Rocket League Championship Series Season 4: North American Play-In Recap

It’s been almost three months since Northern Gaming claimed the Rocket League Championship Series Season 3 World Championship, and Psyonix has wasted no time in getting Season 4 underway. The North American Qualifiers wrapped up yesterday as the region’s top 128 teams competed head to head in the qualifying play-in. At the end of the day the region’s top 16 teams staked their claims in either the Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) or the Rocket League Rivals Series (RLRS).

Here’s our recap of the action. (Note: All team Elo ratings can be found on our Team Ratings page. The official bracket can be found here).

Teams that qualified for RLCS

  • NRG Esports (Auto-qualified through Season 3)
  • Rogue Gaming (Auto-qualified through Season 3)
  • Cloud 9
  • G2 Esports
  • FlyQuest
  • Ghost Gaming
  • Renegades
  • Emotion

Teams that qualified for RLRS

  • SetToDestroyX
  • Wildcard Gaming
  • Incognito
  • Cypher
  • Fibeon
  • Premature Superhero Cops
  • Out of Style
  • Ambition Esports

Here’s how each team qualified.

Cloud 9

SquishyMuffinz and Torment were on Team Iris back in RLCS Season 3, when the team shockingly fell to Radiance and Selfless, and failed to qualify for Season 3 League Play.

Now on Cloud 9, Squishy and Torment were able to enact some revenge, as they qualified for RLCS League Play with a victory over SetToDestroyX (formerly Radiance). Cloud 9 is arguably the best team in North America right now, so their easy path to qualification (they dropped just one game against their four opponents) really isn’t a surprise.

G2 Esports

G2 Esports was one of North America’s top teams during the offseason, and big things are expected of them in Season 4. They kicked off their season in the best way possible, sweeping their way past Vacancy, Twinkle Fairies, Eanix, and Incognito as they qualified for the Rocket League Championship series.

FlyQuest

After a summer of roster turnaround that saw SadJunior, Chrome, and CorruptedG play with a variety of different teammates for a variety of different teams, the trio came together as eQuinox for the open qualifiers, easily making their way to the play-in.

Their strong play continued even as the team’s name changed, and the trio (playing as FlyQuest) clinched their RLCS spot with a dramatic Game 5 overtime win over Renegades. Though they aren’t considered one of North America’s premier teams, FlyQuest certainly has potential. All three players are RLCS veterans, and SadJunior is one of the few players to appear in all three previous International Finals. They’ll certainly be a team to keep an eye on this season.

Ghost Gaming

Ghost Gaming (formerly Genesis) is a team loaded with RLCS veterans, as Klassux, Zanejackey, and Lethamyr have all qualified for an International Finals in previous seasons.

That experience served them well as they swept newcomers Fibeon to punch their ticket to the RLCS. Like FlyQuest, Ghost isn’t on the same tier as teams such as NRG Esports, Cloud 9, or even G2, but they’ll certainly be a team to watch – when they’re on, they can do some damage.

Renegades

Though the team name “Renegades” may be new to RLCS, the players certainly aren’t, as Dappur, Timi, and Moses all have extensive experience playing on Rocket League’s biggest stage. Dappur and Timi (along with Mijo, who is essentially retired) played on Selfless last season, and were one of four North American teams to qualify for the International Finals.

They tagged Moses to replace Mijo, and though it took a couple of games in the loser’s bracket (after losing to FlyQuest), victories over Wildcard Gaming, Cypher, and Premature Superhero Cops clinched their spots in the RLCS.

Emotion

The biggest underdog story of this season will certainly by Emotion, as the team with no previous RLCS experience that hadn’t claimed any major community tournament victories came out of nowhere to not just qualify for the Rocket League Rivals Series, but to qualify for the Rocket League Championship Series as one of North America’s top 8 teams.

After losing to The D00ds and falling to the lower bracket, Emotion caught fire, and took out Hollywood Hammers, Sodium Chloride, SetToDestroyX, and Fibeon to clinch the eighth and final spot in this season’s RLCS League Play.

SetToDestroyX

Last season’s surprise team, SetToDestroyX, may have qualified for RLCS, but struggled mightily in League Play, going 0-7 and looking out of place in the majority of their series. They definitely improved over the offseason, and qualified for the Rocket League Rivals Series with a victory over Premature Superhero Cops. Losses to Cloud 9 and Emotion kept them from making RLCS, but they looked strong against Cloud 9, and pushed the red-hot Emotion to five games. They’ll be favorites to come out on top of the RLRS League Play.

Wildcard Gaming

The members of Wildcard Gaming may not be well known, and may not have RLCS experience, but they’ve performed well in community tournaments leading up to the play-in. Victories over Onslaught Esports, HYPE Gaming, and Out of Style earned them a spot in the Rocket League Rivals Series, though losses to Renegades and Fibeon kept them out of the RLCS.

Incognito

Incognito went on one of the more surprising tournament runs, taking down Splyce and Hollywood Hammers in order to qualify for the Rocket League Rivals Series. They weren’t necessarily a huge favorite to qualify at the start of the play-in, but their qualification through the upper bracket definitely turned some heads. They lost to Premature Superhero Cops to close out the day, but they’ll definitely be a team to watch going forward.

Cypher

If Emotion was the surprise appearance in the RLCS, then Cypher is the surprise appearance in RLRS. None of the team members have RLCS experience, and the team was seeded 26th headed into the play-in. Still, they took down New Horizon, Splyce, The D00ds, and Ambition Esports to qualify after losing to Hollywood Hammers.

Fibeon

Though Fibeon was considered by many to be a darkhorse candidate to qualify for the RLCS, losses to Ghost Gaming and Emotion knocked them down to the Rocket League Rivals Series. They swept Ambition Esports and Wildcard Gaming during their bracket run, and, as always, were a dangerous team to face off against.

Like always, they also struggled with consistency and will have to find a way to improve in that regard if they want to qualify for RLCS next season. They certainly have the potential; now they just have to make it happen.

Premature Superhero Cops

The biggest story around Premature Superhero Cops was the return of Gambit and Genocop, as both were fixtures in the earlier stages of the scene, but took significant amounts of time off before returning for Season 4.

They beat Out of Style, Water Droplets, Pity Party, and Incognito to qualify for RLRS, but saw their RLCS dreams dashed by SetToDestroyX and Renegades. The nostalgia will be strong with this team, but how far they can actually advance is anybody’s guess.

Out of Style

Out of Style had plenty of strong showings in community tournaments before the play-in, but were never quite able to take down an upper-tier team. They struggled a bit today, losing to teams that they had previously beat (like Wildcard Gaming), though victories over Lights Out! and Sodium Chloride helped them qualify for the Rivals Series.

They’ll be one of the favorites in RLRS, and could be in RLCS for Season 5.

Ambition Esports

One of the scenes most prominent bubble teams is Ambition Esports, as they typically struggle against high-level competition but perform well against other bubble teams. Losses to Fibeon and Cypher almost kept them out of RLRS, but they managed to take down Pity Party and qualify for the Rivals series.

Final Notes

  • The two biggest teams that failed to qualify for either the RLCS or the RLRS were Hollywood Hammers and Splyce. Hammers lost to Incognito and Emotion, while Splyce fell to Incognito and Cypher. Splyce was a favorite to make RLRS, while Hollywood Hammers were a team capable of making RLCS. Both teams will have to wait at least two seasons before being able to qualify for the RLCS, which is unfortunate, but not the end of the world. Look for both teams to bounce back.
  • Elo ratings will be updated Monday afternoon, after I have the time to add the games and re-run the computations.