“Sorry to let you down.”
Those harrowing words appeared as a somber antendum to Mariano “Squishy” Arruda’s Season 8 recap tweet.
One more game win one less game loss today or the entire season and we would have been top 6 and been safe from having to play the promo/relegation tourney. Terrible feeling, but at the end of the day what’s done is done, gotta move on and learn from it. Sorry to let you down.
— C9 Squishy (@SquishyMuffinz) November 2, 2019
Squishy makes a good point. His Cloud9 team fell to the Promotion Tournament by a one game margin, and it speaks to how thin the differences are between top teams.
This season has been an anomaly. Perennial powerhouses like Cloud9 and G2 face falling to Rocket League’s second division this weekend and it still feels strange typing those words out.
Both teams finished 2-5 on the season. G2 finished 8th in NA after finishing second at last season’s World Championship. Cloud9 finished in 7th two seasons after winning the World Championship.
This is the most star-studded Promotion Tournament in Rocket League history, and the ripple of what happens this weekend could change the complexion of roster continuity in the esport.
If any of the four teams drop this weekend the players on them will be highly sought after on RLCS squads looking to upgrade. The consequences are heavy.
All of that being said, the Rival Series teams looking to promote face the toughest challenge of their careers. No matter what happens, sparks are sure to fly.
The format for the tournament is four team-double elimination as in seasons past. The top two RLRS teams from NA and EU both earned promotion last week during the Rival Series Playoff.
NA Promotion Tournament Preview
Cloud9 and Chaos Esports Club begin North America’s Promotion tournament.
Chaos had a very solid season in the Rival Series, finishing 4th in GPG and 2nd in GAPG. They feature former RLCS player Gabe “CorruptedG” Vallozzi and rising talents Jack “mectos” Privitera and Alexandre “Taroco” Pedrogam. The team finished fourth in League Play.
This will likely be the greatest offensive arsenal that mectos and Taroco has ever faced, but CorruptedG went toe to toe with the Dignitas dynasty at the Season 6 World Championship. He’s a veteran leader playing on a team with nothing to lose.
Cloud9 on the other hand face enormous pressure. Squishy is the games most famous player and before this season they were in the conversation for the best team in Rocket League history. Now they’re two series losses away from dropping to the second division.
Rocketeers’ Andrew Hayward reported that Cloud9 have looked good in scrims. He quoted Adam “Lawler” Thornton as saying, “[Cloud9] are looking hungrier than ever, they’re re-motivated, they’re scrimming like crazy, and taking scrims seriously. When Cloud9 starts taking things seriously for the first time, in my opinion, in three seasons, watch out. That’s scary.”
There is a clear on paper favorite in this matchup. In theory, Cloud9 is far too skilled to drop, but they shouldn’t really be here in the first place. Can the blue bombers bounce back?
G2 face Charlotte Phoenix in the other first round contest. Charlotte is a slight twist on the Splyce squad that was relegated from the RLCS last season. Daniel “Shadow” Manso has stepped in for Trevor “DudeWithTheNose” Hannah and the Phoenix finished in first place during League Play.
They fell in a heartbreaking Game 7 to RBG Esports and missed promotion last week, but they’ve got a second chance here against G2.
In a lot of ways G2 find themselves in the same boat as Cloud9. Their descent from Rocket League royalty has been frustrating, but it might have been the slap in the face they needed.
Statistically G2 were very unlucky to finish as low as they did. They had the region’s third best offense and the third worst defense. That’s hardly a recipe for relegation, but they looked completely broken at times this season.
If they have taken the initiative to get back to were they were, then G2 should make quick work of Charlotte, but the Phoenix will be ready to punish any lapse in focus that might come. G2 are matched up with an RLCS quality team, and they’ll have to play their best to win.
In the eight Promotion Tournaments (in NA and EU) since the Rival Series began in Season 4, only 4 of the 16 teams to earn an RLCS spot have lost in their first match.
Bread, Allegiance, Fnatic and The Bricks are the only teams to have qualified after dropping to the Loser’s Bracket in round one. Winning the first series completely swings the probability of a team moving up.
EU Promotion Tournament Preview
Team SoloMid kicks off Sunday’s action against Method. Method is another team hosting RLCS talent with former Triple Trouble standout Euan “Tadpole” Ingram.
Tadpole’s teammates, Rix “Rix Ronday” Ronday and Boris “Borito B” Pieper, have been in the hunt for a Championship Series spot since Season 6. They’ve finished in the top four each of the last three RLRS seasons, but have their first chance at the Promotion Tournament because of the expanded 10 team format.
They face a tough competitor in TSM. Yanis “Alpha54” Champenois was Season 7’s EU MVP, and had a pretty stellar statistical season once again. His team struggled to produce around him and they limped to a 3-4 finish with a -5 game differential.
Remco “Remkoe” den Boer and Otto “Metsanauris” Kaipiainen are legendary figures in the scene but struggled at times in Season 8. They play for a massive org that might drop the team if they relegate, so there’s a lot of pressure to perform on Sunday.
Of the four teams involved in EU’s play this weekend, TSM seem like the clearest option to retain their spot, but at this point anything can happen.
In the other series Team Singularity face Complexity Gaming. Singularity almost snagged their ascension last week against Discombobulators, but fell in six games.
Leon “Godsmilla” Mares, Thomas “ThO.” Binkhorst, and Joseph “Noly” Kidd have pop off potential, and face what may be the weakest RLCS team in the Promotion Tournament from either region.
Complexity ended the season with a -11 game differential and finished 0-7. If any RLCS team actually does drop to the second division it’s probably going to be Complexity.
They were able to push four series to five games, but could barely muster 1.13 GPG during League Play. If Singularity knock them to the lower bracket early, then they might be heading to the Rival Series.
North American play begins Saturday, Nov. 30 at 3 p.m. ET, and European action kicks off at 12 p.m. ET on twitch.tv/rocketleague.
Featured image courtesy of Todd Gutierrez for DreamHack.
Follow me on Twitter: @connorssanders.
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