The Rocket League Championship Series is starting up again on Friday, Oct. 8, with RLCS qualifiers for a host of regions, including the new Asia Pacific South and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions. APAC North will play their qualifiers and main event one week later.
But with three new regions in the RLCS, who are the teams and players to watch from Asia, Middle East and North Africa? Here’s an introduction to the top teams and players from the new regions.
Middle East & North Africa
The Middle East has been ruled by Sandrock Gaming since 2018. The trio of Ahmad “Ahmad” Abdullah, Khalid “oKhaliD” Qasim and Ahmed “Senzo” Ayed was nearly unbeatable over a three-year period until Senzo’s recent break from Rocket League. Since then, Sandrock have started to struggle somewhat with their new member, Mohammed “trk511” Alotaibi.
The new addition brings a high level of individual skill, but Sandrock have traded Senzo’s defensive prowess for trk511’s offensive playing style, giving them a lot of firepower but leaving their defense open to counterattacks. European teams have gladly punished this during offseason tournaments.
They are still considered the strongest team in the MENA region, though, and all three members are players to watch for flashy individual plays.
Their rival, Falcons Esports, recently split up into several teams. Trk511 joined Sandrock, while Yahya “Venom” Alghamdi went to White Falcons, known as RevSol Team in the RLCS. Ali “Ali.” Abdullah went to Green Falcons, simply known as Falcons Esports in the RLCS. These two new teams are top contenders in the region who may be able to give Sandrock a run for their money.
The Ultimates are another team composed of highly-skilled players, including Abdullah “ams” Alsubaie and Fahad “Zez0nix” Ahmed. Both have made a name for themselves in regional tournaments and 1v1 show matches.
Finally, The Invaders are also a decent pick to follow. The roster tends to finish in the top six of Middle Eastern tournaments and may just be able to show some good performances against the top MENA teams.
The Middle East boasts a large number of highly ranked 1v1 players, which makes for a very mechanical region with individual highlights. Fahad “Fahad77” Ali, (RevSol Team), Glowz (ruthlessly), Shinon (sdf) and Fury (sdf) are players to keep an eye on, although RLCS tends to bring out some hidden gems as well.
As a whole, MENA — particularly the Middle East — is a region with a deep pool of individual skill. They now get to put their skill to the test in an official capacity.
Over in Asia, the pool is a bit more shallow. In APAC South, there is one team that stands out: 3Rats. This team is composed of some of the better-known Asian players in Louis “LCT” Thamrun, Max “Maxeew” Ng and Joshua “ballerrees” Tng. 3Rats’ most notable recent finish was in the country-based Intel World Open, where they represented Singapore and finished in second place behind APAC North’s Japan.
RLCS WTF HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAH BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA RLCSSSSSSSS
— Maxeew (@MaxeewRL) September 15, 2021
Behind 3Rats sits 1NE Esports. This team consists of Dika “ripoopi” Utama (Indonesia), Jules “Kaotik” Blondel (French living in Thailand) and Benjamin “Poofy” Yeow (Singapore). They have had reasonable results and may be able to challenge 3Rats. However, beyond the top two in the APAC South region, the drop-off becomes steeper.
While the other teams in APAC S will have more difficulty qualifying for the Asian Qualifier to represent the region in the global major, they are considered up-and-coming. Halal Men are a team that consist of two long-time teammates – Sahid “Kaizen” Mohammed Zaiffy and Kel “Blue” Joe Ang – who picked up a third in Abhai “Abscrazy” Ponna when his previous teammates moved to North America. Abscrazy won the APL Indian National with his former teammates, which cemented them as the best Indian team at the time.
Pineapple Cake, another Indian team, were always behind Abscrazy’s team. Now that they have split up, Pineapple Cake are the top dog in India. However, like any other team beneath 3Rats or 1NE Esports, they are unlikely to make it to the major and beyond, for now.
In APAC North, there is one very clear favorite: Tokyo Verdy. This is a Japanese team with arguably the most well-known Asian player in Shogo “ReaLize” Ikeyama. Along with teammates Itsuki “Maru” Fukuda and Tenhow, he won the Intel World Open Asia Mainland event and has repeatedly battered around the other teams in Asia. They are far and away the favorite to make it to the major via the qualifiers. And, according to various figures we previously spoke with in the Asian scene, ReaLize is the best player in Asia and would not be out of place in higher-skilled RLCS regions.
Following Tokyo Verdy are DeToNator, who are also fully Japanese, with Kenyo “OLPiX” Ito, Shoki “Burn” Minamigawa and Shun “mikan” Yokota. They are considered the second-best team in APAC North, but will likely struggle to take wins off Tokyo Verdy based on past results.
They came in second in the Japanese qualifiers for the Intel World Open and also played against Tokyo Verdy on the RLCS X Championships broadcast in an Asian show match. They lost 0-3 in both meetings.
For fans who would rather cheer for an underdog or a Korean team, look no further than Lucky Bounce. Korea is not known for its strong Rocket League teams, but Lucky Bounce are the best the country has to offer. The organization is also known for having fielded well-known North American players in the past, such as Garrett “GarrettG” Gordon, Mariano “Squishy” Arruda, Jacob “JKnaps” Knapman, Emiliano “Sizz” Benny, Kyle “Torment” Storer and Jason “Klassux” Klass, to name a few.
For the meme dream team, Hilltop Picnic is the answer. This roster consists of fan-favorite Ryan “Doomsee” Graham, a former pro player, content creator and skilled video editor from England, who moved to Japan. He has teamed up with Isaac “Sigms” Cooper and Furlashh, two fairly unknown individually good players with high ranks in 6Mans, a competitive PUG platform for Rocket League players. While they are not expected to make deep runs, they actually do have a chance to put up some decent performances in a region that still has a lot to improve on.
The RLCS begins soon
While the first qualifiers begin on Oct. 8 with the first four regions (NA, MENA, APAC S, OCE), the first main event starts on Oct. 15. That same weekend, the qualifiers for the other four regions (EU, APAC N, SAM, Sub-Saharan Africa) will take place.
A lot of new teams are making their RLCS debut, but in reality, only two from Asia and the Middle East stand a realistic chance at making an impact on the global scene. Sandrock Gaming and Tokyo Verdy will likely be the ones representing their region at the majors and World Championships and they even have a chance at getting some decent results.