By Joseph Lacy
Photo via XSET @XSET on Twitter
The second regional event is slated to begin tomorrow, October 29th at 10am PDT. The first round of the Swiss Stage has been set with lots of key matchups to take a look at. The most intriguing team heading into this regional for me is XSET. During the RLCS X season XSET was never able to find their rhythm. During the Fall split their highest placement was 5-8th during the second regional event, losing to NRG. Many roster moves took place with players like Alraz and tcorrell playing with the duo of Jpow and AlphaKep. The final move the team made during RLCS X was picking up the Hockser from eUnited for the winter split.
Hockser was a household name at this point in the RLCS. He propelled his team to an appearance at the season 8 world championship and solidified himself as a top player in North America. He and his eUnited team had started to falter and XSET took the opportunity to grab him while they could. With a more desirable and steady roster, XSET was looking to make some progress in climbing the ranks of North American RLCS.
They did not succeed. They had found themselves in roughly the same spot at the end of the spring split as they were in the fall split. XSET was stuck floating around 10th-13th place. This called for another roster change.
During the offseason after RLCS X there were many coveted “free agents” to be had. I use the term free agents loosely here because there were probably main players that were transferred between teams and organizations rather than being released and signed to a new team. XSET freed up a roster spot by releasing AlphaKep on June 1st, 2021. The remaining duo of Hockser and Jpow would be desperate to find a third to help push them up the NA RLCS ladder. The player that XSET would bring would be Percy from Alpine Esports.
Alpine, now Torrent, featured a trio of Majicbear, Jordan, and Percy. Another team seemingly settled into a similar area of standings as XSET. A team that could never break through and contend for a top 6 placement. Torrent saw a bit better of results but not so much so that they would be out of XSET’s league. The reason they saw the success they did however was because of Percy. According to Octane.gg, over the major tournaments during the RLCS X season, Percy was in the top 5 in score per game across North America. Percy was lights out for Torrent and ultimately will be a great pick up for XSET.
During the offseason there were two major opportunities for XSET to grow chemistry as a team. The first being Wave Dash, a tournament organized by RLCS caster Dazerin. The second being a simple show match broadcasted and organized by former pro and twitch streamer, Rizzo. For the Wave Dash event the first stage was a 16 team swiss. Very typical these days for Rocket League Esports to have a 16 team swiss stage to kick off a tournament. XSET would end up going 3-1 in this stage, having beaten G2 Esports in the process. The second stage was a Knockout Gauntlet. Another format used in RLCS X, this one XSET was given Spacestation Gaming as their first opponent. In the Knockout Gauntlet all XSET needed to do was win one series and they would qualify for the playoff bracket. Since they did so well in the swiss stage and were a top 4 seed in the gauntlet, they had an extra life essentially. So when they lost to Spacestation in 7 games 4-3 they had one more chance to qualify. The next series they played was against Nefarious featuring a roster of hockE, Ahduhm, and Buddy, whom they would beat 4-1.
Onward to the final day, the furthest XSET have advanced in a major tournament since the fall split of RLCS X. Their first match was against Team Envy. Envy has consistently been in the conversation for top 3 teams in North America in any given tournament. The roster of Mist, Atomic, and Turbopolsa has had a large amount of success in major competition. This legacy however would not be enough. XSET pulled out a huge upset and took down Envy 4-1 and advanced to the upper bracket final. This is where they would once again play Spacestation Gaming. Spacestation seems to be XSET’s kryptonite at this point as they put XSET back in their place and beat them 4-2. XSET still has one more life left. With this loss it sends them to the lower bracket and who else would be there waiting for them other than Team Envy. Envy exact their revenge and send XSET home in 3rd place.
The showmatch that Rizzo put together was a simple best of 7 series. Essentially this was a scrimmage between XSET and Rogue with a small prize pool and bragging rights. XSET would ultimately sweep Rogue and walk away with $300.
RLCS 2021-2022 Regional 1
Now for the real test; how will the new look XSET roster perform on the big stage. There were many question marks surrounding this team heading into the day and their first match would not be an easy one. XSET was placed against Shopify Rebellion. Rebellion had been a top 6 team in NA last season. Prior to their young star, Beastmode, stepping away from the competitive scene, Rebellion had looked to continue their success against XSET in the first match of the new season. XSET had other plans. Jpow, Hockser, and Percy would come out swinging and take down Shopify Rebellion handily 3-1. Going 1-0 in the first match is a great momentum builder going into the tougher matches for the second round. All the right teams had won their first round matchups it had seemed so there was no easy opponent. For XSET, they would go on to face the eventual tournament winners FaZe Clan.
FaZe brought in former Rogue star player, Firstkiller, over the offseason and are looking to shake up the top of North America. The easy prediction here is that FaZe beats XSET and looks to go perfect in the Swiss stage and have a good seed for the playoff bracket. This would not be the case and XSET would show that FaZe is not as safe as they might think. The first game started with some fireworks and would end tied 3-3 heading into overtime. XSET looked to continue their winning ways from the previous series and would end up taking the game 1 overtime and also game 2 by a score of 3-1. Now on match point, XSET needed one more win to close out FaZe. The third game would go by the way of FaZe by a score of 1-0. XSET had great opportunities in this game but simply could not capitalize on any. For the fourth game, FaZe put the pedal to the metal and stomped out any hope XSET had by a score of 5-1. With game 5 looming and a 2 game series lead blown, XSET seemed to have fallen back into old habits from RLCS X. FaZe would take the lead in game 5 with 2 minutes and 45 seconds left on the clock. A 1 goal lead had won FaZe game 3, but would it be enough this time around? Judging by the fact that you read the title of this article you should know this answer to this. XSET makes a miraculous comeback and Percy leads the way for a game 5 XSET victory! XSET would be the only team to beat FaZe in this tournament.
Regional Event 2
Considering how XSET played in the first event, the question has to be asked. Is XSET a legitimate contender in the NA RLCS scene? They would eventually lose to game 7 savants, Version1, in the first round of the playoff bracket. What can we expect from XSET this coming weekend in regional 2? I personally am going to be watching Jpow closely for the XSET matches. He is the longest standing XSET player and I hope he finds his way to form a powerful three man attack with Percy and Hockser for the remainder of the season. Rocket League Esports is at its best when the playing field is deep and rich with talented teams. Having XSET join the ranks of top 6 contending teams would only advance the quality of North America as a region.
XSET’s first match of the second regional is against Rogue. In regional 1 Rogue went 1-3 in the swiss stage and placed 12th-14th. XSET should come out on top of this series and start off the second regional the same way they did the first. You can check out their swiss stage matches over at twitch.tv/xsetgaming and make sure you rep the set for Jpow, Hockser, and Percy this weekend.