EU SPRING EVENT TEAM PREVIEWS
With the first major of the spring split for RLCS X coming up, we will be doing short team previews by groups to see what’s changed in the European region since the winter split! The spring split has 20 teams split across 4 groups for the initial group stage. After the group stage, the bottom team in each group is eliminated, and the rest move on to the knockout gauntlet. After the knockout gauntlet, only 8 teams will remain to face-off in the playoffs. I like how RLCS is still getting a chance to try out formats throughout the season, but I wonder if they will decide before season 11 on the format to stick to for the entire season. Without further ado, let’s jump into the team previews, starting with group A.
Format: Team Name (Player Names) (S: Sub, C: Coach)
Team #1: Aether
(Yukeo, Tox, eekso) (S: Yagi, C: Snaski)
After FlipFlop tactics didn’t have much success, Yukeo revived his old team name in Aether, alongside Tox and eekso. Tox is coming off a winter split with Solary, who appeared in event #2 and #3 but were knocked out in the 13-16th placing for both tournaments. After the winter split, Solary dropped the whole roster and is rumored to be picking up the ex-Oxygen roster, but more on that in a later group. eekso, on the other hand, was previously on Galaxy Racer, who placed 7-8th in the EU winter major, but the team replaced him with former RLCS MVP Bluey.
This team, at the surface, seems like a mish-mash of promising talent, but with the top teams being experienced teammates who have had time to figure each other out, we will have to see if they can get some chemistry clicking. They did make it into the tournament through the qualifier, though, so it’s not like they are completely inexperienced.
Team #2: Galaxy Racer
(Mittaen, arju, Bluey) (C: ANDYTHEMANDY)
Some good performances as the Monkeys in the fall split got the team signed to the Galaxy Racer organization. Since then, they have had a handful of 3-4 finishes, with their most recent 7-8th exit in the EU winter major. With Bluey’s addition, a former RLCS MVP with FC Barcelona who had a couple of mediocre seasons with Triple Trouble, they could potentially climb closer to that top 4 EU spot.
This move could be either a big hit for GR or a potential downgrade as you take away some of the chemistry you had if you kept the original Monkeys team together. I don’t think they will be first eliminated from this group, but their performance within this group will dictate their potential ceiling.
Team #3: Pirates
(LiFox, Ne0n, totothdt) (C:pahsi)
This team is a reasonably unknown team for me, as they made the tournament via the closed qualifier and are made up of players who are also technically playing for other teams. LiFox and Ne0n, according to Liquipedia, both play for Esport BERG, and totothdt plays for Team Orange Gaming in a European tournament called Nitro League. It makes me wonder if, while they are org-less now, one of those two organizations might move in to sign them as their team if they perform well.
I don’t have big expectations for this team, but I am also someone who cheers for the underdog, so I may be paying attention to this group a little more than I expected to see how they perform.
Team #4: Team BDS
(MaRc_By_8, M0nkey M00n, Extra) (S: GCR710 C: Kael)
BDS recently signed a contract extension with the organization to play under the Team BDS name until the end of 2022. That alone should tell you in the fast-moving esport that is RLCS, where teams change every couple of months, just how good these guys are. They have won both the fall and winter EU majors and almost all the regional events, only coming 3rd in the fall EU event #3 and the winter EU event #2. BDS is alongside Renault Vitality in being the undisputed top 2 teams in the European region, so beating either of those teams is a massive milestone in progressing. While they remain on top, they will continue to be one of the only ones with something to lose.
I can’t see them not coming out of this group in first place unless an upset happens, which is possible with Team Queso in this group. Speaking of Team Queso…
Team #5: Team Queso
(AtomiK, DmentZa, VK-Sailen) (C: ByJesuxEsP)
This team has stayed the same since being picked up as Magnifico, having decent results over the fall and winter events. Their best performance comes from EU regional event #2 where they had a game 7 grand finals against Top Blokes but fell just short and ended up in second place. They most recently ended 9-12th in the winter EU major, but by sticking with the same team, I think you are giving them an excellent shot to be the team to beat BDS or Vitality once again.
This team gives off a very any given Sunday vibe as they have clearly shown the skills to be a very high-level team; they just haven’t displayed the consistency yet. This split may be a time for them to prove themselves and this group, with BDS in it, is a good group to prove it against.
Team #1: Alpha AF
(matsgrey, Madssssss, dave)
Another closed qualifier team, matsgrey and Madssssss, both played for MINKZ for the better part of last year before being dropped and reviving their old team name. They also picked up dave for the spring split, who has bounced around a couple of lower-tier teams, only appearing in the first fall regional event for Team Name.
I can’t imagine this team has high expectations, but you truly never know how teams will show up for any tournament. I guess they may not end up winning any games in this group with some of the other teams, but you never know who will pop off when.
Team #2: Endpoint
(RelatingWave, virtuoso, Metsanauris) (C: Eclipse)
Endpoint is another team that recently got a contract extension, with them signing for 18 months back in January. This roster has been together under the Endpoint org for the entirety of RLCS X, and in that time, they finished second in the fall EU event #3, 3-4th in the fall major, and more recently 9-12th in the winter EU major. While a 9-12th finish isn’t precisely perfection, their ability to stick together and keep having these pop-off moments shows they can still all hang with the top teams.
They did not exactly get the luck of the draw with the groups, but they can come out of the gates hot with their first game against Alpha AF. If they can get a big win there, they may have some good momentum going into the rest of the group stage.
Team #3: Ex-Oxygen
(Ferra, Chausette45, AztraL) (S: Neqzo C: Moon Phases)
The team formerly known as Oxygen Esports will seemingly start the first regional event of the spring orgless as just two days before the event, they are dropped by their org and are already rumoured to be picked up by French org Solary. The rumour about Solary picking them up comes from ShiftRLE on Twitter, who have a good track record with RLCS rumours, so they seem relatively trustworthy. Oxygen Esports has already stated that they are staying in rocket league by teasing an announcement for their new team coming soon. Some eagle-eyed fans have already speculated is Jamal Jabbary through a little easter egg in the announcement photo. This would make sense since Oxygen is an NA-based organization, and nothing about the rosters recent performances would dictate a full roster wipe outside of trying to move regions.
Ex-Ox most recently placed 5-6th in the winter EU major and have shown to be steadily middle of the pack in EU so far this season, so maybe a change of pace with orgs could shake up their mentalities. We have seen AztraL be a top player before, and the same with Ferra and Chausette. We will just have to see if they can put it all together during this spring split.
Team #4: Godsmilla's Team
(Godsmilla, FreaKii, AcroniK) (C: Xpére)
This team is another closed qualifier with an odd backstory. Godsmilla spent roughly a year and a half on Team Singularity that ended with him being benched for Scrub Killa not once but two different times. Simultaneously, some luck like this might boom a player's mental; we have seen Godsmilla bounce back beautifully to form a good team with FreaKii and AcroniK. FreaKii played for Fadeaway for the fall and winter events before leaving sometime in January. AcroniK is a little bit of a newer player on the scene, having a little bit of experience with Stealth7 eSports in the first fall regional.
This tournament will be the first time we see this team, and thus Godsmilla, back on the RLCS pitch for the first time in a while, but they have the talent to make it past the early group stage certainly. AcroniK is very underrated and has a lot of pop-off potential, especially if the team can get some chemistry down. They will get a range of play in this group to see how they fare against an Alpha AF and a Team Vitality.
Team #5 Renault Vitality
(Kaydop, Fairy Peak!, Alpha54) (C: Mout)
VItality has been a mainstay in the RLCS for literal years, with Kaydop being considered one of the top and most consistent players. This year especially, they have been cementing their legacy as one of the greatest EU teams put together. Since adding Alpha54 and going full-french, they have become one of the teams to beat for anybody looking even to have a shot at a top title in Europe.
From watching, you can see their chemistry, and they should be able to advance to the next stage with ease, but I could see them struggle if they take any of the teams in the group stage too lightly.
Team #1: Dignitas
(ViolentPanda, Joreuz, ApparentlyJack) (S: Jessie C: Virge)
Dignitas is an org that has been very pivotal to the RLCS and RL esports' success in general. ViolentPanda is almost going into his 3rd year with Dig, whereas Joreuz and ApparentlyJack are some fresher faces that have been proving their worth ever since being picked up. Their fall and early winter regional placements were middles of the pack for EU. Still, with the later winter regionals, they seem to have clicked a little better, Finishing 3rd in both the regional event #3 and winter major.
Things definitely seem to be on the up for Dignitas, and if they can keep clicking on all cylinders, they could see themselves back in the top of the EU rankings and maybe making the top more than a 2-3 team race. It will be interesting to see how group C ends up with how competitive and hungry all the teams seem.
Team #2: Rix.GG
(Mikeboy, Kash, Oscillon) (C: Lyaneii)
This team is an interesting one as they were known before as Redemption until Rix.GG picked them up in February, and they had some decent placements earlier in RLCS X but most recently placed 9-12th in the winter EU major, which they only won one game off Oxygen in the two series they played. This team has shown to compete with at least the middle of the pack in the EU, but they seem to have few inconsistency issues, but they could completely turn themselves around for this upcoming split.
Rix's first game comes up against Top Blokes, which is a pretty tough first matchup, but what makes it more unfortunate is that Top Blokes get a series earlier in the day against TrainHard Esports to warm up on the sticks as well. We will have to see how they perform in that first game, and if they lose, how they bounce back against Team Liquid later in the day.
Team #3: Team Liquid
(Speed, fruity, Ronaky) (C: remkoe)
Team Liquid has been an oddity since they got picked up by the org. They have been relatively middle of the road, if not towards the bottom, for most of the regional events they've been in. They eventually dropped kuxir97 in place of Ronaky and grabbed a recently retired remkoe to coach them, and since then, they have...still been middling. They finished 9-12th in both winter regionals since the new acquisitions, but they did not make the major based on their points, so we will have to hope that they have made some improvements in their time off.
I think they may have a genuinely bounce-back split this spring, considering the team's skill, but it's hard to tell right now if they may be able to get over all hurdles thrown their way. If the spring split does not go well, there may be another move from Team Liquid in the off-season.
Team #4: Top Blokes
(FlamE, Kassio, archie) (S: tehda C: RamS)
Top Blokes are arguably top 3 in EU, and I say arguably because I know there are a lot of people that believe EU is a 2 team show and then whoever pops off that weekend is the third best, but there are quite a few weekends where Top Blokes have popped off. They were runners-up in the first EU fall regional and won the winter regional event #2 against Team Queso. They have also been teasing signing to an org for months, but ShiftRLE has reported that they may have some investors to continue under the Top Blokes name.
They are highly likely to finish at least the top 6 unless an upset occurs in one of the do-or-die brackets after the group stages. Every one of these players has the potential to pop off and take over a game in Top Blokes' favour, so if you need to fill an extra fantasy spot, maybe look towards the Blokes if you haven't already.
Team #5: TrainHard eSport
(Ekon, ExoTiiK, Meloshisu) (C: Finish)
This is a reasonably fresh team, with TrainHard picking them up on the 8th, but the players have some experience together. ExoTiik and Meloshisu played on Solary for a bit together. Ekon has been playing for the TrainHard org since the start of RLCS X. We have seen over the last year more and more full french rosters finding success, so we will have to keep our eye on this team to see if they can follow in the same footsteps, or if they fall a little flat.
The most crucial game for them is probably their first game against Top Blokes. If they can catch Top Blokes sleeping in the first game or two, they might be able to pull out the win. If they get that win, they may just be able to ride some momentum going past the group stages.
Team #1: 3 Musketeers
(Kérian, Yukiss, Emre) (S: Porto)
Kérian, coming right off being dropped by Solary, picks up one of his old Solary teammates in Yukiss. Yukiss played for SauceSquad for a little after being dropped by Solary. He also picked up Emre, a sub for Top Blokes, for a couple of months but didn't look to have been on a team for the last couple of months. Not an entirely french roster, but their substitute, Porto, is french, so who knows if they ever need to go to their sub? Maybe there might be a different kind of fluidity.
This is their first tournament as a team, so if they can make it past the group stage, that would probably be a pretty big win for them. If they flame out in the group stage, though, they do have some time to practice for the next tournament. They have the skill to get to the tournaments. It just depends on their performances in the tournaments that will matter the most.
Team #2: Giants Gaming
(Stake, Zamué, itachi) (S: Wolf C: Arleyobi)
This roster has remained the same since itachi replaced Tox in October of last year. Since then, the team has seen some decent success in RLCS X with some reasonably consistent top 4 finishers in the regional tournaments. It's hard to imagine they won't keep up some of the success, with being such an experienced roster compared to some of the others in the group.
The toughest competition for them in the group will probably be Guild, who they face as the group's final game. If the group is sitting close going into the last matches, that could be the difference between a team in the winner's bracket, the losers bracket, or even getting eliminated.
Team #3: Guild Esports
(noly, ThO, Deevo) (C: Gregan)
Guild has seen a little rise in success since they dropped Scrub Killa and picked up Deevo. They have had some consistent top 4 finishes through the last couple of tournament and grid appearances, and since they haven't made a roster move in a while, I would look to them to continue to improve.
Guild will have to play Singularity and Giants back to back on day 2 of the group stage, which could be a good thing if they can clear out on day 1. If they can ride the momentum going into a healthy day 2, they may just find themselves heading onto the winner's bracket, but it will be tough.
Team #4: Team Singularity
(Breezi, hibbs, Scrub Killa) (C: Markydooda)
Team Singularity is a team that has the individual pieces to be pretty good but just seems to fall short almost every regional. I would think maybe it's a team chemistry thing. Still, since all the Godsmilla stuff is relatively behind most of the Singularity guys, I can't fully imagine what the issue would be beside some of the players' not fitting together.
They will have some challenges with Giants and Guild in this group, but they also have a decent amount of experience against those teams, so if they can find their groove, they may be able to sneak into the winner's bracket and see how far they can take it.
Team #5: White Demons
(Dorito, crr, Tigreee) (C: Braan)
Tigreee is the most recent addition to this roster, replacing ghostfire as the team's resident German player. This can be a pretty significant upgrade as Tigreee is a veteran and a pretty skilled one. He was most recently playing on Fadeaway, but it will be useful to see what he can bring to the table after a little time off.
This team is very boom or bust, especially in this group, because I feel that unless they sneak a win from 3 Musk, they may be the team that gets eliminated in the first round. While that would be devastating to them, I hope they take it and improve from it rather than worry about failure.