This past weekend (August 6th and 7th) saw the inaugural Rocket League Championship Series International Finals in Hollywood, California. For those who play the game at a mortal level, it was a chance to learn quite a few things about how professional Rocket League is played.
The speed of the game, the types of aerials, and the passing strategies left many a jaw firmly planted on the proverbial (or, in my case, literal) floor. If you don’t play Rocket League or haven’t watched any Rocket League, this tournament gives the best glimpse of just how insane the game can be. There was no shortage of stories to take from this tournament, but the biggest one was almost certainly iBUYPOWER Cosmic’s unlikely run to the top.
Coming into the tournament, the popular picks to take the tournament were Northern Gaming and Flipsid3 Tactics. The two European squads featured a bevy of top talent and their play was defined by crisp rotating formations that maintained extraordinary offensive pressure and possession that essentially strangled opponents to death. However, it was North American iBUYPOWER Cosmic that took the cup.
While Cosmic is North America’s most well-known team, they were coming into the tournament three weeks removed from dropping one of their starting three in Gambit, who cited personal health issues as the main reason for his stepping down from the team. Cosmic had been praised as an NA super team. They already featured scene veteran and superstar Kronovi, but when they brought the powerful offensive runner, Lachinio, in April, it looked like the planets had truly aligned.
However, on July 18th, the dream was over. They brought in 0ver Zer0 to fill in for Gambit during the International Finals, but many were skeptical that the team would be able to play at a high enough level to compete with their European cousins.
Turns out all of us who doubted them are idiots. In their opening match of the double elimination bracket, Cosmic faced off against Flipsid3 Tactics in the most hotly anticipated matchup of the day and did not disappoint.
The best-of-five series ran all five games and 0ver Zer0 was the hero that NA needed, as he showed excellent versatility both through strong defensive work and his now infamous off the wall aerial carry for an overtime goal in a pivotal Game 4, in which Cosmic was down two games to one.
The team’s chemistry was clearly a work in progress, but Cosmic simply would not die off. They consistently got off to poor starts, most notably in their series against Northern Gaming in the Upper Bracket, where they were crushed 5-0 in the first game before turning around and winning the requisite four straight games to win the best-of-seven and advance to the Grand Finals.
In the Finals, they faced Flipsid3 again, and again 0ver Zer0 would not be denied, particularly on offense, and Cosmic took the series four games to two.
There was no other player with more questions swirling around him coming into this tournament than 0ver Zer0, and I myself tweeted at the end of the first day of competition that Flipsid3’s Kuxir97 was easily the best player in the tournament and was on the fast track to a tournament MVP award.
However, 0ver Zer0 consistently clutched it out for Cosmic and outperformed even his superstar teammates, Kronovi and Lachinio, proving himself worthy of the nod for tournament MVP. Who would have thought?
Want to check out the VoDs? They’re on Rocket League’s Twitch channel!
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