ApparentlyJack On Being A RLCS X Rookie And The Importance Of Content Creation
Dignitas' dynasty in Rocket League will always see the monumental organisation be cherished within the esports fan base. Their consistency to find top-tier rosters and transcend to European greatness is to be admired, and despite entering RLCS X as the European Champions, Dignitas soon had a rebuilding job on their hands.
With two transfers in the space of three months, Dignitas' roster turned to the upcoming rookies, who had risen to fame thanks to a progressive new format.
The final piece of the puzzle was Jack "ApparentlyJack" Benton, who soon set Europe alight in his first season in the elite championships.
As the season concluded, we sat down with ApparentlyJack to discuss everything from signing for Dignitas, aspirations for the upcoming season, a background in 1v1, and the importance of content creation.
- Signing For Dignitas
- Reflecting On RLCS X
- Transitioning From 1v1 And Being A Rookie In RLCS X
- Positives And Negatives Of The RLCS X Format
- Off-Season: Aspirations, Intel World Open, Rostermania
- Importance Of Content Creation
ApparentlyJack Discusses Signing For Dignitas
I guess the place to start is when you signed for Dignitas, what was it like going through the trial period and getting the opportunity to sign for such a prestigious Org?
Dignitas made it quite easy on me, the trials were quite quick and I think we only did two scrims before they said they wanted me to sign.
Signing for Dig after being a Rocket League fan for three or four years, seeing them always pop up at the top and watching their era of being the best team in the world, it was quite daunting signing for such a big org but it was really that “you’ve made it'' moment. That was the feeling I got, yeah it was pretty cool.
When you joined did you have any expectations for the Winter Split and season as a whole?
To be honest, not really. I was coming over from Rix.GG where we’d finished 20th in Europe in the first split. So before I signed in the second split I was on a 20th placed side, then going to a team that was tenth was quite a big jump. My goal for the split was to just prove myself, to improve as much as possible, and prove that I was good enough to play in this team.
We started off getting 12th, then eighth, and then third in the last regional and third again at the Major so we made some huge improvements towards the end, which saw us come third for the whole split. It was quite surprising and I wasn’t expecting too much, because I think it was best not for me at the time.
Reflecting on RLCS X
You came agonisingly close to qualifying for ‘worlds’/the regional championships, reflecting on the season now how do you think it went? Were you happy with the progress made?
I came for the 20th team in Europe, when I first joined I wasn’t expecting to get to worlds at all. That wasn’t even on my mind. Maybe because I thought it would take us quite a lot of time to settle in - and it did to an extent.
We finished the winter split as fifth overall which had us inside the top six that qualify for worlds. But what went wrong is that we put too much pressure on the results that we needed to stay in the top six. We started to think “we need top eight here” and “top six here” and that put unnecessary pressure on us that didn’t help. But I’m happy with how it went - top 20 to top eight.
When I first joined Dignitas I personally didn’t think I was on their level, but I quickly improved and that’s one I’m proud of. As a team, we proved at one point, especially in December, that we could be the best team in Europe and we were fresh-hot at the time. We did well, but you can’t win them all.
In your short time there, do you have a particular game or memory that sticks in your mind as your favourite?
Probably the Guild B07 where we perfect sweeped them. It was just almost perfect Rocket League that we played and it was the first time where I had a feeling that we were genuinely better than everyone - like playing better, not actually being better players. But at that time in that match, we were playing the best Rocket League I’ve ever seen myself play, Joris "Joreuz" Robben play, and Jos "ViolentPanda" van Meurs play. It was just perfect.
Another that sticks in my mind is the game against Oxygen [at the time] in the Winter Split Regional 3, where we played for the top 3. At the time the top 3 was huge for us and it was another bo7. We won by a single goal and it was just mental. So I'd say one of those two games.
The Dignitas roster is one of the most exciting attacking teams in Europe. How much have you learnt from VP, Joreuz, and John "Virge" Willis?
Obviously, we know VP and Virge have been around in the scene for a long time and longer than Joreuz, who’s a good friend of mine. I’ve not learnt that much from him specifically, maybe some certain mechanics and some things from his style of play. It was more from Virge and Panda that I’ve learnt from.
Virge and I get along very well and I can see the things he tries to teach me that can be implemented into my game.
Panda has an extremely good view for the game and in particular, a good eye for a pass. I’ve definitely learnt how to pass better from him - and how 3s should be played as a whole. Admittedly, I’m still not the best 3s player, I’m better at 1s and 2s and I’ll hold my hands up to that. But I’ve definitely improved a lot from Panda as he's worked closely with me and Joreuz to learn the intricacies of 3s.
Discussing The Transition From 1v1 To 3v3 And Being An RLCS Rookie
How difficult is that transition from 1s to 3s? Obviously, 3s is where the success is at with the fame and fortune in esports, but how difficult is it to transition over with a different skillset?
It’s hard. It’s different for everyone. Some 1s players just don't transfer to 3s at all, and some people do. For me, I grinded a lot of 6-mans which helped, and I’ve naturally improved at every stage extremely quickly. I’ve still not done it [fully transitioned], and I’ve still got a long way to go and a lot to learn.
One thing I think about is I want to get to the stage of 3s where I am as comfortable as I am in 1s, where I know what the perfect play is in every situation - and I don’t quite know that in 3s yet. I’ve become a good 3s player, but not the best I can be. I’ve still got a lot more potential.
Do you think that the 1s model is more beneficial to learn before transitioning over to 3s, learning all the flamboyant mechanics and then moving to 3s to tie it in with rotations and the core skills needed in the team game?
I personally think playing 1s is the best way to start. Statistically, it is the best because you get the most time on the ball, which means you naturally improve your mechanics faster than any other came mode. The way the meta is evolving in Rocket League, it is moving more towards a ball-chasey style with mechanics. I think the way pro Rocket League will evolve will rely more on mechanics - not necessarily flamboyant mechanics but good solid base mechanics. I believe 1s is the best game mode to develop these in.
As your first season in RLCS, you’re in a position that will see rookies look up to you as an example of how to act and perform. How important is consistency, and have you any advice/tricks that may help more players progress through the ranks?
Consistency is insanely important. I think it’s the key to success in pretty much any part of life, not just Rocket League. You look at the top player, they don’t just play well three out of ten games, they’re performing on nine times out of ten, and that’s the gap. Obviously, they're better at the game naturally but the most important thing is that you don’t see a drop from that level - even when you do it’s not that far. Their fall is very low because their skill ceiling is so high, but they don’t differentiate between their ranks.
I’ve not mastered it yet, but the best way to master consistency is, well for one playing the game and putting in the hours. But, it’s also getting into an out-of-game routine too because it’s all psychological. Making sure you’re getting a similar sleep pattern, eating regularly and well, drinking good amounts of water, just doing similar things throughout the day before you compete in a big game or tournament - or sports match. Just making sure that these like game-day steps are very similar and can be repeated as much as possible. It gives you a great foundation to work off to start the game.
RLCS X Format And Outside Responsibilities
Much has been made of the format changes from previous seasons. Despite not playing before RLCS X, how did you find the format personally?
After speaking with Panda, I know he wasn't the biggest fan of league play, and neither was Virge because you literally only played all the teams once. You played nine matches and that was your season done. You then played playoffs to decide who goes to worlds, but you had a maximum of 14 series in one season.
If you had one bad weekend, that could mess up your entire season, and that’s insane. When they first told me that I didn’t think of it like that, they literally played ten matches.
Compare that to now where you played ten matches in two days - it’s a little bit crazy but the format change is definitely a huge improvement. It’s allowed players like me and other players that wouldn’t be at this level to get there. There’s a lot more teams and players that people know about and there are more opportunities to grow and get involved. That’s one thing that’s really good.
The number of matches that we played was definitely both positive and negative. Obviously, it was an improvement from the ten matches that they played per season, but personally, I think it is a little bit too much if I’m being honest. However, it’s their first season of trying things out and they’re not going to get it perfect the first time. They’ve done an amazing job with it, but it was a lot at some points.
What implications did you find with it, having been in education and having other responsibilities outside of the game?
I’m fairly good at managing my time, so it wasn’t too hard for the most part. There was a period in the last split, where I was genuinely going insane on Twitter. I had four weeks of playing three regionals - where it was all compacted. At that time I had three 10,000 word essays due. I was genuinely getting back from college, rushing upstairs to start scrims. Then getting off as soon as scrims finished to do work and then trying to get enough sleep, and it was like this for about four weeks in a row. I was going insane.
For the most part, it was okay and fairly easy, but it was unfortunate that they both picked up at the same time and clashed.
Do you think Psyonix/Epic should bear that in mind though, knowing their demographic of the players? Your bigger essays and exams come in towards the end of the academic year, should they consider that for next year?
Definitely, I’ve not counted but the majority of the RLCS players are in education - I may be wrong but there’s definitely a lot. They can’t change that, and shouldn’t change that, they should just accept it and work around that. Things like spreading the matches out a little bit, or pushing the games back an hour so we don’t have to leave school early. Little things like that. They can speak to players and org staff, which should be able to sort that problem out.
Off-Season: Aspirations, Intel World Open, Rostermania
Speaking of next season - I know that the format hasn’t been announced yet but do you have any goals and aspirations of what you’d like to achieve?
I’d just like to do better than our previous season. I made a tweet after the third regional when we were knocked out of the RLCS X, saying that I want to make massive improvements on my game in the offseason, and I have done. I have improved drastically. I’m setting high expectations for myself because I know how much I’ve improved since last playing in the RLCS. I believe that we should be able to get much better knowing that.
Top six is probably the goal, should it stay the same format where the top six make worlds. Top six would be perfect. I just want to make it to a LAN - fingers crossed that there is a LAN. but just an imp[rovement from eight would be great, and top four would be ideal, that would be pretty cool.
Now we’re in the off-season, the first non-RLCS event is the Intel World Open, who are you looking forward to seeing in action and who do you think will be in contention to win it?
[Interview was conducted prior to the Intel World Open United Kingdom Qualifiers]
So we have France who will probably win it with Vitality, they're the best roster in the tournament having just won the regional championships. I hope a UK team can pull through, maybe Joseph "noly" Kidd's team with Archie "archie" Pickthall and David "Deevo" Morrow. We’ve also got a team that wasn’t expected to get through, with Joseph "Growlii" Caffreyon it, so there are a few dark horses in there too. The main event will be a great watch though.
It would be nice to see someone breakthrough in a different setting that might mould their future in the RLCS by getting noticed here.
Yeah, it’s a good tournament because the pros are being serious with it but it’s not the be-all and end-all, so it’ll be a good opportunity for these guys to prove themselves and take the opportunity when the pros aren't too worried. It’s not as big for them, so it will be good to see the likes of Growlii’s team be pushed and trialled to their maximum.
The offseason also brings around ample opportunities for teams to make changes to their rosters and see new teams be formed. If anyone, who do you expect to make changes?
There have been reports around the EU and some teams are making changes. I don’t think Vitality will make a change, having just won the championships. BDS shouldn’t either since they had such a ridiculous season. Apart from that, I expect a lot of teams to make changes because everyone wants to get to the top.
EU is probably a slightly worse region than NA because, even though we have the same talent in my opinion, they’re all spread out across different teams. So perhaps we will see some changes to make more skill-concentrated teams having three great players rather than having a star player that EU teams usually run with.
There are reports of Maëllo "AztraL" Ernst’s move to Giants, I honestly don’t know if it’s going through or not, but if it does that’s a very good team to look out for. AztraL and Amine "itachi" Benayachi on one team with Marc "Stake" Bosch behind them is a really good team. Maybe more teams will follow that style.
Importance Of Content Creation
A final topic I’d like to discuss is content creation and its importance. We’ve seen you be rather vocal on Twitter about the content side of RL from pros, why do you believe it’s so important for the future of RL Esports?
I believe Rocket League esports is quite small, compared to what it can be. I think this game has ridiculous potential, it’s perfect. We’ve got such a good game on our hands which is so easy to understand. It’s literally cars and football, it’s not guns. The age range on this game is from three, so anyone can get involved.
Unfortunately, we have quite a gap between the casual and esports fan bases. Compared to Fortnite, I feel like the casual fan base is more in tune with their esports scene, they know a little bit about the players they look up to.
Whereas in Rocket League, all the casual fan base knows is that Wyatt "Musty" is the best player in the world and Jared "SunlessKhan" Zook is their second favourite. If you have more pros making content, perhaps the bridge between the two fan bases can become smaller.
If you just look at the numbers that Rocket League pros get on Twitch, some of them get less than 100 views, and that shouldn’t be happening.
I just feel like if everyone got involved and gave it a go, then they would realise that it’s easier than what they think. Everyone would benefit from it massively and the game would naturally improve because there are more eyes on it.
I agree! When you look at the different esports, not even just Fortnite but say Call of Duty, for example, you know people like Seth "Scump" Abner are going to pull in so many fans to their esports games by having that personal brand. There's such a huge audience in our casual audience that can be transferred over to esports too.
One hundred per cent. I feel like Rocket League players are perceived to have quite dead personalities - maybe because there’s no LANs, so the fans don’t get to know the players. Twitch and YouTube act as a gateway to feeling more of a personal connection with the players and getting to know more about them really.
Do you think there's an impact of having face cams turned on too? Like we saw in the RLCS.
For sure. It just gives so much more of a personal connection to a player. It’s not to say that we’re like celebrities or anything but it makes them realise that we’re just human, playing a game like you are. It just makes us more relatable.
How hard is it to maintain regular posting, with so many other outside responsibilities like education and socialising, and on top of competing too?
I’ve not yet experienced the full effects as I started posting daily after RLCS X, although I was doing quite a bit already. I think I'll be able to carry it on. Whilst I was playing I didn’t have an editor so I was doing all my videos by myself, but now I have someone who edits for me, and a thumbnail artist. Now all I have to do is record my games and have fresh ideas. It’s not as hard as you think with an editor and artist.
If more people started getting involved with content creation and being successful, what type of content can you expect pros to create without diving down the path of Treyven "Lethamyr" Robitaille and co? That content is fantastic and great to watch but is unfeasible for a competitor, given the workload. So, especially amid the crackdown on series like Road to SSL seres, is there space for everybody to be entering the space without having a saturated market?
It’s a difficult question as Rocket League naturally has fewer things to do than Fortnite for example. But, honestly, there are a lot of ideas that can be adapted from just gameplay videos. Everyone wants to see how pros play, and if they do that as a minimum then they’ll pull good numbers. Not quite those of Lethamyr because those creators put so much time and effort into building their content and reap the rewards. But, as long as you’re good at the game which the pros obviously are, and you have a personality, you’ll be able to pull some numbers.
What about streaming/uploading scrims, outside of the transfer period? Is that something you have thought about?
I honestly don’t like the idea, because I don’t like publicising some of our practises and strategies, but I'm coming to terms with it and starting to accept it. I’m not fully against it now like I was at the start.
Do you think that would help bridge that gap between casual and esports fans though, having more eyes on a competitive setting, or do you think it’s something that will only get digested by esports fans?
I feel like that one would probably get lost with the esports fan base because you’re not going to hear much personality. All you’ll hear is “I’ve got it”, and “Nice try, you go next”. Whereas with a gameplay video you get to know the player a bit more and see the funny side of it. That one’s probably a bit more tailored to the esports fan base.
That's all the questions I have, it's been a pleasure getting to know you and your views on, well, everything!
No problems, thanks for having me.