The Curious Case of the European RLCS
By Joseph Lacy
Photo via @Dignitas on Twitter
Ask anyone in the Rocket League Esports scene and they will tell you that the European region is without a doubt the most unpredictable region. There have been conversations about the middle of the road teams and issues they have had with staying consistent in previous seasons. All throughout RLCS X there were about 8 teams in the conversation for the 3rd-5th spots in the region. The consistent top 2 teams were Team BDS and Team Vitality during RLCS X. For the RLCS 2021-2022 season there are many questions to be answered. One of those questions has been, what the heck is happening in European RLCS?
There were quite a few shocking results from the first event that took place from the 22nd-24th of October. The team that surprised viewers the most had to have been Endpoint CeX taking home the whole tournament. Endpoint is a great team but many people had some question marks surrounding them going into the tournament.Endpoint eliminated the Misfits, Karmine Corp, and Team BDS during their playoff run. Another result that is arguably more unbelievable was that Vitality ended up losing all three of their matches during the swiss stage and were one of the first two teams eliminated. It is safe to say Europe will have the most variance in teams placement points by the time the major rolls around. For the two aforementioned teams, the results this past weekend were much different. Endpoint failed to make it to the playoff bracket, similar to FaZe Clan during the 2nd regional event for North America. As for Vitality, they have made a great run to the end of the tournament and see themselves matched up against Dignitas in the finals. Many teams this regional were new to the playoff bracket. The other 3 teams aside from Endpoint that did not qualify for playoffs but did in the first regional were Evil Geniuses, Williams Resolve, and Karmine Corp. The biggest surprise there has to be Karmine Corp. The roster of Aztral, Itachi, and Stake has been in conversation as the 2nd best in the region and they were bounced out the same way as Vitality in the first regional. Karmine Corp did not win a single series in the most recent event. The newcomers to the playoffs include SK Gaming, 00 Nation, The Flying Dutchmen, and Vitality. The first 3 mentioned did lose in their Quarter-Final matchups but it is safe to say they are happy to have results trending in a positive direction.
Not every team in Europe has been a dice roll when trying to predict how they will do however. A team that has taken home back to back 5th-8th finishes has been SMPR Esports. These placements have not been fully what SMPR has been looking for. Many people would consider SMPR a contender for winning any given regional and it seems like they are still working out some kinks with the addition of Chausette. Misfits gaming is another team that has made sure they make the playoffs in both regionals. In the first, they ran into Endpoint in the Quarter-Finals which ended their tournament. During the second regional, Misfits looked really strong in the swiss stage, going 3-0. They also swept their first playoff opponent in SMPR Esports in commanding fashion. Consistency for the next two teams is an understatement. Team BDS and Dignitas manage to somehow play their swiss stages to be seeded in the same half of the playoff bracket for the second regional in a row. Dignitas have shown that they can make it deep into tournaments and the addition of Scrub Killa has continued to give the team growth. There seems to be some hitches in rotation here and there but aside from that Dignitas have played very well and should be in a great position to go to the major. The first time they matched up, BDS took down Dignitas in a quick 5 games. Albeit most games were close, BDS still managed to come out on top. Dignitas flipped the script on them this regional and beat BDS 4-1 in the Semi-Finals. Heading into the Grand Finals for the tournament, Dignitas saw themselves up against Vitality. An old foe, this war has been fought over the span of many seasons of RLCS. Today, Dignitas had Vitality’s number and defeated them handily 4-2 in the first best of 7 and in a commanding sweep in the second. Dignitas should be the favorites for top team in the region, barring their 3rd regional results, and will continue to grow as Joreuz and ApparentlyJack gain more experience.
Teams in Trouble
There is a short list of teams that should definitely be worried about their future for this season of RLCS. The first glaring teams are Vitality and Karmine Corp. Both teams have made it next to impossible to qualify for the major tournament in December. Taking last in a regional event should never be acceptable for a team of their caliber. Karmine Corp and Vitality *should* be top 5 teams in Europe and for the fall split this is not a guarantee by any means. Although they have been consistent, SMPR Esports needs to put together a deeper tournament run in regional 3 to prove they still have what it takes in the European region. Barring another regional without playoffs, Endpoint should also be a bit concerned. To be taken seriously in the region, Endpoint should aim for playoffs in every single tournament. A group of teams that have been struggling immensely are Guild Esports, Giants Gaming, Team Queso, and Natus Vincere. All 4 of these teams have struggled to win series during the swiss stage and even during the closed qualifiers for the regionals. The depth of Europe has been showcased evidently through the first two events. Heading into the 3rd event, predicting the first round matches and eventual playoff teams will be next to impossible. For the fall major the 5 teams that represent the European region in Stockholm should aim to impress the rest of the RLCS scene with how capable each roster is.