By Joseph Lacy
Photo via @Renegades on Twitter
Does anybody remember the last time the Oceanic region had an appearance at the RLCS World Championships? Well the obvious answer is Season 8 in Madrid, but what about the finer details… There was a 9 minute overtime looming over the Renegades roster of Kamii, Torsos, and Siki and their tournament life on the line. Matched up against Veloce, Freaki, FlamE, and Kassio at the time, all Renegades needed to do was clear a slow bouncing ball in front of their net. In the words of famous RLCS Caster, Johnnyboi_i, they beaned it. Torsos took the approach slowly as Siki came flying in towards the ball aiming to pinch it against the backboard. Instead, they managed to both pinch the ball between the two of them to cause an own goal in the 9th minute of overtime. A deflating loss for a roster that had aimed to qualify for the playoff bracket for the World Championships.
Fast forward about two years and with no international tournaments taking place due to the pandemic during the year 2020, what can we expect from the OCE region during an international major? With plenty of household names representing the region, there is without a doubt that the two qualified teams will put up a fight in Stockholm.
The first team that punched their ticket to the International Major was Renegades. A familiar name across multiple regions for the RLCS, they have hosted a team from Oceania since early 2019. The current roster consists of Kamii, CJCJ, and Fever. Fever is the newest member to the team and has been a warm welcome as the trio won back to back regional events to kick off the fall split.
Renegades are an offensive juggernaut. CJCJ has always been a part of aggressive teams and this roster is no different. They sometimes get caught out of rotation but this hasn’t fully stopped them from winning games and series simply because how strong they are offensively. They did get beat in the first round of playoffs in the most recent regional event. The series went the full length and the teams ended up both scoring 13 goals across the 7 games. Renegades lost to R!ot Gaming but only by a slim margin. Obviously a loss is a loss but by making playoffs during the 3rd regional sealed Renegades a spot as top a top 2 team in OCE for the fall split. They would have liked to lock in the top spot in the region for better seeding heading into the international LAN in December but one can assume that they are happy to have qualified. With only 2 spots up for grabs for the region, Renegades are a great team to have one of them.
The next team should need no introduction. The kings of OCE from RLCS X, Ground Zero Gaming has established themselves as the most consistent team in the region. During RLCS X in the fall split they had a rocky start for their standards and made a roster change. The duo of Amphis and Express are completed by the final remaining player from the Holy Trinity of OCE, Torsos. Torsos replaced Julz and Ground Zero Gaming would never look back. From the winter split to the makeshift Oceanic Championships, Ground Zero would win 7 out of the 9 major tournaments. The trio of Amphis, Express, and Torsos were destroying their competition in every sense of the word.
Coming into this season, Ground Zero has very high expectations and they have lived up to them relatively well. They have made the Grand Finals of all three regional events and managed to win the third one. The first two they fought Renegades for the title and failed. During the 3rd regional they were slated against Forkidden and took them down promptly to secure a regional win to cap off the major and the number 1 seed for OCE heading into the International Major. This momentum shift for Ground Zero should prove to be massive for them as they prepare for their trip and eventual tournament in Stockholm.
How will they perform?
As stated in the introduction, the last time the OCE was competing Internationally the series ended in a blunder. The hopes are high for Renegades and Ground Zero for the major. As the 3rd most established region they should see some fair seeding compared to some of the newer regions. With 10 teams coming from North America and Europe however, they might run into one of the lower seeds from these regions in the first round of the swiss stage. The major format is the same as we have seen throughout RLCS 2021-2022 so far. All the teams need to do is win 3 best of 5 series to qualify for the 8 team playoff bracket. This begs the question of how diverse will the playoff bracket become during the tournament.
The majority of the Rocket League Esports scene would probably predict that the 8 playoff teams will only consist of NA and EU teams. South America as a region at International competition has only won a single series across nine total series played. A 1-8 record internationally does not bode well. The new regions like Middle East/North Africa and Asia-Pacific North and South should put up a good fight but it is also hard to tell how they will fare against the tenured teams from NA and EU. Oceania does have the best track record with multiple series wins against teams from NA and EU at multiple World Championships. Make sure to keep an eye out for Renegades and Ground Zero Gaming at Stockholm in December.