Skills You Need to Reach Champion in Rocket League
Sun 1st Jul 2018 - 7:26pm
I started playing ranked Rocket League at the end of Competitive Season 2 and started my journey as a Prospect Elite. I have progressed up through the ranks each season since then going to Challenger, Gold, Platinum, Diamond and now finally Champion. As I await my journey to Grand Champion, I can provide some key skills to enable ranking up for those wishing to follow my path to the purple ranks.
Ranking up in Rocket League can be a frustrating endeavour and it is very easy to let this frustration get to you and become “tilted”. Being tilted is when you start trying to force games by trying to carry your teammate and you will usually find that you play worse because of it.
The first tip I have in this rank-up guide is to stop caring about what rank you are. Unchecking the option for “Competitive Divisions” in your “Interface” options screen will go a long way towards stopping you from getting tilted as you won’t see your div-up/down notifications. Play the game for fun and don’t be upset if you de-rank because it will happen a lot. Like really, a lot.
Now onto the guides for each rank...
Bronze to Silver
Whenever I have coached Bronze players or watched Bronze players' replays, there are a couple of things that have always jumped right out at me. One is "ball-chasing" and the other is "whiffing" (missing) balls, quite often due to poor settings. Bronze players are often not using “Ball Cam” which should be used from as early as possible, as much as possible.
Due to the level of ball-chasing in the Bronze ranks, the best way to rank up from Bronze to Silver in this game is to play a defensive, supporting game. The most important thing in the lower ranks is learning how to defend. You should make sure you are able to save 100% of the shots in the Rookie Goalkeeper training pack, about 70% of the shots in the Pro training pack and ideally 50% of the All-Star pack, so keep drilling these when you first boot up the game to warm up.
When you know how to defend, the Bronze rank becomes easy. Just sit back, defend your net, and when the ball breaks free from all the chaos of the ball-chasers, you will often find yourself with a free attempt on the opposing goal. You can actually easily make it out of Bronze without ever needing to aerial.
Silver to Gold
The Silver to Gold leap is very much similar to the Bronze to Silver. You really still want to avoid the ball-chasing chaos that is still often quite prevalent in this rank, but it won’t be as easy as just simply knowing how to defend. For this rank, you will need to learn how to hit the ball hard and you’ll need to know how to aerial, as defenders are a little more capable at this rank.
The best way to hit the ball hard is to hit the ball with the nose of your car and front-flip into it by double-jumping while your analogue stick is pushed forward. This will allow you to clear the ball with power and put in some shots that few people at this level will be able to save. The best time to utilise this powershot is right after the ball bounces. This will give you the most power and the defenders are unlikely to react quickly enough.
Use the in-game aerial training packs to work on your aerial ability. There is an excellent aerial tutorial video on YouTube from a player known as "Kevpert" and his tutorials are fantastic for practicing your mechanical skill. You should be learning to utilise dodges in your aerials. Once you jump into the air and boost up, you have a window of approximately 1.5 seconds to use your second jump to dodge (flip) your car into the ball. This is an excellent way of throwing defenders off at this rank as it gives the ball that extra bit of power.
Gold to Platinum
To break into Platinum, the key skills you will need to work on are your wall-play, your car control, and dribbling. In the Gold ranks, I often see people hit the ball up the wall and wait for it to come down again instead of following the ball up to hit it off the wall. This slows down play a lot and also allows your opponents to get a free shot off the wall.
Head into free-play. Just hit the ball towards the bottom of the wall and then follow it as it rolls up to hit it off. Do this from everywhere on the pitch, including above the goal and the corners as this is the most difficult part to get right.
Start learning how to control your car properly. See how the dodges work in relation to which way your nose is pointing. Utilise air-roll with your aerials to get that extra precision. A great training pack to use to master air-roll technique is “Biddles Consistency“ pack (Code: 55C9-36FE-613D-7F12).
Dribbling is a great skill to have in your repertoire at this rank as very few others in Gold will be able to do it, which means they are less likely to know how to defend against it. There are a few tutorials out there for dribbling and my personal favourite is by "Sir Timbers" on YouTube. (Note: PC users can download the free “Dribble Challenge 2.0” from the Steam Workshop which is a must-have in my opinion).
Platinum to Diamond
This is where the game starts to become less about mechanics and more about positioning. You need to learn how to position yourself well and be aware of your teammates. But equally as important is learning how to recover quickly. This means, when you go up for a high aerial, you want to be landing on all four wheels, whether it’s back on the ground or on the walls. If you do land on the walls, try to land with your nose facing down so you can boost back down and recover your momentum quickly. Utilise power-slide turning and the half-flip, where you cancel a flip midway and rotate your car to get back on the wheels. This is the fastest way of turning around and will save your skin many a time once you master it. You can find tutorials on half-flips and powerslide turning on YouTube.
For positioning and awareness, you should dive into a casual game. Personally I would recommend learning on 2v2 and then move up to 3v3 when you feel a bit more confident but you will want to move onto 3v3 pretty quickly, as it is a lot harder to see five people rather than three. The quicker you get the hang of it, the more useful it will be. When you’re in the casual game, just watch what everyone else is doing and try to position yourself in the best possible place to deal with anything that might get thrown at you. It’s not essential that you get involved in the attack. Just make sure you are there to capitalise on any mistakes.
The third essential “skill” to get up to Diamond is trust in your teammates. This is essential in the move up to Diamond as the most common thing I see in Platinum is double-commits from people who just don’t believe that their teammate will hit the ball properly. You are much better off waiting to see how your teammate is going to hit the ball and react to it rather than trying to beat him to the ball and taking you both out of the game.
Diamond to Champion
Ranking up to Champion means you need to play fast and you need to play smart and you’ll need to completely eliminate hesitation from your game to keep up. The things I learned that I needed to reach the next step on the competitive ladder were fast, intelligent rotations, passing plays, strategic bumps/demolitions, and "fakes".
It is also essential that you miss the ball less, so go into some training packs that you find really difficult and grind them out until you can consistently hit the ball where you want it to go. Don't always aim for the goal on these shots but try to aim it at the walls for double-taps and the corner where the ground meets the wall to pop the ball back out to get another shot. Doing this will give you a great advantage in your competitive games as you will be learning how to play the ball around your opponents rather than just trying to get the ball past them. You can also use this to train your passes by imagining a teammate somewhere on the pitch.
One of the major differences between Diamond and Champion is improvisation and fast rotations. Very often in Diamond, you see people completing the full “1-2-3” rotations where 1 passes the ball to 2 and rotates out to position 3, 3 becomes 2 and 2 becomes 1, and repeat. This is the fundamentals of Rocket League rotation but to make it to Champion, you have to be aware that your rotations have to be faster which means you, as number 1, hit the ball and instead of going to position 3, you may very well need to improvise and become position 1 again very quickly because the ball could be in a situation that is best for you to attack.
In the Diamond ranks, I often see position 1 rotating all the way back to position 3, usually via the 100% side boost, but quite often going all the way back for the corner boosts which kills your momentum and just allows your opponents to gain possession of the ball. This is something that you have to learn how to eradicate from your game and you’ll make a lot of mistakes early on, but keep at it if you want to get up to those purple ranks. When rotating out of offense, it is very much worth a quick check to see if you can get a strategic demolition on your way to your next position.
With all this information, you should be able to find yourself ranking up, don't expect it all to happen at once though. Work on one thing at a time and you'll make it up soon enough. Hopefully I will be able to return with some advice on how to reach Grand Champion soon!
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