Rocket Surgery: The weekly Rocket League wrap (6/10)

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Psyonix hasn’t always had the midas touch when it comes to Rocket League updates, and after the Autumn Update was released last week all the talk isn’t about how much we want a pigeon banner, how cool transparent goalposts are or how bright and burning the sun is above DFH Stadium and Champions Field (still better than the view obscuring stormy fields, why does RLCS play on those damn things?), it is all about a small, page 13 byline in the patch notes: “bumping and demolish updates”.

The new “easy” demos and the meta surrounding them was certainly noticeable in RLCS play, and will only become more prevalent as pros adjust to how easy it now is to blow somebody up or send them skying across the pitch. In ranked play it is even more extreme as players get a handle on just how much you can annoy the crap out of your opponents by endlessly (and easily) ramming them into oblivion. It is unfortunate timing with the most crucial week of NA and EU league play coming up, with huge consequence games all across the board with top two positions on the line and potential relegation battles to avoid.

Psyonix hasn’t commented on new demos yet, but it has announced some more DLC cars arriving October 11. Continuing with the Fast and Furious theme started with the Fast 8 DLC from April, this time around we are getting Dom’s iconic ‘70 Dodge Charger and Brian’s ‘99 Nissan Skyline, along with a variety of decals.

PC players will get to start testing the new cross-platform party system this week, and another partnership was announced in the form of sponsored community events, starting with a second Rivals Week, hosted by Pro Rivalry League. The last Rivals week back in July was an epic “best of three of best of sevens” featuring some of the biggest teams in pro Rocket League. Psyonix sponsorship will include a beefed up prize pool, and Rivals Week 2 will begin straight after league play finishes next week with the designated rivals Renegades v Fibeon, Leftovers v Team Envy (both possible relegation bracket previews), Flyquest v Rogue, Method v PSG and Cloud9 v NRG.

North America – RLCS Week 4

Week four NA results have set us up with a fun battle for the top two positions, and delivered us our first relegation bracket participant. Ghost did it easy against Flyquest, sweeping through 3-0 with a 13-5 goal difference to further their LAN credentials. Zanejackey was a standout for Ghost, who forced themselves right into the thick of the race for a top two finish. G2 and Rogue faced off next, trading games in a tight series before G2 took the decider and moved to 3-1. G2 were just a touch more polished over the series, capitalising on the chances Rogue gave them.

Ghost assured themselves of a double win day, moving to 4-1 overall with 3-1 series win over Renegades. Zanejackey was strong again in an effort that secured him player of the week honours, while Renegades continued to struggle. Flyquest then came back and took NRG to five games, but the reigning North American champs were just a touch too slick in the end, NRG still not looking as dominant as they have been in previous seasons but looking great when they do click and doing enough to win here. Flyquest are all but safe from relegation following other results, but whether they can progress through the playoff to LAN is a whole different challenge.

Renegades did assure themselves a spot in the relegation bracket with a 3-0 series loss to Rogue. Rogue had one of their big breakout offensive performances in game one, then ground out games two and three to assure themselves a playoff position. A top two finish is beyond them, but another week to tighten up their play will be appreciated and at their best they have shown great potential. Renegades attempted to switch things up by subbing in Mijo but it appeared to cause more problems than it solved, Renegades conceding several kickoff goals.

The final series of the day was a huge clash between G2 and NRG, a series with big top two implications. NRG were on lockdown in game one, presenting their trademark brick wall defence in a 2-0 win. That didn’t take long to fall apart, miscommunication costing NRG a couple of times in a 3-2 loss in game two. NRG moved one win away from the series victory, but again G2 pegged it back, setting up a deciding game five. A kickoff and barge gave G2 the lead with a minute remaining, and that was enough for the crucial series win, assuring them a playoff spot and leaving them a big chance at top two.

Going into the final week of league play, Renegades can’t escape from the relegation bracket while Allegiance will need a perfect week to move out of the cellar, unlikely considering they are yet to win a series and have to play G2 alongside Flyquest. Rogue and Flyquest will just be jostling for position, unable to move into the top two, while a couple of huge games will end up deciding which of Ghost, Cloud9, NRG and G2 end up making our top two and earning automatic LAN qualification. All four sit on four wins, with all except NRG having two games in hand. NRG v Cloud9 and G2 v Ghost will both be awesome contests, Ghost have the hardest path to the top two with their second game against Rogue while G2 and Cloud9 play Allegiance and Renegades respectively, our likely relegation sides. Cloud9 and G2 are probably the favourites to take the top spots, but it will be a very entertaining final week regardless.

In NA RLRS we are now in a spot where three must become two. Fibeon remain undefeated at the top of the ladder at 6-0, with Out of Style and Hollywood Hammers both 5-1. The big wrinkle? Hammers and Fibeon play off in the last week and it could come down to margin of victory if Hammers get up and Out of Style can also beat Myth (formerly Premature Superhero Cops) who fell out of contention with dual series losses this week.

Europe – RLCS Week 4

While we haven’t officially eliminated any European squad from top six finishes, our final week is almost certainly going to see one of Flipside Tactics or Team Envy knocked down to the relegation bracket. At the same time there is still one spot in that crucial top two open, but first let’s look at the results from this week which saw a clash of surprise heavyweights and potential undefeated squads: Method and PSG.

Flipside and Excel started the week in a crucial series for both squads and it was played as such, going to five games and decided with nine seconds remaining as Flipside were caught bunched on the attack and Pwndx capitalised with a length of the pitch series winner. It was Excel’s second closing seconds win in the series, Nielskoek continuing his strong form.

Method delivered on their half of the “battle of the undefeated” setup by sweeping Mockit 3-0, Alot opening the series with a frankly ridiculous goal angle off the backboard that is the current favourite for goal of the season. Method just had Mockit on lockdown, and that defensive dominance eventually turned into attacking pressure and goals on the board. Just sit back and enjoy this:

PSG then ensured we would not only see our first 5-0 squads in RLCS history, but that we would see our our first battle of 5-0 RLCS squads with a 3-1 win over Excel. Excel certainly made a good fist of it, drawing back two goals in the second game to force then win overtime, but the PSG defence proved too good and Chausette used a brutal delayed touch to finish the series in a tight game four with 15 seconds remaining.

Before that titanic clash we had a battle of the struggling Flipside and the inscrutable Gale Force, whose two losses came to the undefeated squads but who haven’t looked like the dominant squad everybody expected this season. Again Flipside took an early series lead but again they were run down in five games, Turbopolsa putting on a sick half pitch dunk off the wall to start a series sealing hattrick.

Then we had the big one. Our first two 5-0 RLCS squads, our first clash of undefeated sides this deep into league play. The “new bump meta” was on full display in game one, two of the first three goals coming from clear out bumps and demos as PSG took an early series lead, forcing Method into their lightning fast game. PSG kept the pressure on in game two, the only time Method’s passing game got into gear delivered a beautiful goal, but they did force overtime then continued their perfect overtime record for the season to tie the series. Chausette continued the trend of amazing goals with a length of the pitch dribble in game three, but ultimately Method took down the game with another demo assisted goal with seven seconds left.

Method got themselves back into the series with boost control and playing the game in the PSG half, which continued in game four but wasn’t enough to break the PSG defence. In the end PSG scored off the counterattack, and that was enough to force a decider. PSG broke out to a quick 2-0 lead but some perfect, upside down placement from Metsanauris drew a goal back before Chausette bumped Alot out of net for Ferra to restore the two goal lead. Bluey made the lead three on a counterattack and that was enough to seal it, PSG remaining undefeated and securing a spot at the World Championship LAN. Chausette’s efforts were enough to see him take player of the week honours.

The day was not yet done, with a casual Gale Force v Mockit clash with crucial playoff implications closing the show. Gale Force exploded off the grid with a 5-0 thrashing, but dropped the next two as Mockit intended to make a series of things. In the end it wasn’t to be, Gale Force showing their class in taking down the final two games and the series in five.

Team Secret had their bye this week but need a sweep of Flipside and Mockit next week to avoid the relegation bracket. Flipside have a decent win percentage but only have one game in hand, against Secret. A win is a must for them to survive. Envy’s poor win percentage means they will probably need two wins to avoid the relegation games, unfortunately those two wins need to come against Gale Force and PSG. The reigning World Champions will need to show that class to survive and give themselves a chance to defend their title.

Mockit are the other squad who could possibly be relegated, should they lose to Secret and Excel, with other results also going against them. It’s almost impossible, but stranger things have happened. They are also eliminated from a top two finish, so the best they can hope for is survival.

At the top end, Method only need a win against Excel to secure the second top two position, but a loss may expose them to Gale Force or Excel themselves, particularly if they are swept. Gale Force need a lot to go right to make top two, but a sweep against Envy and a lot of results falling their way could do it.

EU RLRS has its first contender for the relegation/promotion series, with The Leftovers still undefeated and unable to be dislodged in the final week. They can still have an influence on who comes with them to the next stage, with a series against Endpoint (4-2) next week that will decide the latter’s fate. The Juicy Kids (4-2) will need a big win over Supersonic Avengers to sneak through, sitting slightly behind Endpoint in the win percentage tiebreaker.

Oceania – Week 3 RLCS, ESL Season 3

Last week I said that this short round of Throwdown league play would do little to change the Oceania standings. I should have known from my RLCS fantasy performance that I wasn’t going to be very good at predicting what will happen, as a pair of upsets leave us with seven teams still in contention for the LAN finals with three games each remaining.

Those upsets didn’t start straight away, as Avant kept up their tradition of keeping it close against the top three but unable to get the win, dropping what could be a crucial 3-0 to JAM Gaming that doesn’t accurately represent the gap between these squads. Avant have now played the top four sides, but with only one win from those games will need to sweep their remaining draw of Noizee, Conspiracy and Legacy to find their way back to the PAX LAN stage.

Legacy started their day with a record equalling seven goals, Plitz also equalling the Throwdown individual goals in a game record with five as they took down Conspiracy 7-1. Game two was a tougher slog but was taken by Legacy in overtime despite a beautiful flick goal from Walcott for Conspiracy. Conspiracy kept the series going with a win in a tight game three, then kept the reverse sweep chance alive in game four and sealed the deal in game five, Walcott breaking a tie with two seconds remaining on a beautiful dribble and flick that went a long way to his claiming the Throwdown player of the week award. It keeps Conspiracy alive for PAX, but with both squads having two of the top three on their remaining schedules it will be a big ask for either to move to the next stage.

Pale Horse would be happy with a 2-1 start seeing their schedule included JAM, Avant and Chiefs so far. Despite a first game win against Scylla, the defensive communication and teamwork we come to expect from Pale Horse wasn’t on point, highlighted by a 5-1 game three loss where they had just one shot. Scylla themselves are starting to gel after a few rough weeks after Addzey came onto the roster, Kira in particular was all over the pitch. Kia took Pale Horse on his back in game four to force the decider, which Dumbo tied for Scylla with four seconds remaining with an insane angle, then pounced on a poor clear to take the upset in overtime. The win sees Scylla at 3-1 in league play, but with Chiefs and JAM still on their schedule they won’t be booking flights to Melbourne just yet.

Finally we had Chiefs up against Noizee Isn’t Toxic, but the upset trend was not to continue as Chiefs were on point, winning 3-0 with a 15-1 goal difference (9 of those scored by Torsos) that moves them to 3-1 and crucially pegs back some of the game percentage advantage that JAM currently has.

Next week we return to a six match schedule, where Avant will need big wins against Conspiracy and Noizee Isn’t Toxic to keep their hopes alive. The winner of Scylla v JAM Gaming will be all but assured of a LAN placement, and Conspiracy face a tough task to keep their hopes alive in the form of beating Chiefs and Avant.

In other competitions the first week of ESL season 3 league play snuck up on everybody, the short notice and inflexible schedule unfortunately meaning Legacy had to forfeit their much anticipated rematch with Chiefs. In the matches that went ahead, Avant got revenge for Throwdown with a series win against JAM in five games, but not before JAM stole game three as Express somehow dug the ball from the pitch at all zeroes to tie it up then a lightning passing play created the winner. Avant powered through game five 5-0 to seal it, and although some connection issues for Montyconnor may have had an impact on JAM’s performance, Avant finally broke through with a big win against a top three squad, their first in major competition since July. Of the newcomers, Lynx took a game from Scylla but dropped the series 3-1, while Pale Horse topped Square One 3-0.

Vapour-Nordic has a short final week remaining but the top four playoff has been set, with only seeding to be decided. Lynx had a perfect 4-0 week and beat two of the three teams that will join them in the playoff, they top the table and are favourites to take the league title at this stage. Extricity also secured their place with an undefeated week, while Cl4rity and Feint will be the teams joining them. Poor old Guardian Aero face a tough ask to win their first game, let alone series, this week with Lynx and Feint their opponents.

Dates and Times

Throwdown OCE Season 4 (RLCS) – Sunday 8 October, 11:00AM AEDT
ESL AU/NZ Season 3 – Monday 9 October, 6:30PM AEDT
Vapour-Nordic – Friday 6 October, 7:00PM AEDT

Rivals Series (EU and NA) – Saturday 7 October, 5:00AM AEDT (EU), 11:00AM AEDT (NA)
RLCS North America Week 4 – Sunday 8 October, 6:00AM AEDT
RLCS Europe Week 4 – Monday 9 October, 3:00AM AEDT

All NA and EU RLCS streams are archived on Twitch and (eventually) Youtube.

Series of the week: Method v PSG (EU RLCS)

Biggest games of the week ahead

North America: G2 v Ghost, 9:20AM AEDT, NRG v Cloud9, 10:10AM AEDT
Europe: Method v Excel, 3:00AM AEDT
Oceania: Scylla v JAM Gaming, 14:25 AEDT approx.