predictions

RLCS playoff predictions

League play for season four of the Rocket League Championship Series and Rocket League Rival Series came to an end last weekend for North America and Europe. With that, it’s time to look at predictions for the upcoming promotion/relegation tournament as well as playoff predictions. Here are the RLCS standings for NA and EU after league play:

 

 NA

  1. Cloud9 6-1
  2. G2 Esports 6-1
  3. Ghost 5-2
  4. NRG Esports 4-3
  5. Rogue 3-4
  6. FlyQuest 2-5
  7. Allegiance 1-6
  8. Renegades 1-6

 EU

  1. Method 6-1
  2. PSG eSports 6-1
  3. Gale Force eSports 5-2
  4. Mockit eSports 4-3
  5. exceL 3-4
  6. Flipsid3 Tactics 2-5
  7. Team Envy 2-5
  8. Team Secret 0-7
playoff predictions

Image courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net

Seeds seven and eight for both NA and EU are no longer competing in season four. They are currently in the midst of fighting for the last two seeds moving into season five. The round-robin promotion/relegation tournament is underway. The top two teams from the RLRS in both regions are also competing in said tournament. Those teams include Fibeon and Out of Style for NA, along with Fnatic and The Juicy Kids for EU.

I’ll give you my predictions for the promotion/relegation tournament results before we move onto the rest of season four. In the end, for NA, I’m expecting to see Fibeon and Renegades in season five of the RLCS, with Out of Style remaining in the RLRS and Allegiance moving down to join them. As for EU, I expect to see Fnatic promoted to the RLCS alongside Team Envy retaining their spot, while The Juicy Kids remain where they are and Team Secret is relegated back.

These are certainly the safer predictions when it comes to the promotion/relegation tournament. That being said, they’re safe for a reason. I’ll throw all of you Brandon “Lachinio” Lachin fans a bone and say Out of Style has the potential to come out on top over Renegades, relegating them back to the RLRS.

Now onto the remainder of this season.

NA

The fight for top four in NA was a close one all season. With top two still up for grabs at the start of week five, each of the top four teams had a viable shot at clinching one of those spots. As we now know, Cloud9 and G2 are the teams that managed to pull it off. Cloud9 was no surprise, considering the incredible season they had. I admit, I wasn’t expecting G2 to clinch that other spot.

playoff predictions

Image courtesy of play.esea.net

We’re guaranteed to see Cloud9 and G2 at the world finals this year, but who will the other two NA teams be? Here’s what we’ll see in round one of the NA playoffs: NRG versus Rogue and Ghost versus FlyQuest.

These are certain to be close matches. That being said, my NA playoff predictions are NRG over Rogue and Ghost over FlyQuest. I’m picking NRG over Rogue simply because of the team chemistry here. NRG won the last three NA regional championships and I’m looking to see them pick up number four.

As for Ghost over FlyQuest, the decision is a bit more difficult. FlyQuest looked strong all season, despite ending with a 2-5 record. And let’s not forget Kais “Sadjunior” Zehri made it to every LAN from previous seasons. But, as analyst Michael “Quinn Lobdell” Behrouzi said on RLCS Overtime, there’s a first time for everything. And this might be the first time Sadjunior doesn’t make it to the world championships. I say that because Ghost has looked phenomenal in season four. Despite going in with the number three seed, they could have easily been a top two team.

EU

playoff predictions

Image courtesy of excelesports.com

As we’ve seen all season long, EU is a bit more of an emotional roller coaster for Rocket League fans. Team Envy, formerly Northern Gaming when they won the season three world championships, now sit in the seventh seed. Meaning their season is done. They’re currently fighting for their season five RLCS spot in the promotion/relegation tournament. Gale Force eSports and Flipsid3 Tactics, two other highly anticipated teams at the beginning of season four, are sitting in the number three and six seeds respectively. Needless to say, EU’s had an unexpected season.

That being said, there’s still time for Gale Force and Flipsid3 Tactics, as they look forward to playoffs. Here’s round one of the EU playoffs: Mockit eSports versus exceL and Flipsid3 Tactics versus Gale Force esports.

Now just because Flipsid3 and Gale Force are both looking to keep the dream alive doesn’t mean they’ll both get to. There’s only four EU spots at the world finals, meaning only two up for grabs. One of these two teams’ seasons will come to an end after this weekend.

Here are my EU playoff predictions. ExceL over Mockit eSports and Gale Force over Flipsid3 Tactics, and here’s why.

ExceL had a rough season three, under the name Cow Nose. However, in the off season, the squad dropped Danny “DanzhizzLe” Smol and replaced him with Kasper “Pwndx” Nielsen. They came into season four by securing a spot in qualifiers, and they’ve looked strong ever since.

GFE versus F.3

As for Flipsid3 Tactics and Gale Force eSports, it promises to be nail biter. All six of the players that make up these two starting rosters are veterans of not only the RLCS, but the world championship stage. They’ll all surely be eager to make it back to that stage as well. Flipsid3 Tactics, time and time again, have come up through one loser’s bracket or another to turn their position in a tournament around. They are essentially in that same position now, securing the sixth and final playoff seed. However, I have to give this one to Gale Force.

This Gale Force eSports squad formed after season two. Courant “Kaydop” Alexandre left Mockit eSports after winning the season three regional championships. Had he stayed with Mockit and one other member of that roster from season three, he would have been guaranteed a spot in this season of the RLCS. Despite that, he left to join Jos “ViolentPanda” van Meurs on Gale Force. Their third, Pierre “Turbopolsa” Silfver, has a similar story.

playoff predictions

Image courtesy of @GFEsports Twitter account.

Since then, they’ve been a force to reckon with. Although they had somewhat of a second place curse during the off season, until the NBC Universal Open, they were still coming in at least second consistently. Now they’re looking for yet another first place win in a LAN environment.

So, there you have it, here are the eight NA and EU teams I expect to see in the world championships:

 

 NA

  • Cloud9
  • G2
  • NRG
  • Ghost

 EU

  • Method
  • PSG eSports
  • exceL
  • Gale Force

 



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top two

RLCS: Fighting for top two

This weekend we move into the fifth and final week of North American and European league play for season four of the Rocket League Championship Series and Rocket League Rival Series. As we look ahead, the fight to secure a top two spot is a tight one, especially in North America.

The top six teams in NA and EU RLCS, at the end of league play, qualify for playoffs. Not only that, the top six secure their spot in season five of the RLCS. More importantly, they avoid the stress of facing off in the promotion/relegation tournament to try to remain in the upper division. Most teams are looking to secure a top six spot at this point, but there are a select few still aiming for a higher goal: clinching a top two spot.

As always, before we take a look at what we might see, here’s where the standings are now.

Standings

 

 NA

  1. Cloud9 4-1
  2. Ghost 4-1
  3. G2 Esports 4-1
  4. NRG Esports 4-2
  5. Rogue 3-3
  6. FlyQuest 2-4
  7. Renegades 1-5
  8. Allegiance 0-5

 EU

  1. PSG eSports 6-0
  2. Method 5-1
  3. Gale Force eSports 4-2
  4. exceL 3-2
  5. Mockit eSports 2-3
  6. Team Envy 1-4
  7. Flipsid3 Tactics 1-5
  8. Team Secret 0-5

Top two

top two

Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

While it’s not an achievable goal for some teams at this point, teams at the top of their leaderboards are still aiming for a top two spot. While top six guarantees your spot in playoffs and season five of the RLCS, top two guarantees a trip to the season four world championships.

PSG eSports currently holds the record for the most wins during league play of the RLCS. If they win their match in week five, against Team Envy, they will be the only team to go undefeated in RLCS league play history. Not only that, PSG eSports is the only team to already clinch a top two league play spot.

Although PSG eSports is guaranteed a shot at the world championships, they’re still looking to secure that number one seed moving into the world championships. So, don’t expect this squad to slow down during playoffs.

EU top two teams

Since we already know that PSG eSports has nailed down their top two spot, let’s take a look at the other contenders for EU top two, beginning, of course, with Method.

Method is the most likely team in EU to snag up the other top two position. Sitting at 5-1, their only loss currently is to PSG eSports.

top two

Image courtesy of @Methodgg Twitter account

Heading into week four, Method and PSG eSports were both 4-0. Method won their first match of week four against Mockit eSports, putting them at 5-0 before their match against PSG eSports. They set the record for most wins in league play of the RLCS. However, it was short lived, as the very same day PSG beat Method and exceL to go 6-0 and take that record away.

While Method has been on fire all season, there are two other contenders: Gale Force eSports and exceL.

Gale Force sat at number five in the EU standings heading into week four. They took down Flipsid3 Tactics and Mockit eSports, both in five games, bumping them up to number three in the standings. Gale Force eSports is looking to beat Team Envy, as well as for exceL to beat Method and lose to Mockit eSports, in order to clinch a number two spot.

ExceL, on the other hand, is looking to beat Method and Mockit eSports, with Gale Force eSports losing to Team Envy, in order to clinch the number two spot for themselves.

NA top two teams

top two

Image courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net

The race for top two in NA is much closer than in EU, particularly because no team has clinched one of those spots yet. Right now, Cloud9, Ghost and G2 Esports sit in the top three, respectively. They all have four wins and one loss. Their positioning in the top three, since they are tied in matches, is determined by game win percentage. Along with these three, NRG sits at number four with four wins and two losses.

There are a number of different scenarios for how the fight for top two will play out in week five. Mostly because Ghost faces off against G2 Esports and Cloud9 faces off against NRG. That being said, don’t be surprised when the top two spots come down to a tie breaker, determined by each teams win percentage.

Predictions

Below are my predictions for who will clinch the remaining three top two spots after league play this weekend.

top two

Image courtesy of play.esea.net

For EU, I have to give this one to Method. As mentioned above, they’ve been on fire all season. With only one loss to the currently undefeated PSG eSports, they have what it takes to come out on top over exceL this weekend.

NA is a bit trickier. Here’s what I’d like to see happen: Rogue beats Ghost, G2 beats Allegiance, Ghost beats G2, Cloud9 beats Renegades and NRG beats Cloud9. If I’m doing my math right, this scenario puts the current top four teams all at 5-2, leaving top two entirely up to the game-win percentage.

Now, here’s what the realistic side of me predicts for NA top two: Cloud9 and Ghost.

We will have our answers this weekend in the final week of league play for season four of the RLCS.


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playoffs

RLCS: looking ahead to playoffs

The Rocket League Championship Series and Rocket League Rival Series are past the half-way mark for season four league play. It’s time for a peek at what playoffs may hold in store, as we move into the last two weeks of North American and European league play.

Standings

First and foremost, here are the current standings after week three of league play:

 

 NA

  1. Cloud9 4-1
  2. NRG Esports 3-1
  3. G2 Esports 2-1 (7-5 games)
  4. Ghost 2-1 (6-6 games)
  5. FlyQuest 2-2 (8-8 games)
  6. Rogue 2-2 (8-8 games)
  7. Renegades 1-3
  8. Allegiance 0-5

 EU

  1. Method 4-0 (12-5 games)
  2. PSG eSports 4-0 (12-5 games)
  3. exceL 2-1 (7-3 games)
  4. Mockit eSports 2-1 (8-5 games)
  5. Gale Force eSports 2-2
  6. Flipsid3 Tactics 1-3
  7. Team Envy 1-4
  8. Team Secret 0-5

As I predicted at the beginning of the season, Allegiance and Team Secret, then Emotion and Aeriality, have all but solidified their spots in the bottom two of the RLCS. Both sit at 0-5 with two matches remaining. These teams have their bye weeks coming up in week four and will return for their final matches of league play in week five.

While there is a chance each of these teams can clinch number six and move on to playoffs instead of their promotion/relegation tournaments, it’s not looking promising.

Playoffs Clinched

Three teams, across NA and EU, have already clinched their top six spot, guaranteeing a shot at playoffs as well as auto-qualification for season five of the RLCS. These teams are Cloud9, Method and PSG eSports.

Cloud9

playoffs

Image courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net.

Cloud9 was perhaps the most highly anticipated newcomers to the RLCS this season. The Cloud9 roster consists of Jesus “Gimmick” Parra, Mariano “SquishyMuffinz” Arruda and Kyle “Torment” Storer, and of these three players, Torment is the only one to compete in a previous season of the RLCS.

Despite a lack of prior RLCS experience, Gimmick and, especially, Squishy, came riding into season four on a hype train. Squishy’s been prominent in the community for quite some time through streaming, known for his next-level mechanical skill. That being said, it was at DreamHack Atlanta 2017 that this roster really made a name for themselves.

Playing under the name The Muffin Men, these three showed up to DreamHack Atlanta to take on some of NA and EU’s biggest name teams. They took first place and were quickly picked up by Cloud9. At DreamHack Atlanta and since, Gimmick continues to build the hype around his name, showing the world that he’s ready to take on the top Rocket League players just as much, if not more, than Squishy and Torment.

Method and PSG eSports

Both Method and PSG eSports sit undefeated at the top of the EU leaderboard. With only three games left to play, these two tames have already guaranteed their top six position.

playoffs

Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org.

Many expected both Method and PSG to do relatively well, even considering the stiff competition in EU. They’ve managed to continue to perform above expectations.

Method is the only EU squad from season three of the RLCS to retain their entire starting roster. They’re showing everyone just how deadly that long-term team chemistry can be. PSG, on the other hand, is showing everyone just how deadly an untried roster can be.

Despite their 4-0 standings right now, these teams will finally meet up in week four, guaranteeing an end to at least one of their undefeated seasons. All things considered though, it’s looking more and more promising that these two teams will come out of league play with the number one and two seeds. It’s tough to predict, but I’m expecting to see PSG come out in the number one seed.

Promotion/Relegation

When Psyonix announced the Rocket League Rival Series, they also announced a Promotion/Relegation tournament which will take place the weekend after league play finish. The bottom two teams from each region of the RLCS will play a round-robin style tournament with the top two teams from the RLRS in their respective regions.

To no surprise, as mentioned above, the current bottom teams in NA and EU are Allegiance and Team Secret respectively. Both sitting at 0-5, it’s difficult to imagine either clinching a top six spot at this point. However, the real interest is around who will wind up in seventh for each region. Right now, that’s Renegades for NA and Team EnVy for EU.

Renegades

Although it’s somewhat surprising to see Renegades out of the top six currently, they were never expected to be a top two, or perhaps even top four, team. That being said, they aren’t in deep water just yet.

Renegades, 1-3, sit just behind Rogue, 2-2, on the NA leaderboard. These two teams will come together for a match in week four. On top of playing each other, Renegades are set to play Ghost and Rogue are set to play G2 Esports. If Renegades are able to secure a win against Rogue and Ghost, and Rogue falls to G2, then Renegades could easily move up to that number six spot. This isn’t an unlikely scenario, but Rogue certainly has other plans.

The current number seven seed across the pond faces some tougher odds than the Renegades.

Team EnVy

Team EnVy is the reigning world champion from season three, the roster playing then for Northern Gaming. One of their starters, Nicolai “Maestro” Bang, was unable to attend the world championships and was then on vacation for much of the off season. As a result, Team EnVy dropped Maestro and picked up Marius “gReazymeister” Ranheim, whom they’d spent much of the off season playing with.

playoffs

Image courtesy of @TeamEnVyUs Twitter account.

There were certainly doubts when the iconic Maestro and Remco “Remkoe” den Boer duo split up. That being said, there was also a lot of anticipation for the addition of gReazymeister, as Remkoe, Maestro and gReazy made up the starting Northern Gaming squad in season one of the RLCS.

However, those doubts and concerns are winning out over the anticipation. Team EnVy sits at 1-4. Although they aren’t currently too far behind Flipsid3 Tactics, who sit at 1-3, Team Envy is the one win that Flipsid3 has so far.

Considering Remkoe’s Twitter responses to their losses after week two, I imagine this squad won’t stick together if they’re relegated to the RLRS. Even they do come out on top of Relegation/Promotion tournament, I still expect to see a roster change, since teams are only required to maintain two-thirds of their starting roster to retain auto-qualification.

Be sure to keep checking back for more info on playoffs and the world championships as season four of the RLCS and RLRS draws closer to the end of league play.


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week two

RLCS/RLRS week two recap: North America

It’s time to take a look back at week two of season four of the Rocket League Championship Series and Rocket League Rival Series. From standings and upsets to the drama surrounding the rookie squad Naventic, let’s dive in and find out what’s been happening.

Standings

 

 RLCS

  • Cloud9 3-0
  • NRG Esports 3-1
  • Rogue 2-2
  • G2 Esports 1-0
  • Ghost Gaming 1-0
  • FlyQuest 0-2
  • Renegades 0-2
  • Allegiance 0-3

 RLRS

  • Fibeon 3-0
  • Naventic 2-0
  • Premature Superhero Cops 2-2
  • Radiance 1-0
  • Ambition Esports 0-1
  • Out Of Style 0-1
  • Incognito 0-1
  • Kinematics 0-3

There are some clear leaders in both the RLCS and RLRS at the moment. There’s still plenty of time for some of the lower ranked teams to make their way back, though. G2 Esports and Ghost Gaming, in the RLCS, have only played one series so far. The same goes for Radiance, Ambition Esports, Out Of Style and Incognito in the RLRS.

G2 Esports and Ghost Gaming

week two

Image courtesy of @G2esports Twitter account.

G2 Esports and Ghost Gaming are looking for a strong presence in the coming weeks of the RLCS. Since they’ve each only played one series, their opportunities to rise in the standings are still in front of them. However, they have some major hurdles ahead.

Coming up in week three, both G2 and Ghost are playing the only other undefeated team in NA RLCS, Cloud9. This means at least two of these three teams will no longer be undefeated after week three.

Both teams have a tough week ahead, playing the favorite, for many, to win the NA regional championships. On the other hand, they are also both playing teams that have yet to secure a win this season. All things considered though, I would say G2 has the tougher week three.

The other teams G2 and the Ghost are playing in week three are FlyQuest and Allegiance, respectively.

Flyquest

FlyQuest, despite sitting at 0-2, is a strong team consisting of some of the world’s best players. The lineup consists of Robert “Chrome” Gomez, Gabriel “CorruptedG” Vallozzi and Kais “Sadjunior” Zehri, all of which are RLCS veterans. FlyQuest lost their first series of the season by reverse sweep, in week two, to Rogue. They lost their second series, 3-0, to Cloud9. Although they were reverse swept and then swept in their first two match-ups of the season, they were playing two of the top rated teams North America. Allegiance, on the other hand, is not quite as star-studded as the FlyQuest squad.

Allegiance

Allegiance’s roster, formerly Emotion at the beginning of the season, consists of Braxton “Allushin,” Sebastian “Sea-Bass” Becerra and Ty “TyNotTyler” Helewa. Although Allegiance came barreling through the loser’s bracket of Play-Ins, they weren’t expected to make it to the RLCS.

week two

Image courtesy of halo.esportswikis.com

 

They upset Fibeon, a team expected to make it to the RLCS, during Play-Ins, relegating them to the RLRS and securing their own spot in the RLCS. They’ve yet to prove they belong in the RLCS, sitting at 0-3 so far. On top of this, they’ve only found themselves winning two total games throughout these three series.

So, it’s FlyQuest’s experience, coupled with Allegiance’s inexperience and inability to prove themselves so far that leaves G2 with a more difficult week three, in terms of climbing the leaderboard. Although FlyQuest has yet to prove themselves this season as well, each of the FlyQuest squad members proved they belong in the RLCS during previous seasons.

Upsets

As always, the RLCS is full of upsets so far, just take a look back at this article discussing Play-Ins and the beginning of season four. While Europe has been and continues to be the region of upsets, NA saw it’s first huge upset of season four League Play during week two.

In the second series of the day, NRG Esports faced off against Ghost Gaming. NRG won the previous three NA regional championships and continue to remain one of the top teams in the world, let alone in NA. Ghost Gaming took these goliaths down in a four-game series, however. NRG took the first game in the series but found themselves unable to secure any other wins against the Ghost squad.

Although this is Ghost’s only series so far, and NRG’s only loss so far, Ghost is certainly a team to keep an eye on during the rest of the season and potentially the future. This is no surprise, considering this squad formed for season four is full of RLCS veterans.

Naventic

A matter which is currently still in the process of unfolding…

After week two, Naventic sits just behind Fibeon in the standings at 2-0. Fibeon is currently 3-0. That being said, it’s likely viewers won’t be seeing this Naventic squad anymore during season four, or perhaps ever.

The team consists of Tanner “Dooble” Toupin, Adam “Kerupt” Stankovic and Jay “King Wizard” Kidston. As of Wednesday, Psyonix and the official esports coordinators for the RLCS have not made any official statements, but  here’s what we do know from Kerupt and Naventic’s Twitter accounts.

week two

Image courtesy of @Naventic Twitter account.

Naventic announced Tuesday, via Twitter, that “Kerupt, Dooble and KingWizard will no longer be representing #NaventicRL in the #RLRS Season 4 – more information will be released soon.”

With only this information, it may appear that the esports organization is simply dropping the squad. There’s a bit more, however.

Kerupt offered a bit more information on the topic in a tweet on Tuesday. He stated the team “had to either forfeit ro128 or risk using a sub not on the roster… chose the latter and played with atomic.”

Kerupt has since replied to Twitter users saying that a statement should be out soon regarding the situation.

Since the team used an illegal substitute during the Play-Ins, it’s likely they’ll be banned, for at least the rest of the season, for breaking the rules.

This could create an interesting rest of season for the teams in the RLRS. The Naventic squad was sitting undefeated in the number two spot of the standings. The top two teams from NA RLRS will play the bottom two teams from NA RLCS at the end of League Play in a promotion/relegation tournament. Not only that, the teams in third and fourth keep their spot in the RLRS for season five. Naventic potentially getting banned would, essentially, move everyone up a spot in the standings.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for week two recap of EU.


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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

Image courtesy of steamcardexchange.net

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.

Mechanics

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

Image courtesy of steamtradingcards.wikia.com

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 nrg.gg

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.

Conclusion

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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Featured Image courtesy of amazon.com

Takeaways from day one of DreamHack

Europe is better than North America

Ok yes, we already knew European teams dominate, but they’re all pro players. You have to give them the benefit of the doubt coming into the LAN that they’ll at least be able to compete. Well, maybe from now on we won’t be doing that. Apart from Trifecta, who lost a heartbreaking game two versus NRG (I think. RIP stream) none of the other two North American squads even put up a fight.

Games one and two between Trifecta and NRG were exactly what fans of the SPL were hoping for. Trifecta put on a show in the first game and was able to take it from the defending world champs. Then NRG showed why they’re so good, and climbed back from a 15k gold deficit to win game two and force a third game. This is where Europe began to steamroll the North American squads.

In seven total games played between the regions, NA won one time. Spacestation Gaming, the team that most people pegged as the saviors for NA, dropped their first two games relatively easily against the 7th seeded Team Rival. Not exactly what you would expect out of the top NA team. Then Luminosity gaming followed up with a disappointing performance of their own, although they were playing Obey, so any team could lose 2-0 here and we wouldn’t be terribly surprised.

Takeaways

Photo by www.smitefire.com

Resurgence of Odin

Odin hasn’t been a top pick in current meta. Osiris, one of the most popular gods, has a passive that completely counters Odin’s ult. That didn’t stop Ismael “KikiSoCheeky” Torres from locking in the Odin directly against the Osiris. And then he proceeded to be the biggest pain in the neck to the squad of NRG. Kiki was on the Odin in both games one and two, where he posted a slash line of 5/0/16 and 5/2/14 respectively. This led to NRG banning the Odin away in game three.

Team Rival then banned Odin away from Spacestation Gaming in game one of their set before their jungler, Aleksandar “IceIceBaby” Zahariev, pulled it out in game two. He completely controlled the jungle, dominating on the warrior for a 7/2/4 slash line, leading his team to a round one victory. The next we saw of the Odin jungle was the very next game, where Benjamin “CaptainTwig” Knight, of Obey Alliance, showed his prowess on the God, putting up a 5/1/13 score, prompting Luminosity to ban it away in the second game.

Odin brings a lot of early game aggression to the table, and that momentum can be carried late into the game in this meta. That coupled with his ultimate, which forces the enemy team to get the Phantom Veil Relic in place of something else, really shows why Odin can be a force. We also saw his ultimate used as a disengage both offensively and defensively, both for escapes and protecting objectives on the map.


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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

 

Possible NA Season Four Rosters

It’s been just under a month since the season three finale of the Rocket League Championship Series. Already players are hard at work changing organizations, building new rosters, practicing and competing in smaller tournaments.

This guide is an attempt to help Rocket League fans keep track of the scene’s ever-changing teams and offer potential team compositions for the coming fourth season of the RLCS.

RLCS Season Three Contenders

As with previous seasons, season three of the RLCS allotted eight league play slots for North American teams and European teams. In addition, the top two teams competing in the Throwdown Rocket League Oceanic Championship made it into the season three RLCS world championships. This was the first time the RLCS included teams from the OCE region.

The top two teams from both the NA and EU regions, along with the world champions, received auto-qualification for season four. Season four will be the first season in which teams are auto-qualified for league play. However, these teams must retain two-thirds of their season three roster in order to keep their auto-qualification.

Auto-Qualified Teams

Two NA teams are auto-qualified for season 4. These teams are NRG and Rogue.

NRG

NRG left to right: GarretG, Jacob, Fireburner. Photo courtesy of NRG Instagram (nrggram)

NRG’s Rocket League team consists of Jayson “Fireburner” Nunez, Jacob “Jacob” McDowell and Garrett “GarrettG” Gordon. Beginning under the name Kings of Urban, Jacob and Fireburner have been teammates since the first season of the RLCS. With Kais “Sadjunior” Zehri as their third roster member during the first two seasons, this squad won both regional championships.

Despite winning the first two NA regional championships, this squad was unable to place higher than fifth place at the world championships. Cut to GarrettG replacing Sadjunior. The updated NRG squad became three-time regional champions and placed third at the world championships, higher than they had before.

With this current squad taking second place at the first tournament of the 7-Eleven Summer Series presented by Brisk, it doesn’t appear that they’ll be changing their roster any time soon.

Rogue left to right: Sizz, Turtle, Matt. Photo courtesy of rocketleague.com

Atelier/Rogue

Beginning season three under the name Atelier, Emiliano “Sizz” Benny, Matt “Matt” Dixon and Isaac “Turtle” App made quite a mark on the NA region.

After placing second in the regional championships, Rogue acquired Atelier. Rogue went on to take the fifth-sixth slot at the world championships.

Travelling to Sweden for DreamHack Summer 2017, Rogue placed in the third-fourth slot. There are no signs of any roster changes as of yet.

 

Other Season Three Contenders

Of the six other teams that participated in season 3 of the RLCS, there is a mix of roster changes, continuing rosters and disbands. Here’s what we know so far.

Denial Esports

Denial’s season three team consisted of Treyven “Lethamyr” Robitaille, Gabriel “CorruptedG” Vallozzi and Sadjunior. Denial placed in the seventh-eighth slot at the season three world championships.

While there doesn’t appear to be any drastic changes to Denial’s roster so far, fans did see a different starting lineup during the first tournament of the 7-Eleven Summer Series. Sadjunior was moved to a substitute position and Jason “Klassux” Klass took over the third starting position. They were eliminated by Take 3 in the first round of this single-elimination tournament.

Nothing is official, but the addition of Klassux to Denial would create a team with a strong starting three and an equally strong substitute.

G2 Esports

G2, Photo courtesy of g2esports.com

As an organization, G2, has been active in the RLCS since season one. That being said, Cameron “Kronovi” Bills is the only remaining member from the initial team, who were crowned the first world champions of the RLCS.

After failing to qualify for the world championships in season two, G2 saw it’s first roster change. Ted “0ver Zer0” Keil retired and Brandon “Lachinio” Lachin left to help form Iris.

In season three, G2 and Kronovi came back to the RLCS with Dillon “Rizzo” Rizzo and Jacob “JKnaps” Knapman on the roster.

Despite not making it to worlds again in season three, the G2 roster has remained so far. In fact, the team took first place at the first tournament of the 7-Eleven Summer Series, beating NRG 4-0 in the finals.

When asked about season 4 during an interview on RLCS Overtime, Kronovi said “it’s either third time’s the charm if I make it, or three strikes you’re out if I fail again.” Continuing with this roster could be the resurrection G2 needs or the end of Kronovi, the mountain himself.

Genesis

Genesis, during season 3, consisted of Klassux, Trevor “Insolences” Carmody and Robert “Chrome” Gomez. They placed in the fifth-sixth slot of season three league play, falling just short of qualifying for the world championships.

Genesis reportedly had some teammate conflict throughout the season. Klassux tweeted a screenshot of an argument between himself and Insolences, which took place during season 3. This is, supposedly, just one of several problems the Genesis teammates had.

Chrome left Genesis and played for Take 3 during the first tournament of the 7-Eleven Summer Series. As mentioned above, Klassux played for Denial during the same tournament. As for Insolences, he tweeted about his uncertainty of whether or not to continue with competitive Rocket League. This came shortly after Genesis failed to qualify for the season three world championships.

Although nothing is certain at this point, it will be interesting to see where these players end up.

Selfless Gaming left to right: Mijo, Timi, Dappur. Photo courtesy of twitter.com/selflessrl

Selfless Gaming

Selfless took season three by storm. The roster consisted of Chris “Dappur” Mendoza, Timi “Timi” Falodun, Jesus “Mijo” Gutierrez and Braden “Pluto” Schenetzki. Pluto subbed in for Dappur during day two of the season three world championships.

It’s uncertain what will happen with this roster. All four of these players were involved with the first tournament of the 7-Eleven Summer Series but none under the Selfless name. Timi played with Ohana. Despite suggestions that Mijo is retired, Ohana listed him as a sub. Pluto played for Splyce, alongside Jaime “Karma” Bickford and Matthew “Satthew” Ackerman. Finally, Dappur played for The Muffin Men, along with Mariano “SquishyMuffinz” Arruda and Kyle “Torment” Storer.

Ohana was eliminated in the first round by G2, Splyce was eliminated in the first round by The Muffin Men and The Muffin Men were eliminated in the second round by G2.

Radiance/SetToDestroyX

Joshua “Lemonpuppy” Wright, Michael “Memory” M. and Eric “Halcyon” R. entered season three of the RLCS under the name Radiance. They were quickly acquired by SetToDestroyX.

After coming in last during the regular season, SetToDestroyX may be making some changes to the roster. Showing up at the 7-Eleven Summer Series, the roster consisted of Lemonpuppy, Coleman “ColemanA” Arehart and Matt “Loomin” Laymin. They were eliminated in the first round by NRG.

It’s unclear what the official roster will be come season four of the RLCS.

Take 3

Take 3 made their debut in the RLCS with a roster consisting of Rizzo, Insolences and Christopher “Zanejackey” Jacobs. Although this squad came in fourth at the season two world championships, Rizzo left to join G2 and Insolences joined Genesis.

Adam “Espeon” Barth and Vincent “Vince” Viani joined to fill the open slots for season three. They came in seventh.

Take 3 showed up to tournament one of the 7-Eleven Summer Series with a slightly different roster. Chrome took over Espeon’s position.

One notable thing about this change is Espeon’s presence on the tournament’s analyst desk. Espeon may be moving towards a caster/analyst role and out of a player role.

Moving Forward

Registration for season four of the RLCS has not begun yet and, as such, there is still plenty of time roster changes and new teams to form. Teams are constantly changing and disbanding as players seek to rise to the top and dominate the competition. Below is the potential/tentative list of teams that you can expect to see competing for a spot in season four.

These are just teams consisting of contenders from season three of the RLCS. Expect to see other players rise up for their shot at glory. You can catch a glimpse of some of these other teams by tuning in to the NA Nexus Gaming Summer Invitational, beginning Saturday, July 1.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for part two, potential EU teams.

Tentative/Potential Season Four Teams (with season three contenders)

  • Denial: Lethamyr, CorruptedG, Sadjunior, Klassux
  • G2: Kronovi, Rizzo, JKnaps
  • NRG (auto-qualified): Jacob, Fireburner, GarretG
  • Ohana: Timi, Moses, Gimmick
  • Rogue (auto-qualified): Matt, Sizz, Turtle
  • SetToDestroyX: Lemonpuppy, ColemanA, Loomin
  • Splyce: Karma, Satthew, Pluto
  • Take 3: Zanejackey, Vince, Chrome
  • The Muffin Men: Dappur, SquishyMuffinz, Torment

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3 takeaways from the SPL Summer Split before DreamHack

There’s only a week left in the SPL before we know all the teams qualified for DreamHack. We’ve seen a lot of good Smite played, but here are a few things we’ve learned:

Europe keeps getting better

During the Spring Split, we saw the dominance of Obey Alliance. They stepped up and became Europe’s best team, followed closely by NRG and Dignitas. This split, we have seen Dignitas take the lead in the standings, and not only be the first team to qualify for DreamHack, but already clinch the 1st seed out of Europe. We’ve also seen NRG split with the mighty Dignitas squad, and Obey alliance split with NRG. Rival has continued to show they’re a top team in the world and have pulled a split with Obey themselves.

Not only have the top teams performed, we’ve seen the bottom teams show they’re capable as well. Eanix have put themselves in a decent position, with a chance to make DreamHack if they can pull off a 2-0 against NRG and if Elevate manages to split with Rival. Elevate, despite losing their star jungler, has shown that they’re still not a push over and are capable themselves. Burrito, having lost all 6 sets they’ve played, has still shown that the ability is there for them. They’ve taken a lead against many of the EU teams at some point, and with more SPL experience, can learn to hold and grow that lead into wins.

The most intriguing thing in EU right now just may be The Papis. After trying for so long to break into the SPL, they’ve finally done it and have shown they deserve to be there. Not quite with their record, but with some of their performances. Typically you’ll see the bottom two teams only pull points off each other out of Europe, but not for The Papis. They’ve taken splits from Elevate, as well as Rival, a team looking poised to make a run into DreamHack. With some more SPL experience, The Papis may be the new EU powerhouse.

North America is still a mess

I mean that in the best possible way: North American is still a mess. Coming into Sunday of Week 4, there was a grand total of zero teams qualified for DreamHack. After Sunday, there are still zero teams qualified. Without comparing them directly to EU, it shows just how deep the talent pool in North America is. Anybody could show up and beat anybody on a daily basis. It’s good for competition, and it’s good for the SPL.

Luminosity gaming started the split appearing to be the lone team on top of North America, but as of late the rest of the pack has caught up. After Luminosity there’s four strong teams with Allegiance, Spacestation, Trifecta, and eUnited all fighting for the three DreamHack spots. Each team has had their moment of pure dominance during the Spring Split, and each team has looked like the best team in NA. Week 5 is going to be insane and with five teams fighting for the three spots, we’re in for a show.

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

The production of the streams has improved

It’s not directly related to the players or teams, but it’s still important if the SPL wants to compete with the big esports. I wrote an article a little while back, detailing how Thursday Night Smite could be a big deal for the SPL. Whether or not Hi-Rez saw it, or at least saw the feedback from it, they’ve improved in areas they needed to.

They have increased coverage of the games when the time allows it, going into detail on player match ups and lane match ups. They’ve focused on recapping the game, and taking a look at where some things went wrong or right for teams, as well as in depth analysis of picks and bans both before and after games. Hi-Rez has always done well with interviewing players after games, but they’ve seemed to even improve on that.

The Summer Split has been a lot of fun for SPL fans, and Week 5 is going to be crazy. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out before we head to DreamHack.


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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Peacemaker: A misfit among coaches

Luis “peacemaker” Tadeu has been a coach for many teams, but in such a short amount of time. This has caused controversy, but on the other side of the coin has caused many to respect him. Today, I’m going to detail his journey as a coach and how he got to where he is today.

Tempo Storm/Games Academy

Peacemaker started his journey as a coach in Games Academy. Although, not really given any recognition until later into his time with Tempo Storm, he had been the in-game-leader of the team since being added.

Photo by: hltv.org

Having a huge impact in the North American scene as well as their entrance onto the international stage, peacemaker led the Brazilian team to the top of the rankings in NA. Before this, the only time we heard of them was when they took a map off of Cloud9 at the RGN Pro Series LAN back in November of 2015. The next time we heard of them was when Luminosity took Lincoln “fnx” Lau and Epitácio “TACO” de Melo from Games Academy, leaving them with Ricardo “boltz” Prass who later became their star player.

After qualifying for the MLG Major Qualifier over Winterfox, GA were picked up by Tempo Storm, taking peacemaker with them. From this point, Tempo Storm was able to make the quarterfinals of IEM Katowice 2016. They then won the CEVO Gfinity Pro-League Season 9 Finals later on against the Danish SK Gaming. 

A week after winning the CEVO LAN, Tempo Storm dropped peacemaker from their lineup. Most people thought that we wouldn’t be seeing much of peacemaker on a non Brazilian team.

Team Liquid

Six days after being dropped by Tempo Storm, Liquid picked up peacemaker as their new coach. Mind you, this isn’t during the time they had their lineup with Oleksandr “simple” Kostyliev and Josh “jdm64” Marzano. This was Liquid’s lineup with a dysfunctional Kenneth “Koosta” Suen and misplaced Eric “adreN” Hoag.

Joining Liquid, peacemaker had a tough task in front of him. A week after his addition, his team had to play ELEAGUE Season One. In their group was LG/SK, Cloud9, and Renegades. They left Atlanta that week with zero maps won. Coming close on some maps, but otherwise being blown out of the water. This is where peacemaker learned how much work he had to do. ELEAGUE was the only LAN he coached while Koosta and adreN were on the squad.

Two weeks before the ECS Season One finals, Liquid announced that they would be playing with jdm and s1mple at ECS and ESL One Cologne 2016. They also announced that s1mple is only standing in, and that they are picking up a rifler for after Cologne. This player was later revealed to be Jacob “Pimp” Winneche. With this lineup, peacemaker had the best North American AWPer, one one of the best players in the world and one of the best in North America.

Photo by: hltv.org

Coming out of ECS, Liquid had flashes of brilliance, but there were still issues that needed to be worked on. Leading into Cologne, Liquid had a bootcamp where peacemaker was able to work with the team. Contrast to only having less than two weeks to prepare for ECS, peacemaker had more time on top of that for Cologne. Their result speaks for itself. The time and effort put into the bootcamp was used well, giving them the strategies and power to make the finals of a Major.

After the Major and when they finally had Pimp on their lineup, Valve banned coaches from talking during a round. This was not only a huge blow to the whole scene, this was a massive step back for Liquid. They lost their only in-game-leader, and leader in general. This shone brightly from the time of the announcement to the end of peacemaker’s time in Liquid.

Liquid would only attend one more LAN until peacemaker left; while they had a decent placing at ESL One New York, everything else around the team was a pile of crap. They failed to qualify for ELEAGUE Season Two, losing a Bo3 to Echo Fox. Along with that they played pretty bad in EPL’s 4th season, only qualifying due to the fact that Renegades couldn’t attend the finals. Shortly after EPL ended, peacemaker had left the team on his own terms.

OpTic Gaming

When Spencer “Hiko” Martin was announced to be playing for OpTic as a stand-in, the same was the case for peacemaker in the coaching position. Almost immediately, OpTic played Dreamhack Masters Las Vegas. While they did have a decent start to the tournament, upsetting North, they faltered and ended up losing out in the group stage. While many, myself included, gave the team the benefit of the doubt as they didn’t have long to prepare, they didn’t show much anywhere else even a while after the event.

Photo by: hltv.org

OpTic’s second LAN under peacemaker was IEM Katowice 2017, an event where peacemaker saw his first success a year prior. This year, it was the complete opposite. OpTic ended the tournament 0-5, not winning a single map in the group stage.

Almost two weeks after Katowice, peacemaker was cut from OpTic. It was announced that the players just didn’t like the style that peacemaker used.

Misfits

Four days after the entrance of their French duo, peacemaker joined the team as their Head Coach. His first long term team with a proper leader, Sean “sgares” Gares. While in the online season of EPL, peacemaker wasn’t able to make much impact as the season was almost over. But, Misfits were able to participate in qualifiers for some LANs.

They were able to qualify for Dreamhack Tours and the Americas Minor. But, they fell trying to qualify for Dreamhack Summer and ESL One Cologne. Qualifying for Tours was definitely a good thing for them though, as François “AmeNEk” Delauney and David “devoduvek” Dobrosavljevic were able to play on home soil.

Photo by: hltv.org

Coming in to Dreamhack Tours, Misfits fell in their first match to Natus Vincere. But on the second day, Misfits came back swinging. Upsetting both Heroic and Na’Vi in Bo3s to make the semifinals against Hellraisers, who they fell against. At this event, whether it was a joint effort from peacemaker and Sean, or just the sheer firepower from Shahzeb “Shahzam” Khan, this lineup was working for peacemaker.

The weeks leading into the Americas Minor was rough for Misfits. Not only was Sean unable to attend due to his wedding, Misfits benched Shahzam the weekend before the event. This was an issue, a big one. Misfits already lost their in-game-leader for the event, and now their best player has been benched. Immediately the community came to blame peacemaker for the decision. While the public only knows that Shahzam was benched due to no commitment to a bootcamp. Speaking to peacemaker himself, I was also told there were other internal issues surrounding Shahzam.

Immediately the community came to hate and blame peacemaker for the decision to bench Shahzam. Him saying that it wasn’t only his decision fueled the fire even more. Since then, the situation has been solved.

Originally I had said that peacemaker had lost his position as Head Coach, which is wrong. Peacemaker has corrected me and told me that he is still the Head Coach of the team. Making note that tweet from Misfit’s owner was badly worded.

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Smite Pro League: Masters LAN Review

The Smite Masters LAN was yet another successful tournament for the Smite Pro League. Before the LAN, I posed some questions and pointed out a few things to watch for during the LAN. With the way things played out, we received our answers and they’ve left us with some interesting thoughts for the upcoming Summer Split.

Which Favorite Will be the First to Fall?

Team Eager and Obey Alliance were the top seeds coming into the Masters LAN. Based on the way the seeding worked out, the team most likely to fall first was Obey Alliance.

They got matched up with NRG Esports in their first set, and that was followed with Team Rival. Both of these sets were taken to the final game, one best of three, the other best of five, with Obey miraculously coming out on top.

Eager had the easier road. They wound up facing the team from Brazil, Black Dragons, in their first set. This was one that everyone had going to Eager in a 2-0 sweep. Black Dragons showed that the other countries aren’t as far off of NA as we thought, and that they should be taken seriously. The wound up pushing Eager to the limit and forced a game three before ultimately falling to the NA champs.

The next set for Eager also took three games, just maybe not the way they wanted. Their next matchup was with Team Dignitas from EU, in a best of five with the winner going to the Masters Final. Eager put Cody “djpernicus” Tyson on Guan Yu in the jungle for the first two games, and it resulted in an embarrassing exit for the favorites out of North America.

Will NRG Bounce Back?

The short answer is, well, no. Technically they were out in the best of eight round and accomplished nothing.

The long answer is they never really went anywhere to begin with. They played the LG Dire Wolves from the Oceania Pro League in their first set, a best of three. The first game was a shocker for most people watching. The Dire Wolves came to the 2017 Smite World Championship and laid an egg. They didn’t really impress anyone and walked away without a win. So with them facing NRG in their first set, we expected more of the same. What we got was a very close first game, with it looking like DW had a shot of toppling the World Champions. That didn’t happen, however, and NRG asserted their dominance in the second game without having a single death.

NRG’s second set was a rematch of the 2017 World Championship vs Obey Alliance. This was one of the best sets from the weekend and featured a game one where NRG looked like they were going to completely stomp anyone they were up against. NRG unfortunately dropped games two and three and were out of the tournament on just the second day, but we found our answer as to whether NRG had gotten worse or not: Everyone from EU has just gotten that much better and are able to compete with anyone they’re up against. Which leads us to our next question.

Photo By: Hi-Rez Studios

Who Will Win the Region War?

EU. I don’t even know what else to say about this. North America was completely dominated by the teams from Europe to the point where it was a meme for the rest of the weekend.

Team Rival’s win at the Gauntlet was not a fluke, these guys are the real deal. Team Dignitas are absolutely the “Super Team” that they were supposed to be when their roster was announced. Obey Alliance has taken over as the number one team in not just Europe, but the world. And let’s not forget NRG Esports, who could have gone just as far in the tournament as any of the other teams had they not been matched up with the champs in their second set.

What we learned from this is that NA has some work to do. EU appeared to be a step ahead of all the teams from NA with everything from Picks and Bans, to objective control. North America was embarrassed, plain and simple. Hopefully for the sake of the rivalry they can pick things up for the upcoming Summer Split, and put on a strong performance at Dreamhack.


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Featured Photo By: Obey Alliance

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