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 North American Rivals Series this season. For the full broadcast schedule, please check the official RLCS website.
Set To Destroy X
(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.)
Despite going 0-7 in RLCS Season 3 League Play, Set To DestroyX opted to stay as a team, practicing and playing together throughout the entire offseason. Coming into Season 4, they were a team with a decent chance at making the RLCS, but losses to Cloud 9 and Emotion during the play-in sent them to the Rivals Series.
Their biggest competition in the RLRS is Fibeon, and Set To DestroyX is the noticeable favorite over every other team in the RLRS. Their most likely record is 5-2, and it would be surprising if Memory, Lemonpuppy, and Halcyon don’t take one of the top two spots this season.
When Hato, Chicago, and Zolhay are on, Fibeon is one of the most dangerous rosters in North America. Victories over NRG Esports, G2 Esports, and a variety of other high-end rosters prove that.
At the same time, they’re prone to bouts of inconsistency, and they’ll drop games against teams like Out of Style, Emotion, and Ghost Gaming. They’ll be an interesting team to watch this season, as they have the potential to beat every team in the Rivals Series, but could also drop games to teams that they should probably beat.
If they can find a way to stay consistent, Fibeon will most likely win the Rivals Series. If not, expect for a second place finish, though there’s always a chance they fall to third or fourth.
One of this season’s dark horse teams is Wildcard Gaming, as Laz, Pepper, Nomad, and Astroh (their sub) play a quick, aggressive style that can catch opponents by surprise and help the team steal games, even if their opponents are more skilled mechanically.
Their matchups with Set To DestroyX and Fibeon will be of incredible importance, as upsets against those two teams are pretty much the only way for Wildcard to punch their tickets into the top two spots in this season’s RLRS.
Premature Superhero Cops
The Premature Superhero Cops will definitely be this season’s “nostalgia” team, as both Gambit and Genocop are making their returns to the competitive scene after taking lengthy breaks from competitive Rocket League.
The team’s performance at the play-in was impressive, as they took down Out of Style and Incognito, and pushed Set To DestroyX to five games. If they can improve on their performance at the play-in, look for them to contend for a top-two finish; even if they don’t improve, they’ll still be strong contenders to finish in the top half of the league.
Out of Style
Out of Style is one of the more fascinating teams in this year’s Rivals Series, as the team is loaded offensively, with Lachinio and JSTN forming one of the flashiest duos among RLRS teams this season. They’ve struggled a bit with consistency recently, losing to Premature Superhero Cops and Wildcard Gaming at the play-in, despite the fact that they had beaten teams like Wildcard in community tournaments before the play-in.
They’re projected to go 3-4, but they could realistically end up anywhere between 5-2 and 2-5. Between Out of Style, Cypher, and Incognito, there’s less than a 20 point Elo difference, so Out of Style’s final record all depends on how they perform on a week-to-week basis.
Cypher came out of nowhere to qualify for the RLRS, with none of their players have previous RLCS experience and the team not really being projected (by anyone) to qualify.
Still, on their run through the play-in bracket, they knocked out Splyce (who was expected to make RLRS), and clinched their RLRS spot with a win over Ambition Esports. Those victories earned them their spot in the RLRS, though it’s not likely that they finish in the top half of the league.
They’re most likely final record is 3-4, though Elo projects them to go 2-5. They’ll need to find a level of performance they haven’t quite had in the past if they want to do better than their projections, and even then, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see them underperform – this roster just doesn’t quite have the talent needed to compete with other teams in the league.
Maybe we’ll be proven wrong, but as of right now, it’s hard to come up with a justification for putting Cypher in the top half of the league.
Incognito was projected to make the RLRS at the start of the play-in, but as one of the last couple of teams to sneak in. They made a convincing run, taking down Splyce and Hollywood Hammers before falling to G2 Esports and Premature Superhero Cops, but there’s still not a lot to indicate they’ll finish in the top half of the league.
They’re within 50 Elo points of Premature Superhero Cops, Out of Style, and Cypher, so anything is possible, but expect Incognito to finish in the bottom half of the league.
Ambition is probably the team I’m most interested to see, simply because there’s a noticeable disconnect between their Elo ratings and how they’re perceived by other players and analysts.
Despite being the lowest ranked team in RLRS this season according to Elo, many seem to give Ambition a chance at finishing in the top half of the league, and maybe even compete for one of the top two spots.
I think this is because the players on the team (especially PrimeThunder) have been around the competitive scene for a while now, often losing to bigger name opponents (such as NRG Esports, G2 Esports, etc.).
As a result, they’ve lost a lot of Elo points over time, where as some other bubble teams don’t have the same number of games played, and haven’t lost the same number of points as a result. The “eye-test” suggests that Ambition is better than some of the other teams in the Rivals Series, even if Elo indicates otherwise, but we’ll just have to wait and see how they perform.
Check in later today/tomorrow for our preview of the North American Championship Series, and let us know (either in the comments or on Twitter) how you think the North American Rivals Series will go down!