As the tournament met its conclusion chants of “Thank you, Fireburner” broke out in the DreamHack: Valencia crowd.
It was the perfect end to an outstanding career. Jayson “Fireburner” Nunez is the original King of Urban. The god of the Dominus. He put together another rock solid performance and led his team to the DreamHack: Valencia Grand Final. The cherry was ready to be set on the top of the sundae as his team took a 2-1 lead in the series.
It’s too bad they couldn’t hang onto it.
PSG Esports played spoiler to Fireburner’s storybook ending with resounding finality. The team that they couldn’t beat at the World Championship stood no chance against them now. PSG dominated the last three games of Fireburner’s career and lifted the trophy in his place.
That domination was the direct result of the awakening of another Rocket League veteran, Thibault “Chausette45” Grzesiak. Chausette walked to the stage, grabbed the glory and let it rain down on him for the remainder of the Grand Final.
He sported a car that was inspired by a decade that concluded 10 years before he was born. The Fennec sporting mechanical mastermind lived up to his long-held potential and won his second DreamHack championship.
Chausette and the Fennec outplayed Fireburner and NRG. He scored goal after goal and started to really show off his skill and versatility.
— Rocket League Esports (@RLEsports) July 7, 2019
Emil “Fruity” Moslund and Victor “Ferra” Francal also found another gear on Championship Sunday. Fruity was Mr. Everything for PSG. He played excellent defense, made good decisions and did everything he could to create space for Chausette to work his magic.
Ferra played like the striker he’s always hoped to be. He finished the chances Chausette and Fruity created, and formed a part of the brick wall defense that offensive powerhouses Justin “JSTN” Morales and Garrett “GarrettG” Gordon couldn’t burst through.
His teammates played well, but Sunday truly was Chausette’s day, and his performance in the Grand Final is a symbolic representation of Fireburner’s career.
No matter how consistent he was, Grand Final victories were rare for Fireburner. In fact the only major he ever won was the X Games Invitational in 2017. He finished second at DreamHack: Valencia, second at WSOE, second at the World Championship in Season 5 and the list goes on.
This time he and his squad ran into a whirling dervish hitting double touches off the ceiling when he wasn’t pulling off dribble plays like Neymar. Does that diminish his legacy as a pro? Of course not.
NRG came into this tournament with a much more relaxed and fun approach than ever before. They were obviously going to take things seriously, but this tournament wasn’t life or death. It was a farewell tour for a legend of the game and a chance for some of Rocket League’s consummate pros to just have fun playing the game they love.
They lost their first game of the tournament 4-1 against one of the lowest seeded teams in Valencia, Servette Geneva Esports. It didn’t rattle them. They won the next three games by a combined score of 8-1 and moved on.
In the second round they faced the man who put an end to their World Championship dream in Season 5, Pierre “Turbopolsa” Silfver. Turbo scored the overtime goal that won game seven of the Grand Final. JSTN sent the game to overtime with an iconic zero second goal, but Turbo handed them the silver medal in OT.
NRG lost to Turbo’s Randy Gibbons’ River Rats squad and fell to the lower bracket. They again lost game one to AURA eSports, but bounced back and won the series.
Randy “Gibbs” Gibbons mentioned that NRG haven’t been practicing with the same intensity as in the past.
PSG were in the complete opposite boat. This group has made consecutive World Championships but had yet to make an impact on the world stage. Results drive the narrative around RLCS teams, and a lack of results can mean making roster changes.
The French club had everything to play for. They dominated their opponents on Day 1, and carried some momentum into Day 2.
Renault Vitality waited for them in the semifinal of Group A. Vitality are the Season 7 World Champions and the most prestigious esports org in France. They swept PSG 3-0.
That result had a huge impact on NRG. G2 beat them in their first Day 2 match and sent them to the lower bracket. NRG leisurely beat Rogue and Triple Trouble to make Day 3, but their seeding meant they would have to face Vitality in the first round.
Vitality ended NRG’s World Championship hopes in Season 7 and were the heavy favorite coming into Valencia. Vitality hadn’t lost a single game coming into the series. It seemed that Fireburner was going to play his last games of competitive Rocket League against the team that walloped them at Worlds.
Then Fireburner surprised everyone and led NRG to a 3-0 sweep of the World Champions.
It’s impossible to count Fireburner out. Throughout his career he’s been around the top of Rocket League. His parents weren’t always supportive of his career choice but he pressed on. On countless occasions, he’s proven himself as the most solid player in the world, but he never got his signature victory. Even after perfect seasons and Regional Championships, Fireburner never had his moment.
When NRG beat Complexity in the semifinal it seemed like DreamHack: Valencia was the moment. It wouldn’t be a walkthrough though. PSG beat Cloud9 and The Bricks to make the Grand Final.
Now the rest is history. PSG unleashed Chausette45 and there was nothing NRG could do to stop it. Every chance that NRG created was blocked, and the goals they did score came off of impressive build up play.
Honestly, how?! pic.twitter.com/6AU6oJ8504
— Rocket League Esports (@RLEsports) July 7, 2019
Ferra and Chausette45 were on the PSG team that won DreamHack: Leipzig in 2018. They had already had their signature victory, but they were out for more. Fruity won his first major. After a flurry of roster moves in EU, PSG find themselves in a favorable position with a major under their belt heading into Season 8.
NRG now have a vacancy to fill and no clear player ready to step into it. Their one last run with Fireburner took them to the place it always has. They still employ two of the ten best players in the world and will continue to set the pace for NA in the RLCS.
None of that matters to Fireburner. His career comes to an end after many of his opponents fell by the wayside. Fireburner’s motivation to win came from the prospect of actually winning. He didn’t have an early RLCS World Championship to hang his hat on like Cameron “Kronovi” Bills or Francesco “Kuxir97” Cinquemani.
Virtually all of his original opponents moved on to casting, trying and failing in the Rival Series or simply gave the game up. Fireburner’s resiliency is worth the praise. He battled for years and never got his just desserts.
He’ll forever go down in Rocket League lore as a pillar of consistency and professionalism. How many players, given Fireburner’s career path, would have thrown in the towel?
So, even with a plethora of silver medals around his neck, Fireburner deserved the victory lap he got in Valencia. He came into a DreamHack with basically no practice and made it all the way to the Grand Final and lost.
It’s a perfect metaphor for his career, and Chausette led him into the sunset.
Featured image courtesy of Omar Shoots.
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