The Woj of Rocket League: An interview with Achilles of ShiftRLE

If you are unfamiliar with the NBA or professional basketball in general, the name Adrian Wojnarowski likely means nothing to you. However, to those who follow basketball even somewhat closely, he is one of the most important people in the sporting world.

He’s not a player. He isn’t a coach, either. He is not a team exec, and he isn’t an NBA exec. Technically, he isn’t even employed by the NBA. Wojnarowski, better known as “Woj,” is a journalist for ESPN.

What does he report exactly? Transfers, almost always before they happen. As the NBA season winds down and the ever-tumultuous offseason begins, millions of basketball fans, including myself, turn on Twitter notifications just for this man in preparation for the barrage of “Woj bombs” (A term for a particularly surprising or large trade or free agency acquisition) about to be dropped on the world. If two teams are trading players, it’s not the teams themselves that let the world know first, it’s Woj. 

As I ventured into the world of Rocket League esports circa 2016, I noticed that, despite having a crazier offseason than most sports, Rocket League had a severe lack of a “Woj.” With all of the insane moves (that only seem to get crazier as seasons progress), I was a little frustrated by the lack of information we got before major announcements.

Rumors were typically limited to Reddit, Discord, and Liquipedia and usually had little ground until they were actually confirmed by the involved parties. It was unfortunate, but discussion was limited to pure speculation. Instead of asking questions that spark real debate such as “Is this a good move? Should team X have dropped player Y for player Z?” We would only ask “Who is making a roster move?”

In my opinion, this was quite limiting. It’s pretty hard to predict a team’s future performance if you don’t know who’s going to be on the team. If we wanted to have these discussions, we would need to know the moves before they happened. 

Enter ShiftRLE. Coming seemingly out of nowhere in March, this Twitter page claimed to be the number one source of Rocket League Esports trade and free agency rumors. It was a strong claim to make for a brand new organization, but given what the previous sources were, it didn’t take long for them to gain the trust of the Rocket League Esports community.

As the post-Season 9 offseason came and went, it was clear that Shift wasn’t just a random group of guys making guesses as they were getting everything right. From the insane claim of NRG kicking Turbo for Squishy to the absolute insanity that happened in the last two days of the European fall split trade window, Achilles, Jayski, and the rest of the team at Shift have proven themselves to be Rocket League’s most trustworthy roster news source time and time again.

Rocket League has found its Woj.

I sat down with Achilles, the founder of Shift, to discuss the past, present, and future of the organization. 

What made you decide to start Shift? Was it easy to get a team of people with a similar vision together?

Achilles: I wanted to start Shift for a while. I was doing the leak/journalism thing in Discords for years but I always wanted to make it something bigger. It started with me talking with Jayski and we both had the same vision about this then got some friends of mine who were also on board with this. 

When you guys were starting out, there was some skepticism surrounding your credibility considering you couldn’t exactly say where you were getting your information from. Obviously, it wouldn’t be fair to your inside sources to out them, so how did you work around that?

Achilles: The start was a bit iffy, but I knew from time passing and our leaks coming true that we would gain credibility pretty fast, and I think it shows in the growth we had with only 2 offseasons/trade windows so far under our belt.

So now that you guys are the most reliable source for Rocket League free agency info in the world, does any extra work go into verifying your information? Or are your sources reliable enough to the point where guess work isn’t required?

Achilles: Guess work isn’t how I work. I always try to verify with multiple sources in the scene. At the start it was definitely harder to verify but we always pulled through with sources. Now, especially in Europe which is my “speciality,” it’s become easier to verify rumours even within minutes of them happening.

Did you expect to grow in popularity this quickly? Was there any specific leak you provided that you’d say was the catalyst for such rapid growth?

Achilles: No, I definitely didn’t expect this growth within such a short amount of time. We only started in April and technically only had 2-3 months of growth with what we do, so it’s been pretty massive. Between Seasons 9 and X the rumor of Turbo getting kicked from NRG and Squishy replacing him basically gave us a huge boost and from then on it kept going.

What have been your personal favorite and least favorite roster moves of the last trade window?

Achilles: My personal favourite move of this window has to be Deevo to Guild Esports. I am really close to him and I was happy he landed on a great team with a great org.

My least favorite has to be Kuxir getting kicked from TL just because I always remember Kuxir as a fan since pre-Season 1 at the pinnacle of Rocket League Esports. I knew it was bound to happen sometime but it still definitely hurt.

Are there any big plans or changes for the future of shift or do you guys like what you’re doing right now?

Yes! Right now we have a website launching/being launched which is really cool. Hopefully with time we also get sponsors on board which will help us keep this thing going for as long as possible.

Nobody gets as popular as Shift without having a few detractors. What would you say to the people who think that announcing these moves should be left exclusively to the organizations and players?

I respect their view but, what I always say is if it wasn’t us, it would have been someone else down the line. With the rapid growth of the game it was bound to happen. We are in 2020 and this type of journalism is the “normal” for every esport/sport in the world.

You can follow Achilles and the official Shift page on Twitter at @achilles_XF and @ShiftRLE respectively. Shift also has an official Discord server and website that you can check out as well.

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MBS

MBS

Rocket League Superfan and journalism student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

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