G2 Rocket League Roster’s Rise to the Top
Ever since the birth of the RLCS in 2016, players and teams alike from across the world have been vying to call themselves the best. Here now in 2022, despite the duopoly of the father figures Europe and North America being tested in recent years, it is still these two regions that have locked out the podium positions at all major events to date. At the heart of that battle are a team that has recently restored North America to the top. Rightfully sitting at the summit of the mountain following the RLCS Winter Major in Los Angeles are the team we’re here to talk about today – the G2 Rocket League roster. A storied history the organization has had to say the least since joining the esport in its first year, from the past cornerstones of Rizzo and Kronovi to the roster of JKnaps, Chicago and Atomic we see them excelling with today.
The First Successes
Now synonymous with the G2 Rocket League brand, the longest standing member of this prime composition is the humble Canadian Jacob “JKnaps” Knapman. He came into the fray at the age of 16 for the North American sweethearts between Season 2 and Season 3 of RLCS. G2 had just come off a disappointing season. The first World Champion roster of Kronovi, Lachinio and 0ver Zer0 failed to even make Playoffs in Season 2 League Play, a performance that rightfully heralded change. Having impressed as Selfless (then Momentum)’s substitute, JKnaps was in demand. Despite interest from other teams he would line up alongside Kronovi and a Rizzo who had made the World Championship with Take 3 that season.
This would be the amongst the most iconic and longest standing rosters in Rocket League esports history, and from the very start however they certainly knew how to bring a rollercoaster of emotion, going 0-2 on the final week of Season 3 League Play to miss out on an automatic Worlds spot, then losing to Denial in Playoffs ultimately leading to them missing out entirely. Over the course of their near 2 year tenure spanning four RLCS Seasons, the roster would have countless highs and lows. Although they would never again fail to qualify for a World Championship, none would be higher than their victory at the ELEAGUE Cup in December 2017. With North America in the midst of a 2 and a half year drought for a RLCS World Championship title this was a watershed moment with JKnaps dazzling, and making a heroic stop for a saviour medal in the dying seconds of Game 7 to secure the Grand Finals win over the Gale Force Esports dynasty.
Although he did not know it at the time, JKnaps would not win another LAN event for nearly 4 and a half years. A last place finish at the RLCS Season 6 World Championship in Las Vegas the following November, and being upstaged by fellow North Americans Cloud9 would lead G2 to announce the replacement of Kronovi in January 2019. Enter Reed “Chicago” Wilen, who had tragically missed out on promotion from RLRS in back to back seasons, but regardless still did so while putting up a standout performance. It was a matter of when and not if he would make his meteoric rise. Interestingly, the team to give him that initially was Evil Geniuses with whom he made that very Season 6 World Championship, but falling at the Top 6 to Oceania’s best performers to date the Chiefs ESC saw the move to G2 Rocket League line up, and the chemistry was instantaneous.
A Run of Success
Season 7 would see that roster of JKnaps, Chicago and Rizzo go all the way to the Grand Finals of the World Championship in Newark, losing out to Europe’s Team Vitality, who took the crown back across the pond. There would again be a great performance but Grand Final despair at the Dreamhack Atlanta later in 2019. G2 lost out to The Peeps, a breakthrough roster consisting of Retals, mist, and Gyro – now on Spacestation, Team Envy and Rogue respectively. How much these losses got to the players is hard to tell, but RLCS Season 8 would see a large falter in their form. G2 and Cloud9 rounded out the bottom of league play, and thus had to play to avoid relegation. Both would survive, and the response from G2 in Season 9 was fantastic. In a season that saw them crowned the best team in North America the main question that still remains is just how well they could have achieved, due to the pandemic making the world championship impossible during both season 9 and RLCSX.
It would be during RLCSX that form would once again falter, leading to the emotional retirement of Rizzo. Rookie and substitute at the time Dreaz would step up, while long term coach Jahzo would step aside to let former professional player Satthew take the reins. And the team would prove themselves to still be amongst North America’s elite, the season culminating in a 4th place finish in the North American Championships. Summer would pass and the 2021-22 season was announced, with the Fall Split being a strong start for G2, who would attend the Major in Stockholm as the 2nd seed for NA. There would be no crowd at the event, and unfortunately for G2 just like Team Envy, they would fail to get out of the Swiss stage, losing crucial series to South America’s FURIA Esports, and Europe’s Endpoint CeX. This lead to the potentially the largest move of that offseason, seeing Dreaz and Envy’s Massimo “Atomic” Franceschi move in opposite directions, in a trade deal that would decide their trajectories for the Winter Split.
The roster of JKnaps, Chicago and now Atomic would again be NA’s number 2 during the Winter Split, but there was certainly something more about them, and their win the second regional of the split showed it. The latest G2 Rocket League roster rolled up to Spring Major in Los Angeles, the first Rocket League event with a crowd in over 2 years, and the rest is history.
G2 went unbeaten the entire event until the Grand Finals, where they were bracket reset by Europe’s Team Queso (now Moist Esports). They then beat them 4-2 in the second series to secure the momentous result and lion’s share of the $300,000 prize pool. Following the win JKnaps said, “someone asked me in the hotel last night, what would I do if we lost another Grand Finals – I guess we’ll never know.” Who knows indeed just how strong they will become the Spring Major, as there’s only been one Regional so far in the split for North America, and G2 already won that.