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The Benefits of International Competition

By: Joseph Lacy

Photo courtesy of @RLEsports on Twitter

All the way back on December 15th, 2019 the last World Champion of Rocket League Esports was crowned. NRG’s trio of GarrettG, Jstn, and Turbopolsa took down Vitality’s team of Fairy Peak, Kaydop, and Scrub Killa. This would be the last International LAN competition until the Fall Major rolls around at the beginning of December. North America was on top of the Rocket League scene and there has not been an opportunity to reclaim the title for best region in Rocket League until now. There have been many debates the last two years about who the best of the best is. During RLCS X, Team BDS looked like a lock to be the best team in the world and their player M0nkey M00n was constantly in talks as the best player in the world. Across the pond, NRG was still the top of NA but a player by the name of Firstkiller was a lock for the best individual in North America.

With plenty of tournaments in between NRG winning season 8 and the upcoming Major in Stockholm, there are many questions already surrounding this RLCS season. Many of the new regions had stand out teams that will be competing at the Major. The true talents of Oceania and South America will be in attendance to continue to show that they are not to be trifled with. An abundance of roster changes and rookie performances have taken center stage for the power regions (EU and NA). The talent pool has only increased since the Madrid Grand Finals. Let me explain why the Rocket League Esports scene can only go up from here.

The Blending of Regions

A common practice in the world of sports is to emulate or replicate successful teams or plays from other facets of one’s specific sport. Non-major conference teams consistently play major conference teams year in and year out to improve themselves. Typically, the smaller conference team loses but what they have gained in strategy is much more important than a record stat.

The idea of backboard defense in Rocket League started early on in the pro scene but is now a consistent aspect to any successful team in Rocket League Esports. Many other mechanics and types of plays are typically credited to a region or a player. Air dribbling is generally credited to North America in season 1 of RLCS because of the iBuypower team and the very famous goal that 0ver Zer0 scored in the finals. Now every single player in the RLCS can use that mechanic at their disposal. This type of natural progression of skill is normal in Esports and should be something that most players, coaches, analysts, and organizations should be aware of. So why is there still a disparity when speaking on the competitiveness of the “sub-regions”? Why would Shad, Reysbull, and Ajg move from South America to North America? The level of competition is still higher in the main two regions because of international exposure and service time.

The pros in North America and Europe have had better opportunities for high level competition for a much longer time period than any other region in the RLCS. For obvious reasons, not every sport or esport can be played on a large international scale. Hence why Rocket League started with only 2 regions and subsequently added more as the international interest and assets grew larger. What is most exciting about the blending of all the regions during International competition is what each team can take away from another. A majority of the teams have set for travel or already have arrived in Sweden for the Major. At the time of writing this, there is a little under two weeks until the event begins. The teams are going to be bootcamping and scrimming one another in preparation for the Major. This means that even more exposure to the highest level of play Rocket League can offer for the first time teams and players. Rookies like Dreaz and Seikoo, who have been playing well above expectations in their regions, will learn even more from a multitude of players. The newer region players from APAC and MENA will have a great opportunity to play at a pace their home region cannot offer in regional play. Even veterans of the scene will leave this major with something that they can work on and bring to their gameplay to hopefully improve over the rest of the season.

Ending the Debate

For the ecosystem of the Esports scene, settling who is truly the best will mitigate lots of “drama” throughout the regions. Many players would consider themselves instigators and they like to stir the pot. After this event they will have much less reason to do so, unless their team or region wins of course. There will always be some sort of drama circulating since the player base is young. The best part about all this banter is the fact that players will have to put their money where their mouth is on game day. There will be no further debate for the time being after December 12th. I’m sure some players will throw out excuses and make a case for their arguments but, if your region or your team is not hoisting the trophy on championship Sunday then the debate is done.

Now, this debate is cyclical in nature. As soon as the winter split starts up again and the regional events start commencing, the results may differ from what happened during the fall split. The conversations and chatter start building again and the Rocket League scene finds itself in the same situation during the fall split. With no international competition this would never be settled, which is why the RLCS X season felt stagnant and incomplete at times. With the ability to compete internationally back in the RLCS, this season should prove to be the best yet. Whoever is crowned RLCS 2021-2022 champion during the summer of 2022 will be unequivocally the best team in the world.

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