A 2-5 League Play team made the semi-final of the Season 7 World Championship.
Rogue turned the narrative surrounding their season around quickly. They were staying relegation in the face heading into Week 5. Then they grabbed a huge win against an imploding Spacestation team and pushed NRG to five games.
Their Regional Championship to World Championship run was nasty. Nicholas “Wonder” Blackerby visibly reached another level after graduating from college. Austin “AyyJayy” Aebi showed signs of improvement.
Most importantly Cameron “Kronovi” Bills went back in time and started playing like it was 2015. For the first time since Wonder and AyyJayy made the Rocket League Championship Series, there are significant expectations on this team.
This is not the scrappy underdog of Season 6. This team has all the makings of a Big Three challenger, but no one will be surprised by their skills. Cloud9, G2 and NRG are ready and waiting to swat down any soul courageous enough to cross their path.
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: 6th place in NA (2-5, 13-16). Beat Ghost and Spacestation to make World Championship. Topped Group C over FC Barcelona and Renegades. Beat Triple Trouble in WC semi-final. Lost 4-0 to G2 in the semi-final.
Off-season Movement: None.
Off-season Performance: 13-16th DreamHack: Montreal, 5th-6th Rocket League Summit 1, 7-8th DreamHack: Montreal Closed Qualifier, 13th-16th DreamHack: Valencia.
Team Stats: 1.93 GPG (T-3rd), 1.52 APG (T-4th), 4.41 SAPG (7th), 1.93 GAPG (5th)
Team MVP: AyyJayy
Realistic Team Goal: Make it out of the group stage at World Championship.
Background and History
Team SoloMid had a better regular season record than Rogue. The teams make for an interesting comparison. Both don’t allow a lot of shots, keep tight rotations and punish mistakes. The only difference is the fourth LAN spot just sort of tell to them.
Ghost had no business making LAN after a 0-4 start, and Spacestation had no business after struggling with Splyce in Week 5. The opening fell to Rogue and they took advantage.
Wonder slid into Ronin “PrimeThunder” D’Auria’s striker role and finished in the top ten in goals per game. Kronovi took on a third man role and tried to keep the ball in the opponents half. AyyJayy slid into the playmaker role and finished seventh in NA in assists.
The defense improved greatly with Kronovi. In Season 6 with Primethunder they were last in NA and allowed a preposterous 2.52 GPG. Season 8’s 1.93 GAPG almost got them relegated, but overall, Rogue finished well in nearly every statistical category.
They just struggled to finish series. EG shut them out in Games 4 and 5 after Rogue took a 2-1 lead in Week 1. They lost in a Game 5 OT to G2. Rogue were the only team to force a Game 5 against NA champs NRG.
Then the Regional Championship pop-off happened and carried over to the World Championship. Now Rogue are more self-confident and have shown they can finish series. That’s scary upsetting information for the Big Three.
Kronovi really unlocked Wonder and AyyJayy’s skill sets. He complimented them perfectly. Wonder spent the least time in his own defensive half in NA and EU last season. AyyJayy was only six spots behind him.
The offense pinned opponents in and pivoted on Kronovi’s ability to hold down the midfield line. It worked like a charm in the postseason, but didn’t always work out in League Play. Ghost dismantled them by absorbing pressure and counterattacking.
Rogue are a low boost usage squad. Wonder and Kronovi were in the bottom five in NA and EU in boost collection per game. AyyJayy was slightly below average. Traditional third men like Dillon “Rizzo” Rizzo and Victor “Fairy Peak!” Locquet used more boost per minute than Kro and Wonder.
Just like before Season 7, Rogue didn’t really have an impressive offseason. No top eight DreamHack finishes or Rocket League Summit runs to report. Other than the Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament Rogue didn’t really challenge for any trophies in the offseason.
That probably doesn’t matter. No one really even expected them to make LAN let alone make the semi-final. Now they have experience and chemistry under their belt.
Now comes the challenge that no team has been able to do since Season 4: deseating one of the Big Three in the race for automatic qualification at the top of league. If they don’t want to tread water, this season is their chance to make the leap.
AyyJayy has always been mechanically sound, but last season he took a step forward in terms of confidence. There was more reckless abandon in his playstyle and he tried for flip reset after flip reset. Sometimes it would work, but more often than not it wouldn’t.
This is the season where things need to finally click for AyyJayy. His potential needs to bear fruit and this is the season to do it. If AyyJayy can establish himself as one of the region’s most creative players then Rogue can break into the top three.
Wonder and Kronovi are surprisingly similar players in terms of movement speed, time spent on the ground and boost per minute. AyyJayy could open up the field and make things easier on his teammates with spectacular solo plays.
The ideal scenario is that they become the low boost, ground oriented version of G2 with Kronovi holding down the back like Rizzo. Wonder does his best Reed “Chicago” Wilen impression and AyyJayy is the team’s creative engine.
Last season Wonder spent less time in his own half than anyone in NA or EU. In terms of location, Wonder and AyyJayy were nearly identical in their time spent in the neutral and offensive thirds of the field. They want to get forward often.
Kronovi can anchor this team’s defense to another semi-final appearance. Keeping the ball on the offensive half will be crucial to such an aggressive style.
Rogue’s offense was solid in Season 7 (outshot their opponents by 21, 3rd best in NA), but has room to improve. Their shooting efficiency was more of a barrage than a clinical attack (22.49 SH%, 6th in NA). If they take another leaf from G2’s book and pass up predictable shots in favor of an infield pass, they could score with greater consistency.
Give AyyJayy the reins and let him play even less defense and go Yanis “alpha54” Champenois on offense. If he can lift his team to another level, they have at least another semi-final run in them.
The lack of offseason results feels troubling. They didn’t even have a tournament where they popped off and made a semi-final. They were distinctly average at every event they competed in.
Have teams already figured their low boost G2 style? Is it just poor shooting accuracy? No one is turning the panic meter up because of their World Championship performance, but in the last six months they haven’t made a top four outside of the Regional and World Championship.
The danger with this team is that they’ll always sort of float on the fringes of Rocket League’s elite. They were the fourth best team in NA last season, sure, but they haven’t struck fear into anyone lately.
Maybe an ex RLRS team will do to them what they did to Ghost and Evil Geniuses. Could The Peeps, Spacestation or Birds and the Beez leapfrog them? With the speed of meta evolution, every team is in danger of being passed by. Rogue haven’t done much to show that they’re staying ahead.
Wonder and AyyJayy have found ways to win since the Rival Series in Season 5. Has their luck run out? How many more opportunities can fall to them?
Trying to be more aggressive in passing could lead to breakaways for their opponents, but their net flooding style only won them two series in Season 7. They only beat the two promoted Rival Series teams in League Play.
Making the semi-final of the World Championship is incredibly validating, but it could lead to some coasting. Evil Geniuses were relegated one season after they made the top six at the World Championship in Season 6. Rogue made no roster moves, but there is always space to fall.
So it falls to Rogue to keep rising. They have to outwork complacency and start to outpace the best teams in the world if they want to be considered an elite Rocket League team.
Did Rogue hit their ceiling at the semi-final of the World Championship? Have we seen the best this team can execute? It’s hard to see them finding another gear and somehow playing better than they did in Newark.
There’s an outside chance Rogue stumble into the cellar and play in the Promotion Playoff, but it seems fairly unlikely. The worst case scenario is another sixth place finish, but without a magical postseason run.
Featured image courtesy of Todd Gutierrez for Beyond the Summit.
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