Getting swept in the Fall Major was not what Rogue had been hoping for. After getting their axles blown off by G2, Rogue decided to part ways with one of the sport’s legends, Kronovi. One of the original greats, the two-time North American champion was let go and replaced by Taroco, the seventeen-year-old standout from team Plot Twist. The move put him next to Turintoro (also seventeen) and fifteen-year-old prodigy Firstkiller as the team looked to become younger and faster to elevate their game to the next level.
Twelve days after the move, Rogue brought its new roster into The Grid and they looked solid in the tournament, making it all the way to the Quarterfinals before losing to none other than G2. Now — just over two weeks later — Rogue was here in the North American (NA) Regional event staring down the same G2 roster that has been haunting them.
Both teams appeared locked-in heading into this Winner’s Semifinal matchup. Rogue had easily dealt with XSET and Version1, only dropping a single game on their path. G2 also looked dominant, clapping Sonics and EUnited without dropping a single game. Rizzo had looked on fire for G2 and Rogue was playing up to blistering speeds behind Firstkiller.
Game one saw Rizzo and Chicago dropping dime-passes to JKnaps, but his lackluster shooting (1–6) ended up burying them as Rogue took the 3–2 overtime victory. In the next match, Rizzo’s up-and-down performance led G2 to another overtime defeat. Rizzo was beaten to key balls off kickoff and let up a saveable goal midway through the Game before missing an overtime wall-read which led to a wide-open Rogue 3–2 victory shot.
In this seven-game series, G2 was starting to feel the pressure. This was made even worse after being shut out in Game three, as Firstkiller was a massive headache for them. Firstkiller’s persistent jumping of passing lanes and physical play put Rogue on match point, up 3–0. G2 refused to go down that easily, punching Rogue in the mouth with three early goals in Game four. They showed off some sick passing plays as Firskiller still looked eye-popping in the loss.
Still showing signs of life, G2 followed up their first win with a very quick two goals in Game five. However, this young Rogue team showed incredible poise, dropping three response goals and sending G2 to the Loser’s bracket, taking the series 4–1.
Overall, Rogue showed their incredible speed and Firstkiller continues to show why he’s considered one of the best players in North America. Tomorrow, they will continue on the warpath to the Winner’s Finals match against NV. Rogue looked great in this match against a G2, a team that is considered one of the top four teams in NA.
How did this happen?
The only place to start is with Firstkiller who has been a heat-seeking missile of a player in this tournament. So far he is responsible for half of his team’s MVPs and nearly half of Rogue’s goals, scoring 46.4% of all points for them. While also collecting nearly 41% of Rogue’s overall score, Firstkiller is currently leading all players in this tournament in score per minute and goals per game at 465.75 and 1.08, respectively. Turinturo is helping Firstkiller shine, averaging 0.83 assists per game as Taroco continues to find his place with his new team.
For G2, the offensive juggernaut was stripped of a key part of their attack. Leading into this matchup, G2 had assisted on all but four of their fifteen goals. Chicago was leading the tournament at 0.91 assists per game and all three G2 players ranking top-ten in shots per game with Chicago shooting a whopping 4.36. This lethal pace allowed G2 to average 2.5 goals per game heading into their matchup against Rogue. Unfortunately, Firstkiller was all over them jumping passes in the mid-lane where G2 loves to get plays started. With Turinturo and Taroco playing similar roles, G2’s average shots per game fell from nearly thirteen in their first two series to only 9.4 against Rogue. With the significant drop in shot opportunities being coupled with G2 shooting a paltry 17% on the series, Rogue cleaned them up easily.
As G2 drops to the losers bracket, they will need to improve this accuracy. This is even more important to fix as they go up against a Pittsburgh Knights team that is saving the highest percentage of goals in the tournament at over 79%.
For Rogue, they will look to continue to feed Firstkiller as they go head-to-head with NV who just doused a red-hot Ghost team in their Winner’s Semifinal match. If Firstkiller continues to play how he has been it’s not unreasonable to expect Rogue to push for a Regional win, which would be a massive statement for the team who just recently re-tooled.
For G2, they will have to play cleaner if they want to keep being looked to as one of the best teams in North America and the World. For a team that was just in the World Finals three seasons ago, G2 risks becoming the next piece of the old-guard to fall from the top. Perhaps young teams like Rogue are a sign of the changing times in the RLCS.