RLCS sees stunning upset: G2 and Cloud9 face relegation
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If you’d have said it would happen at the start of this RLCS season, everyone would have considered you insane. Both with a 2-5 record, North American top teams G2 Esports and Cloud9 have ended at the bottom of the league after the final week of league play and will have to play in the promotion/relegation tournament.

RLCS G2 Esports Cloud9 C9 relegation
Courtesy of Liquipedia

The stars aligned: Rogue and Birds remain in RLCS

A lot of things had to go wrong for both G2 and Cloud9 to end up in the relegation zone. While they had already put themselves in trouble throughout the season, there was still a fair chance for them to save themselves. In fact, the odds that both of them would end up at the bottom were so slim that the possibility had been written off by pretty much everybody. That all changed when the previously poor-looking Rogue defeated Cloud9 in the first match of the day.

But even with a loss against Rogue, C9 still had a chance. With a match against G2 coming up, Rogue having to defeat the incredibly strong NRG, as well as Birds having to lose to the ever-improving Ghost without winning two games, C9’s chances weren’t entirely awful. The same could have been said for G2, had they not lost to SpaceStation Gaming in the following series. They were now in a dire position, and they’d have to fight C9 directly later in the day for a top 6 spot. But then the worst happened.

Rogue defeats NRG in major upset

NRG looked unbeatable this season. In fact, with a win they would have equaled their own record from last season and could have possibly even equaled the best season ever (by Dignitas in season 6).

But Rogue’s win over C9 had given them confidence, and they finally started looking like the team they were last season, the team that had made it to top 4 at the RLCS World Championships. NRG had already secured first place and seemed much more passive than usual, which allowed Rogue to bring up the pace a notch and overwhelm the titans.

The fight to stay in RLCS: Cloud9 vs. G2 Esports

Where this once would have been a clash of titans, a series to determine who ends up first in the league, the most recent World Championship Grand Finalists and the Season 6 World Champions would now battle for who would end up in the relegation zone. But even with C9’s game five win, which banished G2 to the bottom of the ladder, C9 was not yet safe. Because of Rogue’s wins, they now relied on Ghost, who would play Birds later in the day, and if Birds won just two individual games, C9 would join G2 in the red zone.

All of these results combined seemed almost impossible at the start of the day: Rogue winning against both C9 and NRG, G2 losing to C9 and SSG, Birds winning two games versus Rogue. But it was exactly what happened. Rogue saved their season by dodging relegation against all odds. Birds, the newcomers, also secured a spot in the playoffs (and RLCS Season 9) by defeating Ghost 3-1, and two members of the group formerly known as the Big Three ended up at the bottom of the table to fight in the promotion/relegation at the end of this month.

SpaceStation Gaming takes second place

The second-to-last battle of the day was that of Pittsburgh Knights and SpaceStation Gaming. Both of these teams were considered middle-of-the-pack teams at the beginning of the season, before PK took DreamHack Montreal and they were suddenly considered one of the top RLCS teams. SSG went 0-2 in the first two weeks of the league, confirming what everyone initially thought. But the team rapidly improved over the weeks, while PK surprisingly lost to Ghost. It would come down to the very last match between SSG and PK to determine who would qualify directly to the RLCS World Championships in Madrid this December. Ultimately, it was SSG who made quick work of the Knights with a 3-0 sweep. They had gained momentum with their win against G2 earlier in the day and continued that into their final match of the season — for now. While they are qualified, there is still the regional championship to play for as well.

Europe up next

On Sunday, it’s Europe’s turn, and things are still wide open. Teams can get in first place or seventh place. You do not want to miss it! RLCS kicks off at 9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. ET / 18:00 CET on Twitch and YouTube.

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.