Undeniable Perfection for Sandrock Gaming
By Joseph Lacy
Photo via @SandrockGaming on Twitter
For the inaugural season of Rocket League Esports in new regions, there typically seems to be a handful of dominant rosters that help establish the RLCS scene for their respective region. It all started back in Season 3 with Alpha Sydney and JAM gaming (mainly Alpha Sydney) for the Oceania region. The trio of Drippay, Jake, and Torsos would capture the hearts of many RLCS fans in their first ever event and would continue to improve the Oceanic RLCS for the coming seasons. Eventually Jake would retire after Season 5 and a 5th/6th place finish at the RLCS world championships. The following season, RLCS Season 6, would see an even better finish for the Chiefs Esports Club (formerly Alpha Sydney). Kamii, current player for Oceania’s top team - Renegades, would be Jake’s replacement and ultimately help Chiefs take a top 4 finish. Top 4 is still the highest placement for a team outside of North America and Europe during the RLCS world championships.
For many Rocket League Esports enthusiasts, Sandrock Gaming is a household name. oKhaliD, Ahmad, and trk511 (Senzo, now a sub, used to be a starter on this roster) have been lobbying for the RLCS to make its way into Asia and the Middle East for quite some time. Having held tournaments alongside the European region, Sandrock Gaming has participated in many competitions prior to their inaugural season. They are no stranger to winning, as they have performed well against teams with many more years of competitive experience under their belt. This is why it is no surprise that Sandrock Gaming have been dominating the Middle East and North Africa region.
With great power comes great responsibility. Sandrock gaming has a lot of expectations surrounding them as a roster. Many people compare them to the likes of the Alpha Sydney OCE roster from Season 3 RLCS. The reputation that precedes them is that of champions. They are the rulers of the MENA region. Sandrock Gaming truly does control their own destiny when it comes to their first RLCS season.
Their destiny in regional 1 was to win. Not only did Sandrock Gaming win, they simply did not lose (very much). In the Swiss stage Sandrock would go a perfect 9-0 and only allow 10 goals to be scored against them. Sandrock themselves would score 34 goals and establish themselves as the best team in the region by a landslide.
Once the playoffs had started the top teams had begun to emerge. Alongside Sandrock, another team playing above the rest of the competition was The Ultimates. A player for them, Zez0nix, was actually the sub for Sandrock Gaming and was promoted to the starting lineup after Senzo retired over the summer. This would be a short stint as Zez0nix was promoted on July 18th and then subsequently released by the team on August 4th. Trk511 would complete the Sandrock Gaming roster on August 6th.
The Quarter-Finals matchup for Sandrock was the team Slow Gang. The trio of Talal, Naizak, and Mag would fall victim to Sandrock. The team did however deliver Sandrock their first loss of the tournament. That in and of itself should be celebrated. The scoreline across all 5 games was 21-9. The Semi-Finals would play a whistle to a similar tune for Sandrock and their opponent, Sleeping. The roster of Venom, Fahad77, and Faisal would take game 3 by a score of 3-1 but the rest of the games went in favor of Sandrock. On the other end of the bracket, The Ultimates had prevailed and would meet Sandrock at the end of the road. With some history on the line, Zez0nix and his companions, ams and M7sn, would show Sandrock that they are the toughest opponent yet.
During the first best of 7, The Ultimates would do something no other team had done against Sandrock throughout the tournament. No, they did not beat Sandrock. Nor did they take more than one win in the 7 game series. What they did do was that they had managed to score in every single game. They would be the first team to not have been shutout by Sandrock during the length of their series. Sandrock did take the series by a score of 4-1 but The Ultimates would hold them to just 12 goals over the 5 games. This is the lowest goals per game that Sandrock Gaming had displayed over a series length at just 2.4.
The second best of 7 would be no contest. Sandrock had truly turned up the intensity and would go on to sweep The Ultimates 4-0. Outscoring their opponent by a score of 10-4, the Saudi Arabian trio had won their first RLCS sanctioned tournament. Sandrock Gaming have made it to the RLCS and have shown that they are no fluke. At least in the first regional event that is.
As far as results go for regional 2, well, Sandrock were perfect once again. They didn’t drop a single series. They only dropped 1 game in the Swiss stage, allowing them a 3-0 series record and a 9-1 game record. Sandrock managed to outscore their opponents 41 to 16. Over ten games they averaged 4.1 goals per game and only allowed 1.6 goals per game (quick maths). That is what complete and utter dominance looks like. The one game they dropped, by a score of 4-2, Sandrock was held to 25% shooting percentage. Only scoring 2 goals on 8 shots is not a recipe for success in the RLCS. They would obviously bounce back and claim the series by only losing that one game.
For the playoff bracket, Sandrock would continue to steamroll their first round opponent. The trio of Sythe, ix, and EviL, under the name The Deadly Boyz, would only score 2 goals against the Sandrock squad over 4 games. The gap in skill and experience had started to become ever so clear. The Semi-Finals would prove to put up a bit more of a fight. Falcon Esports, consisting of Twiz, Smw, and Impressive, would muster up 8 total goals scored and a single game victory over Sandrock. Cracks in the armor seemed to be starting to appear but Sandrock Gaming would hold strong heading into the Finals.
The Finals had been set and the opponent for Sandrock was once again, The Ultimates. During the Swiss stage Ultimates had lost their second round matchup, essentially dodging Sandrock until the playoffs. Unlike the first time they met, The Ultimates would actually take 2 out of the first 3 games in the first best of 7 of the Finals. For the first time in the RLCS, Sandrock Gaming had lost two games in a series. oKhaliD, Ahmad, and trk511 would not take kindly to this result and shut down The Ultimates the rest of the series. Sandrock would go on to win the series 4-2 and have a goal differential of 15-6. The second best of 7 would start off a bit different. Coming off their series win, Sandrock was on fire. The Saudi Arabian trio would take a commanding 3 game series lead. On the brink of a sweep in the Finals, Sandrock seemed to falter. The Ultimates would outscore Sandrock in game 4 by a score of 4-1. The 3 goal margin would be tied with their worst loss of the tournament. Game 5 would prove no different with a 3-2 scoreline and The Ultimates winning. With a potential game 7 looming in the wings and a reverse sweep well on its way, Sandrock had to bring themselves back to form. The long standing duo of oKhaliD and Ahmad would put their team on their backs and carry Sandrock to a game 6 victory. With 2 best of 7 series wins complete, Sandrock had done the seemingly impossible. A feat that cannot be matched by any other roster in any season of RLCS history. Sandrock had made it through two regional tournaments without losing a series.
An era of dominance is being established in the Middle East and North Africa region by Sandrock Gaming. The next step for them will be international play. Only a single team can represent the MENA region during the Fall Major. Sandrock Gaming would need to utterly collapse during the third regional if another team were to represent MENA. The Ultimates are close behind them but would need Sandrock to lose in the Quarter-Finals of the playoff bracket to even have a chance at taking the top spot in the points rankings. I might be calling it a bit early but with the way that Sandrock have been playing, they should be a lock for the Major event in Stockholm, Sweden.