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Rocket Launching: Season 7 World Championship Predictions

Rocket Launching

Welcome to Rocket Launching, a midweek RLCS column that discusses the wonderful world of Rocket League esports. Season 7’s conclusion is mere days away, and what a season it’s been. The gods of car soccer will be named at the World Championship on Sunday, but more importantly Rocket League’s most glorious event has returned to center stage.

New Jersey has #LANdon potential. The crowd is going to be massive, and there is a new energy surrounding the game after Epic Games announced its pending purchase of Psyonix. There will be chants, people bowing down to Mariano “Squishy” Arruda, Alex “Goldenboy” Mendez and Randy “Gibbs” Gibbons will bring the heat with prediction and script writing on his home turf in New Jersey.

(Funny sidenote: when I went to Season 6’s LAN in Las Vegas the friends I went with were confused about why people would start chanting “Gibbs is sexy!” every time he was on camera.)

In Gibbs’ spirit of prophecy and with such an important LAN on the horizon, let’s throw out some heinous, shot-in-the-dark style predictions that could end up coming true when the confetti falls on Sunday.

I am happy to report that I will be in Newark to cover the event. Follow me on twitter @connorssanders to see what it’s like behind the scenes at the Prudential Center.

Aimless Prediction Number #1: Lowkey Will Make Top Eight

My hero u/twobackfromtheend wrote a really stellar blog over on calculated.gg about how differences in playstyle be can effective against certain teams. The article specifically discusses pace of play and the struggles Triple Trouble had against faster teams in Season 7 League Play.

His reasoning checks out. Triple Trouble struggled against faster opponents like FC Barcelona and mousesports during League Play. Lowkey Esports can play with speed (lowercase, no guest appearances for him this time) and if they do, they could have a very good chance at making it out of their group.

Triple Trouble should still be the favorites, but they find themselves in a difficult group given their more methodical approach to the game. Cloud9 are probably the fastest team in the world, and Lowkey can apply pressure with the best of them. Will Triple Trouble generate enough quality opportunities to withstand Lowkey’s onslaught of offensive pressure?

Rocket Launching
Average xGa per defence of teams, split by playstyle. – Courtesy of calculated.gg.

They should, but they haven’t done so against other breakneck teams. Sometimes winning the match comes down to beating your opponent to the ball, but in some cases the quality of the touches is infinitely more important. Team SoloMid played with plenty of pace, but were limited offensively because they couldn’t make the precise touches needed to capitalize on crevices in the defense. Lowkey might be in that same boat. They’ve probably never faced a team as defensively equipped as Triple Trouble, so finding shooting windows could be tough.

Hitting them in front of a crowd of 10,000+ people can be even harder. I worry that Cloud9 will absolutely crush Lowkey in the first match and their confidence will be shot. They need to maintain their composure and throw themselves at every ball to have a good chance at making the knockout round.

Aimless Prediction #2: It’s Finally NRG’s Time

There is an unregulated plethora of NRG choking memes out there, and as much as I love Meme Monday, I think NRG are ready to win it all. They’ve been the most consistent team in the world over the last year and a spurt of consistency might be all it takes to win at LAN. Not every run to the Grand Final is as manic as Cloud9’s sprint through the lower bracket was.

I know Cloud9 just won DreamHack Dallas, but I think that plays even more into NRG’s favor. Winning back to back majors has never been done because it’s so difficult to maintain that super sayain level of play for more than a weekend at a time. Remember when the Avengers went and killed Thanos on the garden planet in like two seconds with half their team? It’s because the mad Titan was battered and bruised from the first victory, and I don’t think C9 are going to find any senzu beans in Newark.

Jokes aside, NRG were the most unstoppable team in the RLCS this season. C9 were the only team that really challenged them during Season 7 and they owned Renault Vitality at DreamHack Dallas. Justin “JSTN” Morales emerged as the best player in the world in Season 7 and Garrett “GarrettG” Gordon isn’t far behind. They read the game better than any team in the world.

I think the new group stage/knock out round format favors NRG as well. There won’t be any team gathering momentum in the lower bracket to roll right through them in the final like Dignitas did in Season 5. NRG can leap above the pack and cruise above their competition like a pilot soaring above anti-aircraft fire. NRG’s only real danger is if they allow themselves to dip into the danger zone.

Can you tell I’ve been watching Catch-22 on Hulu lately? If they play their best, no one can reach them. These events can be random at times and the small sample size of a seven game series doesn’t always result in the best team emerging from the pile of chassis. If NRG play consistent and suffocating Rocket League, Kyle “Scrub Killa” Robertson remains stranded in the desert and C9 don’t have their circuits overloaded with lightning, then NRG will finally lift the trophy. It’s been a long time coming.

Aimless Prediction #3: Gregan Will Supply Sustenance

Do you guys remember when Jason “Klassux” Klass would just drink Mountain Dew on stage like a madman? I can’t think of anything more on brand for a human being that Klassux slamming a Dew with electrical tape over the label at the World Championship.

Ever since Scrub mentioned the whole water incident I’ve been in a constant state of blowing air out through my nose in delight. This is so hilarious. I can’t believe that we, as a community, have not latched on to how silly this is more effectively.

Rocket Launching
Scrub Killa – Courtesy of DreamHack

I’d like to propose that we refer to Scrub’s DreamHack dehydration as Watergate 2.  Somebody make a sign that the cameras can cut away from right as it comes into frame. If Vitality wins Scrub and Gregan need to get an endorsement deal from like Fiji water or Voss or something. Can you imagine a Twitch ad where Scrub explains how the difference maker in his gaming ability is drinking Dasani?

I can hear it now, “Before I started drinking Dasani I struggled staying focused.” ACTION SHOTS OF SCRUB PLAYING RL. “Now that I drink it my gamin’ abilities have reached a new level.”

I’m sure there’s some company who wants to tap into a younger market that could make that happen. I fully expect Scrub to have eight water bottles next to his monitor when he plays in Newark. Please, please, please play up the water bit, Scrub. It’s hilarious.

Aimless Prediction #4: There Is Money to Be Made in Jersey

If the prize money breaks down the same way it did in Season 6, the winner of this tournament will take home $200,000. The split will probably different given there will be two more teams in attendance, but still the winner is looking at 150 g’s for playing a video game.

But guess what? *Leans in closer and whispers* I found an even better way to make money.

Bet on video games! Sports gambling is a thriving industry, and it’s very healthy in New Jersey. Betway is currently taking bets for who will win the tournament, and you don’t even have to be good at Rocket League to win money.

Since Escorting the Payload, TGH’s Overwatch League Betting show, launched, I’ve been waiting to throw my money at Rocket League. Here are three unthinkable bets that are guaranteed to win you money (Disclaimer: that’s a blatant lie, I have no idea what I’m doing.):

#1: GroundZero Gaming at 81:1 odds. Sure no second place OCE team has ever won a single series at LAN, but if you bet 10 measly dollars you could be coming home from Jersey $800 dollars richer. Anything can happen at LAN right? This is a long shot, high risk/high reward bet that rarely works out, but if it hits big, you’re set.

#2: PSG Esports at 13:1. That is a very good bang for your buck bet. PSG are far from the favorites, but they’re plenty talented and it wouldn’t be completely ridiculous for them to win it all. 13:1 is a healthy return rate, too.

#3 The super bet. I think this bet is actually a real money maker so I buried it DEEP in the article so no one steals my idea. I’m of the opinion that this LAN is a three horse race between Cloud9 (4:1), NRG (3.55:1) and Vitality (4:1). If you put $100 on each of those teams, you’re guaranteed to make money. You’re putting $300 dollars down, and the least you can win is $355, so given the other investments, it’s a guaranteed profit of at least $55. If C9 or Vitality win it all you’re up $100. If NRG win you’re up $55. There’s no losing this bet. Unless another team wins, and then I’d look really bad.

Aimless Prediction #5: NA Will Finally Compete with #LANdon

Everything is shaping up beautifully for this to be one of the most rocking LANs in RL history. The Prudential Center seats 19,000 people, and while there probably won’t be that many attendees, the venue has loads of potential.

If you, like David “Miztik” Lawrie, think NA fans can’t bring the energy, I’d invite you to watch this clip from inside the Barclay’s Center for the Overwatch League Finals (also this clip of Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre talking about attending last year). NA crowds can bring plenty of energy. If you tell them they aren’t good, they will also boo you. Sorry Miztik.

Obviously Overwatch and Rocket League are on different levels, but even being in Vegas for C9’s run was amazing. People were bringing all kinds of hype and with a bigger audience, more underdogs to cheer for and the excitement surrounding the game’s future, this LAN is going to be loud.

Rocket Launching
Prudential Center – Courtesy of stadiumjourney.com

From what I’ve heard from my fellow Game Haus colleagues, hockey arenas (like the Prudential Center) are very common and perhaps the most ideal arena for esports events. We need iconic moments like the JSTN goal or the Squishy flip reset to concrete this LAN’s place in history, but the NA crowd will be ready to take the roof off the place either way. Basically every content creator will be there, the new playoff format will bring some spice and people really want this LAN to succeed. We’ll miss Stumpy and Shogun for sure, but this LAN will only be as great as people allow it to be.

Bring the energy this weekend. The game needs this LAN to go well. Every successful live event prolongs Rocket League’s life a little while long, and I have a feeling New Jersey will be a rousing success (first time anyone’s said that in a while, huh?).

 

Featured image courtesy of Psyonix.

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