Despite the group stage providing some funky scenarios (Rogue won an “elimination” match giving them the top seed in their group) and overall not having enough Rocket League to really warrant their arrival, I cannot complain about the quality of most of day two’s matches. You do not need a game five to have a close, exciting game, and today proved that as we saw several exciting matches featuring incredible individual outplays, hard carries from some of the world’s best, and young talent flex their muscles.
From NRG securing a 2-0 with a big win over PSG to G2 Esports firmly in the JKnapsack, there is a lot to talk about in today’s recap.
North American dominance
In my preview article for North America I said that this was the region’s year for breakout success, but to dominate the group stage without dropping a series was a bit beyond belief. Cloud9 took care of business on day one, but I expected them to go through their group with zero issues. NRG faced some issues on day one against INTZ, but Justin “jstn” Morales displayed his incredible Dominus skills against PSG in an extremely exciting matchup.
NRG scored in bunches and their defense was solid despite some hiccups on rotations. NRG looked like the dominant NA frontrunner from online league play and not the mediocre shell of a team we saw at Dallas which gives confidence for long-suffering NRG fans going into a tilt with Vitality in the quarterfinals.
G2 Esports made their debut today and Jacob "JKnaps" Knapman was on fire scoring eight goals in both series and scored the arguably highlight shot of the event so far. G2 Esports' series against Vitality should have been a game five affair, but Vitality was too prone to double commit and G2 relied on consistent passing and on target shots from its star players.
This team looked to be in peak performance considering how well each individual was in the clutch against a talented Vitality. Of all the Americans, G2 had the hardest road out of groups and they handled both of their opponents with well fought 3-1 series wins. The biggest blessing for G2 will be their side of the bracket as they have a first round tilt with PSG and a second round matchup of either Rogue or Triple Trouble. Speaking of Rogue....
Who expected Rogue to top their group? Featuring the pride of Australia in Renegades and FC Barcelona, the North American fourth seed should not have escaped this group with a 2-0 record, but Renegades rolled over today and Cameron "Kronovi" Bills had an absolute field day after he scored zero goals day one.
Maybe it was the throwback to their iconic Season 3 walkout that saw the team place top six that earned the Rogue team a quarterfinal berth, but it is finally a good time to be a Rogue fan again. A quarterfinal matchup against Triple Trouble is no cakewalk, but they could have had a much worse draw elsewhere in the bracket.
PSG and Triple Trouble gain steam
While Vitality and Barcelona were the top two EU squads headed into Worlds, it has been PSG and Triple Trouble who have not only shown better signs of life but also have a better chance of doing damage long term. PSG faced off against NRG and despite a 1-3 scoreline showed a lot of promise which carried over to their 3-0 thrashing of INTZ.
Triple Trouble the fan favorite EU underdogs also lost 1-3 to the NA team in their group (Cloud9) and soundly beat Lowkey Esports 3-0 in the closest 3-0 of RL history. Featuring efficient offense and sound rotations, both teams have quality fundamentals that can help propel them to victory against the "weaker" NA squads of G2 Esports and Rogue.
FC Barcelona did not play today, but Renault Vitality did and did themselves no favors by losing to G2 Esports in disappointing fashion. G2 frequently punished Vitality for double committing and leaving the narrowest of vectors that the sharpshooters of G2 were able to exploit. The team seemed shook after their loss and only time will tell if Alexandre "Kaydop" Courant will be able to carry the French banner past the quarterfinals.
The pride of Australia. The squad that has taken down giants in prior Worlds finals were unable to win a single series and won all of one maps in an anemic showing by a team that promised so much online in Oceania league play.
The biggest letdown was my predicted Renegade's MVP Aidan "ZeN" Hui who scored all of zero goals this LAN and did not contribute much else to the team's cause. Can Renegades bounce back from this? Of course, the new star player and my favorite keyboarder Daniel "Torsos" Parsons was the sole bright spot for the organization, but the team will either make a roster change or do some soul searching to find the magic they once had with former teammate Matthew "Drippay" Den-Kaat.
The other Oceanic team Ground Zero Gaming showed some life in their matches against G2 and Vitality, but despite the team's poise they too were unable to win a series. Hopefully Oceania continues to get opportunities to attend international events and gain much needed experience in their bid to win a World title.
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