Team Vitality are in, not a little bit, not a decent amount, not a huge amount, but in a MASSIVE amount of trouble. They have had a howler of a start to the season. The Ferra-coached roster consisting of Alpha54, Radosin and Saizen has potentially put themselves out of the running for the Fall Major in Rotterdam, and we’re only two weeks into the European circuit.
The season started off with the EU Top 16 qualifier, which is a qualifier where Psyonix invites 16 of the best teams to battle it out in a swiss stage format. For those who don’t know, the rule for making it out of the swiss stage is simple: win 3 games before you lose 3 games. This is done in order to determine the 8 teams who qualify for the main event which was the Fall Open. The teams who do not make it out of the swiss stage are sent down to the gauntlet that is EU closed qualifiers. This was Team Vitality’s first chance to start things off on the right foot. Needless to say, the black and yellow org started to look blue very quickly. They put up a very poor showing, going 1-3 in their matches. They started off by getting swept by a team currently known as Quadrant. Dubbed at the time as “Goldbridge Ball,” losing to the roster of Kash, Eekso and RelatingWave isn’t anything to be ashamed of. Unfortunately, their sorrowful run continued. The french org then went and lost to Solary, a team that consisted of two ex-Vitality legends in Fairy Peak and Kaydop, on Champions Field in game 5. Vitality did get a sweep over the new Guild Esports roster, but that would not change their story, as they quickly got bounced out the tournament, getting swept by another huge french org in Karmine Corp.
Now, two of the teams they lost to did end up finishing top 4 in the main event. So at first glance you might think this team surely would’ve surely had an easier time in the closed qualifiers. While this is true, as they did win one more series than in the last qualifier, it wasn’t enough in order for them to make the main event. They went 2-3 in the qualifier, recording wins over SK Gaming and One Chip Army. However, losses to Endpoint, BS+ Competition, as well as Soniqs (shoutout Metsa), meant that Vitality, unbelievably, missed out on the main event. They (the organization) had not missed out on a main event under the circuit based RLCS format until now. Players like Saizen and Radosin are more than experienced enough to be playing in the main event, having formerly seen success together on an org owned by the Williams Formula One team. Alpha54 is still considered a top player in the world (looking at you Tbates) by many fans around Europe. There is no logical or skill-based reason as to why this team would underperform so badly. At least not until we bring up Zen.
Zen is THE young prodigy of the scene. He is a french player who is currently serving a year-long ban, thus he is ineligible to compete in the RLCS. Despite this, Vitality signed him to their roster as a substitute before the season started. For context, Zen is so good that he is guaranteed to take one of the starting three spots on the roster as soon as his ban is lifted later on in the season. This poses a huge problem for the team. The three players could very well be underperforming, solely due to the pressure of being dropped for Zen when the time comes. This could potentially be causing players to play more selfishly, in order to stand out more, or just flat out be so nervous that they make mistakes in games that they wouldn’t otherwise make. This can impact the current roster in a very negative way.
This raises the question, did Team Vitality make the right decision to sign Zen, even if it means the team misses out on regionals this early on? I want to be very clear: this team should be atleast making the main event, regardless of what pressure is put on them, due to the sheer amount of talent on the roster. That, however, does not change the reality of what is happening, which is that we are potentially seeing the mental breakdown of an entire team, due to a 15 year old being signed and waiting on his turn in the spotlight. The all french roster can definitely turn it around quickly, but it might already be too late, as missing one regional is catastrophic to your chances of making an RLCS major. You combine all of that, with the horrendously designed esports decal that they had the audacity to release into the Rocket League in-game item shop, it leads us to the finding that the woes of arguably the most storied European org in the RLCS will continue. Thank you for reading!
Don not only writes awesome rlcs blogs, he also makes some of the best rlcs player highlight videos on the internet. Go checkout his youtube channel and subscribe!