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$42,500 is on the line, as Melbourne’s two Gfinity Elite Series teams go head-to-head in what shapes to be a spiteful Rocket League grand final on Sunday.
Melbourne Order (3rd, 3-2) started their season off in glorious fashion. They dropped just two rounds over the first three weeks, but those three wins were as good as it got in the regular season, with losses to Perth and the Sydney Chiefs putting their title claims in doubt.
They got revenge over Perth in the playoffs last weekend, and now face off against their crosstown rivals in the season’s decider.
Melbourne Avant (4th, 2-3), however, would still be pinching themselves about the fact they’re even here. The draftee-heavy side struggled through much of the regular season, only punching their ticket to the playoffs with a final round victory over the hapless Sydney Roar.
But last week – in one of the upsets of the season, in any sport – Avant pulled off a scarcely believable 4-2 win over the globally renowned Chiefs to catapult themselves into the unlikeliest of grand final berths.
Where: Hoyts Gfinity Esports Arena, Moore Park, Sydney
When: 10:00am (AEST), Sunday, July 15
How to Watch: Watch the Gfinity Elite Series LIVE on The Roar.
Week 2: Melbourne Avant 0-3 Melbourne Order
The first Melbourne derby in Rocket League was something of an anticlimactic affair, with Order’s imported professional roster (from DarkSided) flexing their muscle against a relatively inexperienced Avant team.
After dropping a round against the lowly Brisbane Deceptors in Week 1, Order were keen to show the critics they had what it takes to dispose of lesser opposition. But Avant did well in the first match to make it a close affair.
Order were able to get over the line 2-1 in the first round, but they found their rhythm in the second and third rounds, winning 5-2 and 3-1 to wrap up a very convincing 3-0 sweep.
The victorious black and red side would go on to dispose of the Sydney Roar in the next week, although the back end of their season was dampened by back-to-back losses against Perth and the Chiefs.
Order exorcised one of their demons after knocking off Ground Zero last week, and will be thankful – if not slightly wary – that Avant were able to pull off an enormous upset over the Sydneysiders.
With the other recognised contenders out, the title is Order’s to lose.
Prior to the Rocket League season beginning, the Sydney Chiefs were recognised as the unbackable favourites, with Perth Ground Zero and Melbourne Order tipped to be ones left to battle for the ‘coveted’ runner-up spot.
While it’s fair to say Order faltered against the other two contenders in the regular season, they stood up against Ground Zero in the playoffs and now, thanks to results elsewhere, don’t even have to worry about the Chiefs.
They put Avant away with ease when these sides clashed in the regular season and shouldn’t get ambushed by an up and about Avant like Sydney were a week ago.
They just beat one of the best Rocket League teams in the world, why wouldn’t they repeat that performance?
As iffy as Avant looked at the beginning of the season, they’ve actually shown enough to lately to suggest they’re growing as a team.
They’ve won three of their last four matches and, while the upset over the Chiefs will be talked about for a long time, the fact they put lesser teams away convincingly too bodes well.
This season has been built on upsets. Sydney Roar crushing the Chiefs 16-2 in Round 1 of CS:GO, Brisbane eliminating Perth from the playoffs in their only win of the CS:GO season, an undefeated Street Fighter team going down to a winless one in the last week.
Who’s to say we can’t have one more?
Melbourne Avant’s journey to the grand final is exactly what this competition is all about – ordinary gamers putting their skills to the test and making a name for themselves against Australia’s best.
Did the Chiefs take them lightly in the semifinal? Some questionable trash talk before the game suggests they may have. Avant deserve all the credit in the world for geting here, but they won’t be afforded the same luxury this week.
Order 4, Avant 1