Championship Series: Week Five North American Recap

Guest post by Skyrider50.

8 of the best North American Rocket League teams have battled it out for the past 5 weeks in the RLCS Season 4 League Play. This week brought an exciting ending to us with some close games and series deciding the top teams in North America! Here are the final standings of the RLCS Season 4 League Play.

Cloud9 and G2 Esports have secured spots in the Season 4 International Finals, courtesy of their 1st and 2nd place finishes.

Let’s take a look back to this weekend to view how they achieved this and how other teams failed to do so…

Allegiance 3-1 FlyQuest

That’s right, Allegiance took a series, despite virtually everyone predicting them to lose. The all-RLCS-rookie team consisting of Sea-Bass, Allushin, and TyNotTyler were able to apply consistent pressure against FlyQuest as they cruised to a convincing 3-1 series victory. This series win allowed Allegiance to secure at least 7th place above Renegades (provided they did not win to Cloud9), allowing them an easier 1st game in the Relegation Tournament, but we will talk about that later.

Despite Allegiance being 0-5 at the beginning of this series, Allegiance winning this series is not that unexpected. As /u/Chifleaf on reddit pointed out, “in terms of shooting, they have the 3rd best offense in NA. They just also happen to have the worst save percentage, which is why they lost so many games. But FlyQuest has the second worst save percentage and the worst shooting percentage in the league. If there was a match for them to win, it was this match.”

Ghost Gaming 3-1 Rogue

This series was a clash of 2 incredibly offensive-driven teams. Contrary to how their usual high-octane style of play, Rogue actually only managed to beat Ghost when their defense was the star of the show. In game 2, Rogue beat Ghost 2-0 with 8 total saves against Ghost’s 11 shots (7 of which from Lethamyr alone)! Even though Rogue got only 5 shots that game, their defensive capabilities kept them in the lead. Unfortunately, they were not able to maintain that level of play, and Ghost’s offensive output led to Rogue’s downfall.

This series win allowed Ghost to stay in contention for top 2 spot in League Play. Rogue’s loss here also ensured that they would remain as the fifth seed in League Play, which won’t hurt them in the long run; there’s no major difference between the fifth seed and fourth seed in the Regional Championships.

G2 Esports 3-0 Allegiance

Allegiance had one final chance to finish in the top six, which would let them avoid the relegation playoffs AND make it into the Regional Championships. All they had to was beat G2 Esports. Their hopes were pretty much crushed as G2 swept them AND shut them out completely for 2 of the games.

Every single game, G2 out-shot and had less saves than Allegiance:

Shots G2 Allegiance Saves G2 Allegiance
Game 1 11 6 4 7
Game 2 8 5 3 4
Game 3 10 4 2 5
Total 29 15 9 16

 

In fact, G2 had almost twice as many shots and almost half as many saves. This suggests that G2 had a much greater midfield presence that allowed the majority of the game to be played in Allegiance’s half.

FlyQuest sure were happy about this series outcome. Since Allegiance lost this series, FlyQuest were guaranteed to remain at sixth place in League Play, giving them the chance to qualify for the International Finals via the Regional Finals.

Cloud9 3-0 Renegades

Speaking of last chances… poor Renegades had to go up against the North American giants, Cloud9, for their final series of the season. The first game was pretty close. Both teams had 5 shots and 2 saves, but Cloud9 was able to put just one more goal in.

In the following two games, Renegades were held scoreless. Squishy was able to put an impressive 7 shots and 3 goals in against Renegades, dismantling their defense almost on his own.

Something about Renegades had been off this whole season. They are not looking like the LAN-worthy team from last year even with Mijo subbed in for Moses. They will have to prove themselves in the relegation playoffs to determine whether they are fit for RLCS or if they will be forced to move down to RLRS.

G2 Esports 3-2 Ghost Gaming

This was THE most exciting matchup of the entire evening. Why these teams? Both of them had previously taken down the 3-time NA champion, NRG, and G2 had also taken down Cloud9 while Ghost hadn’t played Cloud9 with their full roster. Because of these upsets, no one knew exactly where to place these two teams, and the second spot in the standings was up for grabs; the winner would auto-qualify for the International Finals.

Of course, this series went the full 5 games. More than that, every single game had a score differential of just one. On top of that, games 1, 4, and 5 had a shot differential of 1 and game 3 had a shot differential of two. In regards to saves, both teams had the same amount of saves in three of the five games. In terms of stats, these teams were almost entirely the same.

G2 was able to take the series mostly in part to two insanely clutch overtime goals by JKnaps. JKnaps went on to receive Old Spice’s Player of the Week thanks to his amazing performance in this series. Rizzo tweeted “JKNAPS IS SO GOOD I LOVE THIS TEAM” right after they had won the 5th game.

With the win, G2 auto-qualified for the International Finals, sending Kronovi (one of the Season One World Champions) back to the International Finals for the first time since season one. Ghost, on the other hand, will need to win their 1st match in the Regional Championships next week in order to qualify.

Considering G2 has won against both Cloud9 and NRG, G2 has a lot of expectations to live up to…

Cloud9 3-2 NRG Esports

In a fitting end to the season, the two titans of North America faced off in a match that may not have mattered much in the standings, but (most likely?) mattered to the teams. Being the three-time North American champions, NRG were expected to do better than they had through this season’s League Play. Beating Cloud9 would keep them in the conversation for best team in North America, though Cloud9 has simply been too dominant ever since their win at Dreamhack Atlanta this past summer.

NRG really came out swinging. The first game, NRG beat Cloud9 7-2 with Fireburner picking up 4 of those goals. They proceeded to struggle in game 2, winning only 2-1, then got REVERSE SWEPT by Cloud9.

Despite Cloud9 reverse sweeping NRG, the series was never decided until the very last second of the last game. One of their wins, GarrettG fired a shot at 0 seconds that looked completely in. Psyonix said “NOPE” and said the ball touched the ground before going in, giving the game to Cloud9.

Cloud9’s reverse sweep continued with a score differential of just one. During these games, Squishy decided to troll NRG by using different cars, such as the Proteus and the new Jäger 619 RS (which are not known to be “good” cars). Cloud9’s standout player was definitely Gimmick, who was MVP for his team for all three victories AND had the highest amount of points for games one and two.

With this victory, Cloud9 secured their spot as the top seed in North America and secured a spot at the International Finals.

What is next?

On Saturday, October 14th, the top six North American teams from League Play will play in the Regional Championships. This is a single-elimination tournament to determine the seeding and the remaining two teams for the International Finals.

 

The losers of round one will be eliminated from this season of the Championship Series, though they will be back in the RLCS next season.

The winners of round one will join Cloud9 and G2 Esports at the International Finals.

The Semi-finals and finals will determine seeding for the International Finals.

In addition, there is a nice $25,000 prize pool attached to this championship.

Will we see NRG Esports make their return to the throne? Or will this finally be the season that someone knocks them down?

In addition, Allegiance and Renegades will have to prove they are still RLCS-calbier teams in the Relegation Tournament.

Fibeon and Out of Style have proven themselves in the lower tier league, the Rocket League Rivals Series, and have certainly earned the chance to get into the RLCS. This is a double elimination style tournament, meaning teams aren’t eliminated until after their second loss. These teams are so close in skill, it is possible that RLCS may have two new teams coming in next season.