Jos “ViolentPanda” van Meurs is the last surviving member of Rocket League’s longest standing dynasty.
Much like the Golden State Warriors of the NBA, it’s hard to convince stars to stick around when the winning stops. Especially with players whose ambitions rise as high as Kevin Durant and Pierre “Turbopolsa” Silfver do.
He won’t be suiting up alongside Turbopolsa for the first time since Season 4 in October of 2017. That’s four seasons and 709 days since their first RLCS match together.
Maurice “Yukeo” Weish and Maello “AztraL” Ernst are now on his flanks. This is a new look Dignitas team that has the potential to rescue itself from Season 7’s near-relegation performance.
This is Best Case/Worst Case, a Game Haus preview series profiling each Rocket League Championship Series team. With the season just days away, now is the perfect time to project each team’s ceiling and floor looking ahead to Season 8.
Season 7 Results: 5th place in EU (3-4, 12-14). Beat Team SoloMid but lost to PSG Esports in the Regional Championship.
Off-season Movement: Added AzrtaL (did not play in RLCS/RLRS last season) in place of Turbopolsa (0.69 GPG, 0.23 APG, 1.58 SAPG).
Off-season Performance: 9-12th DreamHack: Valencia Closed Qualifier, 3rd-4th DreamHack: Dallas, 9th-12th DreamHack: Valencia, 5th-6th DreamHack: Montreal Closed Qualifier, 3rd Rocket League Summit, 5-8th DreamHack: Montreal.
Team Stats: 1.62 GPG (7th), 1.35 APG (7th), 4.42 SAPG (7th), 2.04 GAPG (6th)
Team MVP: ViolentPanda
Realistic Team Goal: Make Knockout Stage of World Championship.
Background and Team History
Boy, they really missed Alexandre “Kaydop” Courant in Season 7. Their drop off from Season 6 (2.92 GPG, 2.40 APG, 5.12 SAPG, 1.32 GAPG compared to the stats above). They went from first in every statistical category to last or next to last.
Still, they almost made LAN and bounced back well in the last three weeks of the season. The problem is their -17 goal differential indicates they should have finished seventh and played in the promotion tournament.
They were fortunate to finish where they did. Kaydop’s quick reads and sweet striking of the ball was sorely missed. Yukeo isn’t nearly as skilled as Kaydop (no one is), but he’s also a much more indecisive player. He improved as the season went along, but there were moments where ViolentPanda and Turbopolsa expected to move in and he didn’t.
The Kaydop effect also took its toll on Panda and Turbo’s production. Turbo went from second in EU in assists to last in assists in Season 7. Panda was a top-five goal scorer in Season 6, but finished 16th in GPG in Season 7.
Dignitas struggled to find an identity without Kaydop, so they played slow, muddy Rocket League.
Now they don’t need to worry about replacing anyone. Turbo’s Season 7 performance left much to be desired, and Panda is the last relic of those Dignitas teams. They shouldn’t feel tethered to how they played in the past, and now they have a Justin “JSTN” Morales type mechanical genius in AztraL.
Their Beyond the Summit performance was scary, and they might be a sleeper pick for the top spot in EU. They’ve got a cohesive lineup ready to do some damage.
One of the most disappointing storylines from Season 7 was watching Yukeo’s rising playmaking star status dwindle into mediocrity. He finished top five in assists and saves with Flipsid3 in Season 6, and finished seventh in assists and third in saves, but in the end, it didn’t matter.
He didn’t play like Kaydop, and his skills didn’t mesh with Turbo during League Play. Now they’ve found an out and out striker who can not only match Yukeo’s mechanical skill but surpass him.
AztraL is the biggest wildcard in EU this season. If he comes into the league like JSTN in Season 5 or Yanis “Alpha54” Champenois in Season 7, then Dignitas fans will be in for a treat. Players won’t know what to expect in terms of tendencies because he’s so new to the professional scene.
Add one of the five most solid Rocket League players of all time, and there’s a delicious offensive stew brewing on the stove. Yukeo can handle the defensive duties and connect with AztraL on passes, and ViolentPanda can fill in the gaps. They’ll be fun to watch in Season 8.
A large part of their playstyle will be affected by boost management. Turbopolsa collected less boost than any player in NA or EU last season. AztraL needs a lot of boost to do all the crazy stuff he does, and those pellets have to come from somewhere.
That could lead to Dignitas upping the aggression on boost steals and could force Yukeo and Panda to use less. AztraL cannot take a season to get adjusted to RLCS play like Kyle “Scrub Killa” Robertson did if they want to go deep at the World Championship.
In the offseason AztraL has had moments. He lit up Rocket League Summit 1 was basking in the praise from hoards of Rocket League fans. ViolentPanda hasn’t played with a mechanical mastermind like AztraL in a long time, and their skill sets complement each other well.
If AztraL burst onto the scene, Panda recovers from his flop in Season 7 and Yukeo finds a more comfortable role, then Dignitas could win the league in EU. If Vitality or Reciprocity slip, then Dig will be right on their tails.
These out of nowhere players always seem to work out, don’t they? Yukeo went from Gfinity events to starting alongside Francesco “Kuxir97” Cinquemani. Emil “Fruity” Moslund found a key role on one of the best teams in the world.
Will one of these Rival Series skipping prospects ever misfire? How come none of these players have been exposed and left behind because of their lack of polish? Does mechanics outweigh all? Will every raw prospect hit?
So far, mostly yes. That doesn’t mean the trend will continue forward indefinitely. Eventually, a raw prospect’s limited game sense will be exposed. AztraL may not be the one to experience that, but it has to happen eventually.
If Aztral can’t hack it, Dignitas will struggle to score goals. Yukeo and ViolentPanda finished in the bottom 10 of goals per game in EU, and they don’t take a lot of shots either (21st and 18th in EU, respectively).
For Dignitas to challenge for the top, AztraL will have to finish in the top five players in goals per game. Yukeo and Panda are excellent creators but will need a better than 30% shooting rate on a steady diet of shots. Kaydop, Scrub Killa and kuxir97 were the only players in EU with a +30% shooting percentage on more than three shots per game.
That’s elite company for any player, especially one in his first season of professional Rocket League. He seems to have the mechanics to do it, but does he have the consistency, the determination and patience to do it?
Only three players in EU did, and they’re all World Champions. If AztraL can’t score, it’s scary to think that no one else will. Turbopolsa struggled in Kaydop’s striker role, and AztraL has the exact same supporting cast.
Panda and Yukeo need to finish toward the middle of the pack in goals. AztraL will make chances off of missed shots and his teammates will need to pounce on them.
Last season Dignitas’ preview said they could make LAN with anyone as their third, and they nearly got relegated. Despite that, it still doesn’t seem like the Promotion Playoff is on the horizon for ViolentPanda and Dignitas.
After starting out 0-3 (with losses to FC Barcelona, PSG and Vitality by the way), Dignitas finished 3-1 and 11-5 the rest of the way. They’ve proven they can bounce back, but they could end up on the outside looking in come playoff time once again.
TL;DR: If AztraL doesn’t find the back of the net, they’ll be in trouble. If he’s as good as advertised, he has complimentary teammates that could bring the best out of him on their way to a top-two finish.
Featured image courtesy of Stephanie “Vexanie” Lindgren for DreamHack.
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