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Mixed Bag: The Best and Worst from Each NA RLCS Team in Week 2

RLCS Week 2

No game of Rocket League is perfect. Each team will make any number of mistakes, even in total domination of their opponents.

That’s what this series is about. It’s a series of video clips highlighting one good moment and one bad moment for each Rocket League Championship Series team from North America. It’s pretty self-explanatory so let’s just hop right into it.

1. NRG Esports (3-0, 9-1)

The Good: NRG look like the best team in the region by a decent margin. They swept Birds and G2 Esports and didn’t really break a sweat in either series. Their transition passing has been very impressive, but this absurd punish by Garrett “GarrettG” Gordon stands out:

Raul “Roll Dizz” Diaz even puts that ball into a decent area, but even GarrettG’s whiffs end up being chances. The mechanical efficiency and power of the shot off the corner is really impressive from Garrett. NRG will punish even the slightest mistakes.

The Bad: Not much to point out in terms of the bad for NRG. Birds got outscored 10-3 by NRG, and even after G2 took a 2-0 lead in Game 1, NRG looked unstoppable. G2 found a lot of success off of kickoffs in Game 1.

Jacob “JKnaps” Knapman gives Justin “JSTN” Morales no space and he gets tackled in his own box. NRG looked incredible on Saturday, but Vitality found a lot of success on kickoffs at the Season 7 World Championship, so NRG should try and lock those down if possible.

2. Ghost Gaming (2-1, 6-4)

The Good: Ghost sit in second place right now because of their decision making. Braxton “Allushin” Lagarec looks like he’s at pique performance right now. Michael “Memory” Moss bullied Rogue with bumps and demos all series long. Massimo “Atomic” Franceschi beats out more experienced players with ease. They’re playing with unreal confidence right now, as evidenced by the way Allushin destroys the Rogue defense here:

The patience to walk past everyone and use the wall to find Atomic is top class from Allushin. He’s really found his footing as an RLCS player and sits third in NA in GPG with 1.0.

The Bad: Again, not much bad to say about Ghost. They clobbered Rogue into submission with great defense and lightning-fast transitions on to offense. Rogue only led the series for seven seconds. It was total domination, so no clip necessary. They’ll be easier to judge next week when they take on NRG.

3. Pittsburgh Knights (2-1, 7-5)

The Good: The stars aligned nicely for Pittsburgh in this one. The Knights went full blitzkrieg on Cloud9 and forced them into their first Week 2 loss in history. Slater “retals” Thomas and Jirair “Gyro” Papazian were everywhere, but this was nothing new. What set them apart from the rest of their promoted Rival Series compatriots was their goal-line defense:

The final shot from Mariano “Squishy” Arruda is the kind he’s been scoring at zero seconds for eons, but Pittsburgh shut him down. It’s the exact kind of moment that forces inexperienced teams to crumble, but they didn’t.

The Bad: Cloud9 boxed the Knights in during Game 1. The blitzkrieg style doesn’t work when you can’t get past midfield. Squishy shut them down in the corner and scored far too easily here:

Retals is in a very tough spot, and Gyro and Nick “mist” Costello couldn’t get the ball upfield. It was a largely impressive performance for Pittsburgh, but they need to find creative ways to break out of their own half when they’re pinned in.

4. Cloud9 (1-1, 5-3)

The Good: Even when Cloud9 play poorly they find their way to the highlight reel. This one-two from Jesus “Gimmick” Parra to Squishy and back to Gimmick is world-class:

The Bad: Cloud9 could not withstand Pittsburgh’s pressure. They started flying all over the place trying to get challenges in but couldn’t clear the ball past midfield. A demo gives Retals some space here, but his initial shot commits Squishy and Gimmick, then Gimmick bumps Torment out of position and they concede. Surprisingly sloppy from Cloud9 here:

The Season 6 World Champions will be fine, but they still have G2 and NRG on the schedule.

5. G2 Esports (1-1, 3-4)

The Good: Really the first two and a half minutes against NRG were enticing for G2. They had NRG in their own half often and stole all their boost. The pressure kept mounting, and eventually, it burst.

The Bad: NRG didn’t even flinch at G2’s attacks after they settled in. Every pass was blocked, and NRG shut them out in Games 2 and 3. They’ll have to take a long look in the mirror. They live and die with offensive pressure, so when Dillon “Rizzo” Rizzo gets caught out, they concede. JKnaps and Reed “Chicago” Wilen are so far forward here, and GarrettG makes easy work of Rizzo on the way to an NRG goal.

When Rizzo is all the way back like he is at the start of the clip, the onslaught can happen, but when he gets sucked forward his teammates don’t have nearly enough time to get back. NRG exploited them in transition.

6. Birds (1-2, 4-7)

The Good: There have been plenty of teams destined for relegation who have thrown off fans of their scent with an early-season win over a bad team. Spacestation Gaming lost the series more than Birds won it, but the rookies deserve credit as well. Jackson “ayjacks” Carter is very fast and uses his speed to make plays like these:

 

Ayjacks makes a great save before a phonebooth redirect gives him the bookends save to score. A fantastic pass from Colby “Hockser” James as well.

The Bad: NRG ran circles around them, but there’s no shame in that. Sometimes ayjacks’ speed is too much for his own good and he gets pulled too far forward and sets up the opposing team with easy goals. Here’s an example against NRG:

Another couple of wins and they’ll avoid the Promotion Playoff, but Ayjacks decision making will prove key. They gave NRG so much space that they were going for airdribble passes to try and pinch the ball into the net like it was ranked or something. Birds need to get faster challenges.

7. Spacestation Gaming (0-2, 2-6)

The Good and the Bad: It’s hard to find much good after losing to a team most everyone thought wouldn’t win a series this season, but alas. This play personifies SSG’s struggles on Saturday:

It came so early on, too. Tshaka “Arsenal” Taylor plays a perfect pass to Alexandre “AxB” Bellemare who nails it off the post. Arsenal and Caden “Sypical” Pellegrin have had creative flashes, but they haven’t led to goals. AxB’s giveaway in overtime of Game 1 was gut-wrenching. A lot to prove for this team.

8. Rogue (0-2, 0-6)

The Good: Well, it can’t get much worse than consecutive sweeps to the teams fighting for the same LAN spots as them. Rogue could not get anything going again on Saturday. Austin “AyyJayy” Aebi had a couple of okay moments, but Rogue got beaten up by Ghost.

The Bad: Wonder could not escape Memory and got exposed on defense time after time. AyyJayy picked it up a bit in Game 3, but half of the goals they scored in the series came from long pinch goals. Once again, they led for a grand total of seven seconds against a team they desperately needed to beat but couldn’t do anything.

Rogue are in deep trouble. They made Allushin look like Thibault “Chausette45” Grzesiak out there and they haven’t even played their toughest opponents yet. Hopefully, they get a win against Birds next week, because if not their season could be over.

 

Featured image courtesy of Todd Gutierrez for Beyond the Summit.

Follow me on Twitter: @connorssanders.

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