RLCS World Championships: Day One Round-Up
Hundreds of Rocket League fans from North America and around the world packed the MGM National Harbor in Washington D.C. Friday, anticipating a day full of fast-paced and competitive games. It’s safe to say they were not disappointed.
During the over six hours of gameplay, there were upsets, countless incredible goals and, of course, there was a little shade thrown. Ghost is the only remaining NA team in the winner’s bracket, NRG and Cloud9 and Mock-It are in the loser’s bracket — just as everyone predicted.
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Most of the rosters and matchups were more or less even, but here’s what made the difference:
Game 1: G2 (#4 NA) vs. Chiefs (#1 OCE)
In what was expected to be a one-sided match in favor of G2, the Chiefs put up a fight and took this series all the way to game 5. The Chiefs took the command of the series in game one, outpacing G2 by consistently maintaining ball control and dictating the pace. But this pace began to slow down and G2’s speed picked up and their play got more physical.
It was the physical play, the demos and bumps, that decided this match. The combination of disrupting the Chiefs’ rotations and a few favorable 50/50’s decided the series. Most of the games in this series were decided by only one goal and one crucial mistake. The performance by the Chiefs was impressive, but in the end they could not match the consistency of G2.
The Chiefs will face NRG tomorrow in the loser’s bracket.
Game 1: 3-1 Chiefs
Game 2: 3-1 G2
Game 3: 2-1 Chiefs
Game 4: 2-1 G2
Game 5: 5-0 G2
Game 2: PSG (#4 EU) vs. Pale Horse (#2 OCE)
The first day of the tournament showed that there is still a skill gap between Oceania teams and powerhouses from North America and Europe. It might have been nerves from being on the Rocket League world stage for the first time. But whatever it was, Pale Horse’s performance was lackluster against one of the most explosive offenses in Europe.
This series was a showcase of the chemistry between Bluey and Ferra who had their fair share of passing plays. The slow and patient playstyle and domination of the midfield is what gave PSG the edge in the series. With the series sweep, PSG sent Pale Horse to the loser’s bracket, where they will face Mockit.
Game 1: 3-1 PSG
Game 2: 4-2 PSG
Game 3: 2-1 PSG
Game 3: Ghost (#2 NA) vs. Mock-It (#3 EU)
Yes that’s right, Mock-It is down in the loser’s bracket too. But they didn’t go down without a fight. In most games of the day, the team with the faster pace reaped the Ghost managed to tame a wild Mock-It offense by consistently pressuring them, enough to keep them starved of boost in their half more than a handful of times.
For most of the matches, the two squads were dead even. Only minor mistakes which resulted in goals were the determining factor. What crippled Mock-It was poor boost management, slow rotations and a few instances of two players overcommitting to the ball. But Mock-It’s shortcomings were only a result of Ghost’s stellar performance. This series could have gone either way if less mistakes were made, but that’s just the game, it’s a game of inches — or pixels.
Tomorrow Ghost will face the largest hurdle in their race towards the grand finals, facing Gale Force.
Game 1: 1-0 Ghost
Game 2: 2-1 Mock-It
Game 3: 5-2 Ghost
Game 4: 2-1 Mock-It
Game 5: 2-0 Ghost
Game 4: Method (#2 EU) vs. NRG (#3 NA)
If any series deserves an award for most competitive, it would have to be this one. How close? Each game in the series was only decided by one goal. The first game dictated the neck-and-neck competitiveness for the entire series with a scoreless game until Jacob and Fireburner collaborated for a game-winning goal at the end of regulation.
For most of the series each team was playing smart with little mistakes and overcommitments. But, again, what made the difference was the pace. NRG played a bit too passively, which lagged their rotations and costed them a few key goals in a series that was decided by so few. Because of this slow, passive play, Method was able to control the larger boost pads and maintain a faster rotation. This slower play led to fewer shot opportunities, a couple missed follow-ups to first touches and missed shots for NRG. But NRG fans fear not, if any team has the best chance of making it up the lower bracket it is them since that roster has the most LAN experience.
Game 1: 1-0 NRG
Game 2: 1-0 Method
Game 3: 2-1 NRG
Game 4: 2-1 Method
Game 5: 1-0 Method
Game 5: Gale Force (#1 EU) vs. G2 (#4 NA)
No surprises here. Gale Force brought their A game by matching G2’s fast pace and disrupting their rotations with aggressive bumps and demos. It wasn’t just pace that made a difference in this game but the style and consistency of rotations. Gale Force rotated less often and made more use of the smaller boost pads to set up more midfield passes and maintain possession longer.
G2 rotated much more often than Gale Force. Rotating all the way back to their end of the field for the larger boost pads led to missed opportunities to follow-up touches and support teammates in 50/50 situations. Taking a slow, passive approach to an offensive machine like Gale Force did not work in G2’s favor.
Game 1: 3-2 Gale Force
Game 2: 2-0 Gale Force
Game 3: 2-1 G2
Game 4: 3-1 Gale Force
Game 6: PSG (#4 EU) vs. Cloud9 (#1 NA)
PSG took their momentum from their earlier sweep of Pale Horse into this matchup against a Cloud9 team that had yet to play all day. But despite that, this matchup proved to be a shootout between Bluey and Squishy. Early on the series seemed over after game 2 after commanding performances by PSG. But Cloud9 avoided the sweep, taking the series to game five and eventually losing in a 4 minute overtime.
This game was a testament to how good a player Bluey. He made the most of passes from his teammates, placed shots well and saved three shots that could have ended PSG’s residency in the winner’s bracket.
Both squads maintained a fast-paced and aggressive play style while keeping goals to a minimum through near perfect defensive reads and acrobatic saves. Again, it was the small mistakes: the missed touches and misdirected shots which turned into counterattack opportunities that made all the difference.
With a performance like that and judging on their performance in League Play, Cloud9 could make a run up the lower bracket.
Game 1: 3-2 PSG
Game 2: 1-0 PSG
Game 3: 3-1 Cloud9
Game 4: 6-2 Cloud9
Game 5: 3-2 PSG
Some highlights from the day: