What if I told you there was a way to actively improve at Rocket League without even opening the game? Well, there is. Actually, there has been for almost 5 years. It’s called the RLCS. Maybe you’ve heard of it?
Watching professional Rocket League is rarely cited as a means to improve but that shouldn’t mean it doesn’t count.
Considering how common it is in other practices to “learn from the masters,” it’s a little confusing to me as to why the RLCS is rarely brought up as an educational device. However, there are so many facets of pro play that anyone, even bronze players, can implement into their game to give them an edge over those who don’t watch the esport.
Simply watching the game at the highest level can have a serious positive impact on your play, depending on what you’re paying attention to during the stream.
Here are some tips on how to maximize your viewing experience to get the most self-improvement out of it:
1. Accept the Players Are Better Than You
This may seem like a joke to regular viewers, but to others, it may come off as more of a personal attack. No, you could not “keep up” with these guys. No, their games do not “look like a Champ 2 lobby.” And no, NRG is not going to try you out any time soon.
One of the most important things to realize about the RLCS is that these are the best players in the world. This is their job and they’ve probably at least doubled your hours.
It’s tough for some players—especially ones near the top of the ranked leaderboards—but before you can learn from the best, you have to accept that you have a lot to learn and that these players can teach you. But only if you let them.
2. Find Your Weakness
Every Rocket League player has a vice. Most of you probably know what yours is—the one mechanic, aspect of the game or type of shot that you just can’t seem to get no matter how much you practice in free play or analyze it in your replays.
Maybe it’s rotation-based, maybe it’s an advanced mechanic, maybe it’s just air control in general—it doesn’t matter what it is. Somewhere in the RLCS, there is a pro who’s known for being insanely good at it.
Do your challenges suck? Go watch Rogue’s Firstkiller from the most recent North American winter major. As a former king of the 1v1 scene, he may just have the best challenge game in the world right now.
Pay attention to how he reads his opponents and positions his car to block a clear, or how he uses boost while in different 50/50 scenarios and you’ll certainly notice patterns. Then try to implement these patterns into your game.
Just make sure to not try and play exactly like Firstkiller in every aspect of the game, though, because you’re not him and your teammates will hate you.
Maybe your shot accuracy is what could use work. In that case, you may want to watch some film from Team Liquid’s Ronaky or Sypical of Spacestation Gaming.
These two are notorious for being able to put blistering shots on net from nearly anywhere on the field with laser accuracy. Try paying attention to how they air roll right before their shots, where on the car (and ball) they make contact, and how they time their dodges.
Whatever it is you suck at the most, I guarantee there’s a player in the RLCS who has made it their specialty. Figuring out who that is and then paying special attention to them can have you breaking through in ways that training packs just can’t.
3. Actually Listen to the Talent
Rocket League esports have been blessed with some of the best casting talent in the world. From the slightly more calm and analytical Johnnyboi_i to the all-hype-all-the-time Jorby, there’s a caster for everyone. But they’re all phenomenal in my opinion.
Regardless, these guys aren’t just here to tell you who is hitting the ball at this exact moment. Casters regularly do something that is incredibly hard for players to do—analyzing the match mid-game.
When you’re in a game of Rocket League, you don’t really have time to think about who is controlling the mid-boost because you’re too focused on not getting scored on. However, this may not be the case with regular viewers of the RLCS.
Pointing out things like mid-boost control, who’s winning challenges regularly, and backboard defense mid-game is intended to help the audience understand what’s going on but players within the audience could take a bit more from them.
A lot of live colour commentary can actually plant some seeds in your head about what to think about while playing the game. If you’re facing a lot of pressure in the corner, your top concern is alleviating it fast, but remembering why teams face a lot of pressure can help refocus your efforts to solving the root of the problem.
While watching the RLCS, you’re constantly reminded of the hows and whys of Rocket League; casters explain what went wrong on a goal or why a certain type of shot keeps working against a specific team. When playing, you’re much more focused on the what. Pay attention to the talent and you may transfer a bit of that knowledge that only an observer can have and apply it to your gameplay.
4. Pay Attention to Rotations
Being told to rotate isn’t all that helpful if you don’t know how to rotate. While there are plenty of excellent guides of what you should do, they can’t teach you how to improvise. Even if you know how to rotate properly, there is absolutely no chance that your team is going to maintain a perfect rotation all game.
When analyzing your own film, you mostly just point out what you did wrong and what you could have done better but you can’t always visualize what you could have done. This is where professional Rocket League comes in.
The RLCS is that exact visualization. It’s full of nearly-perfect rotational players who almost always do the right thing at the right time. Pay attention to when they make decisions you otherwise wouldn’t have and how it benefits their team. Take notice of when they half-rotate, rotate back-post, or any other form of rotate you can think of.
Rocket League is an incredibly dynamic game with pretty complex mechanics and movement, so no two situations will be exactly the same. But the RLCS is a pretty good starting guide of what to do in any given situation (provided that situation doesn’t require you to hit a Flip Reset Musty Flick Double Touch)
5. Let It Motivate You
I can’t really confirm it but it feels like pros just have the most fun playing the game, doesn’t it? Rocket League is very much one of those games where the better you get, the more fun the game is. It would only make sense, then, that pros have the most fun.
Something about watching high-stakes, high-level gameplay just gets the competitive juices flowing. Be honest, have you not considered how cool it must have felt to be Jstn when he hit the greatest shot of all time? Of course you have because it was insane.
Pro Rocket League players are constantly pushing the limits of what’s possible in the game, meaning there are always going to be new mechanics to learn. When you watch the RLCS, let yourself get jealous.
When you don’t feel like opening freeplay, just remember the things these guys have invented there. Who doesn’t want a flick named after them? Who doesn’t want to be able to hit a double flip reset?
If you’re serious about improving in Rocket League, these are the guys you should be modelling your game after. These are the guys you should be listening to, and these are the guys you should be watching every weekend.