Three, two, one, go!
Season four of the Rocket League Championship Series kicks off in just a few short weeks. Registration ends August 8, and open qualifiers begin August 12 and 13 for North America and Europe respectively.
Psyonix announced some important new changes to format and qualification, in regards to season four and five. These changes will make Rocket League, as an esport, more accessible to new and long-time viewers.
If you haven’t seen the changes yet, here’s what is happening with NA and EU and why the changes are important. Psyonix has yet to announce information regarding Oceania.
Rocket League Rival Series
The Rocket League Rival Series, a second, lower division, makes its debut in season four. This division effectively doubles the number of teams competing. The RLCS and RLRS each feature eight teams per NA and EU regions, raising the total to 32 teams.
Twitch, official partner of the RLCS, will continue to stream RLCS matches on Saturdays and Sundays. RLRS matches will take place on Fridays.
The benefit to fans here should be obvious: more Rocket League for everyone.
Perhaps one of the most difficult things for esports fans to keep up with season to season is rapidly changing team compositions. However, some esports are taking measures to limit or discourage this.
For example, Riot Games is moving away from a promotion/relegation system, opting instead to franchise the North American League of Legends Championship Series. The goal is to have permanent partners in the form of professional gaming organizations.
Psyonix, on the other hand, implemented a promotion relegation system into the season four and five format. Instead of permanent partners, a promotion/relegation system focuses on roster consistency.
Psyonix tested this system in season three, relegating five auto-qualification spots for season four. The top two teams from both NA and EU, after the season three regional championships, auto-qualified for season four. These teams include NRG and Rogue for NA and Flipsid3 Tactics and Mock-It for EU. As the current world champions, Team EnVyUs, formerly Northern Gaming, won the fifth auto-qualification spot.
There are two stipulations for retaining auto-qualification: teams must retain two-thirds of their starting roster and they must abide by league rules. Mock-It lost auto-qualification due to not retaining two-thirds of their starting roster.
In a promotion/relegation format, a team’s organization doesn’t affect their auto-qualification.
The RLCS announced they will be expanding this format in the coming seasons. Here’s how the promotion/relegation system looks moving forward.
Twelve season five spots are up for grabs during season four. The six teams that make it to the regional championships in each region auto-qualify for season five.
Four teams in each region will battle for the remaining RLCS slots in a promotion/relegation tournament, set to take place between the regional and world championships. The bottom two teams from the RLCS and the top two teams from the RLRS will compete in a double elimination tournament to determine who qualifies for the remaining RLCS slots in season 5.
Four teams in each region will auto-qualify for the RLRS division of season five. The bottom two teams from each region’s promotion/relegation tournament, along with the third and fourth place teams receive auto-qualification.
There’s a huge benefit to viewers when it comes to a promotion/relegation format. Teams are encouraged to stick together due to the two-thirds roster requirement for auto-qualification. This allows viewers to truly become fans of teams, knowing that the chance of the team entirely splitting up after the season isn’t as high.
Along with seeing more stability in top level rosters, we will also have the chance to see the rise of new teams. Four RLRS slots in each region, beginning in season five, go to teams competing in open-qualifiers.
The new format provides some roster stability, while at the same time still offering up and comers an opportunity to break into the professional scene through RLRS open qualifiers.
A franchise system such as the one the NA LCS is working on implementing would be closest to a traditional sport. That being said, the additional stability under the promotion/relegation system should still make Rocket League even more appealing to traditional sports fans than it already is.
We’re one step closer to cementing Rocket League as a top-level esport.