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Rocket League Could Lead an eSports Revolution

| August 29, 2015

Rocket League Could Lead an eSports Revolution Articles  Rocket League esports DOTA 2

As a video game fan for most of my life it has been truly great to see the meteoric rise of eSports over the last few years. Going from a few people huddled together in basements and garages all the way to massive sports arenas, what used to be an interesting pastime has become a legitimate force in sports entertainment. However, a few things still hold eSports back from all that it could be, and I think that Rocket League is the one game that can fix them all.

By far the biggest eSports event every year is Valve’s DOTA 2 championship, The International (The League of Legends Championship Series might actually be bigger in terms of overall viewers). Featuring the biggest prize pool in eSports, and even one of the biggest in sports overall, the event is essentially the public face of eSports. Events like EVO and the League of Legends Championship Series are great, but they don’t draw the same numbers just yet.

Despite its massive popularity, I still haven’t actually sat down to play DOTA 2. I find its complexity, and especially its community, a daunting wall that keeps me from actually diving into the game itself. However, I did watch the Grand Finals of this year’s The International, have watched various tutorial videos, and thoroughly enjoyed Free to Play: The Movie, the Valve produced documentary about the first tournament.

Watching these things was like viewing a foreign language film without subtitles. Sure, by looking at the images and catching the occasional word that I recognized, I could sort of figure out what was going on. I knew that the green guys had just dealt a lethal blow to the red guys, but exactly how they did it, and what the overall strategy was were a mystery.

Rocket League Could Lead an eSports Revolution Articles  Rocket League esports DOTA 2

This continued for some time, only really getting a grip on things after multiple matches, and a lot of follow up reading. Even now the higher level of play is confusing, with me mostly understanding the general direction of play, rather than the higher level strategy and meta-gaming.

Most popular eSports games are too complex for casual fans to join in.

All of this is to say, essentially, if I can’t get fully into the sport, than how do we expect more casual fans to? DOTA 2 and eSports in general won’t, and don’t have to become as popular as Football or Basketball, but as it currently stands it won’t even get close. This is, by my estimation, because most popular eSports games are too complex for casual fans to join in.

If you want to become a fan of an eSport like DOTA 2, LoL, or even Super Smash Bros. you usually have to play the actual game, or have someone deeply explain to you how it works. Conversely, more traditional sports usually make a decent amount of sense just by watching them for a few minutes. You might miss the deeper levels, like how downs work in football, or how the shot clock affects a basketball game, but you can follow along pretty easily.

While this isn’t true for most current eSports, it is true of Rocket League. The basics of Rocket League are so simple that someone wholly unfamiliar with the game, and video games in general, can probably pick it up after watching one or two matches. Even the higher level play, such as aerials, and player rotation, will show themselves pretty much right away.

Rocket League Could Lead an eSports Revolution Articles  Rocket League esports DOTA 2

This is exactly what is needed to propel eSports to the next level in terms of community size, and casual acceptance as a genuine entertainment medium. ESPN has some trouble talking about eSports as they currently exist, but talking about Rocket League would be as simple as discussing a normal soccer match.

Fans as well would be able to watch matches, understand what is happening throughout, and really get into the game. I’ve found myself, over the last few months, watching many of the top Rocket League players in tournaments and casual games. While I may not be able to pull off the moves that they can, I get how they did it, and can see what level of skill they are showing. This isn’t the case with DOTA 2, where pulling off a $6 million winning Echo Slam is probably extremely difficult, but the general audience would have no idea how it happened.

I know how this might sound to those that are truly invested in eSports and DOTA 2 specifically. “He’s just too dumb/lazy to figure it out” you say. I’ll totally admit to that, I just don’t want to put the time and effort into learning the entirety of DOTA 2 just to watch top level players compete, and there are millions more like me. If eSports are to get my, and those other millions’ attention then it needs a revolution, and Rocket League is the game to pull it off.

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  • Xxhighcxx

    All of this is correct. Rocket league is a great example of a fun to watch esports game that doesn’t take a day reading rules and strats to understand. It’s easy to pick up and play but its a fickle bitch to master.

  • Jan Kadlec

    Yes it’s true, lol and dota need some knowledge but it is much easier to watch lol then dota. Just try it. You need few matches or assist of friend and you are in.

  • Justice for Threes

    Where did you get your facts on DOTA2 being the premier? Unobjectively League of Legends has crushed DOTA2 in terms of viewers and attendance. In fact the only thing that is accurate is that DOTA2 does feature a much larger prize pool due in large part to the unique, and very cool system they have set up to help boost that prize pool with the actual active player base. The most watched esport is still League of Legends, and it will undoubtly remain at the top due to it having a much less intense learning curve. It is an easier game, thus more people play it, and much more people watch it casually.

    • Kyle Hanson

      That’s likely just due to my ignorance. The International easily gets the most attention from US audiences from what I’ve seen. I’ll throw an update in that LoL is more popular overall, but my main points still stand I feel.

      • Reenen Laurie

        DotA has highest prize pool (~15x more), in terms of viewership LoL is more (~4x more) than that of DotA. (DotA had 2m max concurrent viewers, while League had 8.5m concurrent viewers in their respective 2014 world competitions)

        Anyway, the article really isn’t about DotA or LoL, it’s about Rocket League, and although I think it has the potential to become a great eSport, I feel the game is too simple to keep me viewing it. Playing I’ll keep going, but watching isn’t complex enough.

        I’d want a bigger arena, and bigger teams, with more structured team formations etc.

        • Kyle Hanson

          Thanks for the info, and yeah just using DOTA and LoL to make a broader point.

          The dev has said that differently sized and configured arenas are being looked at (they were in the previous game), so you might find more to love later on.

        • Reenen Laurie

          Also… This static run for the ball at the start of the game is not condusive to strategic play. Perhaps on full competitive play you don’t see the “lucky” starts, but in my experience conceding an early goal because of a lucky bounce is not something I feel should reside in a competitive game.

          • Kyle Hanson

            Yeah, I don’t think Cosmic Aftershock is losing any kickoff goals any time soon. I mean, maybe one in a thousand or so, but there’s an element of luck in everything competitive.

          • Barrage7667

            I disagree, I think a lot of strategy can go into a kickoff in terms of when to hit the ball and watching your opponents when they go for the kickoff. It’s easy pickings if someone does the same thing every time.

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