RPI’s Rocket League team wins Eastern Championship, heading to Minneapolis for final

One night when I was procrastinating going to bed and browsing the RPI subreddit, I came across a post about how RPI’s Rocket League team won the Eastern Championship and will be going to a LAN tournament in Minneapolis to face off against the winners from the other sections. Taken by surprise that we a) have a Rocket League team and b) they are extremely good, I reached out to the team to learn more about their success and their future goals. RPI’s team members are Henry “Corky” Christian, Spencer “Furane” Taub, and Jack “Relax.” Cherella.

For those who don’t know, Rocket League is a video game where two teams of three drive cars around and try and score a large ball in a goal. The cars are able to jump and collect boost that allow the car to  hit the ball harder and fly in the air. The games are a quick five minutes and if there is a tie it goes to a golden goal overtime. In action, the game is a blend of soccer and hockey. An old review of the game can be found here.

The interview started with the members explaining how college Rocket League is organized. The collegiate league is broken into four sections—North, South, East and West—and is organized by Psyonix—the makers of Rocket League—which allows the league to have a very high production value and carry a prize pool of $50,000. Winning the Eastern Championship gave the team $7,500 collectively and the opportunity to go to Minneapolis and compete against the other champions as part of March Madness. They also described it as “the B-league of Rocket League” with the professional Rocket League league being above it. It is still a popular league with estimated the viewership of the finals to be around 30,000 people. It will also be aired on TBS through a company called E-League.

When asked if winning had sunk in, their response was not yet. They all shared the sentiment that they never expected to get this far and that they are just along for the ride at this point, but came to the conclusion that the moment it will hit them will be when they board the plane.

The team met by luck; Spencer was playing Rocket League with a twitch streamer and Jack was watching the stream and saw that Spencer had RPI in his gamertag. They reached out to each other and started to search for a third player. They found Henry and then started to compete in the fall season. They admitted that they were too cocky going into the season and instantly learned that they would have to put in effort to win. When asked about their playing times they all say they put in around two hours of Rocket League a day and could play for almost the full day during the summer.

The conversation shifted to their tournament run and how they got through each game. The moment they got confidence that they could make a deep run was when they defeated the second-seeded team 3-0 in a best-of-five to get them into the semi-finals. For context, they were ranked tenth going into the tournament. The semi-finals themselves proved a challenge as they found themselves down one game to three in a best of seven. As they came back to win 4-3, Henry described a game in which they kept on scoring even when they knew they won just to prove to the other team that they were better. The final came down to a game seven, but they knew that they won when they scored a second goal.

They hope that this success will bring E-Sports into the minds of the student population, but they don’t see it competing with the traditional sports for at least another few years. 

The championship will be streamed on Twitch at ELeague’s official Twitch page on April 7 at 3 pm EDT and a rerun will be shown on TBS on April 12 at 11 pm EDT.