Moving an ocean away with the sole intention of playing Rocket League is something that is truly a rarity, with only a handful of examples of this going into the 21-22 season. They’ve seen varying levels of success up until this point, but during the offseason leading up to the 22-23 season, we’ve seen a multitude of rumours and confirmations that even under-18 players are willing to uproot their lives for the chance to play under a banner that can offer them more money, or an elevated chance of lifting a trophy.
In this writeup, I’ll be giving you a history of cross-region transfers in professional Rocket League, hoping to keep you on the edge of your seats for when you next see an already established player making their debut in another region, hoping to once more chance history and set records.
Drippay made history in the first few days of 2019, when it was announced that he would be moving to North America to compete alongside CorruptedG and Klassux, as the first move of its kind. Drippay is arguably the best Oceanic player of all time, at least compared to his opponents at the time he competed. Oceania has always struggled on the global stage, but Drippay stood out as someone that could best every opponent thrown at him prior to his move to North America.
Ever since the introduction of OCE as a region, he had been the powerhouse amongst his peers from the land down under, with little to no contest from either opposing teams or his teammates. Season 3 was the very first time OCE got an official RLCS broadcast and funding for prizepools. Working together with Torsos and Jake under the Alpha Sydney branding, they managed to bag themselves 1st place in league play and a spot at Worlds, finishing league play with a 6-1 record. Admittedly, Worlds didn’t go well for them then and the region as a whole never really got any LAN results aside from the Chiefs season 6 run until the 21-22 season. Despite the initial stutter, Drippay walked away from his inaugural RLCS season with the Regular Season MVP and Golden Striker Award.
Season 4 had Alpha Sydney picked up by Chiefs Esports, and the same roster coming 2nd in league play, with the game difference between them and the 1st place roster of Just A Minute Gaming being just 1%. They managed to regain in the Worlds qualifiers though, going 13-2 in games and once more taking the OCE #1 seed as they headed to the main stage. The next two seasons had a pretty resounding copy-paste feel, with Chiefs going 13-1 in series and 41-9 in games over both seasons. The only roster change was Jake retiring after Season 5, and Kamii replacing him, but even throughout this they powered past and through every team they faced. A single 2nd place finish in League Play managed to light a fire inside of Drippay, as on top of going nearly undefeated for back-to-back seasons, he also bagged himself the Regular Season MVP and Golden Striker for Seasons 5 & 6.
The Season 6 World Championship had the new Chiefs roster containing Kamii and Torsos to wage war alongside the region’s pride of Drippay, as they managed to fight their way to a top 4 finish in Las Vegas, which truly made for a spectacle. This stint of domination contained wins against PSG, NRG and Evil Geniuses. Their drop to the lower bracket being on account of 3rd place We Dem Girlz, and their efforts being finished off by the eventual winners of Cloud9. The collection of the Day 1 MVP accolade truly cemented Drippay and his team as players to take note of, and take note Evil Geniuses did.
Now comes the part that we all know, changing RLCS history and moving from little Australia all the way to the US to play alongside CorruptedG and Klassux. After eliminating these two and their newly ex-teammate Chicago (who had jumped ship to play with G2- which you can’t blame him for), they’d made arrangements and made history when the EG RLCS Season 7 side was fielded with the first ever international transfer. It did not go well. I am Australian and an OCE fan through and through, but I cannot spin it any other way. It was abysmal. Finishing the season in 7th place (out of an 8 team league) with a 2-5/10-17 record I'm sure wasn’t something they were aiming for. There’s solace in the fact that they only got swept once, and managed to take a game in every single other defeat they had, but their only wins were a 3-0 against Splyce (who finished 8th) and a 3-2 win against Rogue (who finished 6th). Although it was only a single season, and you can guarantee that myself and anyone else who supported this move can think of so many excuses as to why it wasn’t a justified move for Drippay to move back to OCE, including the fact that he had the 3rd highest goals per game in all of NA RLCS that season, finished only behind jstn and Garrett. It didn’t pan out that way though, and when they went 0-2 in the promotion/relegation bracket and EG was dumped in RLRS, it became reality as CorruptedG and Klassux split with their Australian counterpart, and Drippay moved back to his home region, sticking around the 3rd/4th position for Season 8 and 9, finally finishing his career with a stellar season X, setting what I can only assume to be an OCE record, after winning the Fall Regional 1, and then proceeding to get five 2nd place finishes throughout the remainder of the season. This included the next three Regionals, the Spring Major and the Oceanic Championship (as well as a 3rd-4th finish at the Fall Major). Drippay had an incredible career in OCE, and never truly faltered amongst his Aussie cohort, but his (albeit small) stint in North America really didn’t surmount to anything. It set a precedent to the world that moving across the globe to play Rocket League, which I feel is an achievement in and of itself, to be good enough that you and a team are willing to put your careers and livelihoods on the line. Drippay moved in Season 7, and now dear reader, cast your mind back to Season 8, and you just might remember a little Swedish boy that did exactly that, just with a degree more of success.
Drippay may have been the first to be involved in a cross-region move, but Turbopolsa was the pioneer of *successful* cross-region moves. The weirdest thing was that this wasn’t even the obvious step forward. With Drippay, it seemed evident that the best way to forward both his Rocket League skill and paycheck was to move to a region with more money on the line. Now although as someone outside of the friendship circles of pros, I can’t guarantee that Turbo was getting a pay rise with his move to NRG, but I’d be willing to bet a lot on the fact that he was. Despite being the poster boy for European RL, and arguably the esport as a whole, he chose to take the plunge into a venture that had only been done once, to a minimal degree of success. I commend him for it and if it wasn’t for Covid-19 putting a stop to the world’s proceedings, I believe we would’ve seen many people follow in his footsteps even earlier.
I’m sure most people know the story of Turbopolsa, but if you’ve been introduced to RLCS after the free-to-play release, then you might not know how in-depth the legacy of this titan is.
Turbopolsa has played in every single RLCS season, qualifying for Season 1 Worlds as the 3rd seed for Europe, but after quick losses to American sides Exodus and Genesis, his first ever LAN venture came to a quick close. Season 2 was considerably worse, trying to make a name for himself with fellow Swede in al0t and not-so-fellow-Swede (in fact, some may consider him Dutch) Dogu, hailing from the Netherlands. Unfortunately, names were not made, and instead a disappointing 2-5 season had the team disbanding a mere 76 days after its inception. Dogu retired and al0t left to Secrecy with Mognus and Metsanauris (a team that bounced around several orgs before becoming Method). Turbo was recruited as the substitute for Northern Gaming, who had made back-to-back 3rd places at the first two RLCS Worlds. I’m sure they had no expectations of ever needing to bring Turbo in, but when Maestro couldn’t participate in the Season 3 LAN, Turbo had to step up, and step up he did. Northern Gaming had finished League Play as the 1st seed for Europe, clearly ahead of every other regional rival (apart from the seeding bracket, in which they lost in game 7, then 6 to give themselves the EU 3rd seed for Worlds). Although I’m sure the pressure must’ve felt insurmountable, we saw the 3rd place curse lifted and Turbo becoming the 2nd player in three seasons to win Worlds as a substitute. In what was now understood to be Turbo fashion, he left the team before the month was up. I’m sure this was because his contract had expired, but rather than sticking as part of the team whilst moving into the main roster, he joined forces with some other household Rocket League names in ViolentPanda and Kaydop. From here, I'm sure you know the story. Under Gale Force and Dignitas, Turbo won a 2nd and 3rd consecutive title, as well as a silver medal in Season 6. The very next season had Kaydop leave and Yukeo step in, and Dignitas failed to even make Worlds, finishing Eu League Play in 5th. Once more, time to jump ship. Once more, for good reason.
In a move that really wasn’t that shocking considering the lack of secrecy surrounding it, the 2nd ever cross-region move took place. The replies to the announcement tweet were people calling for Season 9 to start early as Season 8 was pretty much already in the books. Apart from a very shock loss to Rogue in the last game of the season that stopped the undefeated League Play run, they destroyed the online portion of the season with a +12 game difference, as opposed to the 2nd place team’s +5. NRG were always the best of NA going into the finale on LAN, as had been the case for several seasons, but they just didn’t have the composure to finish up (side note: I do believe that Garrett has negative ice on LAN and plays worse when on a stage). The tactic of ‘buying the player that stopped us winning a few seasons ago and doesn’t understand what losing actually is’ was one of the most effective tactics we’ve ever seen in RLCS, and after managing to overcome Lowkey Esports and the previous season’s world champs in Vitality in a nail biting series 3-2 in Groups, they were already into the playoffs. That second series alone netted jstn the Day 2 MVP, and really put NRG into their final gear. A simple dispatching of Spacestation Gaming in the semis left them once more in the grand finals, a position every player in the squad was very familiar with, whether it be on LAN or online. Once more they faced off with Vitality, who had just beaten Dignitas in the other semi, in what would go on to be dubbed one of the greatest series of all time. Vitality were hot off a win that would’ve had their adrenaline pumping and NRG had to wait in freeplay, trying to keep their hands warm and their nerves down, knowing all too well the ramifications that this next series would have on their career (and their bank account, likely ~$20,000 extra each if they managed to win). Of course they’re professionals, but we saw how they reacted when they won, we know how much it meant to them. It’s one of the most memorable Grand Finals in RLCS history. Game 7. Overtime. Garrett to jstn. ‘NRG do what they could not do before’. The first ever 4-time (as well as Turbo getting Day 3 & event MVP). Scrub kicked, his career never to recover. But most importantly, proof that hard work, a good work ethic, having the current best rookie in RLCS and buying the best player in Rocket League history is all you need to win a World Championship.
At the point of this move, only the two aforementioned cross-region transfers had happened, making this move a rarity but also a novelty, as this was an entire team moving with the intention of wanting to rake in more cash in tournaments with higher prizepools, as well as garner more experience against the best teams the 2nd best region RLCS had to offer. With these goals in mind, we saw True Neutral land in NA. I’m sure it took a lot of deliberation, but just like Drippay, having seemed to have bested their region, the squad chose to take on a higher calibre of competition. These three players only came about to team in 2020, when the already existing duo of Reysbull and Shad picked up ajg ahead of the LATAM Championship and SAM Spring Series. The duo mentioned above had a disappointing finish to the RLCS Season 9 Grand Series, finishing 5th, despite Reysbull collecting the Clutch Playmaker award and Shad coming 2nd for the Saviour of the Season accolade. Ajg had a nightmare of a season, after ending up dead last in 8th place, only winning a single series in the entire season. He wanted a chance with another team and Reysbull & Shad wanted a set of fresh tires on their team. The three joined forces in April of 2020, and hit the ground running, going 3-0 through the qualifying stages for both the Spring Series and the LATAM Championship. Although they ended up finishing T-5th in the Spring Series, a very nifty gold medal in the LATAM put a spring in their step and proved that they could beat the top teams in the region.
The tournament format across the RLCS X for SAM wasn’t the same for Europe/North America, as they had various tournament organisers and Community, Prime & Grand Series with different formats, point distribution and prizepools, so I can’t make a direct comparison to the formats of 3 splits/3 regionals you’re likely used to, but trust me when I say they were formidable throughout (someone might wanna check me on that though- the format is not intuitive and I’m not even sure I fully understand it). They won 3 Grand Series’, as well as a 2nd place in another, on top of bagging the Fall and Spring Majors, and narrowly missing out on the Winter Major in game 7 of a bracket rese.t to Novus Aevi- a trio of Brazillians that would go on to adopt the name Furia Esports. The season finale drew ever closer, with it being well known that Furia and True Neutral were the forces to be reckoned with, both being head and shoulders above the rest of their region. The RLCS X SAM Championship was a slugfest, with both teams having very dominant streaks, but in the end it was the lone Chilean and trio of Argentianians that were left standing.
Not too soon after this, they finalised the decision to pack their bags and land in Mexico (which also added ease to the decision as the common language of Spanish meant one less thing to worry about in the transition).
The RLCS 21-22 season kicked off promptly after they touched down, and the first split had some of the biggest stories in the entire season. Everyone knows the breakout story of Seikoo, Renegades back on top of OCE (as I breathed a sigh of relief), Sandrock winning literally everything, Verdy and then-Alke/Pulse dominating APAC. The storyline that was brushed over was that this little team all the way from SAM, playing from somewhere other than the comfort of the homes they grew up in or knew very well, were making a silent break into North America, the region with the most consolidated talent at the top, making it harder to break into than arguably any other region).
Regional 1 wasn’t their best showing; 3-2 in swiss- a format they were usually so dominant in- and a nifty little 0-4 loss to SSG put them in the top 8, but still with a lot more to be desired. Regional 2 was much better albeit the playoff bracket seemed a bit mickey. 3-1 in swiss showed they were already improving, and had the hunger in them, rather than being stumped in their first attempt and giving up already. An easy enough opponent in XSET in the quarters gave them their first top 4 finish in NA RLCS, but a regional top dog in G2 shut them down with ease. This is what was expected, as they really were fighting a region that had the top few spots locked out and handed away to the same few teams week in week out.
Between Fall Regional 2 and 3, the roster changed hands, instead representing Complexity, as they do to this day. This is likely due to being able to envision higher wages, but also potentially wanting better support, which is nothing against True Neutral, but instead a recognition of the power behind the Complexity name. It wasn’t an instant transaction, as orgs like Moist and Cloud9 put in a bid for the Major hopefuls too, even rumours of 100T spread around. Not only was the move to NA these players drew up groundbreaking, but big names were now being drawn to the esport, and viewers, pundits and players alike all realised how revolutionised their esport was becoming.
Regional 3 put Complexity in a tricky situation. Another 3-2 in swiss meant that they were tied with Spacestation for points, the team that went the furthest in the playoff bracket would be going to Stockholm for the first RLCS LAN in years. SSG played before Complexity, and lost. Pressure on. SSG heartbroken in game 7 versus Envy, surely the same fate wouldn’t become of these hermanos? Then you look across the pitch on Champions Field, and see Firstkiller and FaZe, and the reality of the situation starts to set in. A tough fought series, going the distance, but in the end a spanking on the final map meant that we had a tiebreaker for Major qualification. What proceeded was history, as we saw 3 South American teams competing at a Major, Spacestation left to twiddle their thumbs from the sidelines, and all of Europe absolutely dogpiling NA for losing to a team that they really shouldn’t have been losing to. In reality, EU had a tad of comeuppance too when BDS had to go to 5 against them and the NA 5th seed went through swiss 3-1 once more after a tidy beat against SMPR. Shouts and screams of ‘VAMOS’ filled both the venue and the twitch chat, as we saw what this move meant to Complexity, and that it was all paying off (we also saw that Shad looked like an almost carbon copy of Kaydop in the right light, but no one seems to agree with me on that).
Unfortunately, this is where the story comes to a close for our southern hemisphere soldiers. Losing to BDS in the quarterfinals sent them packing and preparing for the Winter Split, although knowing what they could achieve in such a short time frame must’ve put their minds at ease over what can’t have been an easy decision. If they were to build off of this and improve their results, I would be the first to admit that I was wrong, but I was one of the few that didn’t expect them to be making another Major, much less those calling for them to be top 3/4 in NA. They did valiantly, but the region was once more consolidating with the addition of Beastmode and Daniel injected into already dangerous teams.
Winter was a brutal format, and a subpar run in Regional 1, paired with bombing out last in their group during Regional 2 meant that even though they managed to fight and scrape their way to the upper bracket in Regional 3, consecutive losses to Version1 & NRG (both the finalists) had their split come to an end in an underwhelming way. A T-7th finish didn’t allow them to sneak their way into another LAN, especially when they were a couple hundred points below the threshold.
It’s a shame to say it was the same story in Spring, as a 6th place position in standings after a 9th-12th and back-to-back 5th-6th results kept them away from London. Ever so close to Worlds too, and yet this roster was so far away from playing in front of a crowd. At the time of writing this, it’s all but confirmed that crr will be replacing Shad, who seemed to be the reason they had success breaking into the North American scene. It’s a sad way to see it end, without having fans to chant their names, but at the time they chose to move, SAM wasn’t strong enough to compete with NA, and it seemed evident. They put up a good fight, and paved the way for more cross-region moves as well as bringing in another incredible org to professional Rocket League.