Author: iAndray

Playoffs Preview: Champion League Conference Semi-Finals

The Champion League promises more high flying, high scoring action in it’s second week of playoffs. The Number one seeds enter the draw and we get to see just how well the rest of the field can stack up against our top contenders.

Blue Conference – Saturday, Dec. 5th

#1 Puffins vs. #7 Hawks @ 7pm on MLESPORTSGG2

In their first match, the Hawks took the 2nd place Jets by force, sweeping the series and showing tremendous amounts of skill in the solo play scenarios; whether that was dribbles, aerials, or any sort of outplay, leading to a 2v1. This Hawks team proved their capability in facing down the Jets in a dominant fashion. Now they have had the chance to get their stream nerves out of the way (not that they showed any at all) and take on a team with only one more win than their past triumph.

A place where I believe the Puffins may actually have the edge over their contemporary is putting the ball away, a stat that favors the Puffins by 26 goals in total this season. This is a faction of gameplay that the Puffins will need to use to their advantage, especially when the league leader in saves, Orange Monkey, stands guard in the Hawks net. The Hawks are no slouch in the Offensive end either and boast a 43.9% shooting percentage throughout the regular season, they showed their sniping prowess vs. the Jets as they took seemingly every opportunity they found, converting far more than their opponents.

Finally, the question of preparedness comes to mind, the Hawks played a, while short, hard-fought series and the Puffins got a by into this second round. That being said, I have been seeing 5dollarvodka ask around for scrims at all hours, seemingly every day. If they were successful in finding scrims then their preparation may be enough to handle the feisty Hawks in this series.

 

#4 Lightning vs. #6 Sabres @ 8pm on MLESPORTSGG

This is one of my most anticipated series of the weekend. We will get a chance to see if Lil Lettuce’s 4 goals per game performance continues after the two-week break. We also get the chance to see the winners of one of the closest, most tense games of the past weekend set in action again. I have no doubt in my mind that Lil Lettuce continued to put in the work, grind those ranked games, and hopefully, get some scrims (if potential challengers weren’t scared to play him, that is).

However impressive, and admittedly frustrating, it was to watch Lil Lettuce perform aerial acrobatics over my head and score as much as is humanly possible, I could see the Lightning taking the Sabres off-guard. The Lightning play the game with speed and tenacity unknown to many at the Champion level and while this leads to over commits once in a while, I believe that the Lightning will put pressure on the Sabres in a way that the Hive just couldn’t do. This will either be shoot out after shoot out or one of the most tightly contested, low-scoring series of all time. And if it is, indeed, a long series that goes the distance, then we know the Lightning have that second wind needed to take the win at the end of it all.

 

Orange Conference – Sunday, Dec. 6th

#1 Elite vs. #6 Demolition @ 7pm on MLESPORTSGG2

I talked before about the Puffins being active in the scrims chat, looking to keep themselves warm and ready for the threat the Hawks pose. The Elite, as far as I’ve seen, are not as active. Scrims are not the be-all and end-all of maintaining consistency and preparing oneself for a match, but they help a ton.

The Demolition seemed to get away with murder in their first series. Don’t get me wrong, they played well but the Pandas were unable to convert on a lot of sloppy defense from their opponents. Perhaps we were seeing stream nerves because nearing the end the act cleaned up and they really began capitalizing on chances. A big part of their success in switching momentum was demo plays. After a regular season that saw this team be very low in the demo category, we finally see them living up to their team name. In game four alone, while they did lose it, the Demolition scored twice on demo plays to cut the Panda lead to a single goal.

Some weak points for the Demolition that could help them with facing such a daunting task would be; communicating ball touches, taking time when it is given, and forcing the issue in midfield rather than letting the ball carrier gain control. For the Elite I can’t give much advice besides using your teammates. These guys seem to have a knack for team plays and could catch the iffy Demolition defense off-guard by putting the ball to a teammate instead of shooting right away. Pretty much, don’t underestimate the Demolition, I see huge potential in this team.

 

#2 Comets vs. #5 Tyrants @ 8pm on MLESPORTSGG

The similarities between these two teams baffle me. Both base their game on solid touches, clean-cut plays, good rotations, and it worked really well for them in the first round as they both swept their respective series’. They also share some league favoritism as well. Comets’ PeytonEli was one of the Champion League All-Stars this season and the Tyrants received an enormous 90.7% of votes to win it all in the bracket challenge.

When it came to their opponents though, these two teams did differ in the level of difficulty. What I saw was a very tough series for the Comets, that included a tough overtime finisher. Some sloppy defensive play was the main deciding factor for the Comets not sweeping their series versus the Sharks. Luckily, ThunderBug was a rock in the back end and that led to PeytonEli dominating from then on out. For the Tyrants, there was more of a team mentality involved when they were on the field. The combination of Trusolja and TSR was a force to be reckoned with, they played with the utmost calm, collected, composed plays I have seen so far these playoffs.

One of the notes I made while watching this series was: “Tyrants play is solid, solid, solid” and that really seemed to be their game plan. A plethora of open-net goals meant that the Pirates, their first-round opponents, would get a small opening and over-commit on it because of the frustration built up through having to play such a consistent duo. I’m looking forward to how the Comets can improve and if the Tyrants can continue the performance they showed us in round one.

 

You can watch all these matches and matches from each league at MLESPORTSGG and MLESPORTSGG2. Support your favorite teams and MLE by watching the stream. And good luck to all the playoff teams.

Rocket Dreams: A Look Into Some of Premier League’s Professional Prospects

For some people, playing Rocket League daily is an obsession, for others a casual pastime, but for a select few, it is a budding career opportunity. In the MLE, we host a wide range of ranks, with most falling into the Foundation League to Master League area of skill rating (from Bronze I to Grand Champion III). And while most players could only dream of playing professionally, we have among us some individuals, playing in the Premier League, who are near that dream. Some like to call these players “Bubble Scene Players” because they are on the precipice of Rocket League stardom but have not quite made their mark yet. I’d like to introduce a few players in the MLE who could be within reach of that sweet goal: playing video-games professionally.

 

Vitali

We’ll start with a charming man who goes by the alias “Vitali”. Vitali was the first of my interviews and what a great way to begin.  He gave me the impression of a very knowledgeable guy who knew a lot about the path he hopes to take, that of being a professional Rocket League player. He was also very aware of the large steps he still needed to take to get to that level.

We talked a bit about his aspirations and he barely mentioned the RLCS despite having a very impressive finish in season 7 and season 9, going top 48 and 64, respectively. His team, consisting of Maconex (for 4 seasons, producing the best results) and adding in Cira for season 9. Currently, his motivation is more focused on the present and taking smaller steps before deciding to pursue a spot among the greatest. Vitali is a student at Durham College just outside of Toronto. At Durham, he is in the process of getting a degree in Computer Programming. Beyond his current educational pursuit, he achieved a Sports Administration degree in St. Clair where he also was able to have a lot of success in his Rocket League career.

In St. Clair, Vitali was able to produce a top 16 finish in qualifying for a CRL spot while teaming with the well known former RLCS world champion, Lachinio. His success there has spurred him on to try and re-create another qualifying finish at Durham. When we spoke, he talked of having an opportunity to achieve the goal and play on the Rocket League official broadcast over on twitch. Vitali also has a stream of his own and hopes to gain a following for himself there.

Being a player who excels in, and prefers the 3v3 playlist, Vitali told me that MLE holds a near and dear place in his heart. It serves as a fun-loving organization of people where he can still play the game he loves but can let go of the pretext of trying to be at peak performance constantly. So with establishing MLE as an occupation on the side, I asked him if there were any coincidental advantages to playing in a 2v2 league. He mentioned that the MLE has given him a great opportunity to build lasting friendships with people such as Atokad and MapleSurrup, both of whom he had played an earlier RLCS Qualifier with and, though they were all around the Champion 2-3 level, they had nearly made it to the play-in rounds. Another, more competitively pertinent advantage was his ability to test himself against players like Comp and Test Gravity who have made splashes in the RLCS scene. Vitali has come out with wins versus both of those highly rated players during MLE matches, a sign of great things to come, I’m sure. 

To finish up our conversation I wanted to get his all-time favorite highlight of his personal MLE experience. So he filled me in on his first stream match, the nerves, the anticipation, and the excitement he had all bundled up in a series win and also a performance to remember as he was awarded the Play of the Week (POTW) for a goal he had scored in that, his first stream experience.

 

BraidedAxe

BraidedAxe is a very passionate player who holds strong to his values and knows exactly what he wants out of Rocket League. When we talked, the heart was palpable in his words. BraidedAxe and I hopped into some 2s games and just had a casual chat about his aspirations, how far he’s come, his MLE experience, and a few highlights of his Rocket League career. As we were playing a couple of games in the casual 2s playlist I could sense his urgency even to win there, he is a fierce competitor and would be a force to have on any team.

His main aspiration as a Rocket League player is to make it to the upper echelon. His words were, “I want Rocket League to be my main form of income.” And I do agree that he has the skills to make his dreams come true and make it as a pro. I will also say that I believe he has the personality and well-to-do sort of manner that could make him successful in the Rocket League scene.

In his professional endeavors he’s achieved a lofty peak MMR rating of 2138 in the 3v3 playlist and for the beginning month of season 13 was in the top 100 players for that playlist. He has also tried his hand at the RLCS Qualifiers with his team of Gumbachi (another member of the Premier League) and Volt Destroyer. Under the name of ‘Frost Esports’, the trio was able to achieve a lofty round 3 exit, only losing to team RBG – currently managed by the aforementioned Maple Surrup – who would go on to make the RLRS. From what I gathered, BraidedAxe took this game 5 series defeat as an indicator of where he needs to be and I personally cannot wait to witness his progression. Besides Frost Esports’ proximity to the big leagues in that regard, they’ve also had their fair share of full-team queues in ranked, meeting organizations such as Team Envy and coming out with victories.

While some Premier League players are mainly patrons of the 3v3 playlist and MLE is a league in which they can enjoy a competition that does not reflect their progression in the professional scene, BraidedAxe does not subscribe to this mindset. His passion for Rocket League does not stop with this game and, from what he said, his determination extends to any situation he is put in.

 

Zack

Zack and I’s conversation was one that made me hopeful for his future. He has a great deal of skill on the Rocket League pitch and is a humble guy with a demeanor that made me feel very comfortable while talking with him. Zack’s past endeavors in RLCS Qualifiers have me believing in and looking forward to what’s to come for him. Since hitting Grand Champion for the first time in season 7 he has placed top 48 twice. The odd thing about these monumental achievements though, is that his teams have been a collection of odds and ends, friends, and friends of friends. With that in mind, it makes these finishes in the achievements all the more impressive. I can see him making a push into the professional Rocket League scene very quickly if he can find a team he enjoys playing with and that might provide him with sufficient support.

Right now Zack is working full time and so he only puts in a minimal amount of time to Rocket League each week.  We talked about his perspective and views of MLE, given the low amount of time he has to put into the game each day. He sees MLE mainly as a community hub but has gained significant improvement since joining MLE in season 8. Moving up the MMR ladder from 1700 to 2000 in that time. The main difference he sees in his play from when he joined is learning the importance of ball possession, dribbling, and outplays in general. Besides that, Zack believes that he has gained a considerable amount of consistency since joining the league, a key aspect of a budding professional player.

Another contributing factor to his love of the league is the opportunities he’s had to play players who are just above him in skill and so this motivates him to try and contend with those highly skilled players.

Finally, I wanted to hear about Zack’s favorite moments in MLE. He enthralled me with the tale of his playoff experience that happened during his tenure with the Wolves franchise. He had been lucky enough to experience a playoff series that went down to the wire in a game 5 over-time. It was a game to be remembered for all the close calls and anxious moments. Eventually, he and MattRochie were able to come out with the win after heroics from Zack. Though they lost in the round following, it remains an untainted memory in his mind.

 

Glax

Glax’s view on Rocket League for a player with the skill rating he has is as unique as they come. He is in full realization of his inability to fully commit to Rocket League, given his commitments to his career in I.T. and the lack of “brain-speed”, as he comedically put it, to keep up with the younger generation of individuals in the professional scene.

Despite not being one to strive for the stardom of Rocket League profession, Glax is by far the most connected to the scene of those I talked with. Currently, he plays with Sotus, queueing almost every day for competitive games and tournaments. He also attempted an RLCS qualifier with PhantomAce in season 4. He’s had a major history with former RLCS players such as Pluto – who he is still in contact with – and Amoney. He also mentioned playing a consistent amount of ranked games with Kronovi back when he was the top player in the world. Taking all of these names in and processing the amount of connectedness Glax has accrued in his 5 years of playing made my head spin.

Glax attributes his major ties to the content creators and current/former RLCS players towards his immediate skill in Rocket League. He has been a Grand Champion level player since competitive season 2 and has been lucky enough to keep in contact with all these staple names in Rocket League. 

While Glax is not wanting to pursue a career in RLCS or content creation, he is still enjoying his time playing the game and sees MLE as an opportunity to gain some ability in the realm of 2v2. For the past 5 years, 3v3 has been his main focus but recently he got the urge to become a better player in the, arguably, more popular playlist of Rocket League.

While his skill in Rocket League was immediate, Glax does not believe his 2v2 play is up to par with the amount of experience he has in the game. Reaching 1800 MMR in 2v2 last season, Glax decided that it was time to step it up and chose to join the “best 2v2 league out there” as he so graciously put it. Playing in the MLE has forced him to practice some more in-depth mechanics and develop a better sense of ball control. His excitement to be in the league was on display when we talked and I personally am very excited to have such an affluent contemporary of the pro-scene among our ranks.

 

Lotty Lettuce

Talking with Lotty Lettuce, I was so impressed with his plan of action, his activity in numerous leagues, and his high skill level despite his relatively young age. At his local college, he has been a trailblazer for the path of CRL success. While there is not currently a scene for CRL there, his skill and drive have been seen by another very skilled player who goes by the name HockE who will be attending Lotty’s current school come next year. If the two of them can find a third I could see a push for CRL contention coming their way very soon. 

Though Lotty is very excited about the prospects of HockE, his head is not lost in the clouds. He has made a very strong connection with Elco and some other current CRL players at Rowan University. He made it seem like the team’s presence was very welcoming and open to him when, only briefly, he met them all at a LAN event. I was very impressed with his knowledge of multiple paths towards his main goal of becoming a CRL player.

Our chat turned to the MLE, eventually, and that of some great friendships he’s made through the seasons along with some very memorable moments. He filled me in on one of his favorite memories during his time in the league; a rare championship game. The scene was of him and MattRochie, they were in a bad slump going into the conference finals but some herculean efforts and strong will got them the win against a very formidable Pirates team, one that had been undefeated coming into the match. With excitement and momentum, they pressed on to the finals but were unfortunately not able to garner a championship for his Outlaws franchise. The memory remains very vibrant and he maintains it to be his all-time favorite moment of his Rocket League career.

Lastly, Lotty told me that joining the MLE was “one of the best decisions he had ever made for his Rocket League career”. During the summer of 2019, he had been losing motivation to play the game and was close to hanging up the controller for good when he was introduced to MLE and found the invigorating, unique league to be enough for him to get back the drive that was so obvious while talking to him. Lotty has joined 4 different leagues including the MLE in the time span since his melancholic thoughts over Rocket League began and he told me one of his biggest aspirations was to win a championship in all of them, especially getting another crack at the MLE trophy.

 

Final Thoughts

My appreciation for these players and their ability to either be so naturally talented or to maintain a strict regimen of practice has grown exorbitantly to the point where I find myself rooting them on and checking in on their progress myself.  When I first picked up the pen to write out this story I had an idea of talking to a group of like-minded Premier League players, people who all had the vision of becoming an RLCS contemporary or doing their best to get there. It turns out that an eclectic mix of aspirations litters the highest-ranking league in MLE; everything from the expected RLCS dreams to simply maintaining friendships gained within the discord server we all call home.