Featuring the largest prize pool in RLCS history, Season 7 of the Rocket League Championship Series has the promise to be one of the greatest finals of all time! Thankfully, the first day of the maligned group stage has given us some exciting series, amazing individual outplays, and a glimpse into the direction for the rest of the event.
From INTZ taking Group A favorites NRG to a game five to Rogue upsetting Barcelona 3-1 to both Australian teams not having a fun day, day one was filled with exciting storylines to read over.
Australians struggle in Newark
DreamHack Dallas showed that the Australians had a long way to go to get back in World Championship contention form, and day one was a big struggle for both of the Aussie teams. Playing a combined two series Renegades and Ground Zero Gaming combined for a total of one map win (Ground Zero against Vitality) and neither have a particularly rosy picture for advancing to-day three.
Two teams play in Rocket League and both Renegades and Ground Zero Gaming seem to have run into extremely strong sides in FC Barcelona and Vitality, respectively. While Barcelona would go on to be upset by Rogue, they looked to be one of the stronger EU squads both at Dallas and here on day one. Vitality and Ground Zero Gaming had a tight 3-1 series, but the teamwork from Vitality helped to highlight their budding star longtime prodigy Kyle “Scrub Killa” Robertson.
It would be unfair to write off the Australians, but their day one performance means perfection from Renegades in day two and Ground Zero Gaming to elevate their game against the home team G2.
NRG and INTZ go the distance
NRG had a dangerously slow start in their opening series, but all credit to INTZ as the Brazilians showed they can HANG with one of the best teams in North America. The series was back and forth, but NRG were able to win this game five as Garrett "GarrettG" Gordon was able to close the series out.
NRG were not the juggernaut that a typical number one team in the world should be, but winning a close series puts them one series closer to their goal of winning a World Championship. Will NRG be able to face off with a high flying PSG? Will PSG and INTZ be the underrated day two series?
Day one was only a small taste of the excitement contained in Group A that I frankly did not expect. Look for some amazing matches and pray that PSG are the usual high scoring machine we are used to.
Rogue upset FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona looked like they were ready to prove that they had the chemistry and individual power to lift the trophy after a 3-0 thrashing of number one seed Renegades. Well, Rogue powered by effective rotations and good shooting from Nicholas "Wonder" Blackerby and Austin "AyyJayy" Aebi allowed Rogue to win 3-1 only dropping game two.
Rogue seemed to take a minute or so to get the ball rolling in every game, but when they found their stride they struck a good balance of safe rotations and hitting clutch shots to cement the biggest upset of the group stage so far. Barcelona seemed demoralized after losing game three and never found their way back into the series proper.
The Rogue win means that Renegades has a much tougher path to making day two. Renegades will need to sweep Rogue because of the game differential after being swept by Barca. Barcelona already punched their ticket, but going 4-3 in groups seems a disappointing scoreline after such a dominant series against Renegades.
Cloud9 in dominant form
The first team to clinch their quarterfinal spot, Cloud9 ran through Lowkey Esports and Triple Trouble with a mix of clutch plays from Jesus "Gimmick" Parra and excellent kickoff strategies. While Cloud9 were not perfect and their rotations left a lot to be desired, the team showed their ability to SHOOT. From Gimmick to Mariano "SquishyMuffins" Arruda, the shots were pouring in from every angle imagined.
Lowkey Esports despite being shutout were not by any means weak in their games against C9 and definitely displayed an ability to hang with the best of the best. Triple Trouble came out swinging and after clutching up in game one looked to live up to their name, but C9 promptly took over the series with a torrential downpour of offense.
Cloud9 managed to win games and have some big statements, but their positioning especially on defensive rotations were shaky. For instance, Triple Trouble scored more than once on a wide open net and had chances on balls where Cloud9 had extremely poor rotations because they play so aggressively. While C9 were able to make the aggression work because they hit the vast majority of the required touches, if they were to play a team like Barca or Vitality, they may see those missplays be more heavily penalized.
Still Cloud9 went 2-0 against two high quality teams and the matchup between Triple Trouble and Lowkey should prove extremely exciting.
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