Consistency & Competition: The RLCS Season

Posted by Detroit Renegades on

The Renegades’ newest squad in Rocket League caught up with team writer Taffy this week to talk their season results, the Oceanic scene as a whole and their preparation & expectations heading into the regional qualifiers for RLCS 7 this weekend.

Boasting a dominant 73% win rate domestically, winning eight of the first nine Gauntlets and dropping just one series at the top of the Gfinity Rocket League Oceanic Masters season league, the Renegades firm as favourites heading into the all-important RLCS qualifier playoffs this weekend.

With only two spots up for grabs for the prestigious million-dollar-plus major in June, the newest Renegades are out to make it a battle for second between everyone else. For Daniel ‘Torsos’ Parsons, in his 3rd year at the top of Oceania, this season was just another few months at the office.

“It’s definitely what we wanted. We were aiming for a 7-0 but I think we did pretty well – I mean its first seed, it’s what we wanted.”

“There’s still a lot to work on and improve on as a team and individually that we’ve worked on over the course of the past few months. That said, we’ve got to the point where we’re feeling pretty consistent.” - Daniel ‘Torsos’ Parsons

Finishing tied for 1st in the Gfinity Masters regular season with rivals ICON but ahead on match differential, the boys have cruised into RLCS qualifiers relatively unscathed with their only league loss coming to ex-ORDER in their first match under the Renegades banner. To Torsos, there has always been a divide between the peak of the competition and the rest of the ladder - a divide he puts down to individualism.

“It’s generally always been a very distinct top 3-4 teams in the region. There’s always been a big gap between the top teams then the rest of the teams. I don’t think there’s that much depth in OCE; we just can’t really lose [to the bottom teams] often enough.

“I think it’s a lot about individual talent. Debatably, I think we’re probably the three most mechanically-skilled players in the region. We have a good understanding of the game – it’s just about working on team strategy.”

Teammate Cameron ‘Kamii’ Ingram added: “Even if we have our really off days, we can still make the most out of it – we feel an off day for us is as good as a peak day for some of the bottom four teams, so it’s pretty hard to drop a whole series to a lower team.”

“When I joined this team I felt like I could make it full-time...RLCS is the dream.” - Aidan ‘ZeN’ Hui

As a region, Oceania made its entrance onto the world stage in 2017 at the RLCS Season 3 finals with Alpha Sydney (Torsos, Jake & Drippay) and Just A Minute Gaming (Bango, Montyconnor & Express). Since then two teams from OCE have attended each RLCS finals with the original Alpha Sydney core, later at Chiefs Esports Club, the only OCE squad to have taken a series off of an international opponent at the premier event.

That core broke apart in mid-2018 with Jake’s retirement from competition, with Kamii joining shortly after to make a miraculous run at RLCS 6. The Chiefs nailed early wins over Paris Saint-Germain and NRG Esports before dropping to the lower bracket.

Their run didn’t stop there - the boys defeated Evil Geniuses 3-1 to guarantee a top four finish before losing to Cloud 9, who went on to win the event and the $200,000 prize purse - still a marvellous effort for a region that has a minimal amount of exposure to the other top regions.

“It shouldn’t really happen, I feel, but it’s always happening. Other OCE teams hadn’t taken a series so we made a super team; collecting three players who are super motivated and know how to play the game and putting them together,” explains Torsos, citing the initial Alpha Sydney & Chiefs core lineups.

“I think it’s a lot about individual talent. Debatably, I think we’re probably the three most mechanically-skilled players in the region. We have a good understanding of the game – it’s just about working on team strategy.”

“I think the whole idea of trailing across the world for a boot camp and just practicing – you only have one shot until next year, so I think it’s a lot about that drive in saying ‘this is the only tournament before we go back home’ each season.”

“You can just feel yourself slowly falling back down when you return home [after RLCS] – it’s pretty crazy.” - Cameron ‘Kamii’ Ingram

Drippay departed the Chiefs in early 2019 after receiving a lucrative offer from Evil Geniuses to play overseas, and with next to no time ahead of the WSOE Showdown in Las Vegas, Torsos & Kamii rushed to bring in ZeN, who was ready to grind from day one.

“In the lead-up to joining I had been on a couple of small bubble teams like Avant and ORDER – it was just a matter of getting onto better teams and challenging the top two of Chiefs and ICON,” ZeN says. “The opportunity came when Drippay had his big transfer, I was confident and felt I was the better pick out of my teammates.”

“I had never been to anything as big [as WSOE 4]. There was a lot of preparation work in the lead-up – I only got the notification to join the team one week before the tournament. There wasn’t too much anxiety in the lead-up. Come day one it was just all about keeping up with these big international teams.

“Even though we did lose pretty heavily, it didn’t feel like we were getting stomped.”

“It’s always in the back of our heads that we’re underdogs, and we don’t mind that.” - Cameron ‘Kamii’ Ingram

All three of the Renegades team compete full-time, sacrificing everything from completing senior high school to deferring university to compete in the dream career, and a part of the burden is lessened with support from friends and family.

“My parents are really supportive, they watch all of my games and they’re really into it. I feel like when I joined this team I could make it a full time thing. Before, on ORDER & Avant, it was only really domestic tournaments, so I could do this on the side while going to school, but since I joined this team it’s gotten so much bigger than that,” said ZeN.

“The real turning point for a lot of parents is recognising that esports is a bigger industry than what they thought previously. The popular viewpoint from most parents is just ‘oh it’s just a video game’.”

Torsos was a notable exception, at least to begin with. “My parents weren’t too supportive with it in 2016 when I was still in school, but they kind of had no choice, I was making so much money and going to too many LANs, they had to let it happen a little (laughs).”

With the team confident heading into their qualifiers this week, Torsos is already mentally preparing for the group stage, where a top seed finish at qualifiers would see them take on the likes of FC Barcelona & G2 Esports.

“[The RLCS group stage] looks pretty scary with Barcelona and G2 if we get top seed here. Hopefully we can get a win against one of them. I think if we can improve as much as we have over the last few international bootcamps we have a decent chance of beating them.

“I think NRG Esports and Renault Vitality are the big two frontrunners from NA and EU. We think Cloud 9 are an outside chance too, they always play so solidly at LAN and under pressure.”

As for the iconic stage entrances that Oceanic team Tainted Minds graced audiences with previously? Torsos is more than happy to leave that to the ‘professionals’.

“Don’t expect too much of that from us, we’re more focused on winning games than coming last.”

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You can catch the Renegades as they make their RLCS qualification run at the Gfinity Masters playoffs this weekend, with their first match starting May 19 10:00 AEST against 1NE Esports live on Gfinity’s Twitch channel.

Article & Interview by Nicholas ‘Taffy’ Taifalos
@TaffyAU on Twitter