The State of the Rocket League Esports Scene: A Players’ Perspective
The Players’ Lobby features articles written by esports most authoritative voices – those of the players themselves. Earlier this month, TPL published its first article penned by a Rocket League professional, Ryan “Doomsee” Graham. A veteran of the UK scene, Doomsee has been playing Rocket League since its release, representing some of the UK’s top esports organisations in that time, including Team Infused and most recently, Hashtag United.
The Players’ Lobby was proud to feature Doomsee’s insights as it’s first of many pieces of Rocket League content to come. The article served to stimulate debate within the RL community and certainly set a high benchmark for all future Rocket League contributors.
Having played the game at a high level throughout its period of rapid growth and also its first strides into the esports world, Doomsee is well positioned to provide an authoritative assessment on the current state of Rocket League, with emphasis on it’s standing within the esports landscape.
Penning his thoughts in his article “State of The Scene” – which can be found here, Doomsee touches on the important issues related to Rocket League esports, including in-game micro-transactions, accessibility, streaming and the apparent conflict between casual and competitive players.
Rocket League developer Psyonix claimed that 2017 was the “best year yet” for the popular vehicular soccer game. With respect to esports, brand new tournaments like the Universal Open, The X Games and the Eleague Cup were launched. Senior Vice President of Game Development at Psyonix remarked that: “With the introduction of our Collegiate Rocket League program and the RLCS World Championships in LA and DC breaking records, there’s never been a better time to be a fan of competitive Rocket League.”
“We always knew Rocket League had the potential to be a huge success in the world of esports, but our main focus was ensuring that Rocket League was the best game it could be. After release, we saw the appetite for high level competitive play and we decided to make it one of our focuses post-launch.”
But how well have those comments faired as we approach the midway point of the 2018 season?
Though Doomsee expects the Rocket League player base to continue to grow, he feel that the rate of it’s expansion has slowed significantly in 2018 compared to 2017. This presents both positives and negatives. Doomsee’s considers it unlikely that the game will break through to become a Tier 1 esport alongside the likes of League of Legends or CS:GO, as more casual players have since moved on to the next trending titles, though the community that remains is likely to be more passionate and committed to the game in the long term:
“Rocket League has already had it’s ‘trendy’ period like the one Fortnite is going through now. All the people who were there for the trend have moved on and the people who actually love the game have stayed. As a result, viewing numbers on streamers have halved, at least. The number of players in this game isn’t really enough to take it to the next level.”
Esports is dependant on enthused and passionate fans and as a result, Rocket League’s diehard fans have seen an increase in viewership numbers over the past year. This in turn, however, has created an awkward imbalance for Psyonix to address:
“The thing is, the Twitch viewership is strange for Rocket League; the esports side is huge, and more people are watching it than actually playing the game concurrently at times, which is bizarre.”
“The irony is that both sides actually need each other but they don’t realize it. The casual side brings in the player base which keeps the game healthy, whereas the esports side brings in players by advertising it at esports events. They literally rely on each other to keep the game popular, but for some reason, they just keep arguing with each other.”
Doomsee’s insights highlight a dilemma for Psyonix, who in their ambition to create a major esports title have encountered the issue faced by many game publishers before them. It is at this point in Rocket League’s lifespan where a question will need to be answered that will define the game’s identity for the future – is Rocket League better suited as an esport or as a casual title?
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