Even after gaining promotion, Colby “Hockser” James and Raul “Roll Dizz” Diaz refused to stand still for too long. Their avoidance of stagnation has led them to Rocket League’s premier division, but they’ll have to prove they can stay with a new teammate.
Jackson “Ayjacks” Carter is the most unproven player in the Rocket League Championship Series. His teammates were undefeated in the Rival Series, a league that he never had success in with Manhattan. Can he skip a step and get up to speed?
This is Best Case/Worst Case, a Game Haus preview series profiling each Rocket League Championship Series team. With the season just over a month away, now is the perfect time to project each team’s ceiling and floor looking ahead to Season 8.
The fourth preview focuses on one of the game’s least online teams, Birds and the Beez. Catch up on the rest of the previews here.
Season 7 Results: 1st place in RLRS (7-0, 21-8). Lost to The Peeps, but beat Splyce in the lower finals to earn promotion.
Off-season Movement: Added Ayjacks (did not qualify in Season 7) in place of Nick “Mist” Costello.
Off-season Performance: 5th-6th DreamHack: Montreal Qualifiers
Team MVP: Roll Dizz
Realistic Team Goal: Avoid relegation.
Background and Team History
This roster originally started out as Afterthought, a squad that featured Mist, Hockser and Nathan “Shock” Frommelt. Afterthought became the opposite of its moniker after qualifying for WSOE out of nowhere earlier this year.
Then drama happened and Mist and Hockser swapped Shock for Roll Dizz and qualified for the Rival Series under the name Birds and the Beez. Mist had one hell of a season with BnB, but signed with The Peeps in the offseason.
No one is really sure why Mist decided to make the move away from a successful squad, but he seems like an impulsive but realistic person. He was quick to move on from Shock, and he tried out with Ghost before signing with The Peeps.
Mist wasn’t going to sit on his hands if a better opportunity came, so it’s intriguing that he left one promoted team for the other. He must have believed Slater “Retals” Thomas and Jirair “ExplosiveGyro” Papazian were better than Hockser and Roll Dizz and gave him a better chance of winning. Maybe the fit wasn’t quite right with BnB’s preferred style.
Either way he’s gone now, and Ayjacks will be charged with playing at an RLCS level despite not having played in the Rival Series last season. Ayjacks narrowly missed out on the RLRS (his Avocado side lost to The D00ds in the final series of the Play-in). Birds and the Beez went for talent and upside over experience and consistency.
Ayjacks performed well playing alongside Roll Dizz and Austin “ostyn” Franklin under the team name y0 at DreamHack: Dallas. The squad nearly eliminated Season 7 World Champions Renault Vitality on Day 1, and Ayjacks was a big part of that.
Relegation still hangs around the dark corners of promoted teams coldly waiting to claim its next victim. A bump in the road right now could derail the team’s journey, and if relegation were a speed bump it would probably take up two thirds of BnB’s road.
This team is not dead in the water either. They just have a lot to prove. Birds and the Beez have an encouraging foundation and a team that seems to enjoy playing together. If Roll Dizz and Hockser didn’t believe in Ayjacks they would have tried someone else out. There’s value in enjoying the company of your teammates. Just ask G2 and Cameron “Kronovi” Bills.
On the other hand, Season 8 boasts the deepest collection of talent the RLCS has ever had. North America advanced three teams to the semi-finals of the World Championship and the team that didn’t added Pierre “Turbopolsa” Silfver in the offseason. The top half of the region is scary and Birds and the Beez may not have the firepower to challenge top teams.
Relegation is a real possibility for this team, but upsets happen all the time. No one doubts the mechanical ability of this team. That isn’t the only key to victory though.
Best Case Scenario
Birds and the Beez picked up a first place finish in the Rival Esports Summer Open, and Ayjacks performed so well that they extended him the roster spot. He wasn’t gifted a free spot on the team. Ayjacks proved his worth on the pitch and now he’s in the RLCS.
BnB topped Spacestation, RBG Esports and The Peeps in that competition, but NRG didn’t take it seriously enough to make it out of the first round. It’s hard to read too deeply into that result, but at least it’s something.
Roll Dizz, Hockser and Ayjacks aren’t the types to post clips or tip their strategic hand in show matches. That could mean they’re so busy grinding that they don’t have time for social media. They could be tuning out the haters and focusing on their on-field play. It could also mean they just don’t like using social media.
Maybe Ayjacks has been on a Rocky 4 level grind after being promoted to Rank S in six mans in June. If the team is doing everything right in terms of preparation for Season 8, then they don’t really have much to fear.
Ayjacks is nuts enough to perfectly double tap against Renault Vitality. Hockser is a consistent player and Roll Dizz looks like Jordan “EyeIgnite” Stellon at times. There’s a lot of skill on this roster and their talents could mesh nicely. They’ll need to tighten up their defense.
No one is expecting this team to make LAN in their first season. They were the RLRS favorites after dominating the Season 7 Play-in, but they’re underdogs now. Birds and the Beez may play even better without the burden of expectations.
Birds and the Beez played in four series that went the full five games last season. They won all four of those series including an epic Game 5 overtime win against The Peeps. They’ve proven they can withstand adversity and win when the series is on the line.
The ability to finish series is the most valuable skill in Rocket League. A 2-5 season becomes a 5-2 season with the only difference being three individual wins. BnB have proven that they can win when it matters.
It obviously wasn’t dumb luck that Birds and the Beez went 7-0. They had the best season that anyone could have asked of them. Now they get their well deserved chance on the big stage. Their lack of experience makes it hard to foresee them taking advantage, but the opportunity is there.
Worst Case Scenario
Veloce Esports had the exact same League Play record as Birds and the Beez, but didn’t have the fortune of playing a broken Evil Geniuses side in the Promotion Playoff. Veloce are the European favorites to drop back down to the Rival Series, so why should fans see BnB as anything different?
Adjusting to the speed of RLCS play is one thing, but doing after not playing a season is entirely different. Ayjacks can take advantage of scrims and DreamHacks, but the League Play marathon is another world.
Can BnB avoid being swept by G2, Cloud9 and NRG? Can they beat Rogue, Ghost, The Peeps or Spacestation? Right now, Birds and the Beez are likely the underdogs in every series. How many upsets can they realistically pull off?
Ayjacks didn’t make the RLRS in Season 7, but his teams didn’t perform well while he was there. His Manhattan outfit finished 2-5 in Seasons 5 and 6. Ayjacks wasn’t tearing defenses apart then, so what evidence suggests that he can do that now?
What about offseason experience? It’s always difficult to make travel work when a team is without an org, but Ayjacks needs all the reps he can get. Why aren’t they playing at DreamHack: Montreal this weekend? Have they not drawn any interest from orgs? If so, why?
Perhaps the best analogy for this team relates most easily to their acronym, BnB. Birds and the Beez, like AirBnBs (cheap rental homes often used instead of hotels), are fun to think about but will likely end up being disappointing upon arrival. Sometimes not knowing much about an AirBnB means a traveler is walking into a disappointing vacation and it might be the same for Birds and the Beez.
No one wants to stay at an AirBnB for too long, and Birds and the Beez might not stick around the RLCS for long either. They’ll have a lot to learn and implement on the fly, and it may prove too difficult of a task.
There are only three other teams in the history of the Rival Series to go 7-0. Fibeon eSports lost to Dappur and Timi in the Promotion Playoff. Fnatic won three series in two seasons before dropping back down and the jury is still out on Veloce. Birds and the Beez are not in elite company.
The Rival Series’ expansion to ten teams may be beneficial for BnB. Maybe they can play another season in the RLRS, get some more reps and re-qualify as a stronger team. Perhaps they can overpower a Rival Series newby and retain their spot.
It seems most likely that Birds and the Beez have already scheduled a reservation with the Promotion Playoff. Now it’s time to see if they’ll be good enough to blow it off.
TL;DR: Birds and the Beez have shown flashes of talent, but their lack of high level reps will prove to be a massive obstacle. They can win late series matches, but they may not play many five game series.
Featured image courtesy of Todd Gutierrez for DreamHack.
Follow Connor on Twitter: @connorssanders.
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