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It is December of 2019 in Madrid, Spain, and North American Rocket League legend Garrett “GarrettG” Gordon finally lifts the RLCS Season 8 World Championship trophy after seven seasons of losses. Following an intense and iconic match against Team Vitality in the grand final, defending world champion Victor “Fairy Peak!” Locquet passes on the crown to NRG Esports.

Hugging GarrettG, he tells him, “I’m so happy for you.”

That was the last time fans saw Rocket League players on an RLCS stage — two full years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic moving matches online.

Now, with the first RLCS LAN since GarrettG took home the title starting on Wednesday in Stockholm, Sweden, players have been dwelling on what it means to return to or debut on the international Rocket League stage.

LANs are about more than the game for Fairy Peak!

Fairy Peak! at the 2019 RLCS Season 8 World Championship LAN
Fairy Peak! at RLCS Season 8 World Championship with coach Mike “Gregan” Ellis behind him. | Provided by Zeebo

Fairy Peak! of Team Vitality has been one of the greatest Rocket League veterans since his RLCS Season 7 World Championship victory and Season 8 silver medal. However, Team Vitality almost did not make it to the 2021-2022 Fall Split Major, so their return to LAN after two years is even more significant for FairyPeak!.

“A LAN is really different from playing at home or even in boot camp,” Fairy Peak! said. “You can meet all the players you play all day on ranked and tournament here, you can hang out with friends you made on the game. It’s not just about playing on LAN — it’s about the whole trip, and it’s really, really something we wanted.”

Enjoying that sense of togetherness will be all the more important considering the fact that, despite Team Vitality being the longest-standing roster at the Fall Split Major, they have yet to play a LAN together. Yanis “Alpha54” Champenois joined the team in January of 2020 following Vitality’s grand final loss in Season 8. And since Alpha54 never got to help his team win back the crown from NRG Esports after the RLCS Season 9 World Championship’s cancellation, Team Vitality will need to click to do so now.

CJCJ’s special return to LAN at the RLCS Fall Split Major

CJCJ at the RLCS Season 6 World Championship LAN
CJCJ at the RLCS Season 6 World Championship. | Provided by Psyonix

Cameron “CJCJ” Johns, who competes in the Oceanic region with Renegades, has been absent from an RLCS LAN for more than three years since he failed to qualify for the Season 7 and 8 World Championship. However, the joyful Australian, famous for his positive attitude and funny stage walkouts, is finally returning for the international LAN.

“Obviously it’s been a couple of years since the last Rocket League LAN, so it’s going to be a pretty significant one for players and fans alike,” CJCJ said. “It really is special to me. I feel that my past successes and failures have all led me to this point and I couldn’t be more excited to share the experience with [Renegades].”

Renegades looked strong in Oceania this season, having beaten rivals and last season’s OCE RLCS winners Ground Zero Gaming twice in a regional grand final. But their true test comes in Stockholm, where they will face Europe’s No. 1 seed, Team Endpoint, in the first round.

Senzo is ready to make his debut

Sandrock Gaming have long been hyped up as one of the best Rocket League teams, even though they haven’t been eligible to play in the RLCS as a team from the Middle East. This season, however, that all changed when the region officially joined the competition along with Asia.

SRG will finally make their first appearance on LAN as the Middle East’s representatives, and while SRG superstar Khalid “oKhaliD” Qasim is unable to attend the event due to personal reasons, it gives substitute Ahmed “Senzo” Ayed a chance to step up.

“It means a lot competing in an international LAN, especially for the first time, in order to get used to the pressure the team is about to take and become better for future majors,” Senzo said. “Although, it would be a lot better if they were with Khalid since they always play together. But, hopefully I can fill in the deep gap Khalid left for me.”

Since oKhaliD’s announcement, SRG are considered to have somewhat lower chances of success at the RLCS Fall Major than before. Still, don’t count out Senzo. He was part of the trio that reigned over the Middle East for years with oKhaliD and Ahmad “Ahmad” Abdullah. He is the perfect candidate to fill OKhaliD’s large shoes.

Complexity Gaming represent both NA and SAM

North America has a unique representative this major in Complexity Gaming. After convincingly winning the South American RLCS in Season X, they moved to Mexico ahead of the 2021-2022 season in order to compete in North America.

“Our LAN qualification shows how quickly we’ve been able to progress as a team. It’s incredibly exciting,” the team jointly said in an email to Upcomer. “Especially since coming to North America to compete, we knew the competition was going to be much tougher.”

Just like everybody else, Complexity had not expected last season’s No. 2, Spacestation Gaming, to not make it to Stockholm, Sweden to play in the RLCS Fall Major. However, they said they are very happy with their performance this season.

To Complexity, it is a dream come true “to be able to represent our roots, to represent each other’s country, to represent ourselves as a roster itself, to represent Complexity Gaming, to represent the people who always follow us,” they said. “We believe that this encompasses all of us and we are very happy to have the chance to play our first LAN.”

Teams eager to compete at the RLCS Fall Major

The RLCS Fall Major, for all involved, is about getting back into the swing of things after such a long break. All aforementioned players shared that they simply want to play teams from the other regions again while reacquainting themselves with the LAN format.

“I think for this first event, it’s all about just getting young [Lachlan “Fever” Aitchison] some experience on the international stage in a LAN format,” CJCJ said about his Renegades teammate. “It’s his first taste of the upper echelon of Rocket League and I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do and working with [Cameron “Kamii” Ingram] to create the best environment for him to succeed and grow.”

CJCJ did admit, however, that the overall excitement of being back at LAN may lead to some shaky series from every team. But, he added that the playoffs will probably still be top-tier Rocket League.

“I can’t wait to show the other regions what we’ve been working on the past few months and testing ourselves against the best,” CJCJ said. “I’m absolutely pumped.”

RLCS Season 6 Tainted Minds CJCJ Exress Shadey Yumi_cheeseman
CJCJ’s (left) walkout with Tainted Minds at the RLCS Season 6 World Championships. | Provided by Psyonix

Meanwhile, Sandrock Gaming have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to international experience, so Senzo is just going to take the opportunity to learn for now.

“I expect to gain some experience on LAN since it is our first time playing internationally, and focusing later on how to use that experience to accomplish great things,” Senzo said.

Meanwhile, the Complexity players look at the Fall Major in a similar vein, even though they feel the competition is even.

“It has been two years since the last one was made and we feel that we are all going to be very excited to play against the best teams in the world knowing that could be us in the future,” Complexity said. “It’s going to be something magical.”

But, where there are debutants, there are seasoned veterans. Fairy Peak! lost his previous LAN by a single goal, so the Season 7 world champion and Season 8 runner-up just wants to get back to where he left off. Meanwhile, Team Vitality don’t want to aim for anything but the title.

“I’m pretty excited to play the NA, SAM, APAC and OCE team on scrim/LAN,” Fairy Peak! said. “It’s a different playstyle and, usually, we can play against them every two to three months. But now it’s been two years and I really want to play them again.”

But, while the newcomers will try to make their mark, RLCS host Brody “Liefx” Moore believes North America and Europe will continue their dominance. He tempered expectations for a push from the other regions.

“MAYBE South America, and SRG will be fun to watch, but they will need some more time to get experience from LANs like this,” Liefx said via DM. “I hope by the end of the season we see those regions start to flourish a bit more.”

It could take time for the smaller regions to get used to the established level of Europe and North America, but teams like Complexity have shown proof of improvement from teams originally outside NA and EU. Now that the RLCS is almost entirely global, the regions will only improve they battle to outplay each other. At the RLCS Fall Major, viewers will finally get their first taste of the action.

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