March 27th was Championship Sunday at the YouTube Theatre in Los Angeles for the RLCS Winter Major. As a “neutral fan” who doesn’t hold any allegiances other than rooting for European teams, it wasn’t shaping up to be a good day for me. After a mixed bag in the group stages (plus tie-breakers) Europe was left with 1 representative going into the final day.
Endpoint CEX got beat 3-0 by FaZe and knocked out of the lower bracket in the first round, Dignitas after a poor group stage found themselves playing underdogs Evil Geniuses, only to be knocked out. Europe on Europe violence, unfortunately. Then Team BDS found themselves against OCE region new boys Pioneers, a tough game that should’ve been straightforward, saw them face FaZe who came off the back of a 3-0 win over Endpoint. FaZe went on to PERFECT SWEEP Team BDS in a statement victory. That’s 3 of the 5 European teams out.
Things weren’t looking ideal for Team Queso either, a young, relatively new squad playing at their first LAN. Group stage got off to a 3-0 win over APAC representatives Detonators, but they fell 3-0 to V1, spoiler alert. The only NA team they HAVEN’T BEATEN this weekend. Meaning they had to face off against FaZe to decide whether they would be 2nd or 3rd place in the groups going into day 2. They went on to beat FaZe 3-2 to take 2nd place and see them matched up against NA top seed NRG.
Before the tournament even started, I felt for Team Queso, like I said they’re a young team and they’re all young in age too. Joyo is 16, rise. Is 17 and Vatira is 15! They were given a group consisting of V1, FaZe and Detonator, so really I’d have said they had no worry about qualifying for the knockout phase, but topping the group would be a real tough ask. To finish second in that group was a fantastic result, but then they were faced with NRG in the knockout round? Damn.
In what turned out to be an incredibly tense series, Team Queso took an early lead with a 2-1 OT win over NRG, with Vatira picking up both goals, game 2 saw a 1-0 OT loss and game 3 was a 3-2 OT loss, Vatira with ANOTHER 2 goals and jstn. grabbing a hattrick, jstn. doing jstn. things.
Things weren’t looking good, but in the first game of this series that didn’t go to OT, Queso tied it up with a 3-2 win in game 4, TWO MORE for Vatira and Joyo’s first of the series. Game 5 however, Champions field. Queso stepped it up. A resounding 5-1 win, 2 for Joyo and a hattrick for Vatira putting him on 7 goals for the series. First NA team down.
Unfortunately for EU fans, Queso then had to play Evil Geniuses and Furia, one European team and one South American team, the ones we would have preferred to push through WITH Queso. I mean, more non-NA teams are better for us, right? Queso swept EG 3-0 and in yet another crazy series, Queso took Furia in their first best of 7 of the tournament, in 7, winning 4-3! But here’s where things get spicy. Championship Sunday.
Championship Sunday featured the following games, all best of 7’s. G2 vs Spacestation Gaming in the upper bracket final, followed by Queso Vs FaZe again in the lower bracket semi-final. The winner of that would play the loser of G2 vs SSG in the lower bracket final.
The winner of that then moves onto the grand final where they play the winner of G2 vs SSG, however, due to the dual elimination bracket, any team reaching the grand final from the lower bracket would have to win TWO best of 7 series against the team from the upper bracket. So how did the day pan out?
The YouTube Theatre was PACKED to the rafters with hungry NA fans, screaming for their NA boys to succeed. G2 made light work of SSG taking a pretty straightforward 4-1 win to put them into the grand final, where they had many hours to wait. Next up, Queso vs FaZe in the lower bracket semi.
Now don’t get this twisted, FaZe is a fantastic team and honestly, a lot of EU fans, me included, were nervous going into Championship Sunday. All the hopes of European Rocket League rested on the shoulders of the young giants, Team Queso.
RLCS Winter Major match breakdowns
Queso Vs FaZe
Game 1. Queso with ice in their veins, 3-0 win with rise. getting 2 goals and Joyo getting 1, only 3 saves made for the entire team too, FaZe only putting up 4 shots, FOUR! Game 2, Queso take a 2-1 win, Firstkiller getting the first of the series for FaZe but Joyo and rise. with a goal apiece again, Joyo almost hitting 600 points! Before things got out of hand, FaZe took their timeout, how would they react after the timeout, we’ve seen it go both ways in the past!
Game 3 was intense, Vatira picking up 816 points and a hat trick with a hat trick of saves, but it wasn’t enough as FaZe took game 3 in OT 4-3, all 3 players approaching 600 points, Sypical and Firstkiller BOTH getting a hat trick of saves. Queso needed to get a 3rd game to stop FaZe from building any momentum and that they did. rise. picking up 2 goals and Vatira picking up 1, AYYJAYY getting a goal for FaZe but it wasn’t enough! Queso took game 4 and a 3-1 lead in the series.
Game 5 was a wild one, with 9 shots for FaZe returning 6 saves and 6 shots for Queso, ending in a 2-1 game 5 win and a 4-1 series win over FaZe, silencing the NA crowd. Now, I’m not one to have their hopes built up after a victory like this, I’m a Liverpool fan, over the years I’ve had my hopes up MANY times only to see them knocked down in front of me in the next game. But Europe started to hope, they started to pray, they gave Queso their energy.
Next up for Queso, SSG and I’m not going to sugarcoat it. This was the hardest challenge yet. Upper bracket final, stadium FULL of SSG fans SCREEEEAMING for Daniel, screaming for SSG. SSG with NA pride on the line, Queso with the hopes of European Rocket League on their shoulders. 3… 2… 1… GO!
Queso Vs SSG
Game 1. Queso looked phenomenal, 2 for rise. 1 for Joyo and 1 for Vatira saw them DEMOLISH SSG 4-1 in the first game, EASY. GET SSG OFF THEIR STAGE! But it wasn’t going to be as easy as it seemed for Queso. Game 2 saw a narrow defeat, 5 saves from 7 shots for Queso saw them concede 2 goals from retals. 9 saves from 11 shots saw Queso score 1 goal, Vatira the scorer. A tough loss to take for sure, but we regain, we go next.
Game 3 saw them bounce back, 2 goals from 8 shots with Vatira getting on the scoresheet again and rise. getting the second, with Arsenal picking up the only goal for SSG. Queso 2-1 in the game and 2-1 in the series, things are heating up. Game 4 wasn’t going to be the same, unfortunately. retals with 1 and Daniel popping off with big solo plays, 2 goals for the 15-year-old SSG prodigy saw them take a 3-1 win, tying us up again. rise. with the only goal for Queso.
Game 5 was much closer but it was frantic, with 11 shots from SSG causing 8 saves and 8 shots from Queso with only 4 saves for SSG, but they were BIG saves. Arsenal and retals got 2 goals for SSG, Joyo with the only goal for Queso, but this game 5 win for SSG saw them take a 3-2 lead in the series and put them on match point. Timeout for Queso and boy was it needed. Time to regain, time to cool your heads and more importantly hopefully interrupt the SSG momentum that was building.
Coming off the back of a timeout, with SSG on series point, European tournament hopes hung in the balance. A big game was needed and boy did we get one, 5 goals from Queso, 2 for rise. 1 for Joyo and 2 for Vatira with rise. picking up a hat trick of saves to boot! MASSIVE, SSG with 2 in the game, 5-2 win for Queso moving into game 7, but first, Timeout for SSG.
Hoping to stop any comeback from Queso, SSG took their time out. BUT IT WASN’T MEANT TO BE AS QUESO TAKE GAME 7! 2-1. Goals from rise. and Vatira, big saves everywhere, demos as far as the eye can see. You LOVE to see it. QUESO MOVE ON TO THE GRAND FINAL.
Queso Vs G2 – Grand Final
Who’d have thought it? Not me. But these boys were absolutely bossing it, picking up fans along the way, me included. Now if you cast your mind back, you may remember that I said this is double elimination, so, Queso now needed to win 2 best of 7s, back to back, against one of the most well-oiled machines in NA Rocket League, especially after the trade of Dreaz & Atomic, G2 have been looking G O O D.
Spoiler alert, Queso didn’t have enough in the tank to get through TWO best of 7’s, but they fought valiantly and got the bracket reset, but G2 after warming up was seriously too much to handle. So how did things go?
Game 1 was pretty back and forth, G2 looked like a team that hadn’t played a game in 4 hours and Queso was still pretty warm from knocking out FaZe and SSG, a well-balanced game with rise. picking up the only goal of the game for a great start for Queso, but Game 2 was the complete opposite, 5 goals altogether, G2 showing signs of warming up, JKnaps & Chicago showing why they’re known as the best duo in all of Rocket League, Atomic was still yet to get going though honestly. 2 more goals from rise. 2 for Jknaps and 1 for Chicago tied the series up, a fantastic game for neutral fans.
The next 2 games however saw some insane bounceback-ability from Queso. Winning Games 3 and 4 2-1 each with Vatira and rise. picking up a goal each and, erm… SIXTEEN? Saved between them in game 3, SEVEN for Vatira and SIX for rise. a double-double hat trick of saves? Excuse me? G2 getting ONE GOAL for Atomic from nineteen shots combined? All stats pointed to game 3 going to G2 but here we are, after an OT winner, and Game 4 couldn’t have been much different. Another 2-1 win for Queso, Joyo and rise. this time getting the goals but only FOUR shots for G2, Chicago picked up their only goal of the game. Timeout for G2.
This timeout was much needed, Queso on match point and after seeing a total of 23 shots return 2 goals in 2 games? A breather was needed before the rot set in. I personally thought Queso was taking this in 5 games and if they do I genuinely feel like they would’ve won the game altogether but that wasn’t to be the case, unfortunately.
Game 5. G2 bounce back to pick up a 2-1 win, Chicago’s on fire, 2 goals and he was peppering the goal with 6 shots registered, Joyo is on the scoresheet again for Queso. Potentially 2 games left, Queso is still on match point. Game 6… Deep breath. NINE GOALS. NINE. Hat trick for Atomic, 1 for Chicago, 1 for Jknaps gave G2 the win in a 5-4 game that went to OT, only the second of the series so far to go into those extra minutes. 2 more goals for rise. 1 for Joyo and 1 for Vatira, valiant effort boys but it wasn’t to be. Timeout for Queso.
Game 7 was one of the weirdest games I’ve ever seen. And I’ll tell you why. Firstly it was great and very tense. G2 got off to a VERY early lead, Jknaps scored from kick-off, 4:54 on the clock and Queso went 1 down. That’s a long time however and Queso weren’t backing down, 12 shots between them saw 2 goals, 1 for Vatira and 1 for Joyo… But the second goal? A winner with 3 seconds remaining on the clock…
What happened here between Atomic and Chicago here?! One of the biggest moments of miscommunication I’ve ever seen in the RLCS, not only that but Game 7 of the grand final! Thankfully for G2, they have a bracket reset, but can you imagine if that was how they’d LOST the grand final?
Queso did it, they beat G2 4-3 meaning we go to a second-best of 7, but would they have the stamina to do it again? They’ve been playing non-stop rocket league for almost 3 and a half hours at this point and that was visible in game 1. Queso got the win, but rise. only managed to put up 86 points, double digits in the RLCS isn’t seen very often I assure you. Fatigue was starting to set in hard. 1-0 win and a 1-0 lead in the series. But G2 was STILL warming up.
In Game 2, Queso was applying SO much pressure, but 2 goals in 2 shots for Atomic proved to be the difference and things only got worse from here, Joyo picking up the only goal for Queso in a 2-1 defeat. 1-1. Game 3 was more of the same, Atomic had FINALLY woken up, the beast had come online. 3 saves, 1 assist and 1 goal in a 3-1 win saw G2 take the lead in the second set, again Joyo picking up the only goal for Queso. Timeout for Queso.
Queso needed a mental break, again they had been playing Rocket League since 7 PM BST and by this point, it was 11 PM and while that would be fine if you were just chilling or playing ranked with mates, in these high-pressure games, they start to take their toll. Not to mention they’re playing in front of a PACKED YouTube Theatre, all screaming for G2.
Game 4 however was the perfect response after a timeout. G2 just couldn’t get it going offensively, only managing 5 shots with 4 of them needing saves. Queso on the other hand was firing on all cylinders, they picked up 12 shots but only managed to find the target once. The hopes and dreams of Europe were hanging in the balance, but they were still narrowly alive and honestly, Game 5 was very similar, G2 played a fantastic game but just couldn’t QUITE get things going, but they didn’t need to.
Chicago with 2 goals in 2 shots when G2 only had 4 shots between them, but again Queso just couldn’t find their range, 9 shots with only 1 goal for Vatira. I can’t blame them, it has been so intense at this point. G2 take game 5 2-1 and goes into a 3-2 lead, match point.
Game 6 may seem to be very one-sided if you look at it at face value. 4-1 win for G2. But statistically, it was very close. But Atomic was the difference, this man chose violence for game 6. He wanted this DONE, no game 7 for him. 4 shots got him a hat trick with 1 for Jknaps. rise. with the only goal for Queso. 8 shots apiece, but by this point, you could see the mental fatigue was well and truly in play. Queso was JUST too slow to make the saves and the freshness of G2 was absolutely key.
Well played Team Queso and Congratulations G2, your RLCS Winter Major champions
Look I’ll be real, going into Championship Sunday, I wasn’t very hopeful. It’s not that I didn’t have faith in Team Queso, but 4 best of 7’s in a row against the best North America has to offer is a huge ask and I’m gonna be real, if they’d have taken out FaZe and SSG and then got 4-0’d by G2, I would have still been SO unbelievably proud of the Team Queso boys. But to force a bracket reset and take THAT to 6 games also? Boys, hold your heads high.
The European teams will all be disappointed in themselves this weekend, especially Team BDS getting perfect swept by FaZe and Dignitas generally not getting it going when their roster has so much potential, not to mention their shortcomings in the fall major too, BUT with the Spring Major being held in London, WITH EU fans, it’s time to bounce back.
As for Team Queso? I mean it when I say, they have SKYROCKETED in popularity this weekend, across the Rocket League globe, they’ve won over the hearts of so many fans and like I said, I was always neutral, I never followed a player or a team but now? I’m a Queso convert and I’m not ashamed to say it. I’m looking forward to LANdon 2.0 at the Copperbox Arena, it will be the first time I attend an RLCS LAN in person! It’s worth remembering also that this was Team Queso’s FIRST LAN as a team and their roster has only been together since September 2021! So much to come from them.
ANYWAY, this is gonna be it for this one, I know it was a long one and for anyone who made it this far, thank you. Keep your eyes peeled for more RLCS coverage, I’ll try to keep the next ones much more concise, I promise! I’ve been Stubat, take care folks!
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