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Rocket Launching Week 5: RLCS Award Season

Rocket Launching

Welcome to Rocket Launching, a midweek RLCS column that discusses the happenings from the past week’s Rocket League action. Here are some of my favorite observations from the fifth week of the RLCS Season 7.

MVPs for NA and EU

Let’s start award season by discussing the Rocket League’s most valuable. RLCS casters, statisticians and other Psyonix esports people vote on a top three from each region and the winner is the player with the most points from the voters. First place earns three points, a second place vote earns two and a third place vote earns one. As with any MVP vote, the criteria isn’t well-defined, so voters must use stats and personal observation to pick out their candidates.

I don’t have a vote, but I’ve kept my eyes glued to the scene this season and would like to offer my opinion on what I’ve seen from the best of both regions.

NA MVP: Justin “JSTN” Morales, NRG

Garrett “GarrettG” Gordon and Reed “Chicago” Wilen are the only other players who even have a case for MVP. JSTN has been everywhere for his team and led NRG to one of the most dominant seasons of recent memory. This is one of the clearest MVPs in Rocket League history for me. JSTN has been on another level all season long with his aerial capability, precise passes and impressive solo play. His defense has also been impeccable; JSTN earned the Savior of the Season with 2.15 saves per game. No other player averaged more than two in NA.

EU MVP: Kyle “Scrub Killa” Robertson, Renault Vitality

Scrub and Alexandre “Kaydop” Courant were both spectacular for Vitality this season. Both scored 25 goals and averaged one goal per game, but I think Scrub meant a little bit more to his team. He was also slightly better overall than Kaydop in assists, shooting percentage and goal participation. Scrub was unleashed this season. In Season 6 Vitality played Scrub as a glorified Gibbs and had him lock down the back. Once he was given a more offensive role, he exploded. Scrub lived up to his potential this season in every facet of his game.

All-RLCS team

I made this category up, but I think the “All-RLCS team” measures the cream of the crop of the season in the same way All-NBA, All-Pros in the NFL and Premier League elevens do for their respective leagues. Here are the six best players from Rocket League’s seventh season.

1. Justin “JSTN” Morales, NRG (1.00 GPG, 0.74 APG, 2.15 SAPG)

I already gushed about JSTN in the MVP section, but the kid deserves an even greater spotlight. I think he’s the best player in the world right now, despite playing against slightly lesser competition in NA. No player in Rocket League struck fear into his opponents like JSTN did this season.

When given just an inkling of space or the tiniest lane toward the goal, JSTN capitalized with unheard of efficiency. He also had a special knack for the moment. When his team was struggling, he pulled out a nice solo play. When his team needed him to lock down the defense, he was there. We’ll look back on this season as one of the greatest of any player ever.

2. Kyle “Scrub Killa” Robertson, Vitality (1.00 GPG, 0.84 APG, 1.32 SAPG)

Once again, Scrub has been amazing this season. He had a great understanding with what his teammates expected out of him and that led to Vitality running circles around almost everyone in EU. I really don’t have much more to say, he had a legendary coming out party. Season 6 was a disappointment for him and his team, but everything changed in Season 7.

Rocket Launching
Scrub Killa – Courtesy of DreamHack

3. Alexandre “Kaydop” Courant, Vitality (1.00 GPG, 0.76 APG, 1.64 SAPG)

Some hipster RL fans will tell you that Kaydop isn’t even that good, and he owes his success to playing with great teammates (looking at you Gibbs), but come on. Kaydop has been amazing this season outside of the context of his historic roster move. His stats are very impressive and he’s managed to raise his skill ceiling to another level.

Within the context of his move, you can’t deny his value. He took Vitality from a disappointing 3-4 season to a dominant 6-1 region dismantling performance in Season 7. His former team, Dignitas, went from 7-0 with Kaydop, to 3-4 without him. Obviously there is a lot more going on than just Kaydop switching teams, but his impact has been immediate and massive for both teams involved.

4. Reed “Chicago” Wilen, G2 Esports (0.83 GPG, 0.79 APG, 1.45 SAPG)

Chicago was also a pretty impactful transfer, wouldn’t you say? He had an unprecedented 83.93% goal participation this season. That means that he either scored or assisted on all but nine of G2’s 56 goals this season. He and Jacob “JKnaps” Knapman had a special connection this season and basically played offense by themselves, and it worked.

His passing and finishing have been among the best in NA. G2 finished 5-1 and were the only team other than Rogue to really test NRG this season. They’ve never looked so strong heading into the World Championship, and Chicago is the reason why.

5. Yanis “Alpha54” Champenois, FC Barcelona (0.85 GPG, 0.48 APG, 1.44 SAPG)

Last week I thought Emil “Fruity” Moselund deserved this spot, but Alpha knocked him out of the spot with his week five performance. It’s absurd to consider that this time last year he was basically unknown. Until he teamed with David “Deevo” Morrow and Dan “Bluey” Bluett with Savage! he was a top 100 warrior playing on a laptop. Now he’s leading the first ever Rival Series team to LAN after a dominating Season 7 performance.

Alpha is one of the most mechanically skilled players around, but he uses every tool in his arsenal effectively. He’s pulling flip-resets and tornado flicks when the situation calls for them, but with mind boggling consistency. Barcelona has had a historic season because of Alpha’s ability to get up to speed quickly and take control of matches.

6. Garrett “GarrettG” Gordon, NRG (1.04 GPG, 0.74 APG, 1.22 SAPG)

I already have another NRG player on the list, but GarrettG has been one of the six best players in the RLCS this season, no doubt about it. Jesus “Gimmick” Parra and Victor “Ferra” Francal both deserve mention, but when we look back on Season 7, we’ll remember NRG’s dominance more than 4-3 finishes by Cloud9 and PSG.

Rocket Launching
GarrettG – Courtesy of WSOE

GarrettG is the most consistent player in the world. He is the Tim Duncan, Nolan Arenado, N’Golo Kante and Russell Wilson of Rocket League. You know exactly what you’re going to get from him, and that’s great leadership, wise decision making and bangers into the back of the net. He’s been rock solid for NRG in controlling the midfield and the side walls. Garrett deserves the final spot.

Here are some smaller, more ancillary awards:

Rookie of the Year: NA: Caden “Sypical” Pellegrin, Spacestation Gaming EU: Yanis “Alpha54” Champenois, FC Barcelona

All-star teams: NA: JSTN, Chicago, GarrettG, Gimmick, JKnaps, Drippay EU: Scrub Killa, Kaydop, Alpha54, Fruity, Ronaky, Fairy Peak

Best offseason move: NA: G2: Dropping Cameron “Kronovi” Bills for Chicago EU: Vitality: Dropping Phillip “paschy90” Paschmeyer for Alexandre “Kaydop” Courant

Least likely to remain with current team: NA: Jason “Klassux” Klass EU: Jack “Speed” Packwood-Clarke

Pour One Out for Drippay

Matthew “Drippay” Den-Kaat moved all the way from Australia to finish in the bottom two in NA. It’s not his fault. Drippay finished in the top five in both goals (0.85 GPG) and saves (1.93 SAPG) in NA, but his team couldn’t find a way to win. They just needed to snag one series against Spacestation or Ghost, but got bodied in both series.

I wonder what’s going through Drippay’s head right now. In OCE, his former team, Renegades, appears to be on track for another LAN appearance while Drippay gets ready to take on some Rival Series teams to stay in the RLCS in NA. Everything about his move from OCE seemed to be about lifestyle change and pursuing a career in Esports. What will he do if EG drops to the Rival Series?

I imagine Drippay doesn’t see himself in the RLRS. I also imagine he thought this season would have gone spectacularly differently, but he has to deal with the team’s failure even if it isn’t his fault. There’s still room to feel bad for the guy though. Evil Geniuses need to make a move to keep him happy, or he’ll move on by his own accord.

The Relegation Scrum Comes to an End

Well, we know who’s in the bottom two after a season long relegation scrum, and what a scrum it was. Splyce and mousesports seemed destined for bottom two before the season began, but Evil Geniuses and The Bricks were legitimate surprises. It was pretty amazing that in both regions it came down to a mano a mano series to decide the playoffs.

Both Ghost and Dignitas started the season 0-3, and both turned their season around after their newcomers found their footing. Ghost’s defense was impenetrable down the stretch and Dignitas’ offense finally picked up after week three. They both played front-loaded schedules and deserved to finish in their positions. Now they go from relegation scrums to having a shot at the playoffs. Dignitas might have a pretty good chance at the last playoff spot.

Splyce and Mouz on the other hand, struggled all season. Mouz actually played better than I expected, but couldn’t win when it mattered. They beat Triple Trouble, forced The Bricks and PSG to five games and even stole games off of Barcelona and Vitality. Linus “al0t” Mollergren was very impressive in some series, but overall Mouz were simply overmatched. I think this was the most talented group of teams ever in the RLCS. Any other season and Mouz probably stay afloat.

I can’t say the same of Splyce. Splyce’s 5-20 overall record is the worst in NA since Set to Destroy went 4-21 and didn’t win a series. Even the JSTN-less Out of Style team managed to win more individual games. Splyce lost 12 straight games at one point this season. They were bad. Really bad.

The Bricks and EG both finished bottom two because of poor results against their fellow mid-table opponents. I don’t think they were bad enough to drop to the Rival Series, but the RLRS talent looks strong. Birds and the Beez, The Peeps and Veloce have all looked solid in NA and EU, but I think The Bricks and EG should be able to handle the second place Rival Series teams.

I officially predict here in Rocket Launching that Veloce will beat out Mouz, The Bricks will beat ARG (or Complexity), Birds and the Beez will beat Splyce, and EG will stay alive with a win against The Peeps.

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