In the Intel World Open – the 2020 Tokyo Olympics tie-in event – Rocket League players will represent their nation in an official event for the first time ever.
Originally, the tournament would have taken place in Tokyo, Japan as an offline competition with the world’s best nations. Due to COVID-19, they’ll be online regional tournaments. Here’s who has qualified for the EMEA finals. The other regions are the Americas, Asia Mainland, and Asia Maritime and Oceania.
- David “Deevo” Morrow (Guild Esports)
- Joseph “noly” Kidd (Guild Esports)
- Archie “archie” Pickthall (Top Blokes)
The United Kingdom had its own qualifiers that were chock full of big-time RLCS players. Ultimately, it was the “Scouse, Scouse, Loiner” squad that made it through.
Composed of two Guild Esports teammates and a rising superstar in Archie — who all finished in top six in the EU RLCS — the roster was the favorite headed into the UK closed qualifiers. Despite heavy competition in the region, the trio that made it are simply too skilled and experienced to be taken down by their peers. Additionally, the fact that two out of three players are gelled teammates makes the UK one of the favorites heading into the EMEA finals. However, the competition is fierce and they will have to pull out all the stops if they want to bring Rocket League home.
- Alexandre “Kaydop” Courant (Team Vitality)
- Victor “Fairy Peak!” Locquet (Team Vitality)
- Yanis “Alpha54” Champenois (Team Vitality)
France is arguably the most stacked country in Europe but, out of all the French rosters, Team Vitality would have had no excuse if they hadn’t made it. Rosters that already play together as a team in the RLCS naturally have an advantage. But, Team Vitality is not just an RLCS team. They are the European RLCS Season X Champions and a world-class team for years.
It is no surprise, then, that the trio qualified to represent France. When the team is in form, they seem to be nigh unstoppable. However, they looked a little more shaky during the qualifiers; despite reaching the grand final via the upper bracket. They got bracket reset by star players such as Evan “M0nkey M00n” Rogez. And, they were forced to close it out in the second series.
In the end though, out of all the serious contenders, Team Vitality is the clear favorite going into the IWO EMEA finals. They are the team to beat and it’s going to be a tough task to take them down in their current form.
- Riccardo “Rizex45” Mazzotta (German Amigos)
- Leonardo “Catalysm” Christ Ramos (German Amigos)
- Damian “Tox” Schäfer (SK Gaming)
Germany is a well-represented country in the RLCS, but the three that qualified to represent their nation in the IWO are not the veterans one might know. Despite that, all three players are on good teams. Rizex45 and Catalysm are teammates on the orgless German Amigos. Tox, in turn, is on the newly formed SK Gaming — which has shown promise in the last split of the season.
The German trio, then, are not necessarily the powerhouse names of old. But, they are part of the new batch of German top players and have a chance to make it far into the tournament.
Europe West: The Netherlands
- Thomas “ThO” Binkhorst (Guild Esports)
- Mike “Mikeboy” Verkuijlen (Rix.gg)
- Ole “Oaly” van Doorn (Wolves Esports)
The Netherlands were not given their own regional with a guaranteed spot at the IWO finals. They had to play through the Europe West qualifier where, like many other countries, The Netherlands fielded multiple teams.
In the closed qualifiers, the Dutch trio fought their way through one Italian and two Spanish teams, all featuring high-caliber RLCS players. They qualified after an eventful run with Game 5 overtimes, a bracket reset in the final and a host of individual highlight plays.
The Netherlands had to bring everything they had in order to qualify. However, in doing so, they turned themselves into a contender to take it all.
Europe East: Czech Republic
- Marek “Nalmon” Weiser (ENTERPRISE Esports)
- Petr “Lauty” Lauterkranc (ENTERPRISE Esports)
- Jakub “Syracks” Mužík (Teamless)
The Europe East IWO qualifiers consisted mostly of underdog teams at the finals. The region is not well-represented in the RLCS and, out of the three Czech players that made it to the final, Lauty is the one that fans may recognize the most. Since the early days of Rocket League, the mouse and keyboard player has made multiple attempts at making it into the RLCS. But, he only managed to make it into the lower division of the Rival Series, or to a sub spot for Fnatic.
Czech Republic beat the likes of Poland (twice) and Hungary in the closed qualifiers, but the true test will come at the finals when they will play against EMEA’s best.
Europe North: Norway
- Jonas “FiremanJonas” Lohne (AW3 Esports)
- Sebastian “Seeb” Ferrada Falch (AW3 Esports)
- Jørgen “Inferno” Klaastad (AW3 Esports)
Europe North has more RLCS players than Europe East. However, it was an unexpected team without RLCS players that made it to the finals. Having beaten RLCS legends such as the Finnish Joonas “Mognus” Salo and Otto “Metsanauris” Kaipiainen, the Norwegians had the benefit of playing as a full roster during the regular season.
The Norwegian trio is not experienced on the grand stage. None of the players have ever made it to the RLCS; although Seeb has played in its qualifiers going back all the way to season 6. The players have a hefty task ahead of them when they go up against Europe’s best in the Intel World Open.
Middle east: Saudi Arabia
- Ahmad “Ahmad” Abdullah (Sandrock Gaming)
- Khalid “oKhaliD” Qasim (Sandrock Gaming)
- Ahmed “SENZO” Ayed (Sandrock Gaming)
The Saudi Arabian team is composed of the full roster of Sandrock Gaming. The region has been the no. 1 request to be added to the RLCS. However, they’ll have to make do with show matches, regional tournaments and now, the IWO.
Sandrock Gaming was the heavy favorite going into the qualifiers. The team had lost just a single series in a middle eastern tournament. However, they did not look like themselves in the closed qualifiers and suffered their second loss at the hands of Falcons Esports. Sandrock fought their way back to the grand final, but they needed a bracket reset against Falcons. After an intense reverse sweep in the first series, Sandrock forced said bracket reset and then took down the thorn in their side 3-1 to make their way to the IWO EMEA finals.
Saudi Arabia was expected to be one of the favorites at the IWO EMEA final. But, after their struggle in the qualifiers, expectations have lowered. They had a couple of weeks to get back in shape, though.
Africa: South Africa
- Gareth “Snowyy” Spiers (Orlando Pirates Exdee)
- cpZebra (Orlando Pirates Exdee)
- Darth (Orlando Pirates Exdee)
When one thinks of new regions to add to the RLCS, Africa is usually not one of them. The region has never truly shown what they can do and the players, therefore, will be complete unknowns to fans outside the region. Aside from Amine “itachi” Benayachi, who moved from Morocco to Spain to play for FC Barcelona and Vodafone Giants in the European RLCS, no African players have made a name for themselves outside of the region. Snowyy is the only small exception to this, as he was featured on RLCS caster John “Johnnyboi_i” MacDonald’s stream in a 2019 show match.
The closed qualifiers consisted completely of South African teams. The open qualifiers had a handful of other nations such as Egypt, Kenya and Reúnion, but they mostly had teams from South Africa.
The country faces a difficult time in the IWO finals: not only are they an underdog but they have the server distance against them as well. African servers are located in South Africa with nothing in between, so the South Africans will also be at a ping disadvantage.