We spoke to Rocket League star ReaLize, on what needs to be achieved to save Asian Rocket League
Since Rocket League’s conception, we have seen the esports scene grow astronomically, especially across Europe and North America. As the total amount of money distributed within Rocket League esports surpasses $10,000,000, there is one region that has been left to build within the shadows. The Asian RL scene has been growing at a steady pace outside of the limelight and has started to make waves across the globe with a handful of players making noise in both Oceanic and European competitions. But debate looms large as to whether the Asian scene can either grow to the heights of other regions or simply become a feeding ground for players to make their name and make bigger moves elsewhere?
The Asia Pro League was originally run by 1NE eSports back in its first season in 2017 and was dominated by Japanese side Rule The Sky. Boasting an array of sharp, mechanical players including Shogo ‘ReaLize’ Ikeyama. With his viral montages on YouTube and dominant performances on Asia’s biggest stage, the Japanese star quickly became known as one of the best players in the region and had his eyes on the bigger prize.
One of ReaLize’s biggest Rocket League experiences was attending DreamHack Montreal with Misty and Kanra as part of 1NE eSports. As the first Asian team to attend an international event, there was a large change of scenery. “The teams that have been at the top level for a long time were very different from the opponents we face in Asia,” he says, commenting on the differences in “how each person plays the game, their awareness, experience and mentality”. Despite losing both of their matchups without winning a single game, he added that “We lost but what we gained is huge. I became more confident that I could be playing at the level of those international teams if I could practice at that level.”
“That was the best experience in my career.” ReaLize on DreamHack Montreal
Despite the undoubtedly invaluable experience competing against the best players in Europe, Dreamhack did highlight the skill-gap between the regions, and ReaLize recognises this. As one of the region's leading players, he expresses his desire to “raise the level of Asia as a whole”. Although he cannot do this on his own. To achieve an RLCS Asia competition, he acknowledges it will take a collective effort. “[We] have to Improve each other's skills as across Asia.”
The Asian competitions are now few and far between, with the Asia Pro League going on hold in favour of smaller competitions such as the Ketteisen Cup, which ReaLize has won three times in a row as part of ‘Zoomer Remover’. The lack of a recognised league/competitions will certainly hinder the way that the region can grow. “It is necessary to fully understand how to play this game and deepen [our] understanding through 6 mans, tournaments, scrim[mages] etc.” states ReaLize. His frontmost goal is still, undoubtedly, to play in the RLCS.
The Asian region remains without an RLCS competition. He says that the lack of major competition means that “there is no environment where we can concentrate only on Rocket League,” preventing players from developing. Despite the lack of major investment, ReaLize is hopeful that Asia’s talent can rise to the levels of the four RLCS regions, adding that “it is possible that the level of Asia as a whole will rise sufficiently if large-scale competitions are held regularly”. Players such as himself, and former teammate Thrishernn ‘Misty’ Raaj, have been looking towards other regions to develop themselves and stamp their authority across the RL globe.
Having played alongside a handful of Oceanic teammates over the last few months, there’s been talk of ReaLize moving to Australia in order to compete in the RLCS. His former ‘Gaming Gamers’ teammate Aidan ‘ZeN’ Hui is one of the key factors in the potential move. “I learned a lot from playing with him” he says, adding that “he has a good mentality and knows how to play the game well”. With a RLCS competition present in Oceania, it has developed a sustained skill gap between Asian and Oceanic teams. Outlining his desire to potentially team up with ZeN in the future, he added “OCE players understand how to play the game better than Asian players do”.
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His former teammate, Misty, spent a number of months in Europe after moving to England to study, and all eyes were set on him as an example of how the Asian RL players can succeed within the other regions. Although he was unable to qualify for the Rival Series, since returning to Asia due to the Coronavirus pandemic his improvements became immediately obvious. The success of the RLCS in EU has become desirable to players in other regions, and ReaLize accepts that this would be his dream platform. “I think EU is the top region in terms of level and consciousness. I want to put myself in a higher level environment and raise myself”.
One team that has made the step into the EU region from Asia is Sandrock Gaming, previously known as Osh-Tekk Warriors. The Saudi-Arabian based team have inspired ReaLize, showing that Asian teams can make the step up to challenge in Rocket League’s top competitions. “I'm glad to see them active. I think we will [play] against them in the future at internationals”. After coming second in the European Invitational, Sandrock Gaming have shown that the step up from Asia is feasible, and should other teams follow suit in their development, players such as ReaLise will be able spearhead the charge to an RLCS Asia, and stamp their authority on the Rocket League map.
You can keep tabs on the Asian Rocket League scene, and everything Rocket League esports related here at GGRecon.
Images via DreamHack