Despite having a talented roster, Minnesota has struggled so far this season.
Preseason Expectations: RØKKR Set to Make a Splash
When Minnesota’s revamped roster was announced, there were high expectations for the team. All four players—Attach, Accuracy, Priestahh, and MajorManiak—won events on the previous title. Priestahh and MajorManiak had played under Atlanta FaZe, one of the best teams throughout the 2020 season. This RØKKR team was expected to be a top SnD team and capable of contending for a top 3 finish. So far, the RØKKR have not matched those lofty expectations.
Even amidst the hype, fans were initially concerned with the slow pacing of the team. Accuracy and MajorManiak have historically been slow AR players, and Attach has been a slower SMG player in recent games. The success of this roster hinged on Priestahh, who would have to take on an aggressive role in order for the team to be successful. Last season, Priestahh played more of a flex role on FaZe. This team felt slow to many observers, and for RØKKR fans, this storyline has played out as one would expect.
Stage 1: Slow and Methodical (Maybe Too Slow)
The RØKKR finished with a respectable 3-2 record in groups, including an impressive win over Dallas Empire. While they struggled in Hardpoint, the team only dropped one SnD and seemed to be relying on the 2 – 3 – 5 strategy (winning a series by winning maps 2 and 5, the SnD’s, and map 3, the Control). In the major, they lost 2 – 3 to Toronto. They won maps 2 and 3 on the back of a few clutch moments from Attach, but were unable to advance.
Minnesota RØKKR vs. Toronto Ultra, top 8 match, Stage 1 Major, 2021
Stage 1 Hardpoint Record: 2 – 7
In HP’s, we noted that at least one player would always struggle to keep up with the slaying, and it was often Priestahh who didn’t look comfortable in his new role. The team had the lowest kills per 10 minutes and second lowest engagements per 10 minutes. RØKKR’s engagements are close to FaZe and OpTic, but the key difference is, as a team, they are dying almost 6 more times per 10 minutes. As a team, RØKKR are taking fewer gunfights than other teams, trying to play setups, but not winning enough of those gunfights. As a whole, the team has a 0.95 K/D in Hardpoint.
Slow and steady: Not a single RØKKR player ranked in the top 50% of CDL players by HP kills per 10 minutes. Every other CDL team had at least one player in the top 50%.
Stage 1 SnD Record: 6 – 4
SnD in Stage 1 was strong, but reactionary. According to Karsen from CodLeagueStats, the RØKKR are ranked the second best team in converting rounds after getting first blood, which is great, but they don’t get first blood that often. No player has higher than a 13.8% first blood rate (every other team has at least one player with a higher rate) and, as a team, they had one of the lowest first blood rates at 45.7%.
Through Stage 1, RØKKR proved they can clutch up when down in maps or with a life disadvantage. However, without having someone to consistently draw first blood, or make explosive plays on the map, their SnD does not look to be the sustainable rock to take them the distance.
Stage 1 Control Record: 4 – 2
RØKKR was one of the more solid control teams, but were again hampered by slow pacing. As a team, they had the 3rd lowest kills per 10 minutes and the lowest engagements per 10 minutes. While a slow, methodical playstyle tended to counter the bottom teams, it was more difficult to counter the aggressive, in-your-face Control playstyles utilized by teams like Dallas and Chicago.
Stage 2 Week 1: RØKK Chalked?
To kick off Stage 2, Minnesota started 0 – 2 against Paris and Florida (0 – 6 overall map count). With looming matchups against OpTic and Empire, RØKKR in a tough spot for the 2nd Major.
In their matches against Paris and Florida, recurring issues plagued the team. In both Hardpoints, they kept the scores close, but lost due to an inability to break setups. They improved on first bloods in SnD, but ended up losing both searches in R11, including a 5-2 collapse against Paris. The fact that they can no longer rely on clutching in Search or stealing Controls should be a worrying sign to supporters of the team.
There is not one player or glaring issue on RØKKR. At times, multiple players lag behind in respawns. Instead, the fundamental issue with RØKKR is the team’s playstyle, and swapping out a single player may not be the cure-all solution. In order to improve, the RØKKR need to adapt their set-ups and their playstyle. If that cannot be done with the current roster, then a roster change may be needed.
One potential candidate for the team is Eli “Standy” Bentz. Minnesota coach Brian “Saintt” Baroska has long expressed public interest in the talented amateur player, who most recently won Challengers Cup #9 with Decemate, Davpadie, and Sib. However, one player will unlikely make enough of a difference in the current iteration of the RØKKR. If Minnesota is able to land Standy, fix their pacing issues, and incorporate more active strategies across game modes, they may yet improve and finish strong.
Stage 2 is not looking promising for the RØKKR, but one thing is certain—rumbling into the future with the same slow style will simply not work.