As we head towards the sharp end of the Gfinity Elite Series Delivered by Domino’s, there are many Rocket League teams with their eyes on a place in the playoffs. With several teams heading into Week 5 with their Season 4 hopes on the line, it was sure to be a weekend to remember at the Gfinity Esports Arena!
Fnatic vs Nordavind
After a superb win in Week 3, Nordavind were full of confidence coming into their match, but they would have everything to do against a supreme Fnatic roster who knew a win would all but guarantee them a place in the playoffs.
Maestro gave Fnatic the perfect start in the first game of the day as he latched onto a loose touch from Al Dente to make it 1-0 inside the first ten seconds. MummiSnow went close with a wonderful re-direct shortly after, but unfortunately it drifted just wide. Fnatic’s main man was then at it again as a simple double-touch allowed him to easily give his side a two-goal advantage.
With Nordavind looking shaky in defence, MummiSnow went again with a dunk only for it to be cleared off the line, but Data and co couldn’t get the ball away, and Snaski played a wonderful no-look pass to allow Maestro to grab his third of the game.
Having gone close a few times throughout the game, MummiSnow finally got his goal after some creative dribbling from Maestro. Nordavind’s poor defending caught them out again as time ticked away as Maestro capitalised on another loose ball to make it 5-0.
The Norwegian side knew they needed to get off to a good start after their performance in Game 1, and Godsmilla rose to the task as he took advantage of a bad touch from Snaski to fire home inside the first minute. Moments later, two consecutive double touches from Data set up Al Dente to make it 2-0 to Nordavind.
Fnatic pushed for the goal to get back in the game straight away, and MummiSnow went close with his deflection hitting the angle of post and crossbar. However, with MummiSnow joining the attack, there was no-one covering in defence, and Nordavind were able to break away with Data tapping into the empty goal.
Nordavind sensed that Fnatic had been taken aback by the change in fortunes, but they failed to learn from their opponent’s mistake. Pushing for a fourth, all three players surged forward and once the ball broke kindly for Fnatic, Maestro had a simple long-shot to make it 3-1 and get his team back into the game.
The fifth goal of the game was a similar story, as Fnatic threw the kitchen sink at Nordavind, only for the ball to drop to Al Dente with no-one covering, and he grabbed his second of the game to restore the three-goal lead. With time running out, Nordavind’s defence held firm to take the second game of the series.
Fnatic seemed downcast having won the first game so easily, and a resurgent Nordavind made them pay with Al Dente snatching the first goal of the game after a poor clear from Maestro. With Fnatic’s communication all at sea, Nordavind looked to go for the jugular, and after all three Fnatic players went for the same ball, Godsmilla had an easy finish to make it 2-0 inside the first minute.
Data almost made it three as the game went past the halfway point, and having lost the first game of the series, Nordavind seemed in complete control. Fnatic weren’t going down without a fight though, and a good challenge from Snaski set up MummiSnow to halve the deficit.
Nordavind were able to weather the storm from Fnatic, mixing solid defensive play with controlled aggression, and their good play was rewarded as Data grabbed a goal to make it 3-1 inside the last minute after another poor clear found its way infield. There was no comeback forthcoming from Fnatic, and Nordavind saw out the game to make it 2-1 in the series.
With the series on the line, Game 4 started cagily with both teams sparring as they went in search of the first goal of the game. Snaski had the best chance in the first half of the game as he missed a huge chance to make it 1-0 from close range.
Defences both held strong as the game entered the last 90 seconds, but another strong challenge from Snaski worked for Fnatic as he fired in the give them a crucial lead. Having spent the whole game searching for a goal, Fnatic then made it two as a long-clear from Maestro rebounded off the backboard and he was then on hand to turn it home.
Nordavind struggled to create any meaningful chances in the latter stages, and Fnatic held out to take the series to a Game 5 decider.
The series had shown how crucial the first goal could be, and it was Al Dente who bagged the all-important goal for Nordavind as he flipped the ball over Maestro to take the lead with just six seconds gone. As the game drifted on it seemed as though that first goal could be the decider, but a double-commit from Nordavind then left their goal exposed and MummiSnow was able to grab the equaliser.
Another defensive mistake from Nordavind gave Snaski an easy chance to make it 2-1 to Fnatic. Sensing a series win, Fnatic piled on the pressure, and having made two amazing saves, Data couldn’t get the ball away and Snaski squeezed the ball past him to double the lead. The wind looked to have been knocked from Nordavind’s sails, and MummiSnow scored from the kick-off after more questionable defending from Godsmilla.
There was still plenty of time for Nordavind to get back into the game, and a great pass from Data allowed Godsmilla to divert the ball into an empty goal. The three-goal lead was soon restored though, as a great pass from MummiSnow took the Nordavind defence out of the game to allow Maestro to score and make it 5-2.
Snaski then secured the series as he took advantage of a poor clear to get his third goal of the game. There were no miracle comebacks from Nordavind, and Fnatic took the series to take the series and keep their chance of winning the group alive.
Epsilon vs Hashtag United
Having started strong with a win in Week 1, Epsilon had looked off the boil with losses in their last two games. Conversely, Hashtag United had been one of the teams to watch in Season 4, winning both of their previous games with relative ease. As such, Hashtag knew a win would seal a playoff place with one game still to play, whereas Epsilon would need a result as a defeat would eliminate them from the Elite Series.
The first chance of the series fell to Epsilon’s Bilbo as he found himself with a empty goal, but somehow he couldn’t convert. Epsilon managed to create a few more chances, but some excellent defensive play from eekso kept the score at 0-0 the game moved past the halfway point.
Bilbo then made amends for his early miss as he converted a backboard pass to make it 1-0 to Epsilon. Having been accused of a lack of discipline earlier in the Elite Series, Epsilon looked in control as the game headed towards the final minute, and ultimately Hashtag were only able to muster one shot in the whole game, meaning Epsilon took the first game of the series.
The second game of the series started in a similar fashion, with Hashtag unable to forge any chances as they were put on the back foot by a concerted Epsilon attack. Hashtag came under immense pressure as the game meandered towards the halfway mark, but having stepped up the pitch once the ball was finally cleared, Bilbo was able to capitalise on a open goal to make it 1-0.
However, slack defensive work from Epsilon allowed Hashtag to get back into the game from the kick-off as eekso grabbed their first goal of the series. The score wasn’t level for long though, as a moment of magic from Sebadam saw with find an incredible angle to convert an infield pass to restore Epsilon’s lead.
Epsilon were able to control the rest of the game with relative ease as Hashtag looked bereft of ideas, but with the clock on zero, Epsilon couldn’t get the ball on the floor and eekso slammed his shot home to take the game to overtime. Having been conservative throughout the game, both teams had huge chances to win it, but neither could find the finish they needed to get the win.
With a minute gone in overtime, eekso missed a clear for Hashtag, and Bilbo was in the right place to give Epsilon the win along with the chance to take the series in the third game.
Going for a 3-0 clean sweep, both teams jostled for superiority, but the game was fairly flat as the first two minutes ticked away without many chances to speak of for either team. Epsilon looked to invite Hashtag onto them and hit them on the counter, but chances were still hard to come by as the score at 0-0 going into the final minute.
Sebadam had a good chance to get the win with 30 seconds left, but eekso made another good save to keep Hashtag in the contest. Both teams seemed contented to head into overtime, and Sebadam was the man who won the series for Epsilon as he converted a double touch to give them the series win and keep their Season 4 hopes alive.
exceL vs Renault Vitality
Both teams came into Week 5 with points to prove, as Vitality had looked off the pace in their previous fixture against Method as they lost the series 3-1. exceL had also struggled in their matches as they were still looking for their first win of the series.
The series started with a goal to remember as Neqzo found Fairy Peak who converted from a tight angle to give Vitality the lead. Vitality looked on top as they got their passing game going and starved exceL of possession. However, exceL were soon level as Pwndx won an aerial challenge to give Nielskok an easy opportunity to make it 1-1.
exceL then completed the turnaround as a poor touch from Fairy Peak allowed Pwndx to slam home and put them in front with roughly 90 seconds left to play. Vitality went searching for an equaliser, but as they poured forward their goal was left unattended, and a long-clear from Nielskok secured the 3-1 win for exceL.
The second game was fast and frenetic, but there were no goals in the opening two minutes as both teams went for the opener. Pwndx was the man who broke the deadlock for exceL with a lovely finish. However, Fairy Peak seized the initiative as he latched onto a pass from Paschy to bring the scores level.
Vitality then piled on the pressure with Breezi forced to make an excellent save on the line. Pwndx then made an amazing save racing back towards his own goal as he tipped the ball onto the crossbar, and he recovered brilliantly to spin and clear the follow-up shot from Neqzo.
However, Pwndx then couldn’t take advantage of a whiff by Paschy, and Fairy Peak made him pay with some extraordinary play as he played a pass off the ceiling which he then able to connect with to give Vitality the lead. The Vitality defence then held out to level the series at one game apiece.
exceL seized the initiative early in Game 3 as a great dribble from Breezi down the left hand side set up the easiest of chances for Nielskok to make it 1-0 inside the first ten seconds. Their roster looked to be benefitting from the inclusion of Breezi as he added a level of control to their play.
Paschy then missed a big chance to get Vitality back into the game, but in the end it was Fairy Peak who stepped up to the plate again as he grabbed an equaliser to make it 1-1. More good play from exceL saw the scores change again, as a great pass from Pwndx set up Nielskok to grab his second of the game.
Another great touch from Pwndx off the backboard presented Nielskok with the chance to get his third, and exceL took a crucial two-goal lead with two minutes left in the game. Vitality looked to be waiting for another moment of brilliance from Fairy Peak to get them back into the game, but exceL’s rotations were working well and they managed to keep their opponents at bay heading into the last minute.
Pwndx had been commended for his brilliant soft touches throughout the game, and yet another from him diverted a long pass into the goal to give his side a 4-1 lead and a thoroughly deserved victory.
Staring down the barrell of a second consecutive series defeat, reigning champions Vitality needed to step it up in the fourth game of the series, but it was exceL who had the best of the opening stages as they disrupted Vitality’s play and created several chances of their own. Breezi continued to impress as he appeared to be growing in confidence, and he almost grabbed his first goal of the day, only for his shot to be cleared off the line.
Despite continued pressure from exceL, the game remained scoreless heading into the final minute, and both teams then looked to hold back in the knowledge that overtime was looming large. However, with less than 30 seconds to go, Pwndx took advantage of some slow defending from Neqzo to give exceL a crucial lead.
Vitality surged forward as they looked to save the series, but exceL were able to deal with everything they threw at them, and exceL took the series 3-1 with an extremely impressive performance.
Method vs Reason
Method went into their series knowing that a victory would secure them a place in the semifinals, and with leading scoring Kassio in their line-up, Reason would have it all to do if they wanted to have any chance of making the playoffs.
The game started slowly with few chances for either team in the opening stages, but unsurprisingly it was Kassio who got the first goal of the series to break the deadlock. Method looked in control as they looked to prevent Reason from creating any significant chances.
Pugsay then had an amazing chance to get Reason back into the game, but he couldn’t convert and the game went into the last minute with Method still leading 1-0. Kassio then produced a fantastic solo play as he dribbled out wide before managing to get a touch off the wall to set himself up with an easy finish to secure the first game.
Reason switched their tactics in the second game as they tried to starve Method of any boosts. The plan almost paid off as Pugsay connected with an infield pass as Method had two players on the goal line without any boost, but unfortunately he couldn’t find the finish. Borito B then had to pull off a great save to keep the scores level, and Reason missed several more chances as Method clung on as the game moved past the halfway mark.
Method then came up with a hammer blow as a long-clear from Borito B found the Reason defence missing to give them a surprising 1-0 lead. Borito B was then amongst the goals shortly after as he tapped home a simple chance to double Method’s lead. Reason found themselves penned in by some quality play from Method, and Kassio then popped up with a nice read from Shakahron’s ceiling pass to make it 3-0.
Kassio then doinked in with the clock on zero to gift-wrap the victory for Method and leave Reason with everything to do heading into the third game of the series.
Knowing that they needed a win to stay in the series, Calix grabbed Reason’s first goal of the day to put them into the lead with a minute played in Game 3. Calix then doubled Reason’s lead after a superb double touch from Pugsay created the opportunity.
Reason managed to control the play well, with each clearance finding space and allowing the clock to tick away. However, a good fake from Borito B managed to take Shakahron out of the game and present Kassio with the ball in front of goal, and he finished easily to set up a grandstand finish. Reason held on as the seconds elapsed, and the game finished 2-1 as we went to Game 4.
Having had it all their own way in the first two games, Method were more cautious heading into the fourth game after their defeat in Game 3. Reason had the best of the opening stages, but couldn’t quite link their passes to create a big chance.
Some poor communication from Reason meant that Pugsay passed up a huge opportunity to connect with a loose ball as he had started to rotate back, and with that chance missed, the game headed into the final 90 seconds with the scores level. Once again it was Kassio who made the play for Method as he produced a phenomenal read to turn the ball into the goal from close range with just a minute left on the clock.
Reason looked to force the issue with their season on the line, but the passes weren’t coming off for them, and the series finished 3-1, meaning Method went to the top of Group A and guarantee themselves a place in the semifinals as group winners.
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