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Winners and Losers from Rocket League Summit 1

Rocket League Summit

Welcome to Rocket Launching, a midweek RLCS column that discusses the wonderful world of Rocket League esports. Rocket League Summit ruled in every conceivable way possible. The event’s laid back style made for a refreshing tweak on Rocket League esports. There was high level play, trash talk in abundance and some killer games of Mafia. 

Watching the event felt like uncovering the ins and outs of a playground as a kid. Everything felt so lighthearted and fun from the casters to the Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament. Heck, NRG finally won a LAN and it was like the fifth most interesting thing to happen last weekend.

That’s not to say that everyone came out a winner, though. There were definitely a lot more winners than losers this time around, but there are losers at every event. Let’s sift through the four rounds of Mafia and figure out the winners and losers from the first ever Rocket League Summit.

Winner: CJCJ

Given the overall kick back feel of Rocket League Summit, it would be strange to start this column by talking about the actual on-field action. Let’s instead begin by talking about this guy:

Cameron “CJCJ” Johns is a very good Rocket League player. He’s consistently at the top of OCE and with Matthew “Drippay” Den-Kaat set to return to the region and a roster slot open, his Chiefs squad is looking very enticing.

Somehow though, his skill in Rocket League is far outshined by his spectacular charisma and energy. Whether he’s accepting bribes as a referee or lounging on the couch, CJCJ commands the spotlight. When he and John “Johnnyboi_i” MacDonald shared the screen sparks flew.

I’d also like to point out how exciting he makes important moments feel. The Grand Final with NRG and Frontline was incredible on its own, but it was even more fun because CJCJ and Johnny gave even more life to each moment with some incoherent shouting. Look at this double save by Thibault “Chausette45” Grzesiak:

Pretty great save, but no one even made mention of it on stream. It had a pretty high degree of difficulty and Chausette had to flex his mechanics to reach the second shot. Seems like the kind of moment worth being excited over but no one really said anything.

CJCJ was on the broadcast for both of these moments. Everyone gets distracted at times, but when he’s engaged the action feels extra exciting.

Now watch this zero second goal by Pierre “Turbopolsa” Silfver and focus on the emotions that the commentators display and how it adds to the moment.

We need more of this in the RLCS broadcast booths. If CJCJ decides to hang it up as a pro he should move to LA and become a caster. He’s got the chops for it.

Winners: NRG

In other news, NRG finally won a LAN (this is not a drill!!). NRG last won a major LAN in 2017. Here’s a list of things that were true when NRG won X-Games in July of 2017:

  • Alexandre “Kaydop” Courant hadn’t won a World Championship.
  • Cloud9 were yet to make the RLCS.
  • Renault Vitality weren’t in Rocket League yet.
  • Kyle “Scrub Killa” Robertson was 14 years-old.
  • Callum “Shogun” Keir had just started as an RLCS caster.
  • Allegiance hadn’t made RLCS the first time.
  • The Rival Series didn’t even exist yet.
Rocket League Summit
NRG – Image Courtesy of Beyond the Summit

Point is: it’s been awhile. Turbopolsa is a huge, gigantic, massive, large difference maker for this team. I talked about this in an earlier piece, but Turbopolsa is still one of the best strikers in the world and he fits in perfectly with Garrett “GarrettG” Gordon and Justin “JSTN” Morales.

Jayson “Fireburner” Nunez was a great player, but it’s pretty telling that Turbo walked into the team and won a major like it was nothing. He’s at least a slight upgrade over Fire, and was really the only player available who could make this team even more lethal in attack.

Turbopolsa’s positioning is just, *chef’s kiss*. He can be incredibly patient but also wildly aggressive from moment to moment. He played 2v2 with Kaydop and absolutely SHREDDED Nicholas “Wonder” Blackerby and Maurice “Yukeo” Weihs. 

I really don’t see how one can make the argument that there’s a better team in the world than NRG right now. Renault Vitality, Frontline and Cloud9 are still in the top tier, but NRG with Turbo are Pennywise levels of scary.

Loser: Renault Vitality

So, I guess I have to pick a loser now, huh? I guess Renault Vitality is a loser in the sense that they, you know, lost. They just won a World Championship though, so the term “loser” seems unfair.

In all seriousness, bombing out of the group stage is disappointing, but losing to NRG and Dignitas is by no means shameful. We’ll get to Maello “AztraL” Ernst in a moment.

Vitality not only lost, they got destroyed. They won one game and lost eight. If I learned anything from youth soccer it’s that losing seven more games than you win will put you in last place. Even The Bricks did better.

The only thing that changed since the World Championship was Victor “Fairy Peak” Locquet’s hair. Can that be the difference? Should he play DreamHack: Montreal with some kind of wig or weave?

Rocket League Summit
Renault Vitality – Courtesy of Beyond the Summit

It’s especially concerning that Vitality finished so low given that their best EU competition besides Frontline  for Season 8 wasn’t even at the Rocket League Summit. FC Barcelona and Team SoloMid watched from home and will be strong in Season 8.

Vitality didn’t even win a single round of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Oof.

Vitality are going to be fine. It’s pretty strange that Fairy Peak and Scrub both struggled in their 1v1 matches, but there was a lot of pressure to perform and only one match to adapt. As long as they have Kaydop, they’ll be just fine.

Winner: Bangers, Boomers, Clangers and Missiles

There were so many great goals scored this weekend. I’d highly recommend going through all the clips of highlights because there were plenty. The laid back atmosphere coaxed the players into trying crazier stuff and that led to an unholy flurry of cracking goals.

Watching AztraL play Rocket League is like watching someone complete the Ninja Warrior courses on TV. Everything he does seems incredibly difficult, but when you think about how he’s doing it makes sense. Every move he makes is precise and quick but with real purpose.

He was pulling off air-drags, quick reads and confident wall play against the best in the world like it was nothing. Johnnyboi_i made an acute observation about his aggression in going for rebounds. He is really confident in his reads and doesn’t waste any time deciding where the ball will bounce. He just goes. AztraL’s skill and efficiency of movement even inspired Scrub Killa to change Air Roll to L1 instead of square.

Mariano “Squishy” Arruda scored a juicy double tap. JSTN was doing his thing. Linus “al0t” Mollergren was predicting the future like he was Rainman or something. It was wild. 

My three favorite goals from the weekend were Austin “AyyJayy” Aebi’s criminally insane flip reset dunk, AztraL’s corner pinch and GarrettG’s backboard scoop goal. I’ve never been to heaven but Garrett descending from the backboard and smacking it in felt pretty close.

Chausette45 also continued his reign of ground play dominance by faking and bumping the entire team out of his Fennec’s way. He and AztraL are my most interesting players to watch next season in EU.

I don’t think we’ve fully absorbed how much Rocket League’s skill ceiling is continuing to rise. Some of this weekend’s run of the mill goals would have been considered highlight reel stuff in Season 4. Everything is getting faster, more precise and more consistent.

Loser: G2 Esports

Reed “Chicago” Wilen really tried to cover scissors with paper in the RPS tournament. They finished dead last in Rock, Paper, Scissors. They lost to a pick up team in the Crew Battles TWICE.

Then in the regular Rocket League they won their group, but lost to Frontline and Dignitas in the double elimination tournament. We know that G2 don’t struggle with league play/group stage environments, but we’ve yet to see them win a major since ELEAGUE in 2017.

It doesn’t help that NRG finally got over the hump and won a LAN. Frontline won DreamHack. Vitality won the World Championship. Dignitas won DreamHack. TSM won ELEAGUE in 2018. Beyond FC Barcelona, there isn’t really a team of their caliber who hasn’t won a major in the last year. No team is living with as long a drought.

The pressure is going to start mounting eventually. They can’t escape it. Their run to the Grand Final of Worlds was impressive, but they need to win something and they need to do it soon.

Dillon “Rizzo” Rizzo is getting more aggressive and Chicago and Jacob “JKnaps” Knapman are excellent players, but they haven’t been able to produce in big moments. DreamHack: Montreal is a good chance to improve, but they need to find ways to keep the ball and score with greater efficiency.

Winner: Beyond the Summit and Rocket League Fandom

This was an extremely well crafted and well executed event. Everything they did during the weekend fit a consistent theme and purpose. The most crucial step of any project is determining how you want your audience to feel. 

Once you’ve figured that out everything you do happens with the intention of evoking that feeling in the audience. BTS wanted people to relax and laugh and all of the events they did catered to that desire.

Every other Rocket League event (besides Gold Rush) has been so self-serious that there would be no room for games of Mafia or Rock, Paper, Scissors. Silly skit videos wouldn’t work at a DreamHack or ELEAGUE event. They want to display high level gameplay and crown a champion. BTS didn’t get caught up in all that.

I mentioned it at the top, but somehow NRG winning their first LAN since 2017 in Turbo’s first appearance wasn’t even the most memorable part of the weekend. Imagine thinking back on DreamHack: Dallas and remembering something else before you recall that Cloud9 won.

The crew was excellent throughout. The talent was constantly making funny observations and keeping things moving forward. Even the dull moments had something zany happening. It’s hard keeping ten hour streams interesting.

Rocket League Summit
Courtesy of Rocket League Summit

That’s why having the players spend time on the couch talking trash and predicting goals is such a great idea. If you don’t watch every single Wonder or Victor “Ferra” Francal stream, it can be really hard to relate to them. BTS gave the players a chance to just be themselves and it worked.

There’s a reason that so many people have taken to Twitter to rave about Rocket League Summit. If you bring something fresh and exciting it will stick, especially with a fanbase as thirsty for something new as Rocket League’s.

All of the skit videos were great too. Squishy’s muffin squishing habit was such a great idea. Ferra trying to pay for all the French players at the DMV with a baguette was sweet. These ideas don’t all have to be winners because the fans already know and like the people acting in the videos.

Every time I see Jesus “Gimmick” Parra reference Occam’s Razor I’m going to laugh. Rocket League needs so much more of this. Jack “Speed” Packwood-Clarke is hilarious. Turbo has mad jokes. I want to see these players with their feet up more, so let’s keep these things coming.

Just remember that in Season 7, NRG played 27 League Play matches. In the group stage and playoffs, NRG played 27 matches at the Rocket League Summit. Cloud9 played 30 matches at Rocket League Summit and 27 during League Play. The regular season needs to be longer.


Featured image courtesy of Beyond the Summit.

Follow me on Twitter: @connorssanders.

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