially on defensive holds. If FaZe play smart they may take a match off Immortals but their chances are slim.

In the meantime, LG Evil with (Big) Jake who’s Soldier is the stuff of true fear, is matched against Kungarna. You’ll remember Kungarna for robbing every one of their good night’s rest and flipping the table against Cloud9 in the wee hours of a Monday morning street fight. Are upsets on the horizon for Kungarna? LG Evil is an amazing team and deserves their credit but Kungarna showed they talk smack and back it up, which means they deserve the respect as well.

I’d take FNRGFE over Renegades simply over the fact that they survived a group of death for two weeks. They lost three games in a group with Immortals who were nearly perfect. They beat Arc 6 (Yikes) so handily Twitch might have to submit the VOD to the police for abuse. Renegades post a similar record as Immortals but lack the same fatalistic feeling. This would be the match of the day for sure with upsets as a high serving.

Team Liquid vs Envision may not look like much on paper and to be fair, it may be the best match. These two teams will take it to overtime in a battle but I feel Liquid got a pass. They’re not as great as their record and Envision’s isn’t much better in the scope of things. Their group performances look eerily the same, winning close to the same number of maps. The difference is that Envision dealt with LG Evil and Liquid dealt with FaZe who’s not in the same bracket as far as teams go. Liquid wins but it’ll be a coin flip.

That leaves the winners with Immortals, LG Evil (despite Kungarna putting up a hell of a fight), FNRGFE and Liquid. Immortals for LG Evil becomes a ridiculous topic of discussion which deserves an article better written than this author can produce. FNRGFE may well cruise into the finals and get routed but it falls essentially on their ability to beat Renegades and maintain momentum in the win.


This should make for a great weekend of European and North American Overwatch. The tournament thus far faced criticism for some of the wild things that have occurred but has shown tremendous potential to highlight the non-Korean scene. This may be in part to Alex “Gillfrost” Gill and the Carbon series he ran months prior that featured many of these teams. All the same, it’s about the games and the players more than anything. A tournament is just a marquee hanging over a bunch of people doing their best to be the best

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Rocket League’s potential to attract traditional sports fans

In less than two years since its release, Rocket League has blown up as an esport. That being said, there is untapped potential regarding the esport’s audience.

The audience that Rocket League can still, conceivably, reach is that of traditional sports fans. Not just traditional sports fans, but particularly those who haven’t latched on to esports in the past. Rocket League has a somewhat unique dynamic as an esport. This dynamic may pose disadvantages when it comes to attracting fans of other esports, but advantages to drawing fans of traditional sports.


The meta in Rocket League is unlike that of many other popular esports.

In games such as League of Legends and Overwatch, success relies heavily upon the characters players choose. Not just individually, but the team composition as a whole. Characters have specific stats and are effective at countering certain other characters. While Rocket League offers different vehicle body kits, the importance of the car you choose doesn’t compare to the character you choose in other games.

There are several minor attributes your body kit does affect, including hit box and turning ability. They don’t affect top speed, acceleration, jump height or power when hitting the ball, though. Hit box and turning speed are important, but the differences are minor enough that no car has any dominant advantage over others.

Batmobile, image courtesy of

For example, let’s consider two of the most commonly chosen cars among the pros, Octane and the Batmobile. The Batmobile has low height but one of the larger lengths and widths. Octane, on the other hand, has one of the larger heights but is lower in length and width. These hit box differences may make it easier for players to execute certain mechanics, but it won’t guarantee a win or loss depending on your car and your opponent’s car.

Players may find it easier to perform a flick using the Batmobile. For those who don’t know, a flick is when you carry the ball on the hood or roof of your car, jump with the ball still there and then flip the car to launch the ball skyward in a certain direction. The Batmobile may make it easier to perform this mechanic because of its low, flat surface, but it’s by no means impossible to do with Octane.

Vice versa, players may have an easier time popping the ball into the air using Octane. You can pop the ball into the air by touching it just after the ball bounces off the ground and is on its way back up. Octane’s advantage in this maneuver is its height. The ball can be a bit higher up already, and players can still get the touch on it. Again, though, the Batmobile is just as capable – players just have to get to the ball a bit closer to the ground.

Octane, image courtesy of

When it comes to play style, there is the rotation meta. This is less of a meta though, and more of a skill that needs to be mastered in order to truly compete at a high level.

In Rocket League, rotation is the idea that players attempt to make a play on the ball, then fall back allowing their teammates to make the next move. When teams don’t rotate, they often find themselves stuck in their opponent’s half of the pitch, watching as the other team breaks away and scores.

Aside from rotation, there are many different approaches and play styles that teams implement. Some players prefer to send the ball flying towards the opponent’s half and then attempt to set something up for their team once there. Others prefer to slow the pace down, passing the ball or setting something up as they move into the opponent’s half. That being said, one of the most important things players can learn is to adapt their style mid-game to counter that of their opponent’s.


The lack of a true meta around cars may be something other esports fans have a difficult time with. Metas revolving around certain characters in other games provides the audience with something to grab hold of. They can support professionals who main the same character as them, support a team who has a player that is considered to be the best at playing a particular character or they can simply enjoy a certain character’s abilities.

While there are a select few cars that seem to dominate the pro’s choices, such as the Batmobile, Octane and Dominus, any other car is still a viable option.


This same lack of a true character, or in this case car, meta is what makes Rocket League accessible to other viewers. Viewers do not have to worry about why players are choosing certain cars to fully understand what they are seeing.

Rotation is important, but it’s something that viewers can pick up on simply by watching matches. They’ll see teams succeed in rotating back, ready to go on the defensive, or they’ll see teams get scored on due to a mistake in rotation. Since adapting your play style mid-game is vital to success in esports and sports alike, this aspect is something both viewers can relate to.

Fast-paced Ball Sport

Dominus, image courtesy of

Despite the quirky addition of cars that can fly, jump, flip and drive on walls, Rocket League is soccer. This gives it the advantage of being a ball sport, while still being different enough from the actual sport it is mimicking.

It may be difficult to convince a soccer fan to watch FIFA as an esport. The argument can be made as to why you would want to watch someone play soccer on a video game when you can watch the actual sport. Rocket League, however, has the familiarity of soccer, with the added twist of using flying cars to play. This can be a huge draw for traditional sports fans. The same basic idea of soccer is there, making it easy to grasp the concept of what players are trying to do while adding a whole new aspect to how they are trying to do it.


I don’t really see a disadvantage here. Feel free to tell me why I’m wrong in the comments, but this one seems like a win-win to me.


Rocket League has something for everyone. Esports fans get the fantasy aspect that only video games can offer them, through flying cars that perform acrobatic stunts to score soccer goals. Traditional sports fans have a fast-paced ball sport. Fans of both get a combination of the two.

NBC Sports Network

Flying car soccer will hit a television set near you this summer.

In an attempt to break into the expanding esports market, NBC Sports announced they will be hosting a two versus two Rocket League tournament this summer. Post-qualifying matches will be broadcast on the networks regional channels and the grand finals will be broadcast on the network’s national channel, as well as other networks in Europe. On top of this, viewers can stream matches on the NBC Sports app. This is the first time a Rocket League tournament will be broadcast on television.

Image courtesy of


Esports fans, more often than not, watch their favorite games through streaming. It may be difficult to get fans to move from watching streams to watching television broadcasts. While some major streams do contain commercial breaks now, they are often much shorter than commercial breaks on television.

There is also the question of whether two versus two, or doubles, is the right way to go for Rocket League’s first television broadcast. The Rocket League Championship Series pits teams against each other in a standard format, or three versus three. Standard allows players a greater rotation, as one person can push the ball up field to set up a play, the second teammate can position himself to score or make a second pass and the third player is in position to follow up on a pass or start playing defense, if the opposing team puts down their team’s attack. Meanwhile, the first player who made the initial push is already rotating back to a position to either defend or continue the attack.

This is not to say that rotation isn’t equally as important in doubles. It simply means one less player on the team to defend or continue attacking, forcing a team to potentially have to move back on the defensive quicker than they would if they had a third teammate.


By broadcasting this tournament on television, there is potential for new eyes to fall upon Psyonix’s glorious twist on soccer.

Streaming esports requires viewers to know when and where to find the broadcast. At the very least, they have to know where to check, so they can see what is live at the time. There will certainly be Rocket League fans tuning into NBC Sports this August to watch the tournament, but that goes along with knowing when and where to find the esport you want to see.

The advantage with televising this tournament comes in the form of unsuspecting viewers. Traditional sports fans flipping the channel to NBC Sports at the time will still be greeted with a ball sport, but one with a twist. It may catch viewers off guard at first, but that’s a good thing. The strange way of playing soccer has the potential to draw in traditional sports fans that happen across and keep them coming back for more.


Rocket League can potentially draw in traditional sports fans, ones that may not be interested in other esports. While there is a present meta, it’s not nearly as involved or complicated as other esport’s metas can be. At its core, the game is a ball sport. The general point of the game, to score goals on your opponents, will immediately be understood by traditional sports fans. The uniqueness of using flying cars to play soccer adds something new for sports fans. Finally, NBC Sports Network’s television broadcast of a Rocket League tournament will put the esport into the environment of traditional sports fans, providing them the chance to discover the esport and decide for themselves.

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Rocket League: A growing esport

Rocket League as an esport is on the rise.

The game’s second anniversary is just around the corner, bringing with it the beginning of the fifth competitive season. This comes just after the conclusion of the third season of the Rocket League Championship Series, the largest tournament available to professional and non-professional Rocket League players alike.

With this in mind, it’s easy to discern that Psyonix’s hit title will only continue to grow within the esports community, for a number of reasons.

Expanding Mechanics

Since the beginning of Rocket League, players have been working to perfect and expand their in-game mechanics.

Photo courtesy of

During the first season of the RLCS, it was considered nearly impossible to predict and clear the ball as it was bouncing off your team’s backboard. By the beginning of the third season, however, playing the ball off of your opponent’s backboard was no longer as effective as it was not even a year prior. Players learned to predict those bounces and quickly get their cars in the air to clear the ball well away from their goals.

All players know they have the ability to jump and then flip the car in their chosen direction. Over the past two years though, top competitors learned to reset their jump mid-air, by touching all four wheels to the ball or the ceiling. This allows them to take another shot at the ball without ever touching the ground, changing it’s course and throwing off the opponents prediction.

This just scratches the surface of what players have come up with. It seems, so far, that there is no limit to what players can come up with regarding the mechanics and control of their cars.

New and Old Challengers

The third season of the RLCS brought with it some intriguing new challengers. The first two seasons had only been open to North American and European teams. Season three expanded to give the Oceanic region a chance to make their mark on Rocket League history as well.

Despite the expectations of casters and the players from NA and EU, one of these teams, Alpha Sydney, beat Denial Esports in the very first series of the world championships. They then went on to get knocked out of the double-elimination bracket, however, many believed they wouldn’t win a single series.

New challengers showed up within the NA and EU regions as well. Two players largely unknown prior to RLCS season three served important roles in helping their teams make it into the world championships.

Castors dubbed Timi “Timi” Falodun, playing for NA team Selfless esports, the “weekend warrior,” due to only being able to play on weekends. Regardless of this, Selfless Esports was one of the four NA teams to take the stage at The Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles for the RLCS season three world championships.

The second unknown player was Victor “Ferra” Francal, playing for the EU team The Leftovers. Ferra came out in the first week of league play and scored an insane goal, faking out all three players on FlipSid3 Tactics, the season two world champions. The Leftovers went on to take fourth place in the world championships.

Now, consider the recent announcement of the fourth season of the RLCS. While nothing has been announced, yet, regarding the inclusion of Oceanic teams, the number of NA and EU teams that will be included was increased. On top of the eight spots allotted for league play in both regions since season one, there will be a second division in season four. Despite limited details on this second division, we know that there will be room for an additional eight teams in both regions.

The addition of the Oceanic region, along with the mark made by these, as well as other, previously unknown players, were clear indications that it wasn’t too late for players to make their debut in the professional scene. Now, the announcement of a second division for, at least, NA and EU only furthers the suggestion that players can still break into Rocket League esports.

Prize Pools

Finally, let’s take a look at the prize pools over the seasons. Psyonix has been able to vastly increase the prize pools available to these RLCS competitors since the first season. They’ve done this in two major ways.

The Psyonix team regularly adds new cars, decals, rocket trails and other cosmetic changes to the game for a small fee, with a portion of the proceeds going to the funding and prize pools for the RLCS. Since all of these additions have been cosmetic, thus far, players don’t have to worry about a pay-to-win dynamic.

Photo courtesy of

The second way they’ve been able to increase the prize pools is through additional sponsors as the tournaments grow. Twitch, the largest site in the world for streaming games, is an official organizer. Right off the bat, working with Twitch, Psyonix has a competitive edge. Twitch often features live RLCS matches.

The sponsorships continue to grow as well. Old Spice and Brisk were the main sponsors at the beginning of season three. By the time the world championships rolled around, 7-Eleven was a new sponsor and Mobil 1 had become a returning sponsor from previous seasons.

Through these means, the total prize pool rose from $55,000 USD in season one to $300,000 in season three. The prize for being crowned the world champions in season three was $55,000 alone, the amount of the entire prize pool for season one.

It’s reasonable to guess that the prize pool for season four will see its own increase.

Television Broadcast

As of Wednesday, NBC Sports announced their break into esports with a two vs. two Rocket League tournament, with a prize pool of $100,000.

NBC Sports will air post-qualifier matches on regional channels and the grand finals on their national channel. Along with NBC Sports, several networks in other countries will broadcast the grand finals.

This is the first time Rocket League is hitting cable and could be a huge step towards cementing the game’s place within esports. It has the potential to attract new viewers, something vital to the longevity of a game as an esport.

While some may prefer to stream the esports they watch, there are important potential benefits to consider. NBC Sports televising Rocket League is not only a step towards the growth of the game’s esports scene, but another small push forward for epsorts in general. The longer the list of esports titles that are televised the better, in my opinion. I dream of one day going to a sports bar and seeing as many television screens filled with esports as traditional sports.

All things considered, Rocket League doesn’t appear to be going anywhere in the esports community but up. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, grab your favorite gamepad or keyboard and mouse and start practicing.

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Overwatch League Contenders: European Weekend Recap

Never underestimate eUnited or Cyclowns. While playing semi off key, their dive comps both looked very well oiled and extremely dangerous.

European teams have a very strong base in Genji play. Sticky bomb kills going into a three kill was not uncommon but Dragonblades were accounting for most of the deaths in any match, sometimes nanoboosted. Both of these teams played each other off stream on Saturday, with eUnited winning two to one against Cyclowns. eUnited never dropped a match before or after that war with Cyclowns.

Cyclowns went on to crush the Sunday bracket, only getting a serious challenge from the next point. Both teams DPS are the stuff of nightmares and on full display throughout the Saturday and Sunday streams. Highly recommended viewing content for those looking to see great anticipation from Tracers or Genjis.

On Saturday, GamersOrigin lost to Bazooka Puppies but on Sunday stormed through the brackets, ultimately getting second place after losing to Cyclowns. Origin played out of their collective minds throughout Sunday, giving a lot of people the impression that they’re an up and coming team in the European arena. They’ve been around since the beginning of Overwatch. Their two longest tenured players are Hyp, who is captain as well as support, along with Noki, also support.

The casters for Europe are very entertaining. The rapport between the pairs of casters really shows. Erik Lonnquist and Christopher Mykles look to be working through a transition phase from League to Overwatch. You never got an odd vibe from anyone during this section of the tournament. Each pair of casters played off one another, through the blunders and word flubs you see a sense of appreciation for each others company. Blizzard’s picks to commentate are really impressive and give a sense of calm insight and emotional commentary without being too overbearing in either sense.

Things that could definitely use some improvement

The waits between matches almost kill any interest. Some matches take roughly 20 minutes to start, and that 20 minutes is enough to lose any focus one has. This will likely be fixed soon when the next round kicks off next weekend, though. All eight teams will have everything in order before the rounds begin to cut down on wait times. If they’re lacking content between the matches, that’s understandable.

Lack of coverage is another issue. We see a lot of matches scheduled but only half the matches streamed. It’s confusing when someone is looking forward to watching a team only to find out their match is not streamed. Four matches a night with 10 to 20 minutes between each match feels empty.

There’s not much else to gripe about really. The matches are all played online, so pauses are inevitably going to happen. Teams may be a bit late and it may take a bit of time to organize over 750 teams. Getting a controllable bracket can’t be easy and it speaks volumes that Blizzard got this tournament to function as well as it did and still get some coverage on the key matches.

Here’s looking forward to next week when the North American sweet 16 go into the four groups to battle for the top four spots. The round robins will hopefully be getting a lot more coverage than the four matches shown each day so far.

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Halo World Championship Finals Regional Preview: Europe

Three teams will represent Europe in the Halo World Championship Finals next weekend in Burbank, California. FAB Games eSports, Supremacy, and London Conspiracy will venture across the pond to clash with Halo teams from North America, Australia, and Latin America. After a disappointing outing for Europe at the Halo World Championship 2016, these three teams seek to make a statement, and prove that the European scene is not to be taken lightly. This article will focus on each of the European Halo teams, and highlight their respective journeys to the Halo World Championship Finals.

FAB Games eSports

Roster: Brandon “Respectful” Stones, James “Jimbo” Bradbrook, Perry “TuFoxy” Kenyon, Luciano “Mose” Calvanico.

EU Halo veteran Jimbo. Courtesy of Halo Esportspedia

Of the three European teams competing at the HWC Finals, FAB Games eSports’ Halo 5 tenure has certainly been the most impressive. In addition to a dominant first-place finish in the HCS Pro League Fall Season, FAB Games boasts event wins at the HCS Summer Finals, HCS Fall Finals, and Gfinity London 2017. The presence of Halo veterans Jimbo and TuFoxy has helped the team hit their stride. Their chances going into HWC Finals have never looked better.

FAB Games qualified for the HWC Finals after a dominant run at Gfinity London 2017. There, they would crush team Supremacy 4-1 in the Grand Finals, not losing a single series prior. Several consecutive tournament wins, and bearers of the first EU qualifying spot signal that FAB Games is a promising contender for the HWC title. Expect them to enter the HWC Finals with a chip on their shoulder, as the best European team looks to continue their momentum and bring a win back home.



Roster: Norwen “SLG” Le Galloudec, Romain “PuniShR” Leroy, Sonny “Fragxr” Marchaland, Simon “SolaR” Racher.

Hailing from France, and sporting a re-tooled roster going into Gfinity London 2017, Supremacy appeared an unlikely candidate to qualify for the HWC Finals. Only the top two teams from the event would qualify. Supremacy would need to take down successful EU teams like exceL eSports, London Conspiracy, and Team Infused to have a shot.

Supremacy suffered a loss early to the BUK twins’ squad, Pace Making Pandas. Consequently, they would need to construct a herculean tournament run in order to qualify at Gfinity. The team responded with incredible composure, blasting their way through the Losers Bracket. Supremacy met fierce resistance against Team Infused in the Losers Finals. With HWC Finals qualification on the line, Supremacy vanquished Team Infused after a grueling seven-game struggle.

Supremacy would fall to FAB Games eSports 4-1 in the Grand Finals. However, the tenacity of the team left many surprised. Supremacy will need to dig deep to face the competition at the HWC Finals. They have the potential to shock the world if they can make a successful run.


London Conspiracy

London Conspiracy. Courtesy of Gfinity.

Roster: Rob “SeptiQ” Singleton, Andrew “Ramirez” Corrigan, Casey “Lunny” Lunn, Kristopher “Qristola” O’Keefe

Following Gfinity London, two of the three European HWC Finals spots had been claimed. Halo veterans SeptiQ and Ramirez knew they must win the Last Chance Qualifier if they wanted a shot at one million dollars. London Conspiracy finished a disappointing 5th-6th at Gfinity London. This prompted the departure of Ryan “Batchford” Batchelor, and the acquisition of newcomer Qristola. This change appeared beneficial, as London Conspiracy seemed refreshed heading into the LCQ. Incidentally, London Conspiracy would then defeat Batchford’s new team, Best Routers EU, in the Grand Finals 4-1.

As a result of the LCQ win, London Conspiracy holds the final EU spot for the HWC Finals. A relatively new team, London Conspiracy must play lights-out to have a chance at winning their pool, and moving into bracket play at the HWC Finals.



These teams are the best of the best in Europe. But are they skilled enough to beat the dominant North American competition? Only three teams will be representing Europe in the 2017 Halo World Championship, compared to seven from North America. If the European teams want a chance at victory, they seem to have their work cut out for them.

Furthermore, as the time until the HWC Finals grows shorter, anticipation is steadily building. Look for the EU teams to come out swinging while they attempt to topple the competition from around the world. As always, all the action will be streamed live at

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Capcom Cup 2016 Preview: Contenders, Sleepers, and Underdogs

The world of fighting games will come to a stop this week as we focus our attention on the biggest event in Street Fighter: The Capcom Cup. 32 players have qualified from around the globe and will have a shot to take home the $120,000 first place prize this weekend at the esports arena in Santa Ana, CA.

The players qualified in a number of different ways, from taking home first place at a qualifying event or through earning enough points based off a players final placing at a qualifying event. All the hype, all the buildup will come down to a 32-player, double elimination bracket with the players having to win three games out of five in each set. All the action gets started this morning so let’s dive into the contenders –

The Contenders

The obvious name that comes to mind when considering contenders has to be the reigning Evolution Street Fighter V champion in Seonwoo “Infiltration” Lee. The top seed at this event will look to pick up the first Capcom Cup trophy to add to his already impressive SFV resume.


Infiltration, despite having a dominate 2016, is not the favorite heading into this weekend. The two names to watch out for as favorites is America’s own Du “NuckleDu” Dang and China’s Zhoujun “Xiohai” Zeng, both of whom have been the most consistent placers as of late. The two players are seeded inside the top five, but unfortunately these two are slated to meet in winners quarters before facing Infiltration.

NuckleDu is an interesting name to watch considering he’s the best multi-main player and adds such a tough element to fight against with his diversity of characters. He’s also been the most consistent player overall in the past couple of months. How he’ll face up against Xiohai’s Cammy is a completely different story.

Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi, the second overall seed, is another dangerous name in this bracket. Consistently the second best player in SFV’s short life cycle, his Ryu has helped to redefine the character and how it should be played. Outside of one bad tournament at Evo 2016, Tokido hasn’t fallen out of the top-three in any Capcom Cup qualifying tournament.

The big surprise in terms of seeding, Justin Wong, will be playing as the three seed. Justin made sure early on to travel to enough events to rack up qualifying points and it paid off. He faces Japanese legend Naoto Sako In the first round. Wong’s Karin will have to step up against Sako’s interesting play style with Chun-Li to get that first round win and advance deep into bracket.

The last player I think can make a push towards the grand prize is a former Evo champion in Keita “Fuudo” Ai. His talent is undeniable. He’s one of the most explosive players in this bracket and his mix-up game with Mika can throw his opponents for a loop. His side of the bracket sets up nicely for a winners run.

I also want to stress that all 32 players are contenders. They wouldn’t be here if they weren’t. I didn’t even mention some juggernauts like Joe “MOV” Egami or Bruce “Gamerbee” Hsiang. The potential for each of these players is there to make a deep run through bracket.

The Sleepers
The United States somehow managed to sneak eight American players into the Capcom Cup, but those same eight players are capable of doing some serious damage this weekend. The name to look out for here is Kenneth “K-Brad” Bradley. His skill is overwhelming at times if you’re not prepared for his Cammy. He’s been making waves in tournament recently, so look for him to pull some upsets.


The ultimate sleeper in this bracket is none other than the beast himself, Daigo Umehara. It’s no secret he’s struggled to find his footing in SFV, but his calm demeanor and control over his nerves will play a big factor in a tournament of this magnitude. The bracket sets up nicely for him too if he can win some games early on Friday.


A player I almost put in the contenders category because of his upside and experience, Yusuke Momochi. It’s clear Momochi hasn’t fully turned his attention to SFV in 2016, but with this much money on the line we can expect to see a focused Momochi on main stage. Remember, he’s won this event in the past and has shown his pure nerves of steel.

The last two sleeper picks in this event are two Evo champions in Street Fighter IV. Ryota “Kazunoko” Inoue and Olivier “Luffy” Hay are two players that can carry momentum. It all depends if they can get out of the first couple rounds, but with their skill ceilings it’s two players that can’t be slept on.

The Underdogs
It’s going to be real tough for any American born player to make a deep run into the money, but with a biased California crowd cheering for American born players anything is possible. Ryan “Filipino Champ” Ramirez and his unorthodox Dhalsim play, as his entire career has been categorized by, could give players fits. Champ also does a great job of playing off the crowd so getting an early lead and crowd engagement will be key.

Players like Filipino Champ will have to work a little harder with a weaker character, but his play style and unique circumstances could play out in favor of Champ. Kun “Xian” Xian Ho is by no means an underdog as he currently sits as a 13 seed, but his character choice of Ibuki and F.A.N.G. is unique compared to the rest of the fields character choices.

Europe is also a continent that can’t be overlooked with six players in attendance. Ryan Hart, Benjamin “Problem X” Simon, and even one of the most surprising names on this bracket in Arman “Phenom” Hanjani are a threat to win some games. All three of the players mentioned have either beat another top player or even won a qualifying event.

The last two underdogs that needs to be discussed are two top-eight finisher at Evo 2016 and widely considered two of the best players in Japan: Fajimura “Yukadon” Atsushi and Goichi “Go1” Kishida. The two roommates made their characters viable in the early days of SFV and helped pushed the game forward.

Unfortunately for Yukadon, his character isn’t as strong as he was before (Nash) which could hold him back, but I could see another strong showing in America out of him. Go1 isn’t consistent enough to be considered a contender, but his Chun-Li’s undoubtedly the best when he’s on point.

The Bracket
Here’s the full bracket – obviously I didn’t cover every player, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore a player. As I said in this piece, every single player is capable of making a run and that’s what makes the Capcom Cup great.


The hope is one of the American players slips into top 8 on winners side. Nuckle Du has a legit shot to take this event if he plays anything like he has in the past month.

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