Week 1 | Fantasy Preview
RLG Fantasy is back and I, DMRawlings, am here to break down week 1 of League Play of an historic Season 9 of the RLCS. This season 10 teams in Europe and North America compete, making for a longer Fantasy season than we've ever seen before. Excelling at Fantasy this season will require more acumen and consistency than ever before!
Time to get to it, and look at some of the key matchups happening in week 1.
Reciprocity vs. Team Singularity
Europe's first match of S9, Reciprocity vs Team Singularity has all the makings of a one-sided affair. Singularities 1125.22 pts per game was third worst in RLRS (all stats courtesy of Octane.gg), and there's no indication that the team won't be a high-flying offensive squad that creates many chances, but also surrenders many at the other side. Expect Reciprocity to be strong on the counter-attack, and take the series.
With both teams unchanged from last season, we have a good sense of roles and expectations for point production. Chausette, with his 0.82 Goals per game last season should excel, while Fruity with his 0.54 Assists should prove an effective midfielder. On the other side of the ball, Noly's 2.30 Saves per game make him clearly the most active defender on his roster (he was 2nd in Saves per game in the RLRS in Season 8).
TSM vs. Dignitas
Later in the day TSM takes on Dignitas, and I don't think the fated reunion of Mognus and Metsa stands a chance against the inbound Dignitas freight train. TSM staved off relegation last season, but did so on the back of Alpha54 (who has since departed the team). Mognus, who did not impress on the relegated Complexity last season, has colossal shoes to fill. Dignitas, meanwhile, has stayed pat with their roster after finishing tied for 3rd at the World Championships in Madrid.
Take your pick between Aztral and ViolentPanda, who were both in the top 10 for Goals and Assists per game for Europe in Season 8. On the other side, it's harder to assess. Between the three players they'll need to find a way to replace Alpha's 5th best 0.74 Goals per game, all while trying to improve on their dismal, last place 2.00 Average Goals Against per game in Season 8. Mognus has had flashes of brilliance in the past, and if they stand any hope it's in Mognus having recovered the Season 4 form where he was in the running for European MVP.
As an added bonus, Dignitas play AS Monaco (another promotion team) in Week 2.
Pittsburgh Knights vs. Flight
The Pittsburgh Knights finished top 8 at the World Championships last season, introducing the RLCS to a smash-mouth, high-octane playstyle that others have sought to emulate. Flight, meanwhile placed 2nd overall in RLRS, granting them the last of the uncontested births into RLCS (due to expansion from 8 to 10 teams). Pittsburg stifled RLCS teams in Season 8, allowing an NA-second-best 1058.04 Score Against per game, while Flight (as RBG) were third lowest with 1106.28 Score For per game in RLRS play.
This combination leads to what is sure to be a midfield battle, but time has shown us that the Knights win this over and over again. Retals made the top 5 in North America last season with 0.75 Goals per game, and is your best bet as an Attacker. Pittsburgh Knights players ended Season 8 with the 3rd (mist), 4th (Retals), and 5th (Gyro) Saves per game in League Play. While there are some unknowns with mist moving over to Ghost Gaming, and Ayyjayy joining the squad you can expect PK to keep the tempo up and make it uncomfortable for any team that dares face them. For the Flight, expect Rapid to take on the lion's share of defensive responsibilities (Memory made a meagre 1.39 Saves per game in Season 8, which was 5th lowest in North America).
Rogue vs. G2 Esports
I'll bet you thought I'd say the NRG vs. Afterthought would be a game to watch, but there are a few reasons that's not the case. NRG does not traditionally blow out games, despite winning with uncanny frequency. Instead, we're going to talk about what is surely the most intriguing matchup of the week for me.
In an unexpected twist, the rookie firstkiller lands on Rogue after the departure of Ayyjayy. As the winners of the firstkiller sweepstakes Rogue stands to improve at least on paper, but it's not always that simple. Firstkiller is unquestionably talented, but there are signs that the young talent may not have the resilience needed to shake off hard losses. As the roster comes together, expect highs to be very high, and lows to be very low until they settle into a rhythm.
On the other side G2 successfully fought off relegation in Season 8 in a mind-bending turn that saw the Big 3 of legend be absolutely devastated. The G2 squad has elected not to make a change, despite their poor performance and must now piece themselves together and work through the problems that caused them to drop from 2nd place in Season 7 all the way down to the absolute bottom of the table in League Play of season 8.
If you want to roll the fantasy dice, there's no more RNG in professional Rocket League than firstkiller, but he is unlikely to be your best value for the money this week. Instead that distinction goes to Kronovi, who's salary sits at a basement dwelling $1350, due to a poor Season 8. On the other side, many seem to believe that Chicago is overpriced at $1900; his 0.79 Goals per game was 3rd best in North America last season, and he may be able to prey on a Rogue squadron that hasn't had much time together.
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