The two teams that faced off Sunday in the grand finals of RLCS Season X’s Winter Major are a study in contrasts. NRG ran through the winner’s bracket, while Rogue was nearly eliminated after the team’s first two games. NRG’s roster is made up of veterans, while Rogue’s features some of the most talented young players in Rocket League.
Despite their differences, both teams continued to show why they’re among the best teams in RLCS Season X. Although NRG came out on top, the team was put to the test as Rogue forced a bracket reset before eventually falling 4-2.
NRG overtake Team Envy
Fans love NRG. The trio of Justin “jstn” Morales, Garrett “GarretG” Gordon and Mariano “SquishyMuffinz” Arruda are some of the most beloved players in Rocket League’s history. Since RLCS Season X kicked off and Squishy was added, the team has been a mainstay in finals matches.
Across the two majors and six regionals in Season X, NRG have reached the finals six times, but the Winter Major was only the team’s second win. The first came in the second Fall regional. NRG seemed to be falling into a pattern of putting together a great bracket before coming up just short. For a while at Sunday’s finals, it looked like the pattern might continue.
The Winter Major marked NRG taking the RLCS crown back from Envy Gaming, a team led by NRG’s former player Turbo.
When Turbo was replaced by Squishy early last summer, it came as a surprise to the four-time world champion. He has described the roster change as being “kicked,” although it doesn’t seem like either side harbors any long lasting ill-will toward the other. After all, Turbo did help GarretG and Jstn win their first world championships, and they helped him continue to cement his legacy as the best to ever play.
Envy and NRG are the two top teams in North America, but with the victory in the Winter Major, NRG hopped back on top of the points standings by 200 points.
Rogue continue to impress
While NRG played just three matches to reach the winner’s finals, Rogue needed three matches just to find their form.
Starting from the same position as NRG with a bye past the first round, Rogue promptly was sent down to the loser’s bracket by The Peeps. From there, Rogue had to go all five games to get past G2 Esports and the Kansas City Pioneers. At this point, NRG had already locked their spot in the finals, waiting on the results of the loser’s bracket to find their opponent.
Apparently, Rogue saw a date with destiny and went after it. The team swept its first series against a talented SpaceStation Gaming. Then Rogue swept The Peeps, the team who sent them to the loser’s bracket in the first place. A matchup with Team Envy and the all-time winningest player in Rocket League history, Pierre “Turbopolsa” Silfver, was next in the loser’s finals. Another sweep.
Rogue went 12-0 against three teams ranked No. 2, No. 4 and No. 5 by total points in RLCS Season X. Rogue took on the absolute best competition possible outside of NRG and knocked them down like a rigged shooting gallery. The Winter Major proved Rogue belong in Rocket League’s upper echelon.
Rogue have effectively erased a slow start in the fall split with top finishes throughout the winter and have climbed all the way to fourth in the points standings. Considering the top six teams from North America qualify for the RLCS World Championship, being in the fifth or sixth spot can be quite nerve-wracking. Being in fourth gives Rogue a solid cushion to work with as RLCS Season X heads into the third, and final, split of the year.
G2 trending down
On the flip side, another fan-favorite team is trending in the wrong direction. G2 Esports have been a leading team in Rocket League esports for years, but their Winter Major performance was poor. With G2 now in the sixth spot in the standings, some people are questioning if roster changes need to be made for G2 to hold on to a spot for Worlds. According to one report, G2 might even be looking already.
G2 lost both of their matches at the Winter Major. Each series did go the full five games, so how they played out is not perfectly indicative of the team’s overall form. But anytime a team considered one of the best leaves a double-elimination tournament without a win, there is cause for concern.
While G2’s elimination came to Rogue, the team’s first loss was to Ghost Gaming who went into the tournament ranked 15th in points. After beating G2, Ghost were then swept by Spacestation Gaming and eliminated from the tournament after a 3-1 loss to Alpine Esports.
With only a short break before the spring split begins, G2 will have to make a quick decision on roster changes. Considering G2 have one of the longest tenured rosters in Rocket League, with Dillon “Rizzo” Rizzo and Jacob “JKnaps” Knapman having played together since 2017, G2 don’t seem likely to make any rash decisions.
Still, if G2 start slowly in the first spring regional and drop to seventh in the points standings, the critiques are only going to keep amplifying.
Lead image credit: Psyonix