Well, at least no one will have to call them The Bricks anymore.
After narrowly avoiding relegation, Jack “Speed” Packwood-Clarke and Francesco “kuxir97” Cinquemani are back in the Rocket League Championship Series. They added a player they relegated, Linus “al0t” Möllergren to the team and are looking to change their trajectory.
The path ahead will be laden with challenges, but they have enough experience to challenge for a LAN position. They’ve left David “Miztik” Lawrie behind and, evidently, are hoping to play a more offensive style.
This is Best Case/Worst Case, a Game Haus preview series profiling each Rocket League Championship Series team. With the season just weeks away, now is the perfect time to project each team’s ceiling and floor looking ahead to Season 8.
Season 7 Results: 7th place in EU (2-5, 11-18). Beat Mousesports (al0t, Maik “Tigreee” Hoffman and Alex “alex161” Ernst) and Veloce in the Promotion Playoff.
Off-season Movement: Added al0t (0.79 GPG, 0.45 APG, 1.66 SAPG) in place of Miztik (0.28 GPG, 0.76 APG, 1.59 SAPG).
Off-season Performance: 5-8th, DreamHack: Montreal, 7-8th Rocket League Summit 1, 4th DreamHack: Montreal Closed Qualifier, 3-4th DreamHack: Valencia, 4th DreamHack: Valencia Closed Qualifier.
Team Stats: 2.07 GPG (3rd), 1.52 APG (4th), 4.90 SAPG (4th), 2.10 GAPG (7th)
Team MVP: Kuxir97
Realistic Team Goal: Make LAN
Background and Team History
When Flipsid3 Tactics won WSOE in Speed’s first major, it seemed like they would be among the contenders to replace Dignitas after Alexandre “Kaydop” Courant went to Vitality. Then they lost Triple Trouble in the first match of Season 7 and tumbled to a seventh place finish.
What changed in the three months between WSOE and League Play? Well. A lot of things.
Speed went through a severe regression to the mean (his WSOE performance is quietly one of the most insane pop-offs in RL history). Kuxir inched further away from his prime and Miztik had a head start on the road to a post RLCS career.
The Bricks had moments offensively. In fact, Kux won golden striker with 1.07 GPG. Speed finished 10th with 0.72 GPG. Miztik recorded more assists per game than any non-Vitality player. 2.07 GPG is an impressive output.
The issue arises when one looks closer at those stats. They’re buoyed by a random 10 goal outburst in garbage time against Dignitas and a seven-goal onslaught early on against Mouz. Their offensive numbers also mask how bad the defense was.
Only Season 7’s Mousesports had a worse defense. This is especially troubling considering the addition of al0t, who finished last on that team in saves per game. Adding another striker doesn’t bode well for their GAPG.
Season 8 Mousesports (Speed, al0t and Kux, it gets confusing) are one of the most interesting roster compositions in Europe. Speed is a high boost player (72nd percentile, only eight EU players used more per minute), but Kux (35th percentile) and al0t (25th percentile) are relatively lower.
This group doesn’t really play like each other like FC Barcelona (had three of the six boost-happiest players in the region). That could be a way to balance weaknesses, or they could stumble all over each other.
Speed is the most likely candidate to play “third man”, but none are traditional defenders like Kyle “Torment” Storer or Dillon “Rizzo” Rizzo. That doesn’t mean they can’t play defensively, but it likely means they’ll play more aggressively and barrage the net with shots as they’ve done at DreamHack: Valencia and Montreal.
That bodes well for Speed and Kuxir. Speed was a model of efficiency scoring a goal in every 3.09 shots (best in EU). Kuxir also scored often with one goal every 3.2 shots (third in EU).
Miztik took a healthy 2.66 shots per game, but only scored 0.28 GPG (last in EU). That means he scored about once every ten shots. Last season al0t scored a goal about every three and a half shots (seventh in EU). Huge upgrade in terms of efficiency.
The offense shouldn’t struggle to score, but as the American football cliche goes, defense wins championships. The last three EU League Play champs gave up the least amount of goals per game in the region. They also all had Kaydop. Go figure.
So if the offense is good on paper, then Mouz just need to focus on keeping their net clean right? Seems like a pretty good idea.
Establishing some sort of defensive identity will be key. They can challenge every midfield ball like Season 7 Team SoloMid or they can pack in tight and much a bunch of saves like Ghost. Either way they can’t give up 8.72 shots per game like they did last season.
They’ll probably go for some kind of mix of the two, but their offense should be good enough to pin opponents in their own half. Kux and al0t will force a lot of saves and Speed will pounce on plenty of loose clears.
More pressure will make playing defense easier, but settling on a defensive identity will dictate how they play offense.
The excel spreadsheet potential of the offense is good, but doesn’t matter if they’re constantly getting scored on. The Bricks lived through that last season. Kuxir takes a bunch of shots, miztik makes the passes and Speed cleans up the rest. That formula translated to a lot of goals scored, but a lot of losses.
Bringing in Treyven “Lethamyr” Robitaille is a genius coaching hire. Lethamyr captained Ghost, NA’s most defensive team, and can help the team construct a defensive strategy. He’s an interesting chess piece to add to the board.
It’s also beneficial to bring in someone as laid back as al0t to bounce off of Speed’s goofiness. Kux is notoriously understated but kicks it to another gear when he’s fired up. More energy means more nuts Kuxir plays.
Secure the defense, secure the LAN bid. The offense will hopefully find a comfortable rhythm and give them a cushion. They didn’t make consecutive top eights at DreamHack by dumb luck.
They’ll need to sort out how they’ll score goals. Speed is nasty in transition and can hit strange angled shots with ease. Kuxir is still one of the most accurate shooters around. al0t still spends more time than anyone in between the ball and his opponents goal.
So how do those skill sets mesh? Do they just shoot a ton and bank on poor clears to punish? Can they bombard opponents with shots until the crumble before Kux’s batmobile?
They’ve had no issue scoring at DreamHacks, so the offense isn’t a huge concern, but in a small sample size like League Play a series lost to offensive clunkiness proves especially costly.
In theory, if the defense improves, mousesports are a safe bet to make LAN. In practice, they need to be better than Dignitas, FC Barcelona, Complexity and Team SoloMid. That’s a stacked group, and only two can make it to LAN.
Mouz should be scared of the new look TSM and Dignitas squads. The middle of the pack is VERY frisky in EU. Goal differential won’t matter when Yanis “Alpha54” Champenois has his French boot to their throat in the Regional Championship.
After WSOE and a few DreamHack dominations, it’s safe to say Speed is a certified LAN-boi. That will mean nothing if they don’t make the World Championship.
Will Kuxir ever fall a step behind in his mechanics? He’s like Tom Brady with Trahere wheels and pixelated shades. It’s not worth predicting a drop off yet, but it could come before anyone realizes it.
Al0t on the other hand has had ups and downs. He was relegated after a horrendous Season 6 performance, and then latched onto another team and was relegated after a much improved performance. Maybe the man is cursed.
Another season in the cellar would likely mark the end of al0t’s career, which leaves Mouz in a predicament. Speed and Kux may not be the right match for each other, and if al0t were to leave they’d be stuck or have to disband.
They could lose close series to TSM, Barcelona, Dignitas or Complexity and end up right back in seventh place. Their defense stunk last season, and it’s tough to see how al0t alleviates that concern. Season 8 could be a nightmare reenactment of Season 7 and send Mouz back to the Promotion Playoff.
TL;DR: Mouz need to play more consistent defense and it’s unclear whether al0t empowers or impedes that pursuit. If the defense locks in and the offense finds a groove they’ll be headed to LAN. If not, they’ll be headed to relegation.
Featured image courtesy of Stephanie “Vexanie” Lindgren for DreamHack.
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