Five wishes for Rocket League’s fifth birthday

On July 7 Rocket League turned 5 years old. Originally released on the PC and PlayStation 4, it was, of course, a sequel to one of the greatest names for a video game of all time: the 2008 PS3 release Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars. There should be a documentary made one day on why we even moved away from that epic name.

We are also at the doorstep of the tenth season of Rocket League competition, and it will look different for many reasons — the pandemic, some restructuring, and only one world championship every calendar year (which I’m 100% in favor of, by the way).

In honor of Rocket League’s anniversary, here are five things I hope to see from the game and the competitive scene going forward.

Rocket League as a Tier 1 esport

I’m very curious to see how Rocket League grows as an esports in the next several years. It’s no secret that it’s on the doorstep of breaking through — viewership has been impressive and climbing. The discussion around the scene is that it’s surprising we don’t already consider RL a tier 1 esport. I think the hiring of Nate Nanzer, one of the masterminds of competitive gaming, to Epic Games will definitely help here. You just don’t hire someone like that into your company and not have intentions to make your titles grow, or even explode in popularity.

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While Fortnite’s success is a little more tied to the amount of zeroes found in the prize pools, Rocket League is more uniquely suited to have staying power as a top competition, not just for the passionate fanbase but for new audiences as well. This is not a new discussion, but we have reached the point where things can be put into place to execute this, and Nanzer will be at the helm for that. This is something I will be keeping an eye on the most in the coming months and years.

Tell us stories about the players

One thing I loved about the community tournaments, particularly The Brawl, was the opportunity to see a lot more from the players. Comms, for the most part, were fun to listen to and gave us a glimpse of the personalities. Why is this important? Because it gives audiences one more reason to care about and cheer for these players. Someone like Pierre “Turbopolsa” Silfver is easy to root for, given his career trajectory. NRG as a whole at one point were “the team that couldn’t quite get there” and when they finally did, it was an iconic moment in Rocket League history.

But these stories are the exception, not the rule, so we need to learn about these players so we can get invested. Some of the players don’t like to talk or aren’t the most charismatic on camera; that’s fine. There are other ways to tell stories. I would say storytelling is in some ways almost as important as the competition itself… “the anticipation is often sweeter” as they say. Just look at the lead up to a major prize fight.

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