Worlds

RLCS Season 8 World Championship preview

December 12, 2019 - 20:48
Rocketeers / Events / RLCS /

The Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) World Championship takes place this weekend, December 13-15, with 12 of the world’s best teams descending upon Madrid’s Palacio Vistalegre to crown the Season 8 champion.

It’s been a wild season across all four regions, with veteran squads falling to fresh talent, and the Season 8 World Championship features the largest-ever number of new players (17) excluding the first season. Beyond the influx of newcomers, there are other compelling storylines in the mix, including perhaps NRG’s best chance to date to finally take an RLCS title, as well as Team Reciprocity coming in as Europe’s top seed ahead of the reigning champions.

The broadcast begins Friday, December 13 at 9am ET (2pm UTC), with the revised format spanning two groups of six teams each before giving way to a single-elimination playoff bracket on Sunday, December 15. The broadcast will be available in five languages, with French, German, Spanish, and Polish in addition to English.

We’ll be following the action all weekend on Twitter and with an ever-growing list of must-see moments here on the site. Before the action starts, here is a look at all 12 teams, with links to the interviews that we’ve done with them this season.

North America

1) NRG Esports

Following an enormous shift in the offseason, with founding member Jayson “Fireburner” Nunez departing and three-time RLCS champ Turbopolsa coming over from Europe, NRG continued its North American dominance in Season 8. The team went 6-1 in the regular season, only falling to Rogue in the final week, and then took the regional championship in fine fashion.

No doubt, NRG is one of the favorites. It’s a roster made up of three of the absolute best players in the game, Turbo is a proven champion (three times over), and GarrettG—the only player to compete in all eight RLCS World Championships—is starving for an RLCS title. Can they finally seal the deal this weekend?

 

2) Pittsburgh Knights

Did you sleep on The Peeps? Foolish. After rising up from the Rival Series, they won DreamHack Montreal, announced their signing to the Knights, and then notched early-season wins against NA giants Cloud9 and G2 Esports. Not bad for a trio of RLCS rookies, and they overcame a late-season downturn by taking 2nd at the regional championship.

It’s the first World Championship for all three players, and the international competition could prove more daunting than North America’s best. On the other hand, the Knights’ aggressive play style has surprised opponents for months now. ExplosiveGyro told us that they think they’ll do well against EU teams (and retals has teased a 3-0 opening win against Dignitas)… but NRG remains their biggest kryptonite.

 

3) Spacestation Gaming

  • Roster:
  • Alexandre “AxB” Bellemare
  • Caden “Sypical” Pellegrin
  • Tshaka “Arsenal” Lateef Taylor Jr.

SSG dumped Matthew “Satthew” Ackermann after their debut RLCS season and picked up Arsenal—and while many doubted the move, they improved from 3-4 in Season 7 to 5-2 in Season 8, securing their spot in the World Championship as a result.

Sypical stepped up in a huge way, taking regular season MVP and Golden Striker honors, while AxB won Clutch Playmaker honors, and Arsenal’s aggressive play style helped give Spacestation the kind of advantage that doesn’t turn up in individual stats. Like the Knights, they have a real chance to do some damage in Madrid.

 

4) eUnited

Starting the season unsigned as Birds, this promoted roster sat in the middle of the North American pack with a 3-4 record. However, at the regional championship, they overcame Rogue (who placed 3rd-4th at the last World Championship) and a promising Ghost Gaming roster to earn a trip to Madrid under the eUnited banner.

They came up in the scene alongside Knights and SSG, and while their regular season wasn’t as memorable, their regionals performance might showcase an ability to turn things up when it matters most.

 

Europe

1) Team Reciprocity

The former PSG Esports roster had their best season yet in Europe, not only placing first in the regular season, but then also topping the reigning RLCS champions Renault Vitality to win the regional championship as well. And they didn’t just beat Vitality—they swept Vitality.

Chausette45 has emerged as one of Rocket League’s offensive monsters, while Ferra has evolved from an unceremoniously dumped “Leftover” back in Season 3 to a sturdy veteran presence that has gradually guided this team to greater peaks. Defense has been the key to their success this season, and defense usually wins championships. It also doesn’t hurt that this is the longest-standing roster at Worlds this year.

 

2) Renault Sport Team Vitality

Can Vitality repeat as RLCS champions? Kaydop has done it before, back in Seasons 4/5 with Gale Force/Dignitas, but Vitality had the familiar next-season downturn that has befallen a lot of past champions: their 4-3 regular season record shows a less-dominant team than expected, plus their 4-0 loss in the regional championship confirmed changing tides in Europe.

Still, anything goes at the World Championship, and Vitality is a safe bet to make it deep into the tournament—at which point Kaydop’s veteran experience and explosive offensive potential could take over.

 

3) Veloce Esports 

  • Roster:
  • Sandro “FreaKii” Holzwarth
  • Jack “FlamE” Pearton
  • Andy “Kassio” Landais

This is not the team that many people expected to finish 2nd in league play, given that they were only promoted to the RLCS after Triple Trouble forfeited their spot. However, these three RLCS veterans found a winning combination together, putting up a 5-2 record and surprising a lot of people in the process.

FreaKii’s return to the RLCS World Championship after three seasons away is one of the most compelling stories, as he was kicked from Vitality and had to grind his way back into the league. He’s back—now can they turn this opportunity into something special?

 

4) Dignitas

Dignitas used to be the most feared team in Rocket League—but then they lost the Season 6 World Championship to Cloud9 in back-to-back grand finals series. Kaydop left, and then they failed to make the Season 7 LAN. After that, Turbopolsa departed, leaving only ViolentPanda from the championship days.

But this refreshed roster—including the previously little-known AztraL—found a real spark at the regional championship, parlaying a reverse sweep against FC Barcelona into a win over mousesports to claim their trip to Madrid. They even pushed Team Reciprocity to seven games. Coach Virge’s motivation words seemingly had something to do with it, but can his guidance help Dignitas return to the top of the Rocket League world?

 

Oceania

1) Renegades

  • Roster:
  • Daniel “Torsos” Parsons
  • Cameron “Kamii” Ingram
  • Chris “Siki” Magee

Renegades had a rough go at the last RLCS World Championship, going 0-2 in the group stage. But after swapping in Siki during the offseason, they were easily the most dominant team in Oceania this season, going 6-1 in the regular season before winning the region. Torsos is playing in his sixth-straight Worlds, and he and Kamii finished 4th just two seasons back. Can OCE play spoiler again?

 

2) Canberra Havoc

The other OCE Worlds spot seemed destined for Chiefs Esports Club, especially with the return of Matthew “Drippay” Den-Kaat… but then they ran into Canberra Havoc at the regional championship. The team, previously known as Attack of the Invisible Ninja, took Chiefs to Game 7 before SPYDOGE notched a hat trick to single-handedly secure the spot. Canberra Havoc is a total wild card going into Worlds; can they surprise other veterans on the world stage?

 

South America

1) The Three Sins 

  • Roster:
  • Matheus “math” Gonçalves
  • Matheus “matix” Rodrigues
  • Valter “valt” Junior

Upset alert! The lone unsigned team at the Season 8 World Championship had a solid 4-3 season, but then made a stunning lower-bracket run at the South American Grand Series regional championship and topped Lowkey Esports to win the region. SAM teams didn’t make a lot of noise at the last Worlds, their first season in the RLCS, but consider how Oceania became more and more competitive during its first few seasons in the league. It could happen with SAM too.

 

2) Lowkey Esports

  • Roster:
  • Gabriel “Caard” Vieira Cardoso
  • Enzo “tander” Toledo
  • Caio “CaioTG1” Vinicius

Despite falling in the regional championship, Lowkey Esports was easily the most dominant team in the SAM regular season, finishing 6-1 with a 20-4 games record. Lowkey is making a return trip from the last Worlds after swapping in CaioTG1 during the offseason, and Caard was both the regular-season MVP and Golden Striker, with CaioTG1 winning Clutch Playmaker and finishing second as Golden Striker. They could put up some serious goals at Worlds.

Andrew is the Lead Editor of Rocketeers, and has been covering Rocket League esports since RLCS S1 for publications such as Red Bull Esports, The Esports Observer, Waypoint, and GINX TV. He has also written about games, gadgets, etc. for 90+ publications since 2006.