Optimizing Your Defense - A Guide To Wall Usage With Turbopolsa
Sun 26th May 2019 - 7:39pm
Whether it's from the ground, ceiling or wall, each and every surface of a Rocket League map can be used to begin a play. Thankfully, the cars we use can drive on walls with ease, so how can this be used to our full potential? Well, I asked three-time World Champion Pierre "Turbopolsa" Silfver for some help on the topic.
Wall Shots versus Ground Shots
Firstly, wall shots can be argued to be more or less offensive than ground offence. When asked, though, Turbopolsa replied, "It is very situational. Depending on where the opponents and your teammates are on the field, it could be more useful to create an attack via the wall than on the ground. If you know the goalie doesn't have any boost, 7/10 times it's better to go on the wall and pass it high so the goalie can't reach it."
Generally, wall offence and ground defence are just as important as one another, as they are dependent on situational factors such as the number of goalies, the amount of boost the goalies have, or perhaps even your own teammates and how they are positioned. If they are not ready to back you up, you might want to consider taking it slow on the ground, for example.
As Turbopolsa said, hitting the ball high off the wall is a great way to from an attack, especially is you know that the defender has little boost left. The reason this is such a good tactic is because the defender will not be able to reach it with ease, and if you miss and the ball rebounds off the backboard, there should always be a teammate there for the follow-up attack.
Basically, then, go for ground plays when:
- You want to stall time for your teammates to return to defence
- You have little boost, so can perform a more useful dribble or pass to a nearby teammate
Otherwise, go for wall shots when:
- The defender(s) have little to no boost and you know this
- There is a teammate in the middle of the field awaiting a pass.
In regard to that last point about passing off the wall to a teammate, this is backed up by Turbopolsa, who says, "A good passing play coming from the wall is very hard to defend against and makes it high risk high reward, because of the time you put yourself out of the game after a pass/shot by being in the air. I feel like there's an equal chance of scoring from the wall and the ground."
Being Fast Versus Taking It Slow
As you might expect, there are positives and negatives for both sides of this debate. When it comes to utilising the wall, you might want to decide whether to be fast and catch your opponents when their guard is down, or take it slow to maintain more control over the ball.
When asked for help on answering this, Turbopolsa replied, "If you want to create time for your team to gather boost and such it's better to hard-clear it to their field and expect it back shortly after, but if you all have boost and in the right position, it could be better to take it down and slowly attack with a smart play rather than just booming it across the field."
Hitting the ball very hard from the wall might not be advantageous to your team as a whole. If the teammates are in a prime position to begin an effective passing play, then clearing the ball across the field might come across as selfish. Taking a long shot gives defenders a lot more time to react to your shot and defend it, whereas as Turbopolsa mentioned before, performing a quick passing play is much more unpredictable.
The wall has a lot of potential for setting up fancy, mechanical shots, as surely you have seen before. A few examples of these might be:
- Air dribbles
- Ceiling shots
- Double touch shots
Professional player Mariano "SquishyMuffinz" Arruda has been praised for his skill with mechanical abilities. Here is a strong example of how he used wall skills to achieve an immensely impressive shot at the Rocket League World Championships. Notice how he drives up the wall and jumps onto the ceiling for a flip reset. Boosting up the wall is the best way to gain momentum to get onto the ceiling.
An air dribble is similarly impressive, if you know how to pull a good one off. When asking Turbopolsa which mechanical skill is more difficult, he answered, "Depends on what you have been practicing the most on but, generally, I'd say a good air dribble is harder to pull off and also easier to defend against."
This, perhaps, makes air dribbles slightly less effective. With an air dribble, defenders are able to see where the ball is going, and reading this is much easier than defending against a ceiling shot. With a ceiling shot such as the one showed above, you regain a flip. This means you have the ability to use your second 'flip' whenever you feel like it whilst you are in the air.
So, the defender has no idea how early or how late you will use that second flip to hit the ball into their net. They might not even know you have a second flip in the first place, and this all adds to how unpredictable this kind of mechanical shot is, alongside how impressive it is.
When asking for the best way to practice any of these wall-based shots, Turbopolsa stated, "The easiest way to practice air dribbles and ceiling shots is going to a casual match or 1v1 and try to set them up for yourself so you get a feeling of how to execute it against a goalie."
Being in a realistic environment is the best way to practice, as these are the times you are going to put your skills to use.
As good as all this sounds, and as useful as wall optimisation sounds, there are some negatives to using the wall. One prime example of this is waiting on the wall for a pass. This happens commonly in online matches, where players await a pass from a teammate whilst positioning themselves on the wall.
However, as Turbopolsa discusses, "It is very risky to just sit on the wall and wait for a pass. You want to make sure you got a clear pass from your teammate and the opponents don't have any pressure on you at all."
It is also a lot more difficult for a player to pass to somebody on the wall. The required height may not be met, for example, and this puts two players out of the play completely if a mistake like this happens. It is a lot better to position well on the ground for a pass, as this makes it easier for your teammate.
One other major downside to using the wall is over-using it. It might be a useful place to form attacks with a variety of shot types, but do your best not to use it too often. When asking if this is what he sees too, Turbopolsa concludes by putting it nicely, "Yes. Some people only reside defense to backboard and that's not how you should defend. Yes, the backboard is a good way to position yourself in defense if you already have a teammate in the net. If you see that the enemy team is hitting the back wall quite often for passes then it could be better to go up more often to the backboard and defend it. Every situation is different from game to game and it's hard to practice just one thing."