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The Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) 2021-22 season has been revealed and it’s a big one. Most notably, Asia, Middle East and Africa are finally allowed to compete.
Psyonix is doing away with the numbered RLCS and will simply call it the RLCS with the year referring to the season, much like traditional sports. After an enormous overhaul to RLCS with Season X in 2020, the 21-22 season includes changes to the format as well as other much-requested features such as new regions, an update to the Esports Shop and the planned return of LANs. With global competition and a $6,000,000 prize pool, Season 21-22 of the RLCS is set to be the biggest season yet. It all starts on Oct. 17 with the first regional event.
RLCS 21-22 adds Asia, Middle East and Africa
The regions of Asia and Middle East started growing desperate after being left out of the RLCS for ten seasons. This season, that all changes. Psyonix is adding three new regions:
- Asia-Pacific (APAC) North
- Asia-Pacific (APAC) South
- Middle East & North Africa (MENA)
Sub-Saharan countries are also getting a chance in the spotlight via regional split events. This gives them two slots at the new World Championship Wildcard event. However, they are not allowed to play at the majors for direct Worlds qualification yet. The other new regions follow the same format as the existing regions.
An update to the format
The current format remains mostly the same in that it stays split between fall, winter and spring. Each split will still have three regional events, capped off by a major. However, this time around, every single event will feature 16 teams, as opposed to a changing number of teams in every split last season.
Like in Season X, teams earn points throughout the events towards World Championship qualification, with majors counting more heavily. The formats are also already confirmed:
- Fall Split: Swiss format into an 8-team single-elimination bracket
- Winter Split: Group stage with four groups of four, seeding into a double-elimination bracket
- Spring Split: double-elimination
The return to LAN competition
LAN events are returning to the RLCS, starting with a player and staff-only major in Stockholm, Sweden from Dec. 8-12.
The two majors following that will be in March of 2022 and June and July of 2022. The World Championships run from July 22 through July 31. Psyonix intends all of these to be on LAN but, as of yet, it’s not confirmed where they are set to be held or whether an audience will be allowed.
With RLCS going global, Psyonix also intends to hold these majors across the world. Previously, RLCS LANs had only been held in Europe and North America. With the 21-22 season of RLCS, LANs will also be held in new regions.
Changes to the RLCS World Championships
Previously, the top six of North America and Europe and the top two of Oceania and South America made it to the RLCS World Championships. Now, however, Worlds is split into two stages: Wildcard and Main Event.
Out of all teams in the world, eight will directly qualify for the Main Event. However, regions are no longer guaranteed a set amount of slots. As Psyonix intends to return to LAN competition for RLCS majors, the regions that perform the best at these majors will determine who gets the most slots. Once all three majors have concluded, the best teams in the top eight of major points will be compared to see which region gets the most auto-qualified slots for the Main Event. Each region can claim five slots, with the rest divided over the other regions.
While eight teams auto-qualify, the other eight will be determined via the World Championship Wildcard event. Sixteen teams qualify for this event, which employs a Swiss format. All regions get at least one guaranteed slot in the Wildcard event. NA and EU get three. MENA, OCE, SAM and Sub-Saharan Africa all get two. Asia North and Asia South each get one. The top eight move on to the Main Event.
The Wildcard and Main Event are both held in the same location as a single week-long event in July of 2022.
Unreal Engine Broadcast features
To spice up the RLCS broadcasts, Psyonix teamed up with their Unreal Engine team. Throughout the season, Psyonix will be able to use this new toolset to relay more information to the audience on the broadcast.
“We’ve partnered with our internal Unreal Engine team to build something future-proof,” Cliff Shoemaker, Director of Esports at Psyonix, said. “It’s something that becomes more nimble for us and gives us the ability to do more with the broadcast. It’s a technology where we can build our own 3D environments, add new features without render timing, stuff like that. We’re going to be able to involve it throughout the year and I’m sure it’ll look different at the end of the year than at the start. But it’s a new toolset for us to relay as much information as possible to the fans in a very, very cool way.”
A brief glimpse was shown during the live stream but Psyonix intends to reveal more of what exactly it can do towards the start of the season.
The Esports Shop gets an update
The Esports Shop was praised when it came out but it has something left to be desired ever since. With RLCS 21-22, Psyonix is bringing it back to life.
Firstly, Oceania and South America will be added to the Esports Shop. More teams are also to be featured in the shop and each comes with a home and away decal. This has been a popular request since the shop came out in 2019. All decals will be available for the Octane, Dominus and Fennec battle-cars.
Teams have also been able to create their own decals for a faster turnaround on additions to the Esports Shop. Previously, Psyonix made the decals in collaboration with the organizations. This time, they get to make them themselves.
“We have a custom template type of method which severely helps out our bandwidth,” Murty Shah, Esports Manager and Operation at Psyonix, said. “This time around, we’re just like ‘you know what? Here’s the templates; you guys make your dream decals.’ We have some guidelines, like you can place your logo here or here. But, generally, the teams have full creative freedom to make their best possible decals.”
Finally, Psyonix is planning an update to the esports website. Currently, the website is left mostly on its own without many updates or news. Fans were often forced to find their information on third-party websites such as Liquipedia and the Rocket League Esports subreddit. The website is set to launch at a later date, but will become more what Psyonix envisions it to be for the esport. What that entails exactly has not fully been revealed yet. But, according to Shoemaker, it’s going to be “a significant upgrade to what we currently have.”
When does RLCS 21-22 start?
RLCS Season 21-22 is set to begin on Oct. 15 with Fall Regional 1 broadcasts for NA, MENA, OCE and APAC S and runs through to Oct. 17. The other regions — EU, SAM and APAC N — will play Regional 1 from Oct. 22-24.
The full season schedule can be found on RLCS’ official announcement page.
Michael Kloos is a Dutch esports journalist and enthusiast with a particular like of Rocket League and VALORANT. He is also an avid fantasy/sci-fi reader and writer. He spends most of his time trying not to be in the real world.