The threat from down under
For the briefest moment Rocket League fans looked on as the unexpected happened. Alpha Sydney managed to clamber out of the shadow of the Oceanic region - which, in any esport, is something of the black sheep - to draw the world’s eyes on it. It was the opening match of the weekend, where Denial Esports faced against the Aussie team, and it began as many expected. Denial took the first comfortably, but by managing to score an equalizer in the second game Alpha Sydney suddenly looked energised. It went on to win that game 2-1, ultimately going on to with the best of five series with its final game - crushing Denial Esports with a huge 5-1 victory. It gave AS its moment in the spotlight, and that final clear win gave them a bit of hype to roll into the quarterfinals with. But, up against Mock-It Esports, it was always going to be a tough game to win, and despite that promise they were promptly dropped into the Loser Bracket where The Leftovers finished them off. A sad end for what could’ve been an exciting underdog story. But let’s celebrate the positive, with Alpha Sydney's beautiful goal in its first series.
— RLCS (@RLCS) 2 June 2017
Leftovers end up leftover
But if we are talking underdog stories, then The Leftovers was certainly looking like the team that would fight for that glory. As the finals approached and with the team had displayed some incredible Rocket League, dominating a number of teams during the league phase that, by rights, should have been schooling such an uncertainty. The team had even qualified for the quarterfinals ahead of Northern Gaming, its first match of the knockout tournament being to face Rogue. It was here that The Leftovers first found pressure, and fell down to the Lower Bracket despite the hype that had surrounded them. But they weren’t about to be counted out so soon. Up against Alpha Sydney the EU team had the chance to earn back some pride, taking that game 3-1 before facing against defending champions Flipsid3 Tactics, who themselves had been knocked down a bracket by NRG. But Leftovers wasn’t about to let go of its opportunity, and crushed F3 3-1 - barely giving the team any chance to breathe. While the defending champions were a shadow of themselves, The Leftovers were determined to make it further. With a goal difference of 5-12 across the series, it was clear who deserved that victory. Leftovers would then go on to feel the pain of an equally determined Northern Gaming, but this quick reacting goal from Ferra is just an example of how on top of it the team was. Keep an eye on these team.
NRG make an example When it comes to Rocket League there aren’t quite as many standout American teams as there are EU teams that really stand out. NRG, however, are one of the teams that do, and now with GarrettG filling out the roster since January they’ve gone from strength to strength. The team came out of the gates of Season 3 on fire and ready to prove they were ready to take the title. That pressure continued in the finals, too, responsible for knocking some significant threats to the Lower Bracket - namely Northern Gaming and defending champions Flipsid3 Tactics, even locking down NG completely with a 3-0 victory. While it would ultimately go on to face - and lose - against Mock-It Esports, even that match was not a walk over, starting strong for NRG before a sloppy loss on Mannfield Stormy gave Mock-It the opportunity to tiebreak and move on to a close 4-3 victory. NRG even managed a 15-12 goal difference, proving it was anything but a battering. It would go on to suffer the wrath of a seemingly unstoppable Northern Gaming in a brutal rematch, but that doesn’t mean that there was some goals of beauty from NRG Esports, such as this incredible dribbling and control by Garrett...
@GarrettG34 was incredible! #RLCSWCS3 pic.twitter.com/hFKYhovBst — RLCS (@RLCS) 3 June 2017
Mock-It goes all the way
Well, maybe not quite all the way. If there was any team that would’ve been a safe pick to win the RLCS Season 3, then Mock-It is definitely it. While it may well have been up against it with NRG, there were few times throughout the finals where it didn’t look in control, even if its league play had been middling at best. It won its first two series - up against Alpha Sydney and, then, the more considerable threat of Rogue - 3-1, the majority of games with zero concessions. The only team that had shown the same level of consistency - and invulnerability - was Northern Gaming, who it ultimately faced in the grand finals. And even then it wasn’t such a clear cut loss. Mock-It was as deserving of a victory there as NG, as the two leapfrog each other when it came to the leading side. Sadly it wasn’t quite enough, with Mock-It tripping up on the penultimate game that gave Northern Gaming the advantage and a chance - which it took - to finally close the series and the tournament. But this goal from Kaydop is just one example of the sort of team that Mock-It was during the finals. If it can keep this up going into the next season, then perhaps it’ll be their turn to stop being runners up (as they were against F3 last year) and take that top spot for themselves finally.
Northern Gaming are Season 3 Champions
Here’s a team that has been a staple of the Rocket League esports scene for as long as the game had such a thing, though admittedly under a different name. It’s always been one of the teams pressuring the rest for that first place medal, but never achieving its dream. And after ripping up the league phase with six of its seven games won, many expected Northern Gaming would finally go on to achieve that - until, at least, founder and star player Maestro announced he wouldn’t be available in the finals due to commitments with his education. It could’ve been an upset for the team, and likely the contributing factor that threw the team into the Lower Bracket early on in the tournament after its crushing match against NRG. Stand-in Turbopolsa didn’t have the synergy that NG is commonly known for. But that wasn’t going to be the death of the team. They ran the gauntlet of the Losers Bracket with unfathomable control, Turbopolsa acting as a considerable stand-in for Maestro. Denial Esports went down with 3-1, Rogue then Leftovers with 3-0 and then finally NRG with 4-1. That last game featured a goal difference of 16-6 for NG, it was almost unnecessary. So when NG faced Mock-It, it was a tough one to call. But here was Northern Gaming, coming from behind after an initial upset only to reset the bracket and win two best of seven series. It was something to behold. It was set of games that were sparse of goals and featured lot of clutch saves and, really, one of the most tense matches of Rocket League we’ve witnessed. These were two teams not willing to give an inch, and when that happens it always makes for incredible esports - even if the number of goals here wasn’t quite the same standard we’d been used to seeing. All the same, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t something to incredible, such as Remkoe’s outstanding solo goal that displayed a level of finesse and control that - frankly - isn’t often seen. This was a man playing outside of himself, it was that high level. Northern Gaming has finally won a Rocket League Championship Series, and so it’ll be interesting to see what happens from here on out with Season 4.