After a brief but action-packed offseason and an intense qualifying phase, the time has finally come for Rocket League Championship Series League Play to begin in full. This weekend, we’ll get to see four separate divisions start their respective seasons, as both the Championship Series (RLCS) and the Rivals Series (RLRS) will begin in both Europe and North America.
The action on both sides of the Atlantic looks to be intense, and teams from all across the globe will truly take the first steps towards establishing themselves as perennial contenders within Rocket League’s esports scene – considering that placing in the top six of RLCS guarantees you a spot in the league next season, and finishing in the top two of the RLRS is the only way to get into the RLCS, this season is easily the most important in the history of the league.
Games will start in the Rivals Series, as both Europe and North America play their games on Friday. The Europeans kick things off at 11 AM PDT, while the North Americans will follow at 5 PM PDT.
Here’s a look at what we can expect from the European Rivals Series this season. For the full broadcast schedule, please check the official RLCS website.
(Note: More information on Elo ratings can be found here. Win probabilities are calculated by converting the difference in Elo between two teams into a probability using a formula that is discussed rather accurately here. Then, the team’s Final Record Probabilities are calculated using the win probabilities.)
In the European scene, the biggest surprise of this season was the demotion of The Leftovers, as the team that finished 4th in the entire world last season (and then added a member from the world champion’s roster) was sent down to Europe’s second-tier league in dramatic fashion.
— RLCS (@RLCS) September 3, 2017
Though they lost to Aeriality, The Leftovers are still the runaway favorites to take the top spot in the Rivals Series this season. Bad weekends happen to everyone, and Maestro, Snaski, and Sikii are some of the best players in the world. The level of competition in the RLRS just isn’t quite at their level.
They’re massive Elo favorites, as their 1641.5 ratings stands 93.7 points ahead of the 1547.7 rating held by their closest opponents, The Juicy Kids. Their win probability for every match is over 70 percent, and based on these probabilities, there’s almost a 25 percent chance they sweep the board and finish with a 7-0 record.
Even if they don’t win all seven matches, it’s hard to see them dropping more than one series. Sure enough, they’re given a 52.5 percent chance to go either 7-0 or 6-1. It would be absolutely shocking to see The Leftovers place anywhere else but first in this season’s Rivals Series.
The Juicy Kids
One of Europe’s more top heavy teams is The Juicy Kids, as RLCS veteran killerno7 leads a squad that doesn’t have much offensive firepower, outside of himself. Stocki and coKaaa have been around the scene for quite some time now, so they are solid players, but neither managed to crack an RLCS tournament prior to this season, and neither player truly has who real star-caliber potential.
Still, the Elo system strongly favors them to some of the other teams in the RLRS, and thinks that they have the best chance of finishing second in the division. Over the course of the season, it will be interesting to see how The Juicy Kids perform. Though the Elo system might be overrating them (they did fall to Supersonic Avengers in qualifying), they’re expected to pick up between three and five wins, with four being the most likely. There’s also a 21 percent chance they go 3-4, which would likely cause them to finish in the bottom half of the RLRS.
This season’s biggest underdog is certainly eHawkerz, as the all-Spanish esports team came out of nowhere to topple big name opponents and qualify for the RLRS as the 43rd seeded team at the European play-in.
Their path in the bracket took them through noticeable teams such as The All British Except for Flarke Rejects and Copenhagen Flames. They managed to take one game off of exceL Esports, and though they lost to BoonkGang in a tough five game series, they also pulled off a sweep of Ascendance.
If there’s one team to take the Elo rankings with a grain of salt, eHawkerz would have to be your pick. They’ve got a very small sample of games in the dataset, and though their early results are promising (their victories in the play-in bracket are no small feat for a 43rd seed), we’ve yet to see if they can maintain a high-level of play with any kind of consistency.
If they can match the skill level they showed at the play-in, they’ll be a really dangerous team to face off against in this season’s RLRS. If they can’t, and find themselves struggling with consistency, they might find themselves plummeting towards the bottom half of the league.
Soul Gaming is another team that, like eHawkerz, hasn’t played all too many games together. For wolfsonthemoon and Skies, their first appearances in the Elo dataset came at the European play-in, so consistency will be a huge question mark for those two until they can prove otherwise.
Even then, their Elo advantage over the teams below them is minuscule, as they hold just a 24 point lead over Inspiration, a 20 point lead over Team Endpoint, and a 19 point lead over Supersonic Avengers. This is a big reason why they’re most likely to end up with a 3-4 record, despite the fact that they’re projected to win four of their seven games – there’s a pretty decent chance that at least one of those three teams takes down Soul, simply because they’re all so close to each other in skill level.
Regardless, their performance at the play-in was promising, and their victories resulted in the Elo system rating them ahead of the rest of the pack. If veteran Dadooh can keep his teammates focused, Soul Gaming might be a dark horse pick to contend for one of the top two spots in the league. They did have one of the most memorable bracket runs in RLCS history, as they survived a first round disqualification in the winner’s bracket by winning an astonishing eight straight matches in order to qualify for the RLRS (and come within one series of making it to the RLCS). Along their way, they took down a multitude of decent opponents, including Survivors, rixronCarry, Epsilon Esports, F.M.W, and Team Endpoint.
Consistency will be the key for Soul Gaming. Can wolfsonthemoon and Skies bring the high-level of play they showcased at the play-in, or will they struggle to play at an elite level week in and week out?
One of the more nostalgic aspects of Season 4 has been the return of the Supersonic Avengers, as the original roster of Snaski, Doomsee, and ELMP had a huge presence in the competitive scene back when the scene was just starting to emerge.
This season’s edition of the team only has ELMP off of the original roster, and his level of play has declined a tad. He’s joined by PauliePaulNL and KilEak, two players who are capable of holding their own, but likely won’t be capable of single-handedly carrying the team to victory.
Historically, these three players don’t quite have the best results, and it’s for that reason that the Elo ratings aren’t a big fan of this season’s Supersonic Avengers. Still, this is a competitive team, and they’ve got a realistic chance at finishing with four or more wins, especially if they can pick up victories against close rivals like Team Endpoint and Inspiration and teams like eHawkerz and Soul Gaming struggle.
This really is the portion of the RLRS standings that could fall in literally any order, as a mere 4.5 points separate Supersonic Avengers, Team Endpoint, and Inspiration. The gap between Endpoint and Supersonic Avengers is virtually non-existent, with the difference between the two teams not even equaling a whole point.
Team Endpoint is an intriguing team merely because of how the trio trains, with all three players living in the same house as they practice and train together. That kind of chemistry is dangerous to opponents, and it’s what helped propel them to victory at the Gfinity Elite Series.
Historically, though, these three players don’t quite have the best results, and it’s for that reason that the Elo ratings aren’t a big fan of Team Endpoint. Still, this is a competitive team, and they’ve got a realistic chance at finishing with four or more wins, especially if they can pick up key victories over rivals like Supersonic Avengers and Inspiration and teams like eHawkerz and Soul Gaming struggle. (I included the same paragraph from the Supersonic Avengers preview because it applies to both teams; that’s how crazy close they are in terms of Elo).
A lot of what has been said about the play of Supersonic Avengers and Team Endpoint also applies to Inspiration, so let’s keep things brief.
Sebadam, Oscillon, and Lauty are an intriguing trio that could potentially swing above their weight class and finish in the top half of the RLRS. In order to do that, they’ll need a bit of luck (in order to beat both Supersonic Avengers and Team Endpoint) and they’ll need other teams to falter (eHawkerz and Soul Gaming being the obvious candidates here, given their inexperienced rosters). Their most likely final record is 3-4, which just might not be good enough to get into the top half of the league.
Inspiration is an interesting team, but they just don’t have the starpower needed to hang with the best teams in the RLRS.
BoonkGang is a roster that could surprise some people, as all three players certainly have the mechanical skill to win games in the RLRS. In the past, however, they haven’t quite been able to translate that skill into wins, which is why all three players have Elo ratings below 490.
As Elo’s clear favorite to finish in last place, one can’t help but wonder if BoonkGang will prove the system wrong. At the play-in, their only two noticeable victories of the day came against rixronCarry and eHawkerz, but their only two losses came against established powerhouses in Method and The Leftovers.
BoonkGang doesn’t make an appearance on stream until Week 2, so there’s some time until we see them in action. There’s a chance they might surprise, and end up being one of the stronger teams in the RLRS.
There’s also a chance the Elo system is correct, and they finish closer to 2-5 than they do to 5-2.
Check in later today/tomorrow for our preview of the North American Rivals Series, and let us know (either in the comments or on Twitter) how you think the European Rivals Series will go down!