eSports are more popular than ever. League of Legends has earned over $1.6 billion.Thousands watch Defense of the Ancients or Street Fighter tournaments live, while hundreds of thousands, if not millions more watch via Twitch or YouTube. However, eSports have yet to break into the daily pop-culture conversation. The masses still consider eSports to be one of several niches in the digital entertainment market. There has yet to be an eSports spectacle that captivates both hardcore gamers AND more casual fans. Rocket League is the perfect title to do just that.
Reason 1: The Physics Are Damn Brilliant
Playing Rocket League is an amazing experience. The manic pace eclipses the most frenzied arcade sports titles. The graphics are sharp and the sound design is immersive. But a lot of games are pretty, hectic, and will drive your roommates crazy. For me, the reason I keep returning to Rocket League, night after night, is the physics.
The ball uses all 360 degrees of space as it careens throughout the arena. The slightest graze can lead to a devastating own-goal or a relieving tumble into the corner. It is a chaotic environment, but a shrewd player can control the chaos and use it to his or her advantage.
Look at this goal by user Sixpack3. A defender had mistakenly bounced the ball off the far wall, back towards center. Sixpack3 sees the ball the whole way and knows that, if hit perfectly, it will find the back of the net. There was no variable. Sixpack3 simply understood Rocket League's laws of physics and executed perfectly. It is gaming in its purest form.
Reason 2: Rocket League is Simple
Rocket League is rocket powered cars playing soccer. That's all. If you can understand that, you can play. You do not have to learn a new vocabulary like in League or DOTA. You do not have to spend hours practicing combos or patiently leveling up until you get the right weapon. In fact, you can learn to play Rocket League, in its entirety, in a matter of minutes. It's refreshingly basic for an eSports title. However...
Reason 3: Rocket League, Like Any Great Sport, is Nearly Impossible to Master:
Whenever I watch a high-level match, I am captivated by what the players are able to do. They make spectacular aerial shots or perfectly timed saves look just as easy as Messi does when he nutmegs another hapless defender.
Reason 4: OP Does not Exist in Rocket League:
In Rocket League, matchups are won and lost based on one's relative understanding of the game's physics and his or her ability to manipulate them. The game is completely objective. Victories depend on skill, rather than variables like character speed, power, etc. This makes it a perfect eSports title because champions definitively earn their victory. The audience is not left to ponder the question of who is the best, which brings me to my final point...
Reason 5: Rocket League is Incredibly Watchable:
Above all, for a game to be a successful eSport, it has to be just as entertaining for the audience Indeed, the idea of watching others play a videogame is still a peculiar concept to many. Rocket League is different. Personally, I would almost rather watch someone play Rocket League than play it myself. The matches are five minutes and even the longest overtime will last no longer than ten. Single elimination and round robin tournaments can come down to the final thirty seconds, leaving spectators on the edge of their seats. On top of that, we can all marvel at the unapproachable skills of the world's best players.
Watch the first five minutes of this match between superstar teams Swarm Gaming2 and Flipsid3 Tactics and tell me that you don't want to take another 20 minutes to watch the rest of the tournament.
Finally, because Rocket League is just cars playing soccer, the commentary is simple and relatable. Your 65 year old uncle could walk in and understand what's happening. In fact, he'll probably insist on playing for himself.