Welcome to Rocket Launching, a midweek RLCS column that discusses the wonderful world of Rocket League esports. Before we start drowning in over-analyzing roster moves, I wanted to take a good, hearty look back at Season 7.
That led me to looking back at the team specific previews I wrote before Season 7 began. Preseason expectations impact how a team’s success is perceived more than one might think. Can you imagine if mousesports would have made LAN when nearly everyone penciled them into eighth place?
Well, that’s the point of this four article series where I went back and read those previews and laughed at how completely off-base I was. Seriously. Read the Dignitas section later.
Part 1 is available here and Part 3 will be available later this week.
Team 4: Team SoloMid
RLCS 7 finish: 6th place (3-4, 15-15), Lost in first round of Regional Championship to Dignitas.
Season 7 team statistics and finishes: 1.75 GPG (7th), 1.21 APG (8th), 4.15 SAPG (8th), 2.00 Goals Allowed Per Game (T-4th), 6.94 shots allowed per game (1st)
Best Case/Worst Case Spectrum: Pretty close to worst. At least they didn’t get relegated or have a private dispute spill over into a Reddit thread or anything.
Most heinous preseason take (in fairness to me, they were coming off of the ELEAGUE win): “TSM could win the whole Season 7 shebang. They’re skilled and experienced enough to do it. When all three players are at the top of their game they’re close to unstoppable.”
Most spot-on preseason take: “It isn’t very difficult to imagine them struggling against the likes of Dignitas, Renault Vitality, ex-Flipsid3 Tactics or anyone else in EU and finishing fifth or sixth. The only way this could happen is if the team lets the game pass them by.”
We were fair to me in the Most Heinous Preseason Take section, so we should be fair to TSM as well. The middle of the table in EU was incredibly close. Triple Trouble, Dignitas and TSM had the exact same overall game differential, so while they technically finished in sixth, they could have finished in fourth by winning just one more game. But they didn’t. So they deserve ridicule.
Team SoloMid was the most frustrating team in Rocket League to me this season. One look at their shots allowed per game stat and you’ll realize that TSM locked down in the midfield all season. However, that lock didn’t lead to numbers on the scoreboard.
We Dem Girlz were really good in Season 6 because Jordan “EyeIgnite” Stellon had a massively productive season. He led the team in goals and tied for the team highs in assists and saves. He didn’t produce at the same level and the team struggled. It wasn’t all on him, though.
TSM’s offense just wasn’t very potent. They were so reliant on the opposition making a poor clear or making some kind of mistake in the midfield and capitalizing on it. I’d be hard pressed to remember a standout goal from their season mostly because there weren’t many shocking plays that led to goals.
It’s not like TSM were pulling off sick dribbles or nutty flip-resets. They just kept their rotations as tight as your grandmother’s curls and smacked the ball off the backboard until the opponent couldn’t make a play. It worked early in the season before teams were ready for it, but by the end of Week 3, the jig was up.
They started out the season 3-0. They ended it on a four game losing streak. You do the math.
Maybe kicking EyeIgnite was the right move, but serious questions need to be asked of Remco “Remkoe” den Boer and Otto “Metsanauris” Kaipiainen. Something needs to change in how these guys play the game. Players that have been in the scene as long as these two need to adapt as the meta moves forward. If not they’ll be left in the dust by up and comers like Triple Trouble and FC Barcelona.
Their Grand Final appearance at a very lackluster DreamHack: Dallas is the only reason this team isn’t in full crisis mode. Another bad season and there could be trouble.
Here’s something else overly ambitious I said about TSM: “If they can all play their absolute best, they can win the World Championship. Only a handful of teams can say that.”
Team 3: Dignitas
RLCS 7 finish: 5th place (3-4, 12-14), Lost in first round of Regional Championship to PSG.
Season 7 team statistics and finishes: 1.59 GPG (8th), 1.30 APG (6th), 4.43 SAPG (7th), 2.05 Goals Allowed Per Game (6th), 6.79 Shots per Game (8th)
Best Case/Worst Case Spectrum: As worst as it can get. I’m talking about the part when the devil girl that is allergic to peanuts eats the cookie with a peanut in it at the party so her older brother recklessly drives her home in that movie Hereditary. Ker-splat.
Most heinous preseason take: “Dignitas could qualify for LAN in their sleep with Gibbs as their third. Even the Yankees have disappointing seasons, but they almost never miss the playoffs. Dignitas is in the same boat. It would be the biggest shock in RL history for Dignitas to miss out on LAN (well, other than if C9 missed out).”
Most spot-on preseason take: I don’t deserve to pat myself on the back this time. I really said Dig missing out on LAN would be the biggest shock in RL history. What a nerd.
Dignitas basically took TSM’s season and played it out in reverse. They lost their first three series and then clumsily recovered on their way to a 3-4 finish.
If you took their season in a complete vacuum, you probably wouldn’t be too mad. They were one series away from the World Championship and they finished in fifth place during RLCS League Play. The four best teams during League Play should make LAN, right?
Dignitas were ungodly levels of good with Alexandre “Kaydop” Courant. More on him later. When Dig announced Kaydop was leaving and Maurice “Yukeo” Weihs was replacing him, I was ecstatic. I thought Yukeo was a Chicago or JSTN level of rising star. I really thought he could replace the production of perhaps the greatest Rocket League player of all time.
Yukeo was fine, but Pierre “Turbopolsa” Silfver was not. In hindsight there was no way Yukeo could replace Kaydop’s 1.09-0.60-1.63 stat-line. Turbo and Jos “ViolentPanda” van Meurs would have to step up another level and they simply couldn’t. There’s no shame in that. We all just underestimated the impact Kaydop had on this team. Look at this.
|Goals per game
|Season 6 with Kaydop
|Season 7 without Kaydop
The proof is in the pudding. As Kirk Goldsberry would say, it’s not Rocket Science. Clear as day. There’s no beating around the bush. You get the point. Kaydop left a hole in this team that I don’t think anyone could have fully expected.
Ignore the fact they scored nearly half as many goals per game. No team in EU produced less than 7.5 shots per game. Their offense was horrendous. They couldn’t create many chances, and they couldn’t convert them when they popped up. Call it a fluke if you want, but this team needs to seriously fix their offense.
Maybe Maello “Aztral” Ernst is the solution to that dilemma. He has all the makings of an out of nowhere mechanical offensive force a la Flakes or Alpha54. Now they just need time to gel and work out the communication needed to win in the RLCS. No problem. ViolentPanda used to do it all the time.
Team 2: The Bricks
RLCS 7 finish: 6th place (2-5, 11-18), Avoided relegation by beating Veloce in the Promotion Playoff.
Season 7 team statistics and finishes: 2.07 GPG (2nd), 1.52 APG (4th), 4.90 SAPG (4th), 2.10 Goals Allowed Per Game (7th), 60 total goals (5th) in 29 total games (T-8th).
Best Case/Worst Case Spectrum: Big ol’ oof. Nothing went right for The Bricks after they won WSOE and the only solace they have is that they didn’t relegated.
Most heinous preseason take: “This team has the talent and determination to beat anybody. They could rip off three great days in a row and find themselves in the Grand Finals, and no one would be surprised.”
Most spot-on preseason take: “This squad has “lost in the shuffle” potential. EU is full of rising stars, established talent, high ceiling teams and mousesports. Many of the teams discussed in this preview series seem like there are immune to relegation or missing LAN, but Ex-Flipsid3 doesn’t have that same rock solid feel.”
Full disclosure here: with NA, I released the previews in order of where I thought they’d finish. With EU, I thought Dignitas were the favorite, Vitality next then TSM, PSG, Barcelona, The Bricks, Triple Trouble and then Mouz in last. I only waited to do The Bricks last because they literally waited until the day before Season 7 to announce their name, which, as I’ve mentioned on countless occasions, is dumb. The Newcastle Jets called, and they want their logo back.
This team was one of the most statistically empty teams in RLCS history. Their offensive numbers were quite nice, but the team stunk all season. Francesco “Kuxir97″ Cinquemani was EU’s Golden Striker because David “Miztik” Lawrie refused to score and they ran up the score in games that didn’t matter. They dropped a ten spot against Dignitas in Game 4 of the season finale, but lost the series 3-1.
Relying on statistical averages is a very dangerous game. It’s good when the sample size is large, like PSG’s 49 matches played or Vitality/FC Barcelona’s 38. When it’s as small as The Bricks’ it can make the team’s empty stats balloon their averages even more. If they hadn’t dropped that ten spot and scored two, they’d have scored 52 goals in 29 games. Their average would be 1.79 GPG, good for sixth best in EU.
It’s really dangerous to use averages when handing out awards. Kux won Golden Striker depite only taking 100 shots this season. Nine players took more shots. They just played in more games. Miztik technically led the league in APG, but played almost half as many games as PSG. The Bricks got swept a lot and didn’t make the Regional Championship, so it inflated their numbers.
This team was really good in Season 6. When Yukeo moved on I thought Jack “Speed” Packwood-Clarke was an ideal replacement. They proved he mixed well at WSOE but it just never seemed to click after that. No one could have foreseen Miztik’s drop off, but Speed couldn’t pick up the slack.
Anyway The Bricks stunk this season and I’m not sure how to fix it. They should get a Fruity like third that is willing to fill in the gaps and let Speed and Kux run wild. It seems like Linus “al0t” Mollergren is the most likely replacement, but I’m not sure he’s that stop-gap the team needs. Maybe he is. Rocket League is so dang unpredictable. You could tell me anything and I might believe it at this point.
Team 1: Renault Vitality
RLCS 7 finish: 1st place (6-1, 19-6), Won the whole damn RLCS Season 7 World Championship.
Season 7 team statistics and finishes: 2.32 GPG (1st), 1.79 APG (1st), 5.32 SAPG (1st), 1.37 Goals Allowed Per Game (1st), Name the category and Vitality probably finished in first place.
Best Case/Worst Case Spectrum: I think they did pretty good.
Most heinous preseason take: “Scrub has a history of being easily frustrated and is still only 15 years-old. It’s hard to expect a person of his age to be a model of maturity, but he’s going to have to be. New rosters rarely mesh without hiccups. Vitality’s hiccups need to be minuscule.”
Most spot-on preseason take: “They’re talented enough to beat anyone. They just need to take care of the little things. If they do, they’re championship contenders.”
It’s a good thing they didn’t sign gReazymeister, huh?
There isn’t much to say about the world champions. They ran rough shot through the RLCS and didn’t really seem fazed by anyone outside of NRG and a lack of proper hydration in the first half of 2019.
Vitality were stupidly dominant. Like, Dignitas in early 2018 levels of good. I was so shocked when Kaydop landed with RV. It felt like a super team of ridiculous portions unlike anything we’d seen before. When Victor “Fairy Peak” Locquet is the third best player on your team, you’re going to win a lot of games.
Kyle “Scrub Killa” Robertson was the RLCS EU MVP in my eyes. Kaydop might have split the vote a bit, but Scrub really made the jump everyone was hoping for in Season 7. At the post-tournament press conference after the World Championship he was beaming. It was clear that he’d done what he’d set out to do and he seemed extremely satisfied.
I really don’t have much else to say, so I’ll leave you with this really great quote from the team’s coach Mike “Gregan” Ellis about how they dominated the World Championship by controlling the kick-off.
“With every kick off [the players tell each other] who’s going, who’s cheating and who’s going for boost and which boost they’re going for. That creates the visual image of what’s happening with that kick-off. So every single kick-off we know where everyone is on the pitch and they instantly say whether they get boost or not [after the kick-off]. When we hear that call out of ‘I got the mid boost’ or whatever that’s when they go for the attack and score the goal.”
Featured image courtesy of Rocket League Championship Series.
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