Dreamhack Pro Circuit took place last weekend in Montreal, Canada. A Rocket League LAN tournament with a selection of the best teams from across the world competing to become champions. One of a few such tournaments held around the world throughout the year but it’s the first one I’ve actually watched. This isn’t the first Esports tournament that I’ve watched though, I watched an Ark: Survival Evolved tournament 4 or 5 years ago – whose success spawned the Survival Of The Fittest spin-off based around its format – which I enjoyed immensely at the time. However, that’s where my interest in Esports came to an end. I’ve treated it like I do most sports, casting the occasional lazy eye over events, seeing the broad strokes and then not really delving into them beyond the superficial. So, it’s a bit of a surprise to me that I’ve spent a big chunk of my weekend watching Dreamhack. Should it be though? I don’t think so.
I’ve never been one to watch other people play games. With the exception of tutorials or amusing clips I’ve not had much interest. So, the streaming and Esports scenes have largely passed me by. That’s changed recently as my obsession with Rocket League has grown. I started watching gameplay clips of incredible goals or hilarious whiffs (misses); it’s grown into watching and following more and more YouTube channels full of videos showing off mechanics, training, gameplay, challenges and more. They range from serious “this is how to get better!” type videos to “Can 7 Grand Champions beat 1 Bronze while playing upside down?” sort of fun ones. It’s fortunate that there are a number of incredible content creators out there that are part of the Rocket League scene. It was only a matter of time before I’d decide to watch the pros in action, live.
DOES IT GET ANY CLOSER? 😱
The line between overtime and victory turns out to be VERY thin. #DHProCircuit
— Rocket League Esports (@RLEsports) September 8, 2019
So, how was it? In a word; great. Watching professional players is really something else. The ability and skills they’ve learned and honed through thousands of hours of gameplay are seriously impressive to behold. The speed of their play, the mechanical variation they bring, the quality of their touches on the ball and the recovery times they achieve are all insane. Even when they make a mistake, they recover so quickly, either as an individual or as a team, they’re often right back into the play before their opponents can capitalise. Goals tend to be scored from two things, outstanding brilliance or opportunities created from sustained pressure that means the defenders can’t do what they know they need to. As a result, the games are often decided by the finest of margins, the smallest mistakes and the most ridiculous attacking plays. All in all, it makes for exciting and captivating viewing.
The series that summarises all of this perfectly for me is the Quarter-Final match between The Peeps & Mouz. Mouz are an established team with a legend of the scene – Kuxir97 – on their side, while The Peeps are an up and coming team looking to make an impression. The Quarter-Final was a best of 5 that went all the way to the end. I don’t want to spoil the result and I highly recommend that you go and watch the full series. I know that is a big commitment so, for those of you that aren’t as keen to watch the whole thing but want an idea of what it was like, I’ve cut together a highlight video from the match that shows a few close calls and a few goals that show just how tight the margins are.
The Highlight Video as Uploaded to the Out of Lives YouTube Channel
As readers of my previous article will know, I’m on a quest to improve as a Rocket League player. The pressure i described feeling when playing 1v1 matches must be nothing compared to what these Pro Players experience when competing on stage with a live audience in the room. Not to mention the thousands of viewers streaming the action like I was; I don’t remember seeing the viewing figures drop below 50,000 during the matches while I was watching and it waa often quite a lot higher than that too. So, to bounce back from a mistake that cost your team a game is all the more impressive under these conditions. It shows how important that mental resilience is, in addition to the skills and practice needed to comepete with the best. It really is a proper sport in that sense.
I’ve found it really helpful to watch these games and if anything they’ve only intensified my desire to become a better player myself. I don’t know when the next tournament will be, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be watching.