Angela Lin
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Thrilling Rocket League Championship Series Recap

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Cars + Soccer + Professional League + Copper Box Arena = Unforgettable Championship Series

With the North American, European, and Oceanic regions represented, the best Rocket League players in the world gathered in the Copper Box Arena in London this past weekend. Thousands of dedicated fans showed up, with thousands more watching the live stream, cheering for the 10 teams who have paved the way on the leaderboard in this game involving cool cars and a big ball. In one of the most exciting, wild tournaments in video game history, the fifth Rocket League Championship Series saw plenty of surprising shots and crazy comebacks. With two brackets to play, it was possible to lose a game and still come back to win it all. (Spoiler: that is exactly what happened.)

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The Unexpected Fighters

Coming in as the underdogs, history was made with the Oceania teams — both in the record books and in our memories. As Tainted Minds was set to play compLexity, player CJCJ made his way toward the stage driving a red toddler-sized car, waving and beaming as he shamelessly promoted his Twitter account. Though they were unable to secure a win against compLexity and later Team Envy, Tainted Minds showed up to have a good time, and they made that happen.

The other OCE team was Chiefs Esports Club, who made an impressive run in the tournament. After losing to Dignitas brought them to the lower bracket, the Chiefs took out EU’s Team Envy (in an act of sweet revenge for their regional comrades) in a clean sweep, taking Jake, Torsos, and Drippay to the third day of the tournament, the first Oceanic team to make it that far.

Though they lost to Cloud9 on day 3 and were eliminated, the Chiefs proved why they were the OCE champions and made a clear statement that the Oceanic region was not to be overlooked. As a crowd favorite and the unexpected winners of several matches, their impressive fight to make it to a top six finish rattled the dominance of North America and Europe from previous World Championships. Keep an eye out for these OCE teams coming up — they’ve shown they’re here to play.

Regional Rivalries

The main spotlight during the World Championship is usually on the North American and European teams. G2 Esports was the top North American seed, which makes their losses even more shocking. Having defeated Dignitas and the big European teams before, Kronovi, Rizzo, and JKnaps lost 0-3 to compLexity on the first day and were knocked out of the competition by fellow NA team Evil Geniuses in a 2-3 lower bracket game. With a 7th/8th finish, this RLCS definitely wasn’t G2’s best showing.

Mognus, Metsanauris, and al0t make up EU team compLexity Gaming, who made a solid run in the series, beating Tainted Minds, G2, and Cloud9, and only losing to NRG and Dignitas on the third day. Showing a great synergy among the team with a lot of entertaining plays, compLexity was on fire until the flame burned out and got them a third place finish.

Renault Vitality (EU) finished 9th/10th alongside Tainted Minds, Team Envy (EU) tied with G2 for 7th/8th, Evil Geniuses (NA) ranked 5th/6th with the Chiefs, and Cloud9 (NA) finished 4th.

The Grand Finals

The final battle came down to North America vs. Europe: NRG vs. Dignitas. Defending champions Team Dignitas lost to NRG Esports on the second day, sending them to that lower bracket. However, the EU team destroyed Evil Geniuses, Cloud9, and compLexity, giving them a chance for redemption as they faced a rematch with the team they had their only loss to. With the taste of defeat fresh in their mouth, ViolentPanda, Kaydop, and Turbopolsa were ready to become the world champions one more time.

However, NRG wasn’t going to make it easy. Coming from the top bracket, Fireburner, GarrettG, and jstn were on a winning streak and determined to topple the European RLCS reign. Fellow NA team Cloud9 carried rookie player of the year jstn out for the Grand Finals (the third rookie to make it all the way), showing the regional pride, sportsmanship, and respect among the teams that was apparent in the arena throughout the entire tournament.

Because Dignitas was coming from the lower bracket, they needed to win two best-of-7 series to win the Grand Finals. So that’s what they did. With Dignitas decidingly taking the first series with a 4-1 series win, it meant a bracket reset, and everything came down to this final series.

And it wouldn’t be a championship Grand Finals if it didn’t go to the very last game in overtime. Dignitas started the series with a 3-1 lead but couldn’t seem to clinch that match point, and NRG was able to come back with their amazing offense and defense and force a game 7 finish, which was by far the most thrilling ending ever.

Game 7. Turbopolsa scored with four seconds left to give Dignitas a 3-2 lead, and everyone thought that was enough to end the game.

But no, not if NRG can help it. With 0:00 on the clock, the game doesn’t end until the ball touches the floor, and 15-year-old jstn was able to keep the ball in the air and send it down for an incredible buzzer beater to tie the game up, proving to everyone why he was named rookie of the year. The arena erupted into a frenzy. “THIS IS ROCKET LEAGUE!!!!!” one of the commentators screamed. Indeed it is.

“My voice is gone, but my spirit is high. We. Have. Overtime!” (Rocket League has arguably the best commentators too). So now, it’s in sudden death overtime. First team to score wins. The next goal names the 2018 Rocket League Champions.

We didn’t have to wait long to find out who that would be. Just 22 seconds into overtime, Turbopolsa flies in and flicks the ball in for a goal, making Dignitas reigning world champions (and Turbopolsa a three-time world champion) after coming back twice from the lower bracket with two best-of-7 wins. NRG gave it all they got and made one amazing championship series out of it, but in the end, the EU came out on top once again.

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So that was exciting. Maybe more exciting than the Super Bowl or World Cup. Maybe. But maybe not.

Scoring with the best plays possible in order to come out on top (there were two ceiling shots in the Grand Finals, which is a big deal), the teams pulled every trick out to make this season ending memorable. With an incredible fan base and impressive professional players, Rocket League can become something more than just a car soccer video game. In the Copper Box Arena with screaming fans and skilled players playing their hearts out in this historic esport championship series, it definitely felt like something bigger than life.