Has coronavirus hindered the future of Rocket League esports or will it attract more fans than ever come the relaunch of LAN tournaments?
In early March it was announced that the World Championships were cancelled due to the coronavirus. The RLCS finals were due to be held in Dallas Texas from April 24th-26th, but due to Covid-19, they were cancelled indefinitely, and with the conclusion of the RLSS, has coronavirus hindered the future of Rocket League esports? Or will it attract more fans than every come the relaunch of tournaments?
The Biggest Rocket League Events Fell to Coronavirus.
With the RLCS Season 9 World Championships being cancelled, it was opted to play the remaining games online as usual and to share out the prize pool accordingly to the regional finals. This was the first event to fall victim to Corona, and with it being arguably the biggest event of the Rocket League esports scene, it has left an atmosphere of uncertainty about which talents are the best in the world and whether there is a skill-gap between NA and EU.
The second event to fall victim to the virus was the Intel World Open. Hosted in Tokyo, Rocket League was set to the joint-first esports (alongside Street Fighter) to be played at the Olympic Games, with a prize pool of $250,000. With Japan as the host, it was set to feature seven further countries as an international tournament, but due to the postponement of the Olympics, another huge Rocket League esports event was left cancelled, and the whole summer left as one big question mark.
Nothing in the pipeline.
The RLSS was the last major event that was scheduled in the Rocket League Calendar, with the EU series coming to a close on May 10th. The RLSS was scheduled to almost replace the World Championships, with the NA Series falling across the same dates, as a way to fill the gap between RLCS Season 9 and 10. Even with the Spring Series put in place to fill the void, many professionals are now without a competition to look forward to. Players in the NA Series have been without a competition in the pipelines since the conclusion of their RLSS on April 26th. It can only be perceived that many Rocket League professionals will be demotivated at the lack of competitions, which may be why OG players such as gReazymeitser and Remkoe have decided to announce their retirement now.
The summer of Rocket League was looking bleak, with nothing for players to grind towards, with the future of the game in limbo. No date has been set for RLCS Season 10 yet, with Psyonix possibly holding off a date as long as possible, to give us the best chance at seeing a Season 10 World Championships once LAN becomes possible again.
FusionRL to the rescue? [ish]
FusionRL was announced by Rocket League commentator John "Johnnyboi_i" MacDonald on his Twitter, as a competition with a $50 prize pool. With competitions for NA and EU at 1v1, 2v2, and 3v3, FusionRL has given meaning to the Rocket League esports scene, with a competitive mode for teams, or individuals to enter. Whilst the split prize pool amounting to quite small, it is likely that many teams will use this as a chance to solidify their rosters, especially those who have made changes. Although it may not be the most competitive tournament that we will see in RL, it does span over a number of weeks, starting May 21st-22nd. It’s safe to say the stakes here will be less motivating that the competitions we have seen cancelled, but it could very well heat up with bragging rights on the line and could be used as a huge confidence booster for when the esports scene returns in full.
A Whole New Fanbase Awaits, But They Won’t Wait Forever
FusionRL seems to have come at the perfect time though. As the RLSS hit screens around the globe. The EU Series hit UK television, as all games were broadcast live on Sky. Rocket League even hit BBC Sport’s news page, with a great advert for the esports, potentially opening the game up to a huge number of interested gamers, football lovers, and sports enthusiasts. But as it was the only professional competition remaining, many new viewers were left without any information of where to head next to stay in the loop with Rocket League. Up step FusionRL.
Announced just days after the RLSS conclusion, there is huge potential for Fusion RL to continue to capture the imagination of new fans to grow the esports scene even further. With a whole new potential fanbase, if FusionRL is advertised in the right way, it could be the perfect platform for Psyonix to build on when the RLCS returns, especially with the option to get TV involved. TV rights could introduce a cashflow into RL, and could raise the stakes of the professional scene, with better cash rewards for each region. However, as with any up and coming sport or esport, there has to be an array of upcoming events in the pipeline to entice fans.
The ball really is in Psyonix’s court, with the potential to allow coronavirus to make Rocket League a leading innovative esports, or completely kill the scene altogether. The announcement for future competitions could not be more crucial to the game’s short history.
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Image via the Official Rocket League Website