We’ve made it to the final split of RLCS Season X, and the stakes are higher than ever before.
With only 20 teams competing in each regional event as opposed to 32 from the fall and 24 from the winter, every match matters just that much more. We’ve reached the do-or-die point of the season for teams on the world’s bubble and the new format will prove who has what it takes to compete on the world stage.
Will we have a dark horse team come and steal a qualification spot? Or are the teams at the top right now the same teams that will be at the top in May? And if so, will the seeding order change?
Only time will tell but that doesn’t mean we can’t make predictions. Here are my predictions for the 16 teams we’ll see at the RLCS X World Championships, as well as the teams that’ll just miss the cut:
#1) Team BDS
Surprising absolutely nobody, I have BDS as my #1 seed coming out of the European region.
Sitting at nearly 900 points above second place, they’ve already mathematically clinched a Worlds spot only two-thirds of the way through the season.
And they have shown no signs of slowing down. Evan “M0nkey M00n” Rogez has continued his individual dominance as he continues to look like the most well-rounded player in the region, if not the world. Along with the unrivaled support of Alex “Extra” Paoli and Marc “MaRc_By_8” Domingo, Team BDS is looking to utterly dominate Europe for the third consecutive split.
It would take an incredible BDS meltdown combined with a herculean split from Team Vitality if we wanted to see a change to Europe’s top seed and the odds of that happening are slim to none.
BDS should, and almost certainly will, enter the World Championships as the European favorites.
#2) Team Vitality
While the crown of Europe has undeniably been passed on to Team BDS, Team Vitality’s dominance over the rest of the region has gone somewhat unnoticed. Despite sitting over 800 points behind BDS, Vitality are still a sound 520 points above the third-place Top Blokes.
With Yanis “Alpha54” Champenois leading the offensive charge, Vitality has been able to put everyone except BDS in their place, being the only team besides BDS to reach more than two grand finals this season.
Victor “Fairy Peak!” Locquet has maintained his reputation as a near-perfect teammate, as three-time World Champion Alexandre “Kaydop” Courant has had a bit of a resurgence near the end of the Winter split.
BDS may be in a league of their own, but Vitality are still far and away the “best of the rest.” Although it’s still nearly impossible for them to steal the top spot, Vitality is still a very safe bet for Europe’s second seed.
#3) Giants Gaming
The Giants are the first team I have moving up from their current ranking, leapfrogging Top Blokes into the third seed.
After the acquisition of Amine “itachi” Benayachi, Giants Gaming had an incredibly impressive Winter split. Their performance in Regional 3 was particularly admirable as not only did they defeat BDS in the Winner’s finals, but also took them to a whopping 13 games in the grand finals.
Itachi was a stud all split, and with the offensive prowess and speed of Samuel “Zamué” Cortés and Marc “Stake” Bosch by his side, Giants are consistently threatening the top two teams in the region.
While their 12th-8th place performance in the Winter Major was one they’d like to forget, they’re still only 180 points behind a slightly slumping Top Blokes. Their Worlds spot is all but secured but the Giants still have seeding to play for and are my pick for the third seed.
Likely my boldest prediction, I have Dignitas jumping over Top Blokes to enter Worlds as the fourth seed.
Easily the most improved team from the fall split, Dignitas are coming off back-to-back third-place finishes in Regional 3 and the Winter Major.
Pairing mechanical genius Jorus “Joreuz” Robben with another 1v1 legend and friend in Jack “ApparentlyJack” Benton has proven to be arguably the best roster move of the Fall trade window, as Dignitas lept five spots in the rankings over the course of the Winter Split.
Two-time world champ Jos “ViolentPanda” van Muers has begun to look like his old self again despite his battle with arthritis and their chemistry has been absolutely world-class.
Dignitas are most certainly on the upswing and they’re more than capable of making up the 400 points they need to catch Top Blokes and enter the World Championships as Europe’s fourth seed.
#5) Top Blokes
I have Top Blokes dropping to the fifth seed not so much because I’m down on them but more because I’m up on Giants and Dignitas. There is no denying, however, that the European Winter Regional 2 champions haven’t quite looked the same over the last month.
While Archie “archie” Pickthall has continued to look like one of the strongest and most consistent players in the region, Top Blokes had an unfortunate first-round exit in Regional 3 and an underwhelming sixth-place finish in the Winter Major.
We will need to see a bit of a resurgence from captain Jack “FlamE” Pearton and Andy “Kassio” Landais if Top Blokes wants to maintain their current third-place ranking.
With how strong Dignitas and Giants have looked recently, that may prove to be a challenge. Regardless, it would take a serious meltdown for Top Blokes to lose out on their worlds spot altogether, which is highly unlikely for a team with their capabilities.
I have Solary (formerly Oxygen Esports) as my dark horse pick to steal the highly-contested sixth spot in Europe. Although they currently sit in tenth place, there is only a measly 180 points sitting between them and Guild, the current sixth-place team.
While there are five teams who could realistically take this spot and Oxygen is the lowest in points of all of them, I’m still choosing them for one very specific reason: Belgian star Maello “AztraL” Ernst.
Despite the turmoil, AztraL has still looked like the most mechanically gifted player in the world throughout the season and has almost single-handedly kept Solary in contention for the World Championships. However, as the season has progressed, veterans Thibault “Chausette45” Grzesiak and Victor “Ferra” Francal have been heating up as Solary has placed better and better with each passing event.
If Solary continue on this upward trend, it’s more than just a distant possibility that they can sneak into the Worlds, and if AztraL can return to his Season 9 form, it seems more like an inevitability.
Predictions for 7-10:
7: Guild Esports
8: Galaxy Racer
9: Team Queso
The announcement of popular YouTuber Musty as their sub, while great for publicity, seemed to distract from the fact that NRG has just won the Winter Major and, for the first time since Fall Regional 2, are sitting at #1 in RLCS points in North America.
The trio of Garrett “GarrettG” Gordon, Justin “jstn” Morales, and Mariano “Squishy” Arruda has only missed out on two grand finals all season, a boast no team in the world besides BDS can make.
There’s very little to say about this team that hasn’t already been said. Not only are they arguably the most consistent team in North America, they’re also the most popular team with possibly the highest ceiling.
Although only 200 points separate them and second place Team Envy, there is absolutely no reason to believe that any team can pass NRG in points before the World Championships. Since the top teams in North America have been trading matches back and forth all season, NRG going into the Spring Split with a 200 point advantage could prove to be the difference-maker.
#2) Team Envy
It’s quite telling that a fourth- and third-place finish in Winter Regional 3 and the Winter Major respectively is considered a “slump” for this team.
Nick “mist” Costello has continued to look like an MVP all season, providing an incredibly solid backbone for the team. Of course, there’s also four-time World Champion Pierre “Turbopolsa” Silfver, whose results still speak for himself, and Massimo “Atomic” Franceschi has continued to showcase his brilliant mechanics as he helps lead their offensive charge.
Team Envy is frequently referred to as the team with the highest floor in the region and for good reason. They’re so consistent that it seems their worst is still better than 95% of teams out there, which is why I don’t have them going anywhere after the Spring Split is said and done.
No team could say they had as much improvement over the Winter Split as Rogue. The addition of Alexandre “Taroco” Reis Pedrogam has easily been the best roster move of the midseason as Rogue has vaulted themselves into the upper echelon of North America with a win in Regional 3 and a second-place finish in the Winter Major.
Of course, there’s no talking about Rogue without mentioning Jason “Firskiller” Corral. Firskiller has been nothing short of the best player in the world the last several months, as his unmatched mechanics and speed have been the difference-maker in almost every match they play.
Leonardo “Turinturo” Wilson has also made a jump over the Winter Split, smoothing out many of his defensive flaws and transforming himself into an all-around monster and one of the best players in the region.
Their insane performance on Day 4 of the major, in which they swept Spacestation, The Peeps, and Team Envy consecutively will surely be remembered for a long time.
Rogue has all of the momentum in the world behind them going into the Spring Split, which is why I have them jumping into the 3rd seed for the World Championships.
#4) Spacestation Gaming
Spacestation are the only team in North America I have going down in the rankings over the course of the Spring Split.
In the fall, it appeared that adding Slater “Retals” Thomas would go down as one of the best roster moves of the season, if not RLCS history, as SSG was absolutely torching everyone in North America. Tshaka “Arsenal” Lateef Taylor Jr. had transformed into a top 10 mechanical player and Caden “Sypical” Pellegrin looked like the best player in the world by a noticeable margin.
The Winter Split was a much different story, however, as lacklustre performances in both Regionals 1 and 3 led to them dropping from first to third in RLCS points.
While they’re still comfortably a top-four team in the region, there’s now more emphasis on the “four” than the “top.” It’s completely dependent on whether we see their Fall form or their Winter form, but don’t be surprised if SSG drops a spot or two before the World Championships.
#5) The Peeps
With rumors circulating that The Peeps are in talks with FaZe Clan, it’s no wonder that their star player Austin “AyyJayy” Aebi turned down an offer to replace Dillon “Rizzo” Rizzo on G2.
Regardless of the rumors, AyyJayy has transformed himself from a “mechanical monkey” (a term used to describe players who prioritize flashy goals over clean rotation and solid defense) into one of the most solid all-around players in the entire world over the course of Season X.
Teammates Jirar “Gyro” Papazian and Braxton “Allushin” Lagarec have showcased incredible chemistry with each other and AyyJayy as well as The Peeps have turned into one of the most feared teams in North America. Given the fact that they’re capable of upsetting any of the teams above them on any given day, “Don’t sleep on the peeps” has become gospel in NA.
While it would take an incredible run to actually win an event, The Peeps’ ability to consistently place top-six has them sitting in fifth place. They really don’t need to improve to hold onto their spot, they just can’t regress. However, given their play in the winter, I believe their spot is safe.
#6) G2 Esports
If you would have told me that G2 would be North America’s sixth seed going into the World Championships before the season started I would have laughed at you incessantly but that seems to be where we’re going.
Simply put, G2 has not looked like a top team in North America all season. Their unique hyper-aggressive playstyle has had Rizzo seeing less touches than almost any other player in North America as Reed “Chicago” Wilen and Jacob “JKnaps” Knapman have scored the vast majority of G2’s goals.
But while both of them have incredible pop-off potential, we’ve yet to see it anywhere except the Grid. G2 has yet to make a grand final all season. And in their current form, they certainly won’t in the Spring. They’re a clear step behind the top four teams and are now much more comparable to The Peeps in terms of who they’re expected to beat and lose to.
While I still have them holding on to their Worlds Spot, it is by no means guaranteed as KCP sits only 140 points behind them.
Predictions for 7-10
7: Kansas City Pioneers
8: Pittsburgh Knights
9: Alpine Esports
#1) Ground Zero Gaming
As it stands right now, Ground Zero Gaming is the best team in the RLCS outside of Europe and North America.
Luke “Amphis” Riddell is likely the best non-North American, non-European player in the world (outside of the members of KSA’s Sandrock Gaming. Psyonix, if you’re reading this, let Middle Eastern teams compete in Europe.), and the addition of KBM legend Daniel “Torsos” Parsons in the Fall trade window has only improved his game. All the while, Jonathan “Express” Slade has played the perfect support role, allowing Amphis and Torsos to dominate the rest of the region on the offensive side of the ball.
Coming off a Major Championship, GZG is the easy pick for OCE’s top seed going into the World Championships.
#2) Cringe Society
At OCE’s second seed post-Spring Split, I have Cringe Society, the current second-place team in the Region. They find themselves in a position quite similar to that of Vitality in Europe, sitting behind GZG by nearly 500 points but sitting above third place by nearly 400.
Trading Torsos for Tom “Julz” Jullienne came back to bite them a bit as they haven’t been able to get over the hump that is this new Ground Zero roster, but Alex “Decka” Tsoutsouras and Matthew “Drippay” Den-Kaat have continued to look like two of the best all-around players in the region.
They are, by all metrics, an incredibly solid second-place team that’s unlikely to pass the top team but just as unlikely to be passed by the rest. While they haven’t made a grand final since Winter Regional 1, it would still take one team finding a new level of consistency to pass this unsigned roster before the Spring Split ends.
Predictions for 3-6
5: Dire Wolves
6: R!OT Gaming
#1) Novus Aevi
South America has a somewhat unique dynamic in comparison to the rest of the regions in the RLCS; the region has been a two-team race all season and neither team has really been able to pull ahead.
Only 131 points separate True Neutral and Novus, the smallest margin between the top two seeds in any region. However, I have the Brazillian trio and reigning Winter Major champions taking the top spot.
The team has some of the best chemistry on the planet as they’re quite literally the only team from the Season 8 World Championships to still have the same roster. Gabriel “Caard” Vieira Cardoso and Enzo “Tander” Toledo provide one of the most potent offenses in the world with Caio “CaioTG1” Vinicius rounding out their uniquely solid rotation.
If any team from SAM can make a real splash at Worlds, I believe it’s the current longest standing trio in the region.
#2) True Neutral
I really don’t have much reason to put Novus above TN other than the fact that they’re the team with which I’m more familiar and the team with more LAN experience (although that really shouldn’t have any bearing on their seedings going into Worlds).
However, there’s no denying that at times, True Neutral looks like they could give even BDS a run for their money. Argentinian star Lautaro “ajg” Gusinsky has consistently been battling it out with Amphis in my brain for “best non-NA or EU player” as Facundo “SHADDD” Vallerino and Victor “Reysbull” Duran Parra both provide gargantuan offensive support.
They became the first non-Brazillian team to win an A-tier South American event earlier in the season and have made every single grand final all season. Even as the second seed from one of the “minor” regions, TN easily has the potential to shock the world with a Cinderella run at the World Championships.
Predictions for 3-6:
3: Noble Esports
5: Carnage Gaming