The Evolution of Offense and Defense in Rocket League



Wed 16th May 2018 - 10:31pm

As individual plays in high-level Rocket League continue to lose effectiveness, it's time to open your eyes to the new style of play: playing as a team.

Below is a timeline of the past offensive and defensive metas in Rocket League eSports so that you don't get lost while reading this article. Offensive metas are in blue, and defensive metas are in green.

Early competitive Rocket League saw individually talented players and their teams rise to the top. IBUYPOWER, Cosmic, and Flipsid3 Tactics in RLCS Season 1 were great examples of this, as they had some of the best players in Rocket League at the time on their rosters. These teams didn't rely on team play to score, but instead on hard shots to defend. As time flew by, defenses became tougher and tougher to break and the first team plays were formed to do exactly that.

Season 3 was a season that saw the best teams be the ones that continuously slammed the ball against their opponent's backboard and read the bounces, redirecting the ball down into the net. Deevo, the player who was arguably the best backboard double-tap player at the time, rose in the public's mind as one of the best players in the game. Deevo's team, Northern Gaming, annihilated every other team in their path to take the Season 3 World Championship.

Season 4 marked a turning point in Rocket League. Backboard defense had completely eliminated the backboard double-tap strategy, and players struggled to score goals. Then came Cloud9, whose infield passes yet again revolutionized the way competitive Rocket League was played. Cloud9 played extremely fast, and kept the ball closer to the ground, which countered backboard defense. They were arguably the first team based around team plays, which is ironic in retrospect. However, Northern Gaming, now known as Team EnVy, had a terrible season, going 2-5 in league play and barely securing a Season 5 RLCS spot in the Promotion/Relegation Tournament. This was due in major part to the rise of backboard defense, which completely countered their style of play. Team EnVy was forced to adapt or continue losing.

Now, in Season 5, every successful team works with their team to achieve victory, and individual play is almost irrelevant. Take CLG (Formerly known as Selfless, and then Renegades) for example: They were one of the best teams in the world in Season 3 due to their individual skill but have fallen out of the RLCS recently due to their inability to play as a team. To replace CLG and other teams lacking chemistry came the teams from the top of the RLRS. Season 5's Promotion/Relegation Tournaments saw teams likes FlyQuest, Allegiance, Servette Geneva, and Team Secret take down teams like CLG, exceL, and Out of Style. The way these teams are built allows them to play together as one and makes them legitimate threats coming into the RLCS in Season 6. Team EnVy rebounded, going 3-4 and making the EU Regional Championships. There, they proved to still be a strong team, placing 3rd in Europe for the RLCS World Championships. EnVy adapted by sticking together and learning how to play as one unit.

It seems as if offense and defense in Rocket League have finally stopped one-upping each other and have settled into a stalemate. There is no "spam-this-to-win" way to play the game anymore like there was in the past. However, in past seasons, new mechanics were created to counter older ways of play, and there is no reason why one couldn't be created in the future to evolve Rocket League once again.

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