Rocket Surgery: The weekly Rocket League wrap (13/4)


Covering all things in competitive car soccer from Oceania and around the world.

It hasn’t been a great week for Psyonix, as the Tournament Update led to server performance issues that unfortunately impacted several players over the weekend of RLCS play. Pros were rather vocal about the situation on Twitter, particularly in Europe where some surprise results could be pinned on connection issues. These overshadowed a crucial week of league play, and hopefully hotfixes deployed throughout the week can improve the situation before we enter the crucial, final round of matches this weekend. At least fixed the alpha boost.

Rocket League’s partnership with WWE also kicked off this week, so if you want a couple of random items from a selection of ugly banners, flags and wheels use the code “wrestlemania” to unlock them. That must have taken a while to crack. No word yet if using “Summerslam” or “Royal Rumble” also unlocks items just yet.

Connection issues didn’t seem to plague Oceanic league play as much as Europe and North America thank goodness, but results ensured we still have a picture clear as mud for who makes the playoffs. One certainty is that the Chiefs will finish top of the table, while there is a mathematical possibility Legacy leapfrog them, it requires some crazy results and a complete capitulation of a squad that once again redefined dominance in Oceanic Rocket League. Only Love Decks and Legacy have managed to take games from Chiefs so far, racking up an 18-3 win record. Dark Sided are now the only team standing in their way of a perfect league season.

The top four will be made up from the teams you expect, with Tainted Minds pulling out a crucial 3-2 series win over Dark Sided last weekend to stay in the hunt. Our top teams play a mini-round robin in this final week of league play; undoubtedly we will be seeing some playoff previews as Legacy plays Tainted Minds and Dark Sided, and Dark Sided also face Chiefs. Win percentage is likely to split these teams come the end of this week.

With only a mathematical hope of a top four finish, JAM Gaming, Love Decks and Retirement Home will be battling it out to avoid a bottom two finish and missing the playoffs. Legs Are Silly can’t finish any higher than seventh, and will be playing for pride against Love Decks in their final match. The Decks are the only team in this group with two matches remaining, they should get over Legs Are Silly but need to take games and best case, the series, against Tainted Minds to ensure a playoff position. Similarly the winner of JAM v Retirement Home will be safe, the loser at risk of being leapfrogged should they drop the series in a sweep.

The Throwdown playoffs are structured in a unique way, with 3rd playing 4th for a spot in the final four while 5th play 6th for the right to then take on the loser of 3v4 for that fourth playoff spot. It makes a run from the bottom half of the ladder particularly difficult, as it should be. The gap between success and failure in Europe and North America is huge, sixth place plays for a chance to go to the world championship, seventh has to defend their place in the big leagues. The Throwdown system I believe is a better way to do things, and hopefully its trial here will encourage the other regions to change things up come season 6.

Like Oceania, North America’s final week will be a battle for position as the top and bottom four are already decided. Following G2’s big win over Cloud9 in league play last week, NRG has the inside running for top spot in the region but the honours will almost certainly go to the winner of their final week clash. G2 are mathematical chances but win percentage is going to count against them, third is their likely finishing position. Evil Geniuses will take fourth unless they can upset NRG in their final week match.

At the other end, the winless Out of Style will need breakthrough victories against G2 and Counter Logic to avoid the bottom two, it is all but certain they will be going to the relegation playoff. Counter Logic are the favourites to join them, facing a monster schedule of Cloud9 and G2 in the final week of league play. A 3-2 series loss to Ghost last weekend proved crucial. Avoiding sixth place and having to take on one of the “big three” will be the goal for Rogue, and that will come down to their Out of Style series. Rogue should take that one and finish ahead of Ghost, who have completed their league play schedule at 2-5.

Europe offers no such simple analysis, as the server apocalypse played havoc with the standings. Flipside Tactics were the big beneficiaries, getting unexpected series wins over both Gale Force and Vitality, delivering both their first losses of the season. They finish their league schedule at 4-3 and should maintain a top four position unless Team Envy can work some magic and sweep both Vitality and Fnatic.

Complexity, Gale Force and Vitality will play it out for the top two positions, each has a double header in the final week, Gale Force playing both of their fellow top two contenders. Win percentage could again split them all, with Complexity holding the best record at the moment but all close enough that a sweep would turn the standings on their head. None of them are assured a top three position right now, but we’re starting to talk three or four series all going specific ways to knock them out right now.

At the bottom end, Excel have finished their league schedule at 1-6, they are guaranteed to be playing for their RLCS lives in the relegation bracket. Fnatic are all but certain to join them; a poor win percentage means they need to beat both PSG and Envy in the final week and then hope one or both loses their other match. It has been a disappointing RLCS return for Fnatic, much more was expected after their dominant Rival Series campaign.

At the time of writing European RLRS is in chaos, with four teams all sharing a 4-2 record after Placebo knocked over Triple Trouble in five games and Ares scored an upset over Servette in midweek matches. Placebo also got a big win over Team Secret last week, setting up a fascinating final round. Placebo appear to have come out of nowhere with a back heavy schedule, but such is the way of the Rival Series that an unfortunate slip against The Juicy Kids will likely come back to haunt them, as they now need a 3-0 win over Zebra Nose and very specifically a 3-2 win for Triple Trouble against Servette to make the top two, unless The Juicy Kids can do them a solid and beat Team Secret. Servette will find themselves in the promotion playoff with a win against Triple Trouble, while the above scenario is the only way Triple Trouble could miss out even with a win. Team Secret hold their fate completely in their own hands thanks to a superior win percentage.

Things aren’t so tense in North America, where Flyquest and Allegiance have the inside running for the two promotion playoff positions. The Doods have some tough work ahead of them to sneak in following a midweek loss to Splyce, but sweeps of both Incognito and Flyquest would probably see them through. It will take some strange twists for the top two to be made up of anybody both those three teams; Spacestation’s hopes are all but gone following a loss to The Doods while Manhattan would need to sweep through Dignitas, Flyquest and Spacestation to have any hope. There is still some interest in seeing who takes that fourth spot and ensures another chance at the Rival Series next year, but at time of writing there were still too many midweek matches to play to go into all of those scenarios properly.

While it would be nice to have full coverage of the RLRS, there is something cathartic about watching the “pure” feed of the second stream games, no commentary or analysis, just Rocket League. That isn’t to say the commentary is bad at all, just that sometimes it is nice to watch quickfire games without going back to the desk for analysis. It is a shame some of these crucial clashes couldn’t get the attention they deserve by being played midweek, but squeezing two regions into five weeks of league play requires some sacrifices be made.

It is a shame server performance has overshadowed what shapes up to be a fun final week of Rocket League. While we don’t yet know where the RLCS world championship will take place, the battle for those places usually springs some surprises on us and both regions have three contenders trying to squeeze into two guaranteed LAN places.

Games to Watch (can I just say all of them?)

  • Cloud9 v NRG – This series is almost certain to decide which of the two teams takes regular season honours. NRG are a defensive juggernaut, Cloud9 are equally dominant on offence. Both are one and two in the attacking and defensive standings, but this will come down to what force is stronger: the NRG defence or the Cloud9 attack.
  • Complexity v Gale Force – A rematch of the season four grand final and the European regional final, where Gale Force have had the edge in tightly contested series’. These two always put on must watch Rocket League.
  • Vitality v Gale Force – If the above game doesn’t decide the regular season champion then this one will. Vitality have been huge this season, possessing some of the most explosive offensive playmakers, but Gale Force are the toughest defensive team in the world to crack.
  • Triple Trouble v Servette – The “win and in” game always provides plenty of drama, and these have been two of the best teams in European RLRS all season.
  • Chiefs v Dark Sided – These long time rivals always put on a great show, but Chiefs have had the better of it in recent times. Can Dark Sided be the first team to really crack the Chiefs incredible defence?

All RLCS North America and Europe matches can be seen on the Rocket League Twitch channel. Rival Series matches are broadcast on both the main channel and Rocket League Esports. Oceania matches are found on the Throwdown Esports channel.