Life inside the shoes of a FC Barcelona star. GGRecon’s exclusive with Ronaky on life at Barcelona and the gruelling RLCS schedule.
Season 9 of the Rocket League Championship Series concluded with FC Barcelona ending joint 3rd in the European league. Progressing from sixth to third in the Play-Offs, FCB pushed themselves to their limit to reach the semi-finals, before running out of steam against the highest-seeded team in Renault Vitality. As the lowest-seeded team in the Play-Offs, FCB exceeded all expectations as they found incredible form to allow them to take home the $42,000 that came with finishing 3rd/4th.
Impelled by captain Aldin ‘Ronaky’ Hodzic, alongside David ‘Deevo’ Morrow, and Hrant ‘Flakes’ Yakoub, FC Barcelona lost four games during the regular season three of which were to teams in higher positions than themselves, showing a true reflection of where they finished overall. But with a solid offseason in front of them now, and Amine 'Itachi' Benayachi coming in for Flakes, FC Barcelona only hold the sky as their limit.
GGRecon caught up with Danish 19-year old FCB captain ‘Ronaky’, with life at FC Barcelona and the ups and downs of playing Rocket League Esports.
Firstly, congratulations on securing a top 4 place in the Playoffs last season. It’s not the first time you’ve been there, what is it like as a day, with the relentless schedule and Best of Seven matches?
Ronaky: Thank you very much! Regionals is always a tough day for everyone. There is so much on the line, and everyone wants to finish out on top. Starting off in the lower bracket having to win every single series is definitely not an easy task. And I would say we were pretty tired going into the Team Vitality series. It is really mentally draining, but always a fun day playing against the best teams in Europe
To start off Season 9, the change was made to bring Flakes to FC Barcelona. What has it been like have him as a teammate?
Ronaky: Flakes is a really unique person, that has been a pleasure to get to know. He's a really nice and fun person to be around. We didn't have that much time in the off-season to really figure out what playstyle fit us all the most. It's always a challenge bringing in a new player, and to start from scratch, but I feel like Flakes has done a really good job trying to adapt into [the style of] me and Deevo. We got top 4 which is nothing to be sad about, but we of course always strive to be the best, which is our main goal.
Season 9 also saw the RLCS format be expanded to include ten teams rather than eight. Now that you’ve had the season play out, how did you find it?
Ronaky: I really like that there are more teams that get the chance to show their worth to the world. Being in RLCS is every Rocket League player's dream, and I feel like it's almost been impossible for new players to actually get the chance on the biggest stage. I really enjoyed playing all 9 teams, and I am looking forward to playing 9 teams and series over the next upcoming seasons.
Something that has plagued you in your career is instability with rosters, would you say that has taken a toll on you?
Ronaky: Oh yes, definitely. It's always a tough situation to be in, no matter what. I never want to make a move, when I know that we have the potential to become a top team in Europe. But sometimes something has to change, in order to get the success that everyone wants. It's always hard to say goodbye to a teammate and a friend. But when it comes to Esports and RLCS especially, change is a common thing that happens quite a lot. Which is tough, but we have to live with it.
Coaches are often the underappreciated 4th man, and El General seems to be no different. Is he more there for help with the mental side of the game or assistance with the one pitch action? Overall, what's the biggest factor he brings to FCB's success?
Ronaky: A coach is someone that you need to put all your trust into because he has a perspective that we don't have. El General is really good at pointing out mistakes and things that we might not see. He always makes sure that we focus on our plan, and pushes us to our limits to try and get the best out of us. Lastly, he's a really good friend, on and off the pitch. I feel like what he does best, is to remind us all where we are, what we can do, and how we can do it. Work as a team, and never alone. We are all in this together.
For a lot of the season, the team has been together in the FC Barcelona house. What impact does being together in that environment have on the team?
Ronaky: It definitely helps in building relationships off the pitch. We are all gamers, of course, so we do like our privacy in our own room when we are just gaming. But when we aren't it's really nice to just hang around with your teammates and friends, and it's a great way to build trust. It's definitely way easier to talk about team stuff when we are all together gathered in a room, talking about everything in a friendly manner.
Lastly, albeit you’ve been there for a while now, what’s it like playing for an organisation like FC Barcelona?
Ronaky: Ever since I was a little kid, FC Barcelona was my club. Messi was my idol. Being able to play for FC Barcelona Esports is a dream come true, and it really means the world to me. This team, this club, we really are more than a club. I want to make FC Barcelona the best European team there is, and after that the best team in the world. It will require a lot of hard work, time and dedication. But I believe that we can do it. Força Barça!
You can catch Ronaky and FC Barcelona competing in the Rocket League Championship Series Season X, which we will be keeping you up to date with, here at at GGRecon.
Image via Dreamhack