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Rocket Launching Week 3: Deep Thoughts and Sorting Through Debris

RLCS Clolumn

Sometimes watching Rocket League is hard for me.

I don’t know if it’s the time of year or just the intensity of the fall semester or what, but sometimes Saturday I can’t cut five hours out of my day to watch Pittsburgh Knights set fire to the universe.

But I always end up watching it all. Sometimes I have to just focus on the most relevant series to get some CONTENT out, and sometimes I watch Saturday’s action the following Wednesday, but I always watch.

Yes, I did watch before I wrote this article, and yes, I cannot wait to talk about using sunglasses to talk trash, but this time it was just harder to crack out the notepad at turn on the VOD.

I think it’s part of the season. I don’t mean to wax on the side of Matthew Berry or preachy aimlessness, but I’ve been thinking a lot about Lauren McCluskey lately.

She was a track and field star at the University of Utah. I grew up in West Jordan, a suburb about 30 minutes south of Salt Lake City, where the U of U is located.

RLCS Column
This Aug. 21, 2018 photo, provided by the University of Utah, shows Lauren McCluskey, a member of the University of Utah cross country and track and field team. McCluskey, a University of Utah student was shot and killed on campus by a former boyfriend Melvin Rowland, who was found dead hours later inside a church Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, authorities said. (Steve C. Wilson/University of Utah via AP)

McCluskey was killed months before graduation by her ex-boyfriend, a man named Melvin Rowland.

They had dated for some time, but when McCluskey tried to leave him he threatened her. She went to the police, but in the end they couldn’t protect her.

She died a year ago on the 22nd of October, 2018. I never met her, but this time last year my heart broke for her and her family. It was just over a week after Cloud9 won the World Championship in Season 6.

I was there, in person with a couple of friends and I fell in love with Rocket League Esports. Now it’s a major part of my life, and I greatly enjoy writing about it.

Call it a seasonal depression or just me having to write something down before I can truly confront it, but I just wish Lauren could be starting her career, alive and well instead of knocking on my window when I’m trying to enjoy some flip-resets and double taps. She didn’t deserve to die, and we have to protect each other better.

I’m sorry for the sappy bits, I just feel profoundly sad over small things sometimes. For now I want to focus on some Rocket League. Let’s kick this Rocket League column off with some positivity.


TAKE COVER, THE WORLD IS SURELY ENDING! Cloud9, you know, the team that was the World Champion a year ago, lost to a team that most predicted would be relegated after Season 8. (Squaking noise)

Like G2 vs The Peeps, Cloud9 is the ultimate serious-gamer team name, and Birds is the most apathetic-orgless team name. Birds (not beez) beat the team with Jesus “Gimmick” Parra and Mariano “Squishy” Arruda.

Good thing I didn’t bet my mortgage on this one, huh? I had Cloud9 as the seventh-best team in the world and they’re currently the seventh-best team in North America. No one could have foreseen Birds beating C9. Pittsburgh went crazy too, but at least there were signs they were about to blow up.

Birds looked lethargic but effective against Spacestation, so I was not really high on them against Cloud9. They sure did not look intimidated.

Cloud9 Rocket League
Courtesy of Todd Gutierrez for Beyond the Summit

They went down early in Game 1 but bounced back to win in OT. Birds applied a steady dose of pressure and won Game 2. Cloud9 figured out how to rotate in Game 3, but forgot in Game 4. Birds flipped the region on its head.

This is why we need more teams in the RLCS. 

Then for the sake of Murphy’s Law, Birds could not top Rogue later on in the day after beating a former World Champ. This region makes no sense and I love sorting through the debris.

Cloud9 might not even be fine either. They play NRG next week, and then G2 and Rogue the week after. They’ll need to figure this out quickly to have a shot at making LAN, especially with Gimmick struggling defensively. 

The Spacestation loss is double jeopardy and thrusts them toward relegation. Imagine a 2-5 Cloud9 team playing Afterthought in the Promotion Playoff. It’s not out of the question right now.

Peepsburgh, Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire

The only two teams I thought could really challenge NRG in NA have lost two games and we’re halfway through the season. 

And it’s all because of this guy:

RLCS Column
Reflections rule – Courtesy of @1jayski on Twitter


Slater “Retals” Thomas is third in NA in GPG, the best non-G2 player in APG and fifth in SAPG. All while shooting 30.23% (3rd NA) and leading the region in Goal Participation. Do I hear chants of MVP?

I called them beating Cloud9 in the first Rocket Launching of Season 8, but I didn’t think they’d get G2, too. They play NRG on Saturday. Can lightning strike thrice?


I thought mousesports were the third-best team in EU last week, and I have a hard time thinking they aren’t going to finish in the top two at the end of the season.

When their season preview dropped last month Linus “al0t” Mollergren tweeted his disagreement of my take that the defense needed to improve. Mouz are 7-1 in games where they hold their opponent to just one goal.

Vitality are in a strange spiral right now, much like Cloud9. There’s too much talent to give up on them, but FC Barcelona really put a stranglehold on their offense. They have the second-worst GPG and GAPG in the region heading into Week 4.

Speaking of, Team Reciprocity had an up and down offensive performance against Veloce. I think Veloce are rock solid, and are well on their way to making LAN. Could secure top two with wins against Team SoloMid and FC Barcelona on Sunday.

Barcelona are the last team I’ll mention. They’ve got a positive game differential on the season and were a bit unlucky to lose in back to back overtimes against Dignitas. All they need to do is make top six. They’ve proven they can hang with anybody.

Ground Zero, welcome to First Place

Tom “Julz” Julienne refuses to give up. Christopher “Siki” Magee got poached away by Renegades, Matthew “Drippay” Den-Kaat returned to Chiefs Esports Club and it seemed like everything was lining up for Julz to miss LAN again.

Somebody forgot to tell him, because GroundZero sits atop the table in OCE at 4-0. They’ve already conquered Chiefs and Renegades lost to a team called Attack of the Invisible Ninja. The four-team playoff at the end of the season is brutal, but you have to like GZ’s chances of making Worlds now.

They’re rocking a plus nine-game differential and Julz has established himself as a Chicago-level threat in OCE.

I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it would be for Drippay to miss LAN after his short stay in NA during Season 7. Why can’t OCE bring four teams this time around?


Featured image courtesy of Psyonix.

Follow me on Twitter: @connorssanders.

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