The Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS), was forced to cancel its World Championship LAN event due to COVID-19, is set to conduct its Regional Championships this weekend, March 28 and 29. In the absence of the in-person LAN tournament, Psyonix has poured additional prize money into both the North American and European championships, bringing their total prize purses to just short of $415,000 each.
In both regions, six teams survived the 10-team regular season and advanced to a hybrid playoff format that is double-elimination in the first two rounds. The top two teams in the regular season standings earn semifinal byes and meet the two surviving teams in the third round.
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North America RLCS Regionals (March 28)
A wildly unpredictable regular season that saw teams 2-4 all post 6-3 marks yielded Spacstation Gaming (8-1) and G2 (6-3) semifinal byes, the latter of which was awarded second place on game differential.
Susquehanna Soniqs (6-3), who earned promotion to RLCS via the Rocket League Rival Series (RLRS) in Season 8, enter the tournament as the third seed, one place ahead of reigning world champions and five-time North American title holders NRG (6-3). Rounding out the NA field are Season 6 world champions Cloud9 and Ghost Gaming, who both posted 5-4 records in league play.
Spacestation, as the top seed, are favorites to win the title just months after a surprise run to the Worlds Semifinals. Their earning top-seed distinction was a surprise to many, but with an 8-1 record–and victories over NRG, G2, and Cloud9: NA’s old guard–they emerged as worthy contenders.
G2, on the other hand, started league play with a 5-0 record before losing three-straight. In need of a victory in Week 8, G2 swept Soniqs to finish the season strong, but we don’t see them as a title threat. Their play the last few weeks has shown glaring inconsistencies and a general lack of focus.
Soniqs, led by fan favorite Dappur, surprised many after RLRS promotion. They’re the only team to have beaten SSG but took losses to NRG, G2, and C9. NRG, down in fourth place, have a more difficult road to the Grand Finals than they thought they would have, but they’re the class of NA and will be in the mix.
On The Outside
While Ghost is an unlikely threat in this tournament, Cloud9 might be the biggest wildcard. C9’s talent and experience are undeniable, but after a shockingly bad Season 8–which saw them fight for their RLCS lives in the Promotion Playoffs–SquishyMuffinz and Co. proved underwhelming in league play. That said, they’re more than able to make a run at regionals and, following big results in Weeks 7 and 8, very well could.
The first action of the NA tournament sees NRG (1.40) as favorites at GT Bets over Soniqs (2.75) despite being the lower seed. NRG has the edge in both talent and experience and will earn a convincing victory, springboarding a deep tournament run.
Ghost (2.50) is tabbed to drop their Lower Round 1 match to Cloud9 (1.40), who enter the championship on a four-game winning streak. C9 could be the great disruptor in this tournament; look for them to surge past Ghost and advance to the Lower Quarterfinals and beyond.
NA Pick To Win
Currently, NA is proving to be a much tougher region than in the past. The emergence of Spacestation and Soniqs muddy the NA waters, but it’s hard to bet against NRG making a run. With GarrettG, Turboolsa, and jstn, NRG arguably still has the best roster in the world.
They’re fresh off a storybook world championship in Season 8 and have loads of online regional championship experience. Look for NRG to kick it into gear with statement wins over Soniqs and G2 in the Upper Quarterfinals and the Semifinals, respectively, before clinically finishing off Spacestation in the Grand Finals.
Europe RLCS Regionals (March 29)
Europe’s final regular-season standings were much more predictable than NA’s as the top two teams, Renault Vitality (8-1) and Dignitas (7-2), are the consensus best teams in the region. Both Vitality and Dignitas reached the final four of the Season 8 World Championship where the former defeated the latter in the semis.
Season 8 regional champions Team Reciprocity and mousesports slot into third and fourth places, respectively, with 6-3 records while Veloce Esports and FC Barcelona, both with 5-4 records, finish in fifth and sixth, respectively.
League of their Own
What else is there to say about Vitality? They’re probably the best team in the world right now. Led by Kaydop, a three-time world champion and the highest-earning Rocket League player of all time, Vitality breezed through league play and are on course to claim the EU title.
Their biggest threat: Dignitas, headlined by Kydop’s former teammate ViolentPanda. The two won back-to-back world titles in Season 4 and 5 and now stand opposite in Europe’s biggest rivalry. Alongside ViolentPanda are Yukeo and Aztral: two freakishly talented players with game-breaking ability.
Best Of The Rest
Other than Vitality, Reciprocity was the only other team to top Dignitas in league play. They are the third threat in Europe and, should they top an unpredictable mousesports side in the Upper Quarterfinals, would meet Dignitas in a mouth-watering semifinal series. Veloce and Barcelona, on the other hand, are far off the mark and will have short Sundays. Outside chance either of them top mouse in the Lower Quarters.
Reciprocity (2.00) and mousesports (1.72) square off in the Upper Quarterfinals for the right to face Dignitas in the Semifinals. GTBets is giving mouse the edge in this series but we think Reciprocity, the higher seed, and overall stronger roster, will dismiss mouse with relative ease.
In the Lower Round 1 fixture, Veloce (1.61) are favorites to topple Barcelona (2.20). Veloce, who had a strong showing at Worlds last year, boasts a deeper roster and should advance. Barcelona has gotten progressively worse in recent seasons and a poor showing at regionals could spell the end of their RLCS run.
EU Pick To Win
It’s difficult to justify choosing any of the teams outside of the top two as a regional champion because it’s evident that Vitality and Dignitas are in a league of their own in Europe. It’s true that Reciprocity defeated Dignitas, 3-2, in league play, but at regionals, the defending European champions would fall short based on talent alone.
Mouseports, Veloce, and Barcelona: all good teams but have shown they’re too inconsistent. Vitality is obviously the favorite and our pick to claim the regional championship, but Dignitas very well could pull off an upset. Look for them to make a statement in the Semifinals with a big win over Reciprocity before going the distance with Vitality in the Grand Finals. Vitality vs. Dignitas will go seven games, and although Vitality has the edge, if Dignitas limits silly mistakes they’re prone to, they could shock the region.