European Rival Series Preview: ZeNoMoon Returns To Action

By Stax

For the past two weeks, ZeNoMoon has seen no action at all in the European Rival Series. The play-in qualifier currently sits at 0-2, with losses to Veloce Esports and Method. This weekend ZeNoMoon faces The Rightovers in the first match of the day, followed by a doubleheader on the Rival Esports stream featuring ARG and Vikings. Going into the penultimate weekend of league play, there are only two certainties: Veloce has secured no worse than second place, which guarantees a spot in the Promotion Tournament. Veloce will play next month for a shot at returning to the Rocket League Championship Series. The other thing we know is that Method is mathematically eliminated from top 4 contention, meaning the team will not be able to reserve its spot for next season. This is because five teams already have two wins on the season, and two of them (Vikings, compLexity) play each other in the final week. Method has the week off, sitting at 1-5.

THE RIGHTOVERS (1-3) vs. ZENOMOON (0-2)

A bizarre schedule has ZeNoMoon sitting at 0-2 with just 8 games played this season. This team went the distance with Method, and was swept by Veloce. And we don't really know much about them otherwise. What we do know is ZeNoMoon's run through the closed qualifier for Dreamhack Dallas was short-lived. After beating a French team in the first round, the team ran into compLexity and lost a tight series 3-1. ZeNoMoon features a league play veteran in the form of Zensuz, and he leads the team in goals (6) and saves (15). In fact, those 15 saves are more than his teammates Monkey M00n (8) and Noly (3) combined. But two matches after a 2-week break is a very small sample size. ZeNoMoon will have their work cut out for them if they hope to contend with another veteran team which is also desperate for a win to open up league play this week.

The Rightovers may be the best team in the bottom half of the league. After starting 0-2 with losses to Vikings and ARG, the team was stymied again by Baguette Squad before stunning compLexity Friday night. On a team with veterans Skyline and Calix, it's the rookie Bilbo who has stepped up and should be catching the attention of the rest of the league. Leading the team with 14 goals, his 0.82 per-game average sets him just behind FlamE (Veloce, 0.83) and Flakes (compLexity, 0.94) for the league lead. Where Rightovers struggle, surprisingly, is defense. The Rightovers have allowed a league-worst 2.41 goals per game. Despite having the lowest shooting percentage (17.81%), ZeNoMoon did unleash over 9 shots per game in the first week. A loss here could effectively kill the season for Rightovers, but would also be just as devastating for the winless ZeNoMoon.
Prediction: ZeNoMoon wins 3-2

VIKINGS (2-1) vs. ARG (3-2)

In the battle for second place, the only team that controls its own fate is Vikings. With just one loss, simply winning every remaining match would clinch a top-2 spot and create a clean cut at 6-1 as it was last season. But things have not come easy for Vikings. Every single match has gone five games, including the lone loss to Veloce. Vikings even needed five to dispatch Method last week in the final match of the Rival Esports stream. How does a team that averages 2 goals per game (2nd in the league behind Veloce) manage to play so many close series? By also allowing 2.27 goals on the other side. Vikings have the second-lowest save percentage in the league just ahead of ZeNoMoon, at 63.83% - that means for the nearly 100 shots the team has faced this season, they're only stopping around 64 of them. While Maestro is leading the league with over 2 saves every game, Pwndx is much further down the list at 1.27 per game, and MummiSnow is at 0.67 - the only player with fewer saves per game is Noly (0.38 through 8 games)

ARG's offensive numbers took a massive hit last week when the Spaniards were shutout in three consecutive 1-0 losses to Veloce. The current second-place team responded with 7 goals in 4 games against compLexity, as MaRc_By_8 outscored the opposition by himself (4-3). What has made ARG so dangerous this season is the revolving door of heroics. No one player had really stood out in any particular stat category. GCR710 and MaRc had identical goal totals, and ClayX wasn't too far behind. Now the numbers are a little more defined. MaRc accounted for more shots (15) than his teammates combined (14) in the win over compLexity. Despite all the offense ARG can bring, this team will make its money with defense. ARG leads the league allowing only 1.37 goals per game, and held Veloce to just those three 1-0 wins. Opportunities are hard to come by against ARG too: the team allows only 6 shots per game, also best in the league.
Prediction: ARG wins 3-1

THE RIGHTOVERS (1-3) vs. VELOCE ESPORTS (6-0)

To say that Veloce doesn't have anything to play for after clinching a spot in the Promotion Tournament is incorrect. Securing the top spot in the league with a win this week ensures that Veloce will play the 8th-place team from the RLCS. Right now, it looks like that team would be Mousesports at 1-5. Everyone expected FlamE to lead the team in scoring, and now he has surpassed Nielskoek by just 0.04 on average. What makes Veloce so impressive is that all three players can go off at any time, and keying in on one player just isn't good enough. There a statistic called "Average Scoreboard Position," which calculates where each player ends up on the in-game scoreboard. Unlike most stats, you want your team to be average compared to the rest of the league. Veloce is just that: With only a difference of 0.25 between the top and bottom-ranked players on the team, Veloce is the most balanced team in the league. For more traditional numbers, Veloce leads the league in shooting percentage (27%) and save percentage (75.69%). This is by far the best team in the league for a reason. A perfect season should be expected.
Prediction: Veloce wins 3-0

VIKINGS (2-1) vs. BAGUETTE SQUAD (3-2)

The season has been full of ups and downs for Baguette Squad. The Frenchmen have an opening night win over ARG, but that's canceled out by a loss to Method. With 5-2 highly probable for the target to reach top-2, Baguette Squad's game differential needs a massive boost. In fact, that's not far off from the lowest game differential in the league. Method and ZeNoMoon are -4, while Baguette Squad's 8-11 overall record puts them at -3. Game differential is the first tiebreaker that is used when teams have the same number of match wins. Baguette Squad is a very frustrating team to play against, as The Rightovers learned last week. While they allow almost 9 shots per game, the squad also saves 75% of the shots against. While the scoring average may dip against ARG earlier in the day, expect the Vikings to solve the defense of Baguette Squad in what could be a must-win series for the veterans.
Prediction: Vikings win 3-1

Rival Esports Stream:

ARG (3-2) vs. ZENOMOON (0-2)

On paper, this looks like it should be a win for ARG. But even the previous result against The Rightovers won't provide much insight for what we can expect from ZeNoMoon. This match will come four hours after the start of their first series of the day. ARG will need to come out firing and not take the opposition lightly for the sake of its game differential, and potentially goal differential if you get far enough down the list of tiebreakers. With all the teams beating each other in the middle of the pack, that also becomes a possibility (although very unlikely.) Given what is known, ARG should be expected to win.
Prediction: ARG wins 3-1

ZENOMOON (0-2) vs. VIKINGS (2-1)

In the third match of the day for both teams, ZeNoMoon will be playing back-to-back. And again, ZeNoMoon are underdogs. After being conditioned to expect the unexpected following last week's Rival Series and RLCS matches, an upset bid from ZeNoMoon shouldn't be entirely out of the question. Given that Vikings do tend to play close series with the opposition, a 5-game series could be on here. This matchup will pit Zensuz and Pwndx against each other - they were teammates along with Nielskoek on exceL eSports in season 4 of RLCS. Zensuz was replaced by Markydooda, while Pwndx stayed on the team for the following season. That little bit of trivia may provide Zensuz with some motivation to ruin the season for Vikings, but it may not be enough.
Prediction: Vikings win 3-2

All of the action kicks off on Friday at www.twitch.tv/RocketLeague - with the final two matches taking place on www.twitch.tv/RivalEsports starting at 1:00 PM pacific time. The main show begins at 4:00 PM UTC, which is 12:00 noon on the U.S. east coast, and 9:00 AM pacific.

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