Take Your Rocket League Gameplay to the Next Level: Kickoffs
Tue 3rd Jul 2018 - 8:48pm
Everyone on the field has loaded in. The cars have been placed on the field. You can hear the sound of engines revving up to get going. You're ready, and so is everyone else in the server. The countdown begins. 3. 2. 1.
This is what is known as a kickoff. If you've ever played a game of Rocket League, you're familiar with it. It happens at the beginning of the 5 minute game and it happens after every single goal. Your team and your opponent's team will be placed symmetrically on the field.
Throughout Rocket League history, the kickoff has evolved and many mechanics and strategies have been discovered. Kickoffs are an integral part of the game and you must be able to control the kickoff in order to win games.
Beginning Kickoff Positions
Firstly, knowing the beginning kickoff positions are important. Here is a diagram of a Rocket League field:
This diagram is labeled for each possible starting kickoff positions. As you can see, there are five possible positions. They are labeled R for right, L for left, C for Center. So CR is center-right and CL is center-left.
In 1v1s, players will always spawn symmetrical from each other. So if a player spawns at R, their opponent will also spawn at R, but mirrored on the opposite side. You have no teammates, so you will be going for the ball no matter what.
In 2v2s, the same will happen. Players will spawn symmetrical from each other, one player mirroring the other's position on each side. Beginning positions will cycle through several different layouts. Here are the possible beginning positions and some basic advice:
- L and R/CL and CR - Make sure to communicate with your teammate so both of you know who is going to go for the kickoff and who is going to gather boost and rotate back.
- L and CR/R and CL - The player at the L/R position will go for the kickoff. The player at CR/CL will either cheat up and follow up the kickoff or gather boost and rotate back.
- CL and C/CR and C - The player at the CL/CR position will go for the kickoff. The player at C will either cheat up and follow up the kickoff or gather boost and rotate back.
In 3v3s, kickoffs can be much more complicated. The same idea as 2v2s will be implemented. Here are the possible beginning layouts:
- L, R, and C - The players at L and R will communicate who goes for the kickoff. The player who doesn't will most likely rotate back for boost and the player at C will either stay in net or go for an open boost.
- L, CR, and C/R, CL, and C - The player positioned at L will go for the kickoff, while the player at CR/CL will either cheat up and follow up the kickoff or go for a boost, and the player at C will either stay in net or go for a boost.
- CL, CR, and C - The two players at CL and CR will communicate as to who goes for kickoff. The player who doesn't go for kickoff will either cheat up and follow up the kickoff or go for a boost. The player at C will stay in net or go for boost.
Advanced Kickoff Mechanics
There are several kickoff mechanics that have been developed throughout the years of Rocket League. Players have found ways to increase their speed during kickoffs as well as their ability to win the kickoff. First and foremost, for any kickoff, try your best to make your car higher/taller than your opponent's car. When you and your opponent go for a kickoff, the ball is going to try its best to find the best route to escape. If your car is higher than your opponent's car, then your car will act as a barrier, and the ball will most likely go towards your opponents' side.
To explain how to do certain styles of kickoffs, I've included some summaries as well as tips below. In addition, you can check out this seriously helpful tutorial from Holo PUBG that includes the kickoffs listed here, along with a lot more.
The Fast Kickoff
The whole point of the fast kickoff is to beat your opponent to the ball and push it diagonally towards the opposite side of the field without your opponent touching the ball or getting a lucky second touch after you get the first touch. This can be done in any beginning kickoff position. Here are some tips to successfully pull off a fast kickoff:
- When starting out at the LC position, the goal of the fast kickoff is to hit the left side of the ball with the right corner of your car.
- Once the countdown begins, make sure to hold down your boost and acceleration button. After it finishes, immediately turn your car to the center boost pad in front of you. Make sure you are holding down the boost button!
- Once you hit the boost pad, flip diagonally towards the ball. You will hit another center boost pad. Once again, make sure you are holding down the boost button!
- While you are flipping, use your joystick/WASD keys to realign your car so that is straight. At this point, your car should hit the ball with the front right corner of your car, and you will beat your opponent to the ball.
The Wavedash Kickoff
The wavedash kickoff was popularized in competitive play by Rogue's Jacob "Jacob" McDowell. The wavedash kickoff may not always be faster than a regular front flip kickoff, but the wavedash will multiply your car's speed, thus bringing more force to the kickoff, which allows you to win the kickoff more easily. Here are some tips to successfully pull off a wavedash kickoff (the video describes the kickoff from the left and right positions):
- Make sure you are holding down your boost and acceleration button before and immediately after the countdown begins!
- After the countdown, collect the first boost pad that is in front of you.
- After collecting the boost pad, press your jump button lightly. Do not hold down your jump button, as if you do so, your car will jump higher than if you press the button lightly.
- While lightly jumping, also push forward on your joystick/press your W key. This will point the nose of your car downward while you are boosting. The point of this is to bring your car back down to the ground as quickly as possible after your light jump.
- Then during your jump, pull the nose of your car back up, so that you can perform a wavedash.
- If you do not know how to do a wavedash, it is simple. A wavedash is when you save your second jump right before your car hits the ground. In order to perform a wavedash, tilt your car slightly upwards so that your back wheels will touch the ground before your top wheels. Right before those wheels touch the ground, use that jump and push your forward button. This will give you a sudden boost on the ground, which is very helpful when you are trying recover from offense to defense.
- The wavedash will increase your speed to the ball and you will hit the ball with much more force than normal, thus helping your chances of winning the kickoff.
Here is the video from Holo PUBG on Youtube which illustrates several kickoff mechanics that can help you win kickoffs:
Several competitive teams have developed strategies during kickoffs that allow their team to possibly score, pass, or gain possession of the ball. Here are some simple kickoff strategies that you could do with your team (obviously, these would only work in 3v3s or 2v2s, not in 1v1s):
- Lose the kickoff on purpose to a teammate with boost.
If you want quick possession of the ball, the best way to accomplish this is to lose the kickoff on purpose. This strategy would be especially prevalent in EU competitive play, and it can only work when there is a player in the L or R position on the field. The player going for kickoff could either lightly hit the ball or completely miss the ball on the kickoff. The opponent would hit the ball into the corner where either you or one of the teammates have gone to on the kickoff to get boost.
- Have a player cheat up on a kickoff.
If you want to take a quick shot and catch your opponent off-guard, having a player cheat up will be most effective. "Cheating up" is to follow the player taking the kickoff closely. If that player can get an equal kickoff where the ball barely moves, the player that cheats up can easily take control of the ball and take a shot on net, catching defenders off-guard.
- Lose the kickoff to a side wall.
If you want a possible shot, pass, or air dribble off of a wall, then losing the kickoff to a sidewall is an effective method of making this happen. The player going for the kickoff must read the player on the other side and adjust their car accordingly. They will try to lose the kickoff so it goes towards the walls on the side. A player getting boost can easily go up the wall and take control of the ball to either pass or take carry it in the air towards their opponent's net.
Here is a video from JohnnyBoi_i that illustrates five different kickoff strategies you can implement:
Being able to control the kickoff is an essential skill that any good Rocket League player must have. The kickoff sets the tone for the possessions to come afterwards. A team with a fast kickoff that allows them to take a shot on goal may beat a team that is slow to defend. A team with a slow kickoff that allows them to gain possession may play a more possession-based game where they pass and get an open shot on net.
Also, don't do the same kickoff every single time. Mix it up once in a while! Do a fast kickoff and then, on the next kickoff, lose it on purpose so a teammate can take a shot. Don't let your opponents read your kickoffs because, eventually, they will realize that you are doing the same thing over and over again and will counter it.
Here are some other videos that are helpful in terms of kickoffs:
I hope that you will implement some of these strategies and mechanics into your gameplay! Good luck in your next Rocket League Match!
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