Rocket League had fairly humble beginnings as a PS3 exclusive download developed by Psyonix Studios in 2008. But since then, it has exploded in popularity to become one of the most played games in the industry.
This is in large part due to its simple premise and accessibility. Everyone loves playing this game, from professional eSports competitors to beginners of all ages just joining the arena from home.
So, what exactly is Rocket League, and what does it take to set up a competitive league? Let’s get into the details as to what the game is, how it’s played, and how it functions as a competitive eSport.
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Understanding Rocket League General Gameplay and Competitive Ruleset
The game is simple. Really simple. And the rules take zero time to learn because everyone pretty much already knows how to play soccer.
And that’s all it is. Soccer but with cool little rocket-boosted cars playing the game instead of people pushing around an oversized ball. And the arena is caged, so the cars can drive up onto the sides to do all sorts of impressive things when the player has enough skill to get it to work for them.
While it’s possible to learn tricks and complicated volleys that take hours to master, none of this is necessary to thoroughly enjoy playing the game from the outset.
Gameplay is fairly straightforward for anyone already familiar with the rules of soccer. The only real difference is that you are using a car to guide the ball down the field instead of kicking it with your feet.
Players work as a team to advance an oversized ball down the field to try to get it into their opponent’s goal. Teams can be 3v3, 2v2 or 1v1 format, and all players will either be on either the blue team or the orange team.
Professional tournaments will usually follow the 3v3 format as it requires more teamwork and skill to play this way.
Both teams begin the game on opposite sides of the field with the ball in the middle. When the timer begins, they race to be the first to hit the ball with their car.
Once one team manages to score a goal, players are automatically returned to the starting position, and the whole process begins again. This happens repeatedly until the timer runs out.
Whichever team has scored the most goals is the winner. In the event of a tie, the game goes into overtime until a winner is determined.
While the rules are simple and straightforward enough, the gameplay itself is extremely fast-paced and technical. Players with more dexterity are the ones who come out on top since it can take hours of play to master the controls.
There seems to be no limit to the number of tricks and techniques that players can discover to enhance their game and make awesome-looking stylistic shots. Experienced players can have their own signature moves that they regularly utilize, both individually and as team players.
Another aspect of Rocket League that makes it irresistibly customizable is all the different options there are for cars. Players select a car before each match, and they can unlock more models and features by completing more matches.
Rocket League Championship Series and World Championship
Now that we’ve gone over some of the basic rules and elements of typical Rocket League play, let’s briefly explore how the game is organized when it is played competitively.
The Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) is the highest level of Rocket League competition. It’s an annual tournament that has been around since 2016 run by Psyonix, who created the game.
Sixteen teams from six continents compete in regional tournaments to qualify for the World Championship, which has a $2 million prize pool.
Participation in the World Championships is by invitation only. Teams with the most RLCS points are granted invitations to future events.
The RLCS is split three ways into a Fall, Winter, and Spring Split. Each split is then divided into Regional Events, which determine who will compete in the International Major.
The regions that accumulate the most points at Majors will automatically qualify for the Main Event. There are always eight auto-qualifiers.
Sixteen other teams will remain to compete in the World Championship Wild Card tournament, after which the top eight teams will compete in the Main Event where a final winner is crowned.
Rocket League continues to succeed as an eSport by catering to the highest level of competition. The complex gameplay mechanics Rocket League boasts has led to the creation of a successful eSports community with highly skilled professional players.
Psyonix has backed the expansion of competitive Rocket League in a huge way. Their most important contribution is allowing professional players to twist the seemingly simple physics of Rocket League into complex skills.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Rocket League as a game and as a tournament eSport. Feel free to add any questions or feedback in the comments section below!