Welcome to Rocket Launching, a midweek RLCS column that discusses the wonderful world of Rocket League esports. Cloud9 won, Vitality bombed out and Evil Geniuses shocked everyone with run to the semi-final. Let’s attempt to assign the winners and losers from the DreamHack Pro Circuit: Dallas.
Jack “Speed” Packwood-Clarke has an uncanny ability to grab a LAN by the horns with a team he’s never played on before. Just a few months ago Speed carried Francesco “kuxir97” Cinquemani and David “Miztik” Lawrie to the WSOE crown. This weekend he carried Maik “Tigreee” Hoffmann and Linus “al0t” Mollergren to a victory over the EU gods Renault Vitality and a top eight finish at one of the most prestigious peripheral LANs in Rocket League. That’s incredible considering how much mousesports struggled in League Play and the disappointing performance that Speed submitted for The Bricks in Season 7.
The kid just has a penchant for the moment and I think he feeds off the energy of a live event. I remember him hollering the funniest stuff at WSOE, and I’m sure his British-isms were on point with al0t by his side in Dallas.
If Mouz’s performance is any indication, they would be much better off with an upgrade over Alex “Alex161” Ernst as their third man. Alex161 has been one of the worst RLCS players in his region for two seasons now, and the revitalized al0t + Tigree combo seems to have potential. What’s next for them? This weekend’s results should make them take a long look at their roster composition. Hopefully they’ll at least try some guys out. Take a flyer on a non-RLCS/RLRS guy. Maybe you’ll end up with a Yukeo, Flakes or Fruity.
Speed missed a couple of balls that cost them the series against TSM on Day 3, but Mouz never would have been there in the first place without him. He scores with precision and isn’t scared to throw himself at a ball he might not have a perfect angle on. Increasing a team’s creativity raises their ceiling but also lowers their floor. Sometimes that costs you, and sometimes it raises you to a new level.
I’d also say when Speed plays with his hair down he’s a different player. I don’t know him personally, but I wonder if the pressure of playing in the RLCS with legends like Kux and miztik on a struggling squad got to him a bit. He tweeted about a response to some of the criticism he’s received, and he probably wouldn’t be acknowledging these things if they weren’t bothering him. In Dallas he just got to go out and play Rocket League without all of the outside pressure. This is the second such situation he’s knocked out of the park. Let your hair down, Speed. You’re a joy to watch when you do.
Losers: Shakestation Gaming
Spacestation were the only Closed Qualifier winning team to fall on Day One, and they were the only true RLCS squad to miss out on Day 2 (Splyce with Jimmer doesn’t count). Boy did they bomb out against Method. There is no shame in falling to an RLRS squad (remember when TSM lost to mCon in Leipzig?), but it’s further evidence that contributes to the Shakestation hypothesis I just came up with.
Everything was setting up perfectly for SSG to make LAN and start to challenge the Big 3 in NA in Season 7, but then they wet the bed against Rogue at the Regional Championships. After this result, I don’t know how much they can be trusted in big moments.
There’s evidence that they can perform (see: DH Leipzig, Season 6 Promotion Playoffs), but we haven’t seen it lately. I’ll openly admit that I’m a Spacestation fan so this might be a little bit of projecting my sadness. Still, man. You’ve got to at least make Day 2. Especially when you consider how disappointing the non-RLCS field was.
The mistake by Matthew “Satthew” Ackermann against TSM is inexcusable. This a still a young team that has plenty of wrinkles to iron out, but Shakestation needs to get grounded quick. (Don’t be mad, Satthew I still adore you and know you were faking on those goals from the RLCS.)
Winner: Roll Dizz
Raul “Roll Dizz” Diaz has one of the best pseudonyms in the game. It’s so simple and it made me laugh quietly to myself when I looked his real name up on Liquipedia.
(Very essential but also slightly half-baked tangent: There are three types of RL gamer names for pros. 1. Just their name or a slight twist on their name. (Jacob, GarrettG, Matt, Rizzo, JKnaps, remkoe, JSTN, AxB, AyyJayy, Satthew, etc.) These are the most boring names, unless you do something extensively clever like Roll Dizz. 2. A noun that sounds cool. Usually rolls off the tongue nicely (Torment, Wonder, Fireburner, Speed, Arsenal, Flakes, Rapid, Shock, Gimmick etc.) 3. The vaguely abstract yet wonderfully familiar. These names make me wonder where on Earth these guys come up with this stuff, but they’re so catchy. These are my favorite type of pseudonyms. (Metsanauris, Kuxir, Turbopolsa, Drippay, Yukeo, PrimeThunder, Mognus, Kronovi, Dappur, Sypical, EyeIgnite, Deevo, Squishy, Fairy Peak, etc.)
Name tangents aside (okay, one more, Chausette45 is the best name in the game. It means sock in French, and that fits him perfectly. He even has the Boston Red Sox player banner pop up when he scores! He’s so adorable. I should do a name tier list in the future.), Roll Dizz almost single handedly eliminated Vitality on Day 1. The Birds and the Beez star was everywhere for y0, and they were a couple of tip goals and a bad breakaway from offing Vitality.
They gave up three kick off goals and couldn’t recover in game four. If Roll Dizz nailed this shot in game five:
They wouldn’t have given up the ensuing breakaway goal and would have taken a one goal lead with 3:30 left. That’s plenty of time to bounce back but it show how much Roll Dizz, Ostyn and Ayjacks tested RV. Roll Dizz grabbed a pick up team and pushed the number one overall seed to its limit.
Ostyn and Ayjacks also played well in the series. Vitality never seemed too spooked, but it was the most fun series of Day 1. We’ll forever have this sexy Ayjacks double tap, and I’m thankful for it. Watch Alexandre “Kaydop” Courant shake his head in disbelief.
DreamHack Leipzig was a crack because Team Echo Zulu made a run all the way to Day 3 in their first major LAN appearance. We had no such luck in Dallas. Method were the lone RLRS squad to reach Day 2 (I think The Peeps, EG and Mouz are all technically in limbo), and they’ve played in the RLRS for two seasons. Every other featured either RLCS, recently promoted RLRS or an OCE giant. Snore.
Three bubble teams made Day 2 in Leipzig (who the heck is Mindset and how the hell did they beat Rogue?). Mindset, Echo Zulu and mCon beat RLCS teams to move on, but y0 were the only below RLRS team to even push an RLCS squad to five games. They even have one of the Rival Series’ best players, so they probably shouldn’t even count.
The Cinderella options were pretty bad, so we ended up rooting for The Peeps, Method, Mouz and a bunch of other teams not named NRG, Barca, Vitality and Cloud9 in our hopes to find some upsets. Nothing came.
Pink Hair Fan Club seemed like a decent candidate (mostly because I absolutely love PrimeThunder), but they got destroyed. (P.S. Prime wearing a FlyQuest jersey against Rogue is Drake-wearing-a-Dell-Curry-jersey level of petty and it was glorious).
Clappage! Got murdered (sorry Virge, keep those tutorials coming). Upper90 didn’t look too intimidating. Uncharted were in a really good position against a limping EG squad but got slammed. Did Monkey Business even play in a series? I feel like their opponents should have been gifted the sweeps like a batter being intentionally walked in baseball.
Evil Geniuses’ run to the semi-final was definitely unexpected, but they’re no Echo Zulu. The run was surprising, but didn’t have that same one-shining-moment nature that Echo Zulu did. I’m talking about a group of mates that scream at each other in six mans coming in and making top eight. We had nothing even close to that.
Remember when Tahz made that insane save against Vitality? That was a helluva moment. We didn’t really have that same iconic play in Dallas beyond this absolutely stupid goal by Maurice “Yukeo” Weihs.
I don’t know what happened with scheduling conflicts or other complications that left us with the field we had, but NA’s bubble group did not bring the heat like EU did in Leipzig.
Jesus “Gimmick” Parra won MVP and the cool belt buckle, but to me the key to Cloud9 is and will be the play of Kyle “Torment” Storer. People tend to overhype the “striker Torment” perspective because it’s easy to forget that Torment is quietly one of the most versatile players in the game. He doesn’t take a greater mechanical load because he usually doesn’t need to with mechanical madmen Gimmick and Mariano “Squishy” Arruda at his side. When he does let his offensive instincts shine, C9 is unstoppable.
C9’s greatest advantage and greatest detriment is their creativity. Some argue that when Gimmick is doing dumb stuff and spinning all over their place, they’re solid. I agree, but he does that all the time and they’re solid all the time. When Torment is dunking dudes off of their backboard, C9 is God Tier.
Torment also feeds off the energy of the crowd like Jason “Klassux” Klass does but with a lot less yelling. The crowd was behind C9 in Dallas and it brought the best out of Torment and C9. How many times have you seen Torment land on the ceiling and score a goal like this?
I’d say close to zero. It’s because when the crowd roars C9 delivers. Torment can really feel himself, and when he does, Cloud9 is unstoppable.
As soon as Vitality dropped game one against Mouz I knew they were in trouble. Then they looked flat against y0 and I was really nervous. The loss to Mouz made their route to Day 3 much more difficult. They got bodied by NRG in the uppers, fell to the lowers where they smacked Renegades and then got super swept by Complexity. Sonic says that’s no good.
Kyle “Scrub Killa” Robertson made an interesting point on Twitter about how Psyonix need to allow coaches to talk to players between matches and discuss tactics. I completely agree with this point, but come on, Scrub. Own up to it. You can’t be the guy guaranteeing wins over opponents and calling people losers on stream and then ask for a timeout against an RLRS team. Kyle, you have two of the most experienced and decorated players in the world at your side. As great as Gregan is, sometimes you need to figure it out on your own.
To be clear, Scrub’s wrestling persona is a breath of fresh air in the overly respectful and gentle pro scene. But you can’t have it both ways, mate. If you’re gonna flex on everyone, then you better be ready to take a couple L’s on the chin and keep chugging.
In the long run, I see this as an absolute win for Vitality (extends arms). Vitality needed to confront a bit of adversity before Worlds. If Vitality can learn from their Day 2 exit they’ll somehow become even stronger. They also learned they have trouble against Mourinho-like park the bus defensive strategies. Imagine if they learned they struggle against overly defensive approaches in the losers’ bracket in New Jersey. This could be a long term win.
Winner/Loser: Holding to Tradition
EG capped off the weekend with their best ever major finish in Dallas. They straight up outplayed FC Barcelona and Bluey’s stupid armband to make top four, but I’m concerned that the result might come back to bite them later on. Evil Geniuses will have to confront a very serious roster problem this offseason, and I’m worried that this Dallas run will cloud their judgement in making the tough decision that lies ahead of them.
I have the same worry for Team SoloMid. They made the Grand Final and all, but they had one of the worst second halves to any season in RLCS history. It would be so easy to hang their hats on this performance and decide to run it back, but this team isn’t good enough to win the RLCS. They play a style that is almost entirely reliant on their more creative opponents making mistakes and leaving the net open. TSM’s rotations are always solid, EyeIgnite is always in dangerous positions, Metsa is great in the midfield and Remkoe is a true legend.
But when they run into creative teams that don’t give the ball away or whiff in bad spots, they can’t do much (see: Grand Final games five and six). So what do they do? TSM’s ceiling and floor are at very comfortable levels, but it’s hard to see them reaching much higher without finding innovative ways to score. Try and remember the last jaw-dropping goal you saw from TSM. It’s hard to do.
So do they just run it back and hope to steal a LAN win here and there? Or do they try and upgrade at Remco “Remkoe” den Boer’s position or try and adapt to a new playstyle with the guys they have? I don’t know, but the absolute worst thing they can do is just run it back without changing their identity in some way. That may be tough to do.
Bringing it back to EG, how do they improve? While Klassux certainly brings a lot of energy and he assumes that a 2-5 performance in League Play doesn’t warrant any doubt from viewers, he was the weak link on a very weak team in Season 7. If Drippay doesn’t move on in the offseason, Klassux is the logical player to replace. Now that they did so well in Dallas, is that still the case?
Before this weekend it was. Will this one result lock them into another season of elephant-like first touches and ill-advised demo attempts? If it does, EG are stuck. They’ll continue to compete with and perhaps surprise teams around their level, but they’ll never go beyond that.
Which leads me to the ever present question. How many players that are better than Klassux and Remkoe are really out there? There’s no point in making a roster move if you don’t think it’s an immediate and long term upgrade. Should these teams just embrace their mediocre squads and hope for some more enticing non-RLCS LAN results? Or should they shoot for the stars and sign some emerging talent?
Maybe Drippay will jump ship and EG’s only decision will be whether or not they disband.
Loser: Whoever didn’t think this through all the way:
— askie (@Askie) May 31, 2019
Great DreamHack. Now Communist Celery wants to be on your friends list. RIP. Oof. Okay. Wow!
Feature image courtesy of Cloud9.
“From Our Haus to Yours”