With the Spring Split of the RLCS just around the corner, it seems important to recap the events of the last event, the LAN Diego Winter Major, from the biggest of group stage upsets to the epic final moments. In addition, we’ll catch up on the biggest moves that have been made in this transfer window, which could be argued to be one of the craziest ever.
Going back to April 6th and 7th, the first days of the major had their fair share of upsets and close games. In Group A, G1 kicked things off with a game 5 win against FaZe Clan, narrowly avoiding a reverse sweep against NA’s 1st seed. After G2 took care of business against a dangerous KRU, the long-awaited battle of 1 vs 2, and K vs C; went in favour of the G2 boys, who proved that the NA LAN Buff was still very much a factor. In the last round, the matchups and results led to a scenario where the results of one match decided the fate of all teams in the group. Unfortunately, it was G1 that lost out, after an upset win by KRU in a back-and-forth series and FaZe regaining form to take down G2.
Group B felt far more tame by comparison. K-Corp took their online dominance and doubled down, going 9-1 in the group stage, their wins over Dignitas, Falcons and Vitality never really looked like they would go any other way. Dignitas struggled to find their footing, and their incredibly tough group draw didn’t help matters. With Falcons winning their first round against Vitality in Game 5, everything went more or less as expected, and Vitality made it clear they’re ready to take names again during the spring split.
Group C was claimed by many to be the odd group out. Coming hot off a regional win (simultaneously denying K-Corp the grand slam), Liquid were one of the premier teams of the whole tournament. So it understandably felt off to see their group contain no other teams from the major regions. Team Secret proved last major that they’re a force to be reckoned with both at home and on the international stage, and Ground Zero burned bright with the addition of Superlachie, desperate to prove to his teammates that dropping him was a mistake. The lopsided nature of this group meant that all but one series was a sweep, with Liquid earning a seat in the top 8 and Secret + Ground Zero surviving to the playoff stage.
Group D had story before it even started, with the rematch of Gen.G and Oxygen. After the results of the Fall major, questions hung over this matchup and whether Oxygen had the secret ingredient to beating the wonderteam of Chronic, Noly and ApparentlyJack. What very few expected, on the other hand, was for Complexity to roll through the group 3-0 and blow everyone else out of the water. Pioneers were the pick for many to make an upset and move past the group, but they once again struggled with conceding goals faster than they could score them. Another Oxygen win over GenG (Seemingly their Kryptonite) secured them second seed and left the American-Not-American legends stuck in 3rd.
Going into the playoffs, anyone who thought they knew what was going on was either a madman or a genius or both. As the weekend progressed, so did the intensity. Falcons dragged the defending major champs to a game 5, but GenG were victorious. G2 dispatched of Ground Zero, and Vitality did about the same with Oxygen. The real conversation point was KRU upsetting countrymen Team Secret in a stunning reverse sweep, proving once again that depth in SAM is constantly increasing. Now in the top 8, the battle really began to see who our champion would be. FaZe take down GenG for the third time in a row, proving that they are NA’s top dogs, and Complexity finally put KRU to the sword, guaranteeing an NA Finalist. Next up, G2 stood to test just how strong their buff of LAN on home soil was, and unfortunately it wasn’t enough to take down K-Corp, the blue wall would not be shaken on their way to the top 4. Finally, Vitality threw everything at Team Liquid, but the young guns were too speedy to be held down. NA vs NA on one side of the bracket, EU vs EU on the other. FaZe looked to break their top 4 curse, but Complexity had been on a hot streak all weekend, and they didn’t show any signs of cooling down. The clash went all the way to champions field, but FaZe finally overcame that deadly curse, and moved to their first ever international finals. In their last matchup, Liquid had taken down K-Corp in Game 7 to win the Winter Invitational. However, the Blue Wall were determined to prove their worth and dried Liquid up in 6 games. Two Titans, the 1st seed of their respective regions, FaZe and K-Corp stood against one another on the biggest stage, both desperate to take the title of major champions, But when the dust had settled; Vatira, Exotiik and Itachi raised the trophy as winners, finally proving their doubters wrong. For those who thought it wasn’t a good move to leave Moist at the end of last season, there’s not much room to argue now. For K-Corp, this win dispelled the pain of going out in 8th in Rotterdam. For Vatira personally, this win solidifies him as one of the all time greats, one of a very elite few to ever win 2 RLCS LAN’s.
Moving Past the Major, we look ahead to the spring split, starting on the 5th may with the North American Open. In between these splits, the transfer window opened and the air exploded with talk of roster shuffles all over. As of right now, you’d need a murder mystery pinboard to figure it all out, so we’ll do a simple version of it all, just EU and NA and just your top teams. In NA, there has been just a few confirmed moves. Turbopolsa and Torment both announced their retirement, and following which Version1 announced the pick up of Daniel. To replace him, SSG took Hockser of Ghost Gaming. KOI dropped Aqua and Night, and picked up the old PK duo of Cheese and Sosa to join Gyro, with hopes of improving their standings for this final split. Finally, Team Axle looked to replace Ayjacks with Taroco. As we hop the pond to EU, we find the whole place up in flames. Going into this split, we all knew a Vitality move was inevitable, and Saizen is moved to the inactive position in place of the next big thing in RL Esports, Zen. Tundra disband, with Rezears joining Monkeys (Ex-Soniqs) ad Kassio getting picked up by CB and TxMpeR. AztraL was benched from Moist after their disappointing split, with Kash expected to replace him after Quadrant’s disband. Similarly, RelatingWave is on the sub bench of a rebuild, while Eekso and Snaski transfer to Oxygen. Who Eekso replacing, well he’s replacing Rise, who jumped ship to join Team BDS. The end of an era has arrived, as Extra is now the substitute of a BDS that look to reclaim their spot as the premier team in EU.
Will these moves work, or will they be a bust? We’ll have to wait and see, be sure to tune in for this split of RLCS!!