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The story of a legacy: Flipsid3 Tactics

LuckyNeck 2019-06-05 05:00:20
  For most esports organizations, their Rocket League team is nothing but a side project. Psyonix’s title has experienced a giant increase in popularity in the last few years, which has certainly translated to esports, but it still cannot compare to giants of the industry such as League of Legends or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Flipsid3 tactics, however, was a notable exception to this rule for years. It is definitely not a negative connotation, though, as the US-based organization owned the most renowned team in the history of Rocket League. A team that was there since the beginning, that rose to glory in a bunch of occasions, and that constantly evolved in order to stay at the top. A team, all in all, that will forever have a place in the fans’ minds and, therefore, deserve to have their story told.  

THE ORIGINS OF A LEGENDARY DUO

Markydooda and Kuxir97 would go on to be one of the most popular duos in Rocket League. Photo via: Psyonix.    Mark “Markydooda” Exton and Francesco “Kuxir97” Cinquemani are now remembered as the most beloved Rocket League duo ever. In 2015, when they first met each other, however, no one would have predicted the amount of success they would end up achieving. Kuxir97 was a veteran of the Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars (RL’s prequel) scene and had to accomplish the hard mission of transitioning smoothly into the new game. At the ESL Kick-Off Cup: Europe 3v3 - Cup 2, Kuxir and his team found themselves out of the tournament after losing against Teamy Weamy, which at the time included Markydooda and two British players the world has never heard of since. The Italian realized Marky had what it took and just a few tournaments later, decided to ask him if he could try out for his team. The answer was a yes and, as we know today, probably the most important one in the history of Rocket League. Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, Rocket League's predecessor,  also served as the breeding ground for some of RL's professional players. Photo via: PlayStation. In the end, Teamy Weamy decided to stay with Kuxir. According to the Italian, the reason was that he “just carried them through the whole tournament.” Some years later, Markydooda would find out that he had stabbed Kuxir while playing Battlefield 3 two years before they had even met each other. That made it seem, he said, like they were destined to be together. At the time, however, it was simply a matter of performance: the two of them complemented each other amazingly both in and out of the field. They went on to demonstrate this at a few more online tournaments and, before they could even realize it, Flipsid3 offered to represent them in the upcoming competitions. This was a risky move from the side of Flipsid3 since Rocket League did not have a stable competitive scene at the time. Despite that, however, the signing of Teamy Weamy’s roster, which was then completed by Michael “M1k3Rules” Costello, panned out perfectly, as it would quickly mark the organization’s name in esports history as a whole.  

SUCCESS AND DEFEAT: TWO VERY DIFFERENT TASTES

All the teams getting ready for the first ever RLCS finals in Los Angeles. Photo via: Vile Studio.  Flipsid3 did not take too long to establish themselves as the early dominators of Rocket League. In 2015, the scene had still not transitioned to the LAN format but, at the multiple weekly and minor online events where the best teams clashed against one another back then, there was nobody who could stop them. They went on to amass a huge number of final appearances and tournament wins, including first place at the first-ever major competition, the Major League Gaming Pro League Season 1, and a runner-up outing at Rocket League Central Pro League Season 1. By the time Psyonix announced the first edition of its Rocket League official championship, the Rocket League Championship Series, Flipsid3 were definitely the major favorites to hold the trophy. After all, all three of its players were most likely the three top players in the world. What could possibly stop them from making it all the way to victory? In the beginning, they dominated. At the first European qualifier, they advanced to the finals against We Dem Girlz and then proceeded to expectedly win the tournament. Although their loss in the semifinals of the second qualifier against Supersonic Avengers raised some doubts within the community, Kuxir and company still gathered enough points as to qualify for the much-hyped international finals in Los Angeles. Flipsid3's performance at RLCS Season 1 Finals were marked by M1k3Rules' drastic decision. Photo via: Psyonix.  Before the start of the event, however, Flipsid3 received a piece of unforeseen news. M1k3Rules, one of the pillars of the team, was going through some personal problems. After the tournament, he would have to leave the team in order to be able to deal with them. As much as their teammates understood his situation, adjusting to the idea of splitting a roster that had dominated the scene ever since its inception was still something hard to do. If the finals in Los Angeles were to be M1k3Rules’ last tournament with Flipsid3, it had to be the most legendary as well. Kuxir and Marky, thus, arrived in California with a clear goal in their minds. They had to be the first ever Rocket League world champions, and they had to do it for M1k3Rules to leave with the sweetest of memories. Life, however, does not always go the way people want it to. Flipsid3 saw themselves relegated to the lower bracket after a first-round loss against iBUYPOWER, a North American team commanded by Cameron “Kronovi” Bills. Contrary to everyone’s predictions, though, they would take part in one of the most savage lower-bracket runs in history, annihilating all of their opponents in their way to the grand finals. Once there, they were once again paired up against iBUYPOWER. Admittedly, the North American squad just played better than them. After a 4-2 defeat, they returned home with empty hands and having to say goodbye to M1k3Rules without any title to make the farewell easier. As Kuxir97 said some years later, it was the first time he had truly tasted bitter defeat. What he knew, however, was that he did not want to taste it ever again.  

THE ACCIDENTAL CHANGE THAT FIXED IT ALL

gReazymeister ended up being a core piece of Flipsid3's success. Photo via: Psyonix. M1k3 was gone, but the competition continued with the second season of RLCS, and the Flipsid3 core definitely wanted to be part of it. For doing so, however, they needed a replacement. Who could they find that was able to fill the void left by M1k3Rules’ department? The question was hard to answer, but not impossible. The answer, indeed, was within the RLCS Season 1 Finals participants: Marius “gReazymeister” Ranheim. gReazymeister, previously of Northern Gaming, had been defeated by Kuxir97 and co. in the lower-bracket finals of the tournament in Los Angeles. When he found out that Flipsid3 was looking for a third, thus, he immediately messaged Marky and asked him if they would be open to trying them out. Confident that they would not get a better offer, Marky accepted. As soon as gReazy started practicing with them, they started to notice how naturally developed their synergy was. According to John “Johnnyboi_i” MacDonald, Flipsid3’s manager at the time, said he was “very surprised of how well he gelled with the team immediately.” This seemingly out-of-nothing harmony would show at RLCS Season 2 - Europe. RLCS Finals qualifying system had changed to two regional round-robin regular leagues that each qualified its four best teams to the LAN tournament. With a 5-2 record at the end of the regular phase and a dominant performance at the regional playoffs, Flipsid3 entered the season finals, once again, as the clear favorites to take it all. At the Season 2 finals, Kuxir97 and his teammates were willing to take revenge and, of course, the RLCS trophy. Photo via: Jeroen Weimar.  This time, nobody was abandoning the team after the tournament’s conclusion. That, however, did not mean they did not want revenge for their Season 1 defeat. Once in Amsterdam for the finals, however, they were dropped to the lower bracket by Mock-It EU in the winners’ semifinals. Did they care? Not really. Flipsid3 had been there before. Reminding their unbelievable Season 1 run, they went all the way to the finals in dominant fashion. Northern Gaming, who they once again faced in the lower-bracket finals, did not even stand a chance. Nonetheless, the hardest part was still to come. In the finals, Mock-It EU awaited them, ready to take them down once again. History had so far repeated itself throughout the tournament. As Kuxir had said the previous year, however, they simply were not willing to taste defeat twice in a row. After the Italian legend scored the last goal in a double 4-1 trashing of Mock-It, Flipsid3 knew they were finally part of RL’s history. They had dominated the beginnings, set a benchmark for youngsters trying to get into the scene and, now, they were World Champions as well. The kings were finally crowned and, moreover, looked like they had no rival. From here, Flipside’s success could only grow further. That is, at least, what the players thought at the time.  

THE BEGINNING OF THE END: A DISAPPOINTING FINALS

  After having won RLCS Season 2 Finals, Flipsid3 allowed its players to take some free time in order to rest. This decision, however, ended up provoking the beginning of the end of Flipsid3’s prime. Maybe too relaxed after having conquered the world, gReazy and the legendary duo started practicing a little too late when compared to other teams for RLCS Season 3 - Europe. Still, they were winning most of their scrims. Although the team started slowly in week 1, they never lost confidence in qualifying for the finals. With a 4-3 record and a runner-up finish at the regional playoffs, where they lost to the aforementioned Mock-It EU team, Flipsid3 entered the finals, which were once again held in Los Angeles, with the conviction of who has already been at that level of pressure. After having conquered RLCS Season 2, Flipsid3 allowed its players to relax for a bit too much time. Nonetheless, they still made it to the Season 3 finals with ease. Photo via: Psyonix.  They trusted themselves to step up at a LAN environment they were very familiar with. Such trust did not decrease at all when they were dropped into the lower bracket after a semifinals loss against NRG Esports. They had reached the finals the hard way two years in a row. Who could stop them from doing the same now? It was The Leftovers. Suddenly, Flipsid3 saw themselves out of the tournament. A European team that did not even have a sponsor, a team that they had actually defeated at the regional playoffs, had just ended their RLCS Season 3 Finals run. When Kuxir and company left the stage, they did so with their heads down, ashamed of what had just taken place at the Wiltern Theater. They were no longer the kings, but in their minds, they were still the best team of them all. In Kuxir97’s words: “All three of us are the best, and I can say that. Even though we did not practice, and we did not deserve to win, that does not mean we will not come back. We will come back.” Flipsid3 left Los Angeles with the promise of working harder than ever for next season in order to not fade away from the scene. Kuxir, in particular, told his fans he was committed to improving his individual level since he thought he was getting slower in-game. All of these plans, however, would soon find a very hard obstacle to surpass. gReazymeister was leaving the team and, with that, he unraveled one of the hardest eras in Flipsid3’s history.  

EVOLVING BRINGS NO REWARDS: THE END OF THE LEGENDARY DUO

Miztik was one of the new players Flipsid3 had to adapt to playing with during their most difficult era. Photo via: WSOE.  David “miztik” Lawrie was chosen for stepping in gReazy’s spot. At first, the former Mock-It Esports member seemed to be the perfect fit, as Flipsid3 went on to win DreamHack Summer 2017, which played out only three days after miztik’s departure from the NA-based organization. RLCS Season 4, however, would mark the first time the legendary duo did not make it to the finals of RLCS. Throughout the season, Flipsid3 had time to introduce a whole new feature to the game, as Kuxir97 created and popularized the always-astonishing Kuxir Pinch. Regardless of how famous the shot went on to be, though, Season 4 saw Flipsid3 Tactics win only two games out of seven in order to miraculously maintain their spot in the first division. In the playoffs, they were demolished by Gale Force eSports, which featured the Dignitas roster which would end up mastering the scene, in a 4-1 match which left no room for doubt. Flipsid3 was not the dominant force it once was anymore. At least, not this roster. In order for the Flipsid3 of old to come back, something had to change. At this point, Markydooda decided that the best thing to do was leaving the team. This meant the end of one of the most well-known and beloved duos in Rocket League, a duo that could be considered the fathers of competitive Rocket League. Markydooda, however, felt that he was not putting in as much effort as he should and, therefore, voluntarily departed so that Flipsid3 could search for a player with more motivation and determination than him. For Marky, it was simply a logical decision. For the fans and, most importantly, for Kuxir, however, it was not as easy. In came Maurice “Yukeo” Weihs, an 18-year-old boy who played Rocket League with mouse and keyboard. He was certainly talented enough to stand within the best players in the world but, for Kuxir97, he was too much of a difference from his long-time partner and friend Marky. Flipsid3´s RLCS Season 5 performance was marked by this inability to mesh together and, once again, they were left out of the global finals. The amount of talent within the roster made them be very close to achieving a spot at the LAN in London. In the end, however, a 4-2 loss to Team Envy in the decisive series ended Flipsid3’s hopes of playing on the biggest of stages one more time. It was only after this that Kuxir realized that he was the only reminiscence left from the old Flipsid3 and that, if he wanted to be at the top again, he had to treat his new teammates like what they were: new. Flipsid3 was not the legendary core anymore. Unfortunately for Kuxir, they now had to find a new identity. Photo via: Flipsid3 Tactics.  Thus, he committed to adapting and finally jelling with his teammates in order to tear up RLCS Season 6. He was close to doing so, as Flipsid3 got second in the regular phase and secured a spot in the finals. Once at Las Vegas, where the LAN was played, Flipsid3 bombed out of the tournament in fifth place, after a 3-2 loss to Cloud9. At the time nobody would have predicted it but, actually, Cloud9 ended up winning the whole thing in an incredible upset against Dignitas. Yes, Flipsid3 had lost. This time, however, there was no shame in it. Kuxir and his teammates now knew they needed to evolve together and, maybe, through hard effort, end up creating a dynasty again. Whatever they would do in the end, there was no pressure. Kuxir now had two steady teammates he could develop with in order to come back to the top. That was his mentality, and that was what he was determined to do.  

A FINAL VICTORY AND A TRAGIC FAREWELL

By the end of 2018, Flipsid3 was finally able to experience some success at a few LAN tournaments. Photo via: Vexanie for DreamHack.  After a promising end of 2018, Kuxir probably was thinking about how further he could go with Yukeo and miztik at the RLCS Season 7. The top teams, however, were not thinking about Kuxir or Flipsid3’s future at all. A chain of player movements and deals between top teams ended up with Dignitas looking for a third. At the time, Yukeo had already demonstrated his talent even at the biggest of scenarios and, partnered with his young age, he was the perfect candidate for a team that wanted to rule the world within the next few months. Thus, Dignitas made him an offer he could not regret. He said that leaving miztik and Kuxir97 was a really tough decision to make but, in the end, when he moved with his new roster, he knew he was taking a step forward in his career. For Kuxir, changes had always been fatal. This time, unfortunately, was no exception. Flipsid3 decided to recruit Jack “Speed” Packwood-Clarke as a stand-in, a rookie who had never played at the highest of levels. When they attended WSOE 4: The Rocket League Showdown, therefore, nobody had them even close to favorites. In heroic fashion and against all odds, however, Flipsid3 did what they originally had always done better: winning. After a 3-0 victory over Yukeo’s new team that granted them a spot in the playoffs, Kuxir and co. pulled out two consecutive upsets, against Cloud9 and NRG, in order to take the trophy. For the squad, tasting victory so rapidly felt amazing. For Kuxir, that victory made him recover the faith in the project. Now, he once again felt strong enough to fight for international tournaments. Little did the Flipsid3 roster now, however, that it would be the last victory in the history of the organization. Flipsid3 ended up taking home the WSOE 4 trophy only a month before the team's disbandment. Photo via: WSOE. Regardless of how promising this iteration of the roster looked, on February 28, 2019, Flipsid3 released a statement in which they announced they were disbanding their Rocket League division. “With a very heavy heart, we are saying goodbye to Kuxir97 and miztik. We would like to thank them for the hard work and time they have put into the F3 Rocket League team and wish them all the best in their future endeavors. We will miss you”, the text read. At the time, the eyes of the fans were set in other teams, in the teams that were capable of reaching glory and taking over the world. Flipsid3 was no longer one of those but, in hindsight, the release of Kuxir and miztik meant the end of one of the most iconic squads not only in Rocket League, but in all of esports. Flipsid3 dominated the scene for years, were home to some of the most exemplary players the RL community has ever seen and, overall, kept fighting for being one of the best teams all the way until the end. Nowadays, the leftovers of the organization are still stoically fighting it out, sponsorless, at the bottom of the RLCS. Maybe someday, Kuxir will finally be able to remind the fans of the Flipsid3 of old.I want to be remembered as the best player in the game. I'm not even close yet, but hopefully, I'll have enough time to make it happen.” That is, after all, what every legend wants.
Featured image courtesy of  Rocket League. Lucas "LuckyNeck" Chillerón is a vivid esports fan who loves following as many competitive scenes as he can in order to write articles about them. If there is anything you would like to discuss with him or let him know, you can do it at @lucprd.
 

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