I knew from my first few hours playing Rocket League that it would become my most played game on Steam. It took me nearly a thousand hours to reach the coveted top rank of Grand Champion. It remains, in my eyes, the perfect competitive multiplayer experience: easy to get into, difficult to master, and far more focused on tactical decisions and reading your opponents than about who has the twitchiest reflexes or the highest APM.
Rocket League is, simply put, my jam.
In my mind, Rocket League is the perfect e-sport, because it succeeds where so many others fail in that it’s so easy for a spectator to understand what’s going on. Compare that with Dota 2, or CSGO, or Hearthstone, where there’s such a ridiculous amount to memorise and internalise before you can even gain an understanding of who’s looking better off in a match. Rocket League is so easy to get into, and while you might not understand how a top-tier player does what they do, you can understand what it was that they did, and how good at the game they must be to pull it off.
I bought Rocket League when it was released, but it wasn’t until I started watching streams from the old veterans of SARPBC (Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, the spiritual predecessor to Rocket League) that it dawned on me just how much of my free time was about to go down the drain. Up until this point, everyone was just staying on the ground, chasing the ball whenever possible, and goals were more a result of accidental touches or unpredictable ricochets than of skill. But these streamers were light-years ahead of the rest. Suddenly my eyes were opened to the possibilities of aerial dribbles, of ball resets, of perfectly timed flicks and blocks and ridiculous cross-pitch freestyles.
I was never a flashy Rocket League player. Instead, my forte was in reading the pitch. I may not always have been the most technically skilled player, but I could read other players better than they could read me. Blocks and jukes were my jam, and it served to show that you don’t always need to be in the air to get the ball past the opposing team.
I wonder if I’ll ever get as good at any game ever again. If I don’t, I’m still very happy for Rocket League to remain on that top spot.