Alexis “zen” Bernier is a 16-year-old RLCS Major winner.
In May 2023 RLCS hosted one of the most anticipated professional debuts in Rocket League history. This player created so much hype that they signed for a pro team before they were even eligible to compete in RLCS but many ask why and how he got here. Despite the long wait to get there and having all eyes looking at him, it is very easy for you to fall under pressure but zen did not only perform as expected. He raised the bar of the professional scene while doing so.
How Did zen Get to RLCS?
In 2020 zen was only 13 years old and competed in the RLCS X fall regional 1 qualifiers in a team called Space Knights. This team consisted of Gaspow, Seikoo, and zen but the only issue with this team is that you arent allowed to compete in RLCS until the age of 15. This meant that zen was competing in a tournament that he isn't allowed to making him ineligible.
Azu another player on Space Knights had a conflict with this tournament's schedule on day 3 making him no longer available to play for his team. Instead of the team forfeiting the tournament they decided to let zen play on Azu's account. This became a huge probably which later on would affect zen's professional career.
Space Knights went on to drop out of this tournament after losing their third matchup. This meant the huge risk they took by breaking RLCS rules was for nothing and the risk of this move highly outweighed the rewards. A day after the tournament ended their foul play was caught and all four players received a 1-year ban from all RLCS tournaments.
As zen was only 13 his 1-year ban wouldn't come into effect until he turned 15 meaning his eagerly anticipated debut would be prolonged until he was 16.
What Happened During zen's 1-Year Ban?
Despite the setback in zen's career he didn't stop grinding and was ranked top of the 2v2 leaderboards for a long time. As he was only banned from RLCS he was still allowed to compete in other tournaments which was a good place for him to play some high-ranked players from Europe. These tournaments consisted of Rising Stars Odyssey, Urban Series, and RBRS. In these tournaments, he was consistently performing which inevitably got him a spot on one of the biggest teams in esports.
At the beginning of the 2022-23 RLCS season zen signed for Team Vitality which would guarantee him a spot on the roster as soon as he turned 16. zen's birthday was in February meaning he missed the Fall and Winter regionals and Major. In the meantime, Saizen filled his seat but Team Vitality was lacking success.
From the start of 2023, zen could be seen showing his skills in JohnnyBoi_i Show Matches which are 1v1 tournaments that are great places to show off how strong your game's mechanics are. He was playing games against some of the best 1v1 players in the game and not only was he winning, he was also beating them in style. The consistency he had during these matches just showed fans of the game how good he actually was which brought a lot of hype towards his debut. zen ended up winning 13/15 games 10 of which were won in a row.
With all his competition entries this year being flushed with 1st place victories it comes as no surprise why he was expected to take RLCS by storm and be in his own league.
zen's Dominating RLCS Debut
In May the RLCS Spring EU Regional starts with its first event the Spring Open. The long-awaited debut finally came and all eyes were on Team Vitality from start to finish. They were matched up against some of the biggest names in Europe straight off the bat. This includes Karmine Corp and Team Liquid who were both stealing all the points in the winter regionals but this didn't phase zen. Team Vitality went unbeaten in the main event and took home $30k alongside 24 RLCS points
In the Spring Cup Regional Team Vitality stormed the field again knocking strong teams such as Moist Esports and Karmine Corp 4-0 down into the lower brackets. This team was truly unstoppable since the implementation of zen.
In the last regional event of the year the Spring Invitational did another full sweep making it all the way to the final without being knocked down to the lower brackets. After three Grand Final wins in the regionals they managed to gather enough points to take them to 3rd place in the European brackets sending them to the Spring International Major in Boston.
The Major in Boston came along. This is where the real challenge would come to prove how strong Team Vitality and zen really are. Some of the top teams from around the world were there including SSG, FURIA, Complexity Gaming, and OpTic Gaming. Team Vitality won Round 1 and the upper bracket quarter-finals but lost 4-1 to Team BDS in the upper bracket semifinals.
They were not out though. They went to the lower brackets where they 4-0 Gen.G then 4-0 Rule One showing building the confidence they needed to pull through. In the lower bracket final they faced Karmine Corp who they had beaten many times already this season in regionals. After a 3-3 tie they came out on game 7 with a win to take them to the grand final guaranteeing $60k and 40 RLCS points.
In the Grand Final, they faced Team BDS who knocked them out to the lower brackets but to win the series they would have to win two sets of Best of 7. They win 4-2 in the first series and 4-1 in the second making them the Spring Major winners and they get the full sweep of Spring series wins. The outright inhalation this team had since zen joined shows how much of an impact this prodigy has.
zen and the Future of Rocket League
People say this kid is in a league of his own and is currently the best player to set foot in the professional Rocket League. He received the MVP award for this tournament as well as the Offensive MVP award. At just 16 years of age, he has an approximate tournament winnings of $77k which is more than what most have earned in their whole career.
zen is still waiting to play in the RLCS World Championship which is in August. This is another LAN competition that will be hosted in Düsseldorf, Germany. A $2.1 million prize pool is up for grabs making it the largest prize pool ever to grace RLCS. Will zen and Team Vitality power off of their amazing competitive run and storm the competition or will they fall short under the pressure?
zen is expected to play for the whole season of 2023-24 meaning this team could dominate the European brackets but only time will tell and everyone is excited to see the new future of this game's competitive scene.