The Rocket League Championship Series is sending three teams that were recently promoted from its second division to the World Championship LAN in Newark, New Jersey. FC Barcelona, Triple Trouble and Rogue (formerly FlyQuest) were all playing in the Rival Series as recently as two seasons ago.
There has been a recent influx of talent in the second division, and the Rival Series has started to bare fruit at the highest level. Season 7’s Rival Series play was no different, and produced some high flying action that could send ripples through the scene in the near future. Season 7 of the RLRS is now in the books and the Promotion Playoffs are on the horizon. Now is the prefect time to recap the season that was, as well as take a look at each of these teams’ future.
Rival Series Season 7 NA Recap
Birds and the Beez put together the second best Rival Series performance in NA’s history. They finished the season 7-0 and had a 21-8 individual game record. The only team with a better record came in Season 4 where Fibeon eSports were led to a 21-4 record behind the stellar play of current G2 star Reed “Chicago” Wilen. Birds and the Beez played consistently powerful Rocket League, but were tested by The Peeps, Afterthought and Pittsburgh Embers.
Each of those series went to five games, but Birds and the Beez showed a special ability to close out series. Nick “mist” Costello was a revelation for the team, averaging 0.97 GPG, 0.59 APG and 1.62 SAPG. He had a Sypical-like RLRS performance and is a player to watch in the future despite only appearing in one RLRS series before this season. His team has the potential to knock off Splyce or Evil Geniuses and earn promotion to the RLCS.
The Peeps also had an impressive Season 7 and finished second in League Play with a 5-2, 17-10 record. Experience was key for the team who finished 5-2 in Season 6 of the RLRS. Slater “Retals” Thomas joined the team in place of Carter “Pirates” Tschumper who left the team to form Plot Twist. Retals was crucial for The Peeps, but the veteran familiarity of Arsenal and Jirair “ExplosiveGyro” Papazian was just as important.
What set The Peeps apart was their ability to close out series. After a week one sweep by Upper90, The Peeps went 17-7. Four games was the difference between promotion and a mid-table finish. The Peeps ability to sweep and beat opponents 3-1 earned them a shot at promotion.
Plot Twist got the short end of the stick on game differential, and finished third with a 5-2, 16-13 record. They only took one win off the top two and let bottom dwellers Afterthought and The D00ds force them into five game series. Third is not a bad position to be in though. They automatically requalify for the RLRS, and, as The Peeps proved, experience in the RLRS is invaluable. Splyce spent two seasons in the RLRS and earned promtion as well. Plot Twist may well be the favorite in NA RLRS looking ahead to Season 8.
RBG Esports (formerly Compadres) finished in the exact same position as Season 6, fourth place. Their 4-3, 15-14 record was slightly better than last season, but they’re still not where they need to be to earn promotion. They added Jalen “Rapid” Parker in place of Caleb “Moses” Nichols before Season 7, but RBG was mediocre in every statistical category. They could keep playing mid-level RLRS play forever, but not if they have their eyes on promotion. Another roster upgrade or significant offseason player development is in order.
Pittsburgh Embers narrowly missed out on top four with a 3-4, 14-13 record. The Embers season was plagued by animosity that came as a result of Psyonix’s decision to ban Santiago “Demonator” Prada for racist comments he made in a ranked match. Demon was banned after week two, and the Embers were 1-2. They finished the season 2-3 without him, but couldn’t grab wins against fellow mid-table teams Plot Twist and RBG.
The Embers are in an interesting position. Kai “Kai99jr” Jochems had a solid season in Demon’s place, but they didn’t have the talent needed to climb the ranks. This team had some nice chemistry and if they run it back next season should have a solid chance at qualifying for the RLRS again and making a top four run. The trouble is qualifying for the RLRS is very difficult, and bubble teams tend to drift apart during the offseason.
Afterthought had a disappointing 2-5, 12-16 season and landed in sixth place. Back at WSOE 4, Afterthought seemed to be the RLRS team on the rise, but team chemistry issues drove Mist and Colby “Hockser” James to leave AFT and form Birds and the Beez. Nathan “Shock” Frommelt was left to find two more teammates before the season began, and it didn’t pan out. AFT had a potent offense, but allowed 2.54 goals per game, worst in the league.
Shock and his squad struggled to close out series and lost three game fives in Season 7. Former RLCS players Hayden “Hato” Balsys and Ty “TyNotTyler” Helewa both had moments, but weren’t consistent enough to win against stronger competition. Shock will be back in the scene. The question is with whom.
Upper 90 Esports struggled on defense all season and finished in seventh with a 1-6, 8-18 record. In week one U90 swept The Peeps, but never played the same. They held The Peeps to two goals in that series, but it was one of their only quality defensive performances this season. Upper 90 were fortunate to make the RLRS and it showed. They never seemed to find their footing against faster, more mechanically skilled teams.
The D00ds were NA’s other punching bag and finished the season in last place with a 1-6, 8-19 record. Upper 90 only escaped the cellar because they stole a game against The D00ds in their week two loss. The D00ds couldn’t stop anybody and had the worst offense in NA. They made the RLRS by a fingernail, and couldn’t hang with the competition. Raphael “Ralph014” Morin tried to recreate some of the Season 5 magic he had with future RLCS players Jorolelin and AxB, but it didn’t pan out.
Rival Series Season 7 EU Recap
Veloce Esports had a Birds and the Beez-esque season over in EU, as they finished 7-0, 21-8. Their group of former RLCS talent (Niels “Nielskoek” Kok, Sandro “FreaKii” Holzwarth and Jack “FlamE” Pearton) was unstoppable this season. FlamE and Nielskoek scored at will because of FreaKii’s precise and timely passing. Veloce averaged 2.21 GPG while allowing just 1.59 GPG.
The squad played five of their seven matches in the first two weeks. Theymay have benefited from being hot at the right time. That doesn’t take away from their success. Mousesports and The Bricks finished bottom two in the RLCS, and Veloce could have a good chance of beating either of those teams. As mentioned earlier, having a plethora of experienced players in the RLRS is invaluable (e.g. Barcelona, Splyce, The Peeps, Complexity). None of these players had much suceess in the RLCS (besides Niels’ Season 4 MVP), so it will be interesting to see if they can rewrite their career trajectories if promoted.
Complexity finished second in the league despite finishing just 4-3, 15-10. Once again, game differential was key, and Complexity had a knack for sweeping opponents and refused to be swept themselves. Complexity swept Baguette Squad, Method and ZeNoMoon, and lost 3-1 to Rightovers, Veloce and ARG. Those three individual game wins in series losses were the difference between second and third.
Experience played a big role in Complexity’s success as well. Joonas “Mognus” Salo is a former World Championship runner-up and Marius “gReazymeister” Ranheim won a World Championship back in Season 2. Once they added Hrant “Flakes” Yakoub, they completed Savage!’s formula for success. Their styles of play are completely different, their roster construction was nearly identical. They’ll have their hands full against Mouz and The Bricks, but their affinity for passing and scoring makes them a definite threat. Especially when considering Flakes may have been the league’s best player this season.
ARG narrowly missed out on top two with a 4-3, 15-12 record. The Spanish squad had the league’s best defense, but had disappointing losses to ZeNoMoon and Baguette Squad that cost them promotion. They also weren’t able to close out sweeps against Rightovers and Complexity. Hindsight is 20/20 and all, but their finish goes to show how important each game is at the professional level.
Finishing third probably feels disappointing, but ARG had a great season. They’re the absolute RLRS favorite if the teams above them both promote. Their style wasn’t exactly fun to watch, but it was intensely
effective. ARG allowed just 1.19 GPG (no other team allowed less than 1.5), but they only scored 1.67. They had a decent shooting percentage (24.39% fourth best in EU RLRS), so accuracy isn’t the issue. If ARG can manage to create more opportunities and maintain their brick-wall defense, they’ll be in the RLCS in no time.
Method maintained their RLRS spot with a 3-4, 14-15 finish. Fourth place keeps the team in the league, but Method have been frustratingly mediocre the last two seasons. They played in the most competitive RLRS season ever in Season 6, but dropped off significantly after Andy “Kassio” Landais left the team for Triple Trouble. Kassio is an offensive mastermind, and his replacement, Marten “Oscillon” van Zee, is solid but couldn’t fill the giant shoes left behind for him.
They’ll continue to grind in the RLRS, and if Veloce are proof of anything, it’s that persistence pays off. Method have options next season, but need to improve on both sides of the ball.
Baguette Squad (3-4, 13-16) were a really fun story. They were the highest seed to qualify for the league, but they struggled to get things going on offense. The higher a player climbs the Rocket League ranks, the better the defenses they’ll face. It’s almost amazing a team that only scored 1.55 GPG won three series. There’s potential in this squad, but now everything comes down to work ethic. They should run it back and see if the roster can recreate their defensive performance and knock in a few more goals.
Vikings finished sixth with a 3-4, 12-18 record. They seemed uninspired all season, and only announced they would participate in the league right before the season. If felt like one last ride for the original Rival Series conquerors. Fnatic (Vikings old org) were the first team to earn promotion in EU back in Season 4, and now three seasons later their run has come to a close after Mohammed Joseph “MummiSnow” Salameh announced his retirement. It’s funny how life comes full circle sometimes.
The Rightovers’ name was the best part about their season. They finished 2-5, 12-17 and landed in seventh. Their defense was the worst in the league, but they did score plenty of goals (1.97 GPG). They have the important part down, but need to figure out how to slow their opponents’ flow of offense. It can be so hard to requalify for the RLRS, so the Rightovers are in limbo until further notice.
ZeNoMoon also had an interesting name, but also had a tough season. They mirrored The Rightovers’ 2-5 record, but went 11-17 overall. They were the last team to qualify for the Rival Series and had too big a hill to climb to finish top four. If they split up, Evan “Monkey Moon” Rogez will be a player to watch on another team. Monkey Moon showed promise throughout the season, but needs to smooth out some of the rough edges in his game.
Feature image courtesy of Rocketeers.gg.
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