Rocket League: Watch Finale Of MLG’s First Tourney

I’ve just finished catching up on the grand final of MLG’s first North American Rocket League [official site] tournament and it was a doozy of a best-of-three!

The MLG eSports organisation have been dipping their toes in the Rocket League waters. It’s mostly because their resident FPS expert and exec producer Chris Puckett is (like the rest of the internet) in love with the game and wants to explore its eSports potential – he thinks it has loads and I’m in agreement. After all, it’s a really easy game to explain to anyone – football/soccer with cars – and has the capacity for really exciting, highly gif-able plays throughout the five minute matches.

You can watch the match after the jump! [Spoilers if you’re working through the whole tournament and don’t want to know who reached the final yet.]

Here are favourites Cosmic Aftershock facing off against Kings of Urban:

Something that I’ve thought while playing my own matches in the tiddler ranks and which became really clear to me over the course of these tournament matches was how effective the in-game crowd chanting is. At live events the crowd joining in with the countdown or the rise and fall of the noise really fleshes out the environment and offers up a baseline of excitement and the sensation of watching with others before you even get started on what the shoutcasters are doing or how the matches are actually going. I love it when you can hear spectator noise while streaming a live eSports event and Rocket League gives a tiny taste of that even if you’re in a silent studio or your bedroom at home. I’m now wondering what would happen if you ran a big stadium event, whether the faux crowd and the real one would harmonise or clash. I think there would be a lot of end-of-game countdowns, at any rate.

But back to this tournament and that ending? I’d say it’s a strong start for a Rocket League professional gaming scene. You could say that MLG really had their eye on the ball getting stuck in so quickly…


  1. ResonanceCascade says:

    Rocket League is the only e-sport I really have interest in watching. I’m all for the push to make it a thing.

    • Marblecake says:

      Seconded. Watching games is just as much fun as playing them. But! The devs really have to change the spectator dial thingy, it got rather annoying.

      • JustAPigeon says:

        Yeah. I assume this is because they were playing on PS4, hopefully they can implement a nicer UI on the spectator system on PC.

        Would love to see Rocket League as a big esport. I feel that there aren’t enough really good players, currently, to make it interesting. Hopefully that can change before esports interest in the game dies off.

      • Oozo says:

        My thought was more like: they desperately need better directors in esports, or at least in this particular one. (Not that I think that what I have seen of the Dota International pointed to a big routine in how to show matches.)
        But the thing is, “Rocket League” is a lot less complex than soccer, it seems, and they nail it there. Here, you have the impression that the more or less haphazardly zoom to different player views, without any feeling for rhythm or readability. Of course, it’s very early days for this particular game, and esports do have some disadvantages compared to “real life sports” (you can’t cut to any faces, for one, neither of the “players” nor the “audience” in the way TV crews can do with “real” soccer matches). And it’s clear that they have to figure out how to do it as it goes.

        Still, I hope that they will make progress there, because the beauty of “Rocket League” really is that it’s so simple that it could be interesting even to people who couldn’t imagine ever watching people playing video games. (Contrary to something like “Starcraft” or “Dota”, which are way too visually and mechanically complex to ever be of interest to somebody who is not playing the game actively, I think…)

  2. Barberetti says:

    I see that the RPS staff have already got bored of slapping the Game Of The Month logo on to the Game Of The Month. Didn’t take long :p

  3. ninjapirate says:

    This was actually exciting to watch, I even found myself cheering by the end of the last match!

    Rocket League is so much more accessible to viewers unfamiliar with the game, especially when you compare it to MOBAs like DOTA or LoL – I’ve tried watching a match of the most recent The International event, but having no first-hand experience with the game myself, I had absolutely no clue what was going on.

    • jgf1123 says:

      Same here. I don’t watch eSports, but I tried watching a DotA 2 tournament because I heard they had “newbie” channel and hoped the commentators would provide some onramp for understanding and thus enjoying what was going on. About a couple minutes in their chatter was along the lines of, “He bought [skill/equipment] late” and moved on, implying the audience should already be familiar with skills and equipment, what they do, why they’re important to the hero and/or team, the builds, and the timing of builds. Yes, very newbie friendly.

      That Rocket League match though, especially the last game, was brilliant.

    • Vandelay says:

      I watch a few Dota games now and again, and do enjoy them (having played the game a lot myself helps,) but these really are a much better fit. Personally, I find the biggest issue with watching Dota is the time commitment, where a single game, including hero selection, is going to clock in at about an hour, at least. You then make a match a best of 3, you are looking at almost 4 hours if it goes to the third game and you add in the downtime between games. Finals are even longer by being best of 5.

      These 5 minute matches are much, much better. Wouldn’t even mind it going up to 10 minutes.

      That was pretty exciting though. Incredible finish. Not played Rocket League, but this really makes me want to give it a go.

    • blastaz says:

      I agree, conceptually it’s much easier to understand what is meant to be going on in a game of Rocket League and further insane skill/luck looks obvious. You can tell quite easily when something goes well or badly.

      Fighting games are also fairly easy to understand but go much more quickly, the relatively ponderous pace of Rocket Cars are to their advantage.

    • ButteringSundays says:

      Even if you have first hand experience it doesn’t get much easier.

      I don’t care how much money Valve pump into it DOTA it is not a spectator sport. It will never have any appeal outside of its own niche, they’re just fortunate it’s a big niche.

      FPSs aren’t much better, you’re mostly just watching who can click the thing the quickest.

      Rocket League is the first game I’ve played and watched that feels like it could be played and watched as a sport. Hopefully it’s an evolutionary milestone in esports-land, something desperately needed.

      • Asurmen says:

        “don’t care how much money FIFA pump into football it is not a spectator sport. It will never have any appeal outside of its own niche, they’re just fortunate it’s a big niche.”

        Not really sure what the difference is between DOTA and football. What makes one a spectator sport and not the other?

        • JamesTheNumberless says:

          Yep, I agree. The biggest difference is mass-appeal, but that’s driven by cultural factors rather than anything inherent to the game.

          Both football and DOTA can work as spectator sports on multiple levels. It’s possible to enjoy a game of football without knowing anything about tactics, the more subtle rules, the roles of different playing positions, what’s physically or technically difficult, and what to expect from certain situations. But if you watched a game of football with only the vaguest idea what’s going on, it would probably be very boring, especially if there weren’t any goals.

          Yet most people who are familiar with both would say that you can’t really watch DOTA without understanding the rules well enough to play it yourself, unlike football which is more accessible. But these people underestimate how much they’ve actually learned about football even though they never sat down with the rule-book.

          If you grew up as a boy in the UK then you probably had to play it at school, and probably had adults and other kids around you who were enthusiastic about it and talked about it. You encountered football a lot and learned a lot about whether you wanted to or not. If you grew up as a girl, you were less likely to have had so much encouragement or pressure to take an interest, but you would nonetheless have learned a few things whether you took a direct interest or not.

          So people inevitably make the comparison having grown up in a culture that taught them, over a couple of decades of their life, at least the basics of football. Substitute this for baseball or American “football” or cricket or whatever you like.

          Even if we don’t know what the offside rule is, most of us can relate to the fact that there’s some enjoyment to be had running around in a field kicking a ball, that’s our starting point. Nobody gets a child interested in football by drawing them diagrams explaining how Manchester United were able to beat Barcelona in 1999 by counter-attacking through the centre with two strong and quick centre-forwards thereby exploiting the opposition’s tactical emphasis on its wide players. No, you take a ball out into the garden and have a very simplified little kickabout with no rules, it only very superficially resembles the sport. So it has to be, with people getting into eSports like DOTA. Everyone would need that cultural experience of playing some child-friendly simplified and near-universally accessible (in terms of necessary equipment) MOBA-like game for it to ever have the same mass-appeal that football currently enjoys.

          • Lethys says:

            I disagree. There’s simply no comparing Dota 2 with a game whose goal can be boiled down to: there’s the ball, kick it into that net and stop the other team from kicking it in yours. Saying Dota 2 is a game about base destruction is short selling it immensely. My description of football is short-selling it as well, but you don’t need to understand exactly why the midfielder is standing where he is at a particular moment to see that they’re all just moving around in a way to try and best score and defend. Kicking is quite literally the first thing we ever do as people. The concept of a ball makes sense, we can see it. I don’t know soccer strategies, but I get the idea that the field is big, so people would want to spread themselves out in different ways to best cover it and defend it, and teams have different ideas on how this should or could be done.

            But Dota 2 is nearly incomprehensible without knowing which characters do what, which characters stun, why are there tentacles coming out of the ground, why is that one invisible and the rest aren’t, and so on. There’s over 100 different characters and knowing only 30 of them doesn’t help. The graphics look too complex to parse for someone who hasn’t created the effects themselves; too many particle effects are in one place to distinguish which team caused them for an untrained eye, and too many people are stunned/slowed for someone new to see who’s in danger and who’s not. I agree that anything can be simplified. It’s a matter of willingness to learn and exposure to it which dictates if someone learns something well enough to enjoy watching it, but the barrier for entry is much lower with Rocket League and football. Far fewer new concepts to understand or have to be taught.

  4. mpk says:

    The presentation of the game, it must be said, was bloody awful. I think they’ve got some work ahead of them to put in place some decent camera tools.

    That said, wow. WOW. That last game. Ooft!

    • Marblecake says:

      Definitely. They really need to put in some more and different camera modes that are easier to watch. This constant switching between cars gave me virtual whiplash. While it was already fun and intense to watch (especially that last match), it would be much more fun if you could keep better track of all players involved.

      • Asurmen says:

        Surely that’s a fault with the commentators and not the camera options? It had follow cam, fixed cam and free roam which is completely standard. They just preferred to use follow.

      • Cederic says:

        Right with you there – terribly director, they really need to switch less frequently and get better at picking where to focus.

        It was very disjointed, and actually takes away from the flow of the game.

        In terms of the camera itself, it’d be nice to have a few fixed positions – inside each goal, the centre line one, maybe one on the edge of each goal defence area.

        I’d like to see the big wheel made tiny and hidden in a corner too – we missed chunks of action because of the commentator dithering about who to switch to.

        If they can sort out the camera and direction, I’m finding this a very very watchable sport. I’m surprised, never been into eGaming, but this is genuinely good.

  5. caff says:

    There are some good skills going on there – but it’s heart-warming to see some missed touches in there too. I can only imagine the more people play, the better they’ll get.

    What a great game this is.

  6. Mitchk says:

    Loved watching that, I really hope this gets picked up as an eSport. I’m pretty sure a lot of the guys in that game have been playing since the original SARPBC, hence theres a bit of a skill gap between them and the majority. I doubt it will be long til more great teams start appearing and it gets really competitive.

    As an aside, there’s an RPS Rocket League…league…in the works at the moment if anyone is interested. Check the forums to sign up!

  7. Mctittles says:

    I think one of the main reasons I don’t like watching sports is the commentators. They have an uncanny knack of taking something exciting and making it boring by droning on filling space stating the obvious.

    I enjoy watching people play rocket league a but could not make it through this even with the amazing moves because of the annoying commentators.

  8. aircool says:

    Good match.