The Hows & Whys behind Mindfreak’s shock RLCSX Fall Major victory

Snowball looks into how Mindfreak upset two Oceanic titans in a finish no one saw coming.

Oceanic expectations heading into the Season X Fall Major was there would be more of the same: top-class trio Renegades, Ground Zero, and Cringe Society had stood tallest in three straight regional events ⁠— why would this Fall title fight be any different?

The trio had led things by such a distance in the three events that David “Yumi Cheesman” Lane was willing to make a bold prediction; all other teams heading into the event stood all but zero percent chance to win the major. Most agreed.

Expect, apparently, Mindfreak.

At this stage, most Rocket League fans should be aware that it was a fourth team ⁠— one that had been given that “zero percent chance” ⁠— that actually won the first Season X major.

That was a shock, yes, but Mindfreak’s victory wasn’t just special because no one gave them a chance. It was how they managed the huge upset that made people sit up and take notice.

The Oceanic region has traditionally been categorised by three elements: charismatic personalities, the dominus, and ⁠— like any other region ⁠— explosive offenses with lacking defensive discipline. However, more and more, Oceanic Rocket League has begun to move away from these clear regional traits in the past few seasons.

RLCS Season 8 marked the breakout performance of Canberra Havoc, a team whose style has been defined by strong defence, unique rotations, and break-neck attacking pressure.

Season 9 saw another emergence. This time it was Fury, who took Canberra’s playstyle and added explosive flair through rookie of the season Luke “Amphis” Riddell to make their own unpredicted run.

This major was Mindfreak’s turn, as they blended both into something more.

Until the final four of the Fall major, the tournament had played out as expected. Aside from Cowabunga’s reverse sweep to advance into the top 8 over Ferox, as well as Gaming Gamers’ three-match loss streak to knock them out before the final day, results played out as expected.

Cringe Society would face Ground Zero in the first semi-final, while Renegades were matched up against Mindfreak, the “token fourth team,” in the next clash. However, the first semi-final gave us a peek into what was to come in the dying embers of the major.

Cringe Society’s lineup is one to be feared. Decka, Torsos, and former Evil Geniuses star Drippay round out the roster, and make Cringe the team to beat in Oceania.

On the opposite side of the field were veterans Jules and Express, and Ground Zero’s young talisman, Amphis. The youngster has become a leading light for 2020’s breakout pack, and it was Amphis again that stood out as Ground Zero flipped the script.

This was a key win for Mindfreak too, though they had yet to play. The win gave them something they may have been lacking ahead of the day: hope.

Snowball Esports spoke to Mindfreak’s Cavemanben, another breakout star in 2020, who admitted Cringe Society would have been the most difficult opponent to face. When they fell, it showed that veteran status doesn’t necessarily equal results.

For Mindfreak’s young roster ⁠— Cavemanben, Fever, and Requiem ⁠— that was key.

What happened next, during the second semi-final, was historic. It is one thing to beat the perceived best team in Oceania. It’s another entirely to shut out the region’s best offense in three straight games. Yet, that was what Mindfreak was able to accomplish.

The three shut-out games weren’t enough though.

Renegades rallied. They scored in the fourth, after three goalless games, and that flicked a switch. CJCJ, Siki, and Kami were able to land blow after blow. 2–0 on Utopia Coliseum. 3–1 in Wasteland. 2–0 in Neo Tokyo. Mindfreak’s three-game lead evaporated.

Yet, Mindfreak had a little left in them. It was enough; the upset was complete with a 1–0 win, and one final shut-out, built on stunning defence, that finally quelled Renegades.

Again, it was in conversation with Ben where one could get a better understanding of the team’s new look. Before the major, a big concern was the concept of a ‘honeymoon period,’ and how to counter it. It is a common trend, where new rosters face immediate success but then start to dip in performance after an initial hot period.

This was looking to be the case for Mindfreak who had several top 4 finishes before starting to lose more and more odd games. The counter turned out to be to bring in a similar element that had given Fury, Canberra Havoc, success in the past ⁠— a coach.

Nathan “Lethal” Lee was brought in just two weeks prior to the major and had already started to influence gameplay decisions and mentality. The team was approaching the game much more to their strengths. Results would speak for themselves.

It should be further noted now that both ground final teams, Ground Zero and Mindfreak, each had their own dedicated coach, something the other semi-finalist teams seemed to be lacking and despite coming up short once again.

For coach Jimmah of Ground Zero, three consecutive RLCS finals is not something to scoff at. Ben himself would state in an interview on ESPN’s Behind the Wheel that the inclusion of a coach was a major part of the teams success and that every team should be looking for their own Jimmah or Lethal. 

This is a distinguishing trend of most younger professional players who are starting to arise and could be another driving force to a change in scenery within the Oceanic region.

As for Mindfreak, the sky really is the limit now. RLO Masters is up soon, as is Yumi’s “The League,” while the scene waits for the next season of RLCSX. The lasting effects of their shock Major success won’t be felt for a while, but there has already started to be ripples.

Mindfreak bounced above Ground Zero and Renegades on ESPN’s power rankings. It’s a move Cavemanben says he wants the team to earn, but it’s not impossible ⁠— when the team plays at its best, they can beat anyone. They certainly just proved that.

ProducerJosh Swift
Max VonNeumann
Max "Formal" VonNeumann is a semi-professional Rocket League and League of Legends shoutcaster who has done work for the OCS, LPL RLCS, RLO, UQ Esports, QUT Esports, XP Esports and Australian Esports League.

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