Since the RLCS’s inaugural season in 2016, a very noticeable variable has remained near constant: Car choice.
There are currently more than 65 battle cars in Rocket League. Only three have been used on a world championship-winning team: The Octane, Dominus, and Batmobile.
The Octane, which is the default car as soon as a new player opens the game for the first time, is by far the most used car in competitive Rocket League. 20 of the 24 players who have lifted the RLCS trophy used the Octane to achieve their goal. Only three players have won it all with the Batmobile (0verzer0 in Season 1, Kuxir97 in Season 2, and Turbopolsa in Season 5), and Gimmick (season 6) is the lone Dominus user to win a world championship.
These three cars, along with the Fennec (Popularized by Chausette45, who used it to steamroll nearly everyone in the Rocket League Summit), are essentially the only “viable” cars in the RLCS. Any time a player strays from these four options, casters and viewers alike will notice—and point out—the decision.
Why so few?
Considering the fact that car choice mostly just boils down to personal preference, it’s curious that there are so few cars that see regular use.
There is no definitive, single reason that most pros use these four cars. Many will say that they visually represent their hitbox the best, meaning their contact with the ball is more predictable. Some may say the height of the Octane and Fennec make them better for 50/50s, while others would say that the flatness of the Dominus or Batmobile make them the ideal car for flicks. Some prefer the Octane simply because it’s the first car they used and they never bothered to change, so they’re just used to it.
However, it really is just how the car feels when you use it. When the best of the best say it boils down to personal preference, it’s not a lie. Anyone can be great with any car; the pros just seem to like these choices more than the others.
Well, most pros…
The date is December 1st, 2019. Complexity Gaming (Flakes, Greazy, and Mognus) are fighting for their lives in the RLCS Promotion tournament against Team Singularity (Godsmilla, Noly, and ThO). If they lose, they drop down to the lower bracket and face possible relegation.
Many would argue that this is the highest pressure situation a pro can be in, even more so than the world championships.
Singularity emerged victorious in a brutal seven-game series and then proceeded to beat Complexity again in the lower bracket in five games to make the RLCS. But their win and consequential rise into the RLCS would be overshadowed by a much more controversial story: Flakes was using the Merc the entire time.
For those unaware as to why this would draw controversy, the Merc is, to put it lightly, not a fan-favourite car. Its near-entirely rectangular shape makes it feel clunky and slow to many, and despite having the same hitbox as the octane, most people wouldn’t touch it with a 12 and-a-half foot pole in a serious situation.
While Flakes had been fairly well known for switching up his car choice on stream, he had almost exclusively been using the Octane for the entire RLCS season. The decision to use the “meme” car in the highest-pressure situation of his career caused many to question his mentality. His critics all had the same argument: “He’s not taking this seriously.”
Flakes added fuel to the fire with his response when Yukeo asked him “Why Merc?” on twitter. He replied “Why not brotherman”.
He did this in the middle of the series.
Personally, I found this to be one of the most legendary moments in the history of professional Rocket League.
While many, including some pros such as Ferra, took this as disrespect towards his teammates, I saw it as a player who was proving a much larger point while coping with pressure in his own way. Flakes is known for firmly believing that car choice does not matter. For his fans, the decision to use the Merc wasn’t an attempt to troll or disrespect anyone; it was simply an act within his character.
All Cars Are Equal
Despite his team being relegated to the RLRS through the promotion tournament, Flakes managed to keep his spot in the RLCS for Season 9 after being picked up by FC Barcelona esports, who had just departed with the EU MVP Bluey.
Somehow, expectations for Flakes were both sky-high and low. On one hand, he had to replace the MVP. On the other hand, he had just gone 0-7 in league play. The pressure to deliver was on. Flakes had to prove that FC Barcelona didn’t make a mistake by picking him.
As Barca’s Week 1 match against Veloce approached, questions kept coming. “Is Flakes going to be taking his second season more seriously?” “How will his solo-play oriented style fit with the reigning golden striker Ronaky?” Flakes had to show up. He did.
In the Scarab.
Taking his “all cars are the same” mentality to the next level, Flakes used the Scarab for an entire series of professional Rocket League. He also decided to throw on the cockroach topper as well for the heck of it.
The Rocket League world was in shock. No professional in their right mind would ever use the Scarab—easily the most memed, strangest, and oddly-shaped car in the game—in an actual RLCS match. Except Flakes. Flakes doesn’t care.
Somehow, someway, Flakes looked like the best player on the pitch as Barca won 3-2. The next week, Flakes looked incredible again, this time in the Gizmo en route to a 3-0 sweep(check out this play, in which he literally fakes out two members of Endpoint and pops the ball over the third for an absolutely delicious goal).
While Barca lost 3-1 in Week 3 to Vitality, Flakes still impressed even while using the Ecto-1, a car from the Ghostbusters DLC pack. It’s not even just the eye test that Flakes is passing. He’s also currently leading Europe in goals per game (0.83), and is second in both shot percentage (28.57%) and goal participation (50.00%).
Flakes hasn’t used the same car in back-to-back series since the two with the Merc in the promotion tournament, and he’s quickly winning over the hearts of hundreds of fans with his unique mindset.
People seem to be drawn towards finding out what car Flakes is going to use each week, which is something that’s never even been thought of prior to this season. He is single-handedly changing the community’s perception of how important car choice is.
We’ve already seen his impact on other players as well, as TSM’s Metsanauris recently played a series with the Fast 4WD from the Hot Wheels DLC. Let me say that again. A pro is using a car from the Hot Wheels DLC in the RLCS.
While there are valid reasons to disagree with the sentiment that “all cars are the same,” it’s hard to deny that what Flakes has been doing is nothing short of incredible. He is defying one of the longest-standing conventions of competitive Rocket League, and he’s looked great doing it. Not only is it fun to guess what car Flakes will be in for the next series, but it’s also a blast to watch him destroy axles and nail double taps with a car that looks like the ball.
Flakes is creating a world in which we could genuinely see the Grog or Ripper represented at the World Championship and that’s a world I am 100% ready to live in.