In retrospect, the Season 8 World Final of Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) was always going to come down to a shoot-out between Renault Sport Team Vitality and American juggernaut NRG Esports.
After winning the Season 7 Final, Renault Sport Team Vitality knew they had a tough job to hold on to their world title. With so much young talent pouring into the game, and exciting new players and teams emerging from around the world, coach Mike ‘Gregan’ Ellis warned: “When we play our best, we are the best team in the world. The difference is we can’t get away with sub-par performances any more.”
The winning team of Frenchmen Alexandre "Kaydop" Courant and Victor “Fairy Peak!” Locquet with Scottish prodigy Kyle “Scrub Killa” Robertson remained unchanged. A new training facility at the Stade de France in Paris helped them focus during a hard season and one that proved to be a good, if slightly disappointing one given the expectations.
The team finished European League play with a 4-3 overall match record and a third place finish. They had to battle their way to the Final after failing to win automatic qualification but still entered as one of the top three favourites to win. It seems you can’t keep a good team down and certainly not one with the competitive streak of Team Vitality.
From December 13-15, 2019, the Palacio Vistalegre Arena saw a crowd of thousands of fans gather to watch 12 of the world’s best teams, including four from North America. Ahead was three days of elimination games, with a $529k prize pool and a chance to take the trophy off Renault Sport Team Vitality. The event was broadcast worldwide in English, French, German, and Spanish.
The team to beat was NRG Esports, who seemed unstoppable in the American League. They had assembled an awesome squad, including Pierre “Turbopolsa” Silfver from Europe, the first ever back-to-back RLCS winner. Turbopolsa and Kaydop were once teammates on Dignitas, so know only too well each other’s weaknesses and strengths. With both players looking for their fourth individual championship, electricity was in the air.
However, Kaydop has appeared in five consecutive Grand Finals out of the seven in the game’s history and won three. He’s not intimidated by anyone and Team Vitality got off to a great start with a thrilling win against Team Dignitas. It was only a matter of time before NRG and Renault Sport Team Vitality conquered all their rivals to face off in the final, decided over seven games.
The fun started with Scrub Killa pulling off what one commentator hailed as the “Dunk of the Century” but Turbopolsa scored a hat trick to take NRG to a win. Kaydop evened the score in game two, and Renault Sport Team Vitality kept up the pressure with another win in game three.
NRG pulled back the next game to level things at 2-2 and Turbopolsa again made the difference in game five. Vitality were not giving up, however, and forced the scoreline back to 3-1 to set up the nail-biting decider.
Game seven was as tight as all the others, with a last-minute score by Team Vitality forcing it into overtime. But there could be only one winner and NRG Esports finally claimed its first Rocket League world championship, leaving Renault Sport Team Vitality beaten but unbowed with a very narrow second place finish.
It’s all to play for again next time around for this talented young team.