With one regional event left in the Fall Split before RLCS X’s first major, the pecking order in Europe is starting to fall into place.
But who is looking good headed into Regional 3 and who has their backs against the wall? Here’s what happened in Regional 2.
Swiss Stage 1: Group A
(Saturday, 29th August)
Regional 2 kicked off with a somewhat top-heavy Group A, consisting of teams such as Team BDS, Vodafone Giants, Guild, and FC Barcelona, as well as some up-and-coming teams such as Magnifico and Barrage Esports.
The off-stream Round 1 featured little to no major upsets or surprises with Guild vs. Oxygen being the only match-up between big-name teams. Guild won in five games.
Unsurprisingly, BDS and Giants cruised through Group A, going 3-0 and advancing to Stage 2.
Monkeys, FCB, and Libertas were the next to qualify, as they each beat Magnifico, Oxygen, and Guild respectively in Round 4 to advance to the next weekend. All three of these matches went to Game 5 with both Barca vs. Oxygen and Guild vs. Libertas being intense one-goal games.
Round 5 was, as usual, the most exciting and surprising round of the day. Impressive performances by MINKZ and Fierce Esports saw them go up against teams that were underperforming on the day: Guild and Magnifico respectively. The favourites won both of these series—Magnifico in a sweep and Guild in yet another one-score Game 5.
MINKZ and Fierce showed serious flashes of mechanical brilliance and chemistry throughout the day and have shown their potential to compete with the best teams in Europe. Unfortunately, though, MINKZ failed to qualify for Regional 3 and so will not be able to qualify for the fall split major. Fierce has qualified and will have a chance to rack up more RLCS points for a potential major spot.
The biggest match of the day, and arguably the season thus far in Europe was Oxygen vs. Barrage in their do-or-die Round 5 match.
In a major upset, Barrage (Oaly, Cynical, and Rise) stunned Oxygen 3-1, sending them home before the second weekend for the second event in a row. Oxygen, who entered the season as a consensus top-5 team in Europe, are now sitting in 21st place in RLCS points and will need a very strong Regional 3 to have a hope at qualifying for the fall major through RLCS points.
The trio of AztraL, Chausette45, and Ferra have been consistently performing well in the Grid and are sitting in second place in Grid points. But they have yet to actually win a week of the grid. If they do fail to qualify for the major through regional points, they will need to outperform Vitality by at least 140 points over the last two weeks to get the wildcard spot that is awarded to the top grid team.
Regional 3 is arguably the most pressure any of these three players have played under. Oxygen’s potential failure to qualify for the fall major will, without a doubt, be one of the biggest disappointments in recent RLCS memory.
Swiss Stage 1: Group B
(Sunday, 30th August)
Group B definitely saw more parity and surprises than group A, with the exception of Vitality qualifying in three rounds.
The other 3-0 team, Fadeaway (Freakii, Oscillon, and Tigreee), was a bit more of a surprise considering that teams like Top Blokes, Solary, Liquid, and Endpoint (who all qualified for Stage 2 in either Round 4 or 5) were in the group as well. They took down two of these contenders, Top Blokes and Endpoint, after beating Dignitas in Round 1.
Team Liquid avoided the same fate as Oxygen and qualified in four rounds, losing only to Vitality in Round 3, Game 5. Otherwise, they finally looked like a truly meshed team for the first time since the European Invitational, beating Singularity, Solary, and Two Baguettes and a Half. Fruity especially looked incredible on the offensive end all day, winning the vast majority of his challenges and flexing his striking and playmaking capabilities.
Solary and VENC (who were picked up by TrainHard eSport prior to Stage 2) were the other two 3-1 teams, and Endpoint, Top Blokes, and S2V esports rounded out the top 8 teams from Group B in Round 5.
Notable teams from Group B that failed to qualify for Stage 2 were Dignitas, Singularity, and Triple Trouble.
Dignitas has yet to play up to their potential with Joreuz and have been thoroughly disappointing all season. While some teams that have been struggling in RLCS X have seen some success in the Grid, Dignitas has yet to see success anywhere aside from sneaking into the playoffs last regional event. They are sitting at 15th in the Grid. For reference, the 16th placed team is Chalked, who have forfeited their remaining Grid matches after disbanding.
Singularity and Triple Trouble are very different stories, as they have both found success in the Grid. Singularity’s Hibbs has been one of the biggest rising stars of Season X thus far and Triple Trouble are in 5th in Grid points. All three teams will be playing in Regional 3 but Singularity is sitting just outside the top 16 in RLCS points and will need a particularly good performance if they want to qualify for the fall split major.
Swiss Stage 2
(Saturday, 5th September)
When we got to Stage 2, the best teams in the region separated themselves from the rest.
This became obvious as the top two teams from Regional 1—Team BDS and Top Blokes—were the first two teams to qualify for the top 8 and received the top 2 seeds for the playoffs. Neither team even went to Game 5 in any of their matches. Only Barcelona was able to take a game off BDS in Round 3, and TrainHard and Giants were both able to take one game off of Top Blokes.
Round 4 saw some incredible matches. Vitality, who dropped their Round 1 match to Barrage in five games, racked up three straight wins to qualify for the playoffs, taking out Barca in Round 4. Barca then went on to beat Monkeys in Round 5 to qualify. Fadeaway and Vodafone Giants were the other 3-1 teams with both having their only loss to Top Blokes.
The biggest comeback story of the day was Guild who were swept in their first two matches by BDS and Solary. Facing elimination for three consecutive matches, Guild won three straight matches, all by a game score of 3-1. Their Round 3 win came against Team Liquid who faltered completely on the day and were eliminated after a depressing 0-3 performance. They then came against Endpoint who really got screwed over by the results of other matches.
After beating Solary in Round 1, Endpoint came up against reigning champs team BDS, losing in a sweep, and then Vitality, a consensus top 4 team, losing in a sweep again. Guild beat Endpoint 3-1 and then Libertas in Round 5 to miraculously qualify for playoffs as the 8 seed.
The other 3-2 team from Stage 2, Barrage, was probably the surprise of the tournament. A bubble team that had the gusto to take down Oxygen the week prior managed to beat Vitality, Solary, and Magnifico over the course of the day.
Liquid easily had the most disappointing performance of the day: they went 0-3 with losses to TrainHard, Vitality, and Guild.
Liquid are currently on the outside of the Fall Major looking in as they sit at 18th place in RLCS points. They are sitting in a dangerously similar situation to Oxygen but without the luxury of a top 2 grid spot. They have no shot of qualifying through the grid so it’s imperative Liquid has a strong Regional 3. If they don’t, they may also fail to qualify for the Fall Major.
(Sunday, 6th September)
The playoffs kicked off with the 3-6 matchup between Giants and FC Barcelona. A dominant offensive performance gave Giants the win in 4 games.
Tox, Stake, and Zamue have cemented themselves as one of the most potent offensives in not just Europe but the world. Each player has the potential to pop off and carry a series, but none of them had to do that against Barca, who is still sitting solidly in top 8 with their new addition Itachi.
The next matchup—between 2nd seed top Blokes and 7th seed Barrage—was, to say the least, one-sided. In unsurprising fashion, Top Blokes stomped out the underdogs in a sweep as Archie looked like the best rookie in the world. Seriously, Scrub Killa was right about this kid. He has serious mechanical chops and seems to be the driving force behind Top Blokes’s extremely successful playstyle shift from their time with Freakii on Veloce.
The third quarterfinal match was likely the best one, as Vitality and Libertas battled it out to an intense Game 5 that Vitality won with a single last-minute goal. This came after an intense 7-minute overtime in Game 4 that Libertas won to force Game 5. This was easily the most intense match of the quarterfinals and probably the playoffs as a whole.
The last quarterfinals match, between BDS and Guild, also went to Game 5, although it was less close than the series before. A 4-0 game five proved BDS as the team to beat and sent them to a semifinal rematch with Vitality.
The last three matches of the tournament shared a common theme: None of them were particularly close. While these four teams—BDS, Vitality, Giants, and Top Blokes—are considered by many to be the top 4 teams in Europe at the moment, BDS and Giants separated themselves as a clear top 2.
Giants, after splitting the first two games with Top Blokes, went on to win three in a row in dominant fashion to be the first team to make the grand finals.
BDS, in somewhat similar fashion, dropped their first two games against Vitality before roaring back and winning four straight. In games 3-6, BDS absolutely dominated all facets of the game, never really giving Vitality a chance to breathe. Vitality seems to have found their kryptonite, although it does appear that right now, Team BDS is everyone in Europe’s kryptonite. This includes the Vodafone Giants.
The grand finals were, once again, not close. Team BDS swept the Giants to become back-to-back European regional champions.
Extra, M0nkey M00n, and MaRc_By_8 are all arguably top 5 players in the region right now and are all playing on the same team. With a nearly unstoppable offense that punishes every mistake while also creating its own opportunities on top of one of the most stone wall-like defenses in the world, nobody else is even in the conversation for best team in Europe right now.
Regional 3 and, as far as I’m concerned, the fall split as a whole are completely Team BDS’s to lose.
Matches to watch
Team BDS vs. Renault Vitality: Semifinal #2
Team BDS vs. Guild Esports: Quarterfinal #4
Renault Vitality vs. Libertas: Quarterfinal #3
Barrage Esports vs. Oxygen Esports: Swiss stage 1 Group A: Round 5
Renault Vitality vs. Team Liquid: Swiss Stage 2: Round 2
Finally, if you want to watch the full playoffs of the EU Regional 2 final day then here is the full video