Sometimes the black and white nature of pieces like these can be off-putting.
“You really mean to tell me that a pro player is a complete loser just because they didn’t win the World Championship?”
Reader, I hear you loud and clear. There’s a broad spectrum of winning and losing at massive events like the Rocket League Championship Series World Championship.
NRG’s placement means a lot more to them Dignitas’, but they were both positive outcomes. Renegades’ Day 2 exit feels even worse than eUnited’s, and there’s a lot of nuance in the assessment of performance.
This column is meant to highlight where some teams and players have fallen on the spectrum, and what it means in the greater context of Rocket League Esports.
And, it is a column, so I’ll say a few things people might disagree with, or will inevitably be proven false later on, but that’s okay. I’m not silly enough to call anyone out here, but I do want to talk about the bad and the good that we can take away from this tournament.
So now that we have all that in the open, let’s take a look at some winners and some losers from the Season 8 Rocket League Championship Series World Championship (still not too late to call it the Rocket League Championship Series International Finals, Psyonix).
Loser: Fruity and Ferra
Emil “Fruity” Moselund and Victor “Ferra” Francal are very good Rocket League players, but after going 1-6 at the World Championship and going out before the action even began was shocking.
Thibault “Chausette45” Grzesiak struggled to get going, but the team’s reliance on his playmaking ability really handcuffed them.
Is Team Reciprocity wholly dependent on Chausette45 because of how good he is, or does he cover for the shortcomings of Ferra and Fruity?
It’s not that the F&F combo isn’t playing well, Ferra led all players in Goal Participation with a hand in 88.24% of Reciprocity’s goals. The troubling part is that on the big stage opponents like Spacestation and Pittsburgh Knights completely neutralized Chausette.
He scored 0.45 GPG in seven games, a number worse than Daniel “Walcott” Hawkeswood and Jackson “Ayjacks” Carter. Those are fine players to be behind, but when you’re pushing to be considered the best player in the world, you can’t lay an egg at the most important event of the season.
It’s not like the games were heartbreakers either. Reciprocity was outscored 12-4 vs. SSG and 8-4 against PK. That’s a -12 overall game differential in just seven games. It’s scary to contemplate.
So they need to figure out how to always keep Chausette involved, or they need to find a secondary creator who can make life easier when he’s not on.
SSG and PK did present a matchup problem, and Reciprocity didn’t have time to find a rhythm, but the fact is they couldn’t even compete with the demo-heavy NA up and comers.
Maybe it was the worst Dungeons and Dragons critical failure of all time, but Reciprocity looked like a team that was nowhere near winning a World Championship this weekend.
Maurice “Yukeo” Weihs seemed like he might be on his last legs with Dignitas toward the end of the regular season. He finished in the fourth to last in GPG, and ended the season with a horrendous 10.98% shooting percentage.
He hit the crossbar and posts with uncommon fervor in the first few weeks of League Play. If he would have just shot a below-average 20% he would have jumped from 0.32 GPG (4th from last in EU) to 0.57 GPG (T-13th). His inaccuracy plagued the team’s offense at times.
Yukeo started to improve as the season went along, and then he went completely super saiyan at LAN. Look at how quickly he gets to this shot, and how well it’s placed:
Aiming perfectly for the corners is going to lead to some misses, but it’s also going to create goals from seemingly mediocre chances.
In 18 games played Yukeo scored 1.06 GPG, a tenth of a goal more than Tshaka “Arsenal” Taylor, who finished second with 0.95. That’s not a one series pop-off to inflate the stats. That’s a completely dominating performance.
I also love how he can roam free and make plays all over the field. It was Dignitas’ specialty in Madrid. Jos “ViolentPanda” van Meurs and Maello “AztraL” Ernst both love to half-rotate to block clears, and all of those weirds 50/50s that can bounce nearly anywhere always seemed to end up close to Yukeo.
Dignitas finished third in APG at the tournament because Yukeo put himself in positions where he could score, and he converted his chances.
During League Play, Yukeo led his team in SAPG. At the World Championship, he was last on his team. I’d love to see him play a more advanced role going forward.
Winner: The Dignitas Dynasty
ViolentPanda, Pierre “Turbopolsa” Silfver and Alexandre “Kaydop” Courant all made the semi-final of the World Championship, and ViolentPanda was the last one still playing for Dignitas.
It’s pretty mind-blowing to think that three seasons after they were last crowned World Champions, all three players are still playing well at the highest level.
Think of where Cloud9 ended up two seasons after winning the World Championship. The dynamics change so quickly, but the pillars of the Dignitas dynasty are still holding strong.
It makes me wonder about the importance of roster continuity. We always talk about keeping the same players from season to season like it’s an advantage, but the best players have shown that finding new environments is the key to success.
Dignitas’ worst season came in Season 7, where they missed LAN and were nearly relegated. Then ViolentPanda added a second new face and they were nearly in the Grand Final. Is stagnation a greater enemy than turnover?
I think the most important thing to take away from the former Dig dynasty showing out once again is that scouting is so unspeakably important. AztraL and Yukeo have somehow managed to rebuild Dignitas with just one down season. Diamonds in the rough like AztraL don’t come along often, but orgs should constantly be looking for them.
Loser: Roster Movement
With that being said, I don’t have my fingers crossed for a massive explosion of roster movement this offseason.
Outside of Reciprocity and Dignitas, everyone finished just about where they were projected to at the World Championship. What incentive would Pittsburgh, Spacestation, Veloce, NRG, Dignitas, Vitality, eUnited or Lowkey have to change things up?
There is always potential that a bigger org poaches talented up and comers, but the top-level teams seem to be meshing well.
Another factor to consider is how short the offseason is. The roster lock deadline is set for January 18, a month away from when this column will post. That isn’t much time for teams to try out new thirds.
Let’s just briefly run through all twenty RLCS teams to put feelers out for potential movement.
NRG Esports – Nothing doing.
Spacestation – Why would they?
Pittsburgh – Yeah, right.
Ghost Gaming – Maybe, but will there be anyone better than Michael “Memory” Moss or Braxton “Allushin” Lagarec available?
eUnited – Might as well keep riding this group out.
Rogue – No team in NA needs to make a move more than Rogue. There’s some scuttlebutt that Austin “AyyJayy” Aebi could join Ghost, but they might need to upgrade at Nicolas “Wonder” Blackerby’s spot. Hopefully the org can convince AyyJayy to stay.
Cloud9 – Doesn’t seem likely. Mariano “Squishy” Arruda means too much to the org, and they won the World Championship a year ago. I say run it back.
G2 – Probably in the same boat as Cloud9. I’d be shocked if they dropped Dillon “rizzo” Rizzo because of how well-liked he is by the org and by fans.
Afterthought – I really doubt any team with Nathan “Shock” Frommelt and Matthew “Satthew” Ackermann would make any surprise roster moves.
RBG Esports – Already announced they were dropping Daniel “Aeon” Dunfee. Treyven “Lethamyr” Robitaille seems like the likely replacement, but the org has said nothing since announcing Aeon’s release. Aeon might be an option if Rogue/Ghost make moves.
Team Reciprocity – Might be too short of a turnaround, and they still have a lot left in the tank. I’d guess they stay the same.
Veloce Esports – Likely staying the same.
Vitality – Nope.
Mousesports – They’re interesting, but unless Francesco “Kuxir97” shockingly announces his retirement, I don’t think they’ll split up.
Dignitas – No chance, unless someone comes calling to pay AztraL a lot of money.
FC Barcelona – Another interesting team, but they were unlucky in Season 8 and should give their current group another chance.
Team SoloMid – Remco “Remkoe” den Boer might have one foot out the door, and they have the money to go after someone like AztraL. They seem like a prime candidate for a move.
Discombobulators – Find an org, but try and keep that roster from poachers.
AS Monaco – Another Veloce style band of journeymen. They’ll stick together.
Team Singularity – Might need to make a move to adjust to RLCS play, but the short turnaround makes it tough.
That means, by my count, one NA team set to make a move, two more that seem likely to and only one EU team itching for something new. That’s not much room for maneuvering.
I’d like to see someone kick the tires on Euan “Tadpole” Ingram, Hrant “Flakes” Yakoub or even up-and-comers like Evan “Monkey Moon” Rogez or Leonardo “Turinturo” Wilson, but I don’t think we’re going to see the wildfires that have ignited after the last two seasons.
This could completely blow up in my face, but I think most of the RLCS rosters are in very comfortable positions right now. Except for Rogue, that’s gonna be tough to manage.
I just can’t get over how bad this was:
Christopher “Siki” Magee and Cameron “Kamii” Ingram are probably sick with frustration because of that play, but for fourteen minutes of scoreless Rocket League to end like that was like watching my dog chase after the ball when we’re playing fetch, only to run right past it and trot back to me empty-handed.
Winner: Rocket League Esports
Season 8’s Grand Final was the most-viewed esports Twitch stream this weekend. As Cameron “CJCJ” Johns and @RLStats_gg noted on Twitter, the prize pool is still minuscule in comparison to other esports:
Look at the prize pool difference, compared to how similar the peak viewers. pic.twitter.com/miDrDPLaRA
— RLStats_gg (@RLStats_gg) December 17, 2019
Rod “Slasher” Bresleau was bullish about last weekend’s impact as well:
the Rocket League Season 8 grand finals peaked at nearly 300,000 viewers for what I believe is the highest concurrent viewership for Rocket League all time
Rocket League will be that tier 1 esport soon enough pic.twitter.com/N5bLPsDf5N
— high class leakboy Slasher (@Slasher) December 15, 2019
Season 8 was the perfect end to a crucial 2019 for Psyonix. I don’t know what else Epic Games would need to see before they start to invest in it more.
I don’t want Psyonix to have to play the cash-strapped card anymore. We should see more LANs in Europe and better support for Oceania and South America soon. They can explore Africa and Asia and try to cultivate an RLCS-level scene next year.
With the Olympic event, a quiet potential for three RLCS seasons and whatever DreamHack might have up their sleeve, 2020 is looking really bright for Rocket League Esports. Mark your place on the bandwagon now, because there’s a wide-open road of potential ahead of us.
Featured image courtesy of Psyonix.
Follow me on Twitter: @connorssanders.
“From Our Haus to Yours”