Rocket League Players Association: 'For players, by players'
A Rocket League Players Association (RLPA) has announced its launch today (July 17), and its board of community figures are inviting professional players and coaches/managers to join forces and democratically combine to bridge a gap between the developers, esports tournament organisers, and the players themselves.
Today, the RLPA has officially opened its doors, where previous Rocket League agent Jonny Davies will be joined by Matthew "Satthew" Ackermann, Leonardo "Turinturo" Wilson, Nicholas "Nick" Marrone, Noah "noah" Hinder to serve as an independent and voluntary committee (foregoing their own votes on matters) that will help migrate players into the Association and deliver the communication between all parties involved.
The RLPA comes after years of strained relationships between the RLCS players and the League's players. Previously, organisations filed letters to Psyonix in a bid to improve communication across the board, and players have often called on a union to be formed amid "predatory" contracts.
Now, after eight months of organising, the RLPA is now live and will be accepting applications, and will be living by the motto of "for players, by players".
Why is a Rocket League Player Association needed?
"There are a lot of things in terms of how transfers were going certain ways and the fact that the windows weren't looking quite right and it felt like there was no communication between Psyonix and the player base. Our sort of founding idea is trying to improve that," Co-Founder and Chief Executive Jonny Davies told GGRecon.
Davies was previously an agent in esports, specifically within VALORANT and Rocket League, where he'd managed players such as Pujan "FNS" Mehta (NRG), Kurtis "Kash" Cannon, and Andrea "Radosin" Radovanović, before starting the RLPA alongside the ex-pros and coaches.
Communication between Psyonix and the players is now at an all-time low, Davies told GGRecon, partly through the fact that the younger player base has leaked important information which they'd been told in advance, which has broken the trust barrier.
"I think the ultimate goal to start with is creating that feedback loop between the player base, the elite player base, and Psyonix. Essentially, I think the players want to have an impact in their esport and be able to throw ideas and questions [to Psyonix], and have that feedback.
"There are so many different questions that players are asking Psyonix, and in so many different locations, that it's impossible to answer them. I think the way that we have set it up and the way it's going to work is that it will condense all questions and all information to a really digestible point."
"We can provide feedback and hopefully that can be either acted upon or we can get reasons why it's not. Beyond that, it's whatever the members want it to be."
How will the Rocket League Players Association work?
The RLPA has pledged that it will be completely democratic, meaning no board members will have a vote, and all committees will be directly chosen by the players.
Each RLCS-competing region will have their own Discord server where players who have been accepted into the Association will first vote upon a leading Regional committee and a Regional Chair, and all Chairs will join an international committee, where they will be able to voice the concerns of players from their region and can collaboratively join discussions with the developers, should they wish to enter talks.
Davies confirmed to us that no communication has yet been made between the RLPA and Psyonix, so there is no confirming whether the developers will comply in discussions, or choose to ignore it, although he acknowledged that there is a possibility of having player-wide walkouts akin to those in League of Legends, should they ever present dilemmas to Psyonix and they remain unsolved.
"I'm really confident with the conversation. But the proof of being the pudding, and whilst players buy-in, I think it makes sense for Psyonix to buy in too. I like to think I'm ambitious and I think it will happen because, initially, we're existing to make things easier.
So far, the RLPA will only be available to RLCS players, with entry requirements put in place to keep the Association "exclusive". Limits such as "if he or she has qualified and competed in at least one RLCS regional event in the last 180 days," are in place for "full memberships", while there will also be an associate membership which will have fewer entry requirements.
So far, the RLPA will only be available to active players and coaches that meet the requirements, but should it become a success, they will look to expand into Women's Carball and protection for Casters and talent within the scene too.
Rocket League Players Association will be "for players by players"
One of the main motifs that Davies drummed home was that the RLPA will be run completely by players and coaches, and the board will have no sway in what the player-selected committee can or can't pitch the Psyonix.
"Ultimately this is for players, by players, and that's how I really want it to be. I don't want any outside influence. It should be a community-run thing, and that's how I'd like to keep it. I think that's where a lot of other associations may have gone wrong and, and having problems.
"If members want to take it in a certain direction, for instance, use our service in the same way that the PFA - which is the Professional Footballers' Association in the UK - where they do sample contracts saying that's how we would like contracts to be, there's no law saying that Psyonix needs to follow it, but it is a good starting point."
After admitting that communication has collapsed between players and Psyonix, presumably through the trust issues and leaks, Davies hopes that the RLPA will foster a more mature attitude within the scene, and harbour professionalism, although there is the distinct possibility of it becoming silly and not working, given that the board cannot intervene.
"This is something that we have considered because the play base is young. But, I think it is about tone to start with. I think if we set out with the right tone and we set out in a really professional manner, that can be maintained. I think if we go into casual, like I, I always say to no that we've got one shot to, to set this off the right foot.
"I think people will buy into that. I think people have wanted this for so long, and if we get it across to say, 'let's make it work, let's not take it for granted, and let's not treat it in the wrong way', it will work.
The RLPA will also have an "extensive rule book" for members which will feature disciplinary meetings to handle maturity and professionalism too.
Davies and the board are aiming to have a fully-fledged RLPA ready for the 2023-24 season, with each regional committee and the international one set up.