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God might love a trier, but Rocket League is not such a soft touch. I could have learnt Japanese and still had time to circumnavigate the globe on a moped for all the hours I’ve ploughed into Rocket League, and I’m still bang average. The kind of player you want on your team only to make you feel better about yourself.
I can hold my own in the lower reaches of the Gold levels – and if you’re not familiar with Rocket League and thinking this a shower of false modesty, it’s really not. Gold isn’t even halfway up the Rocket League rankings. If I were an Olympic nation, I’d be Belgium. And nothing good has ever come out of Belgium.
So, for players who strive for nothing more than the ability to hold their own, to be about as memorable as an airplane meal but just good enough to avoid being verbally hounded by your teammates, here is how to become distinctly average at Rocket League:
Play 3 vs 3
This boils down to simple probability. In a 1 vs 1 game, your team is going to suck, because that team is you. In a 2 vs 2 game, the best you can hope for is that the other player is decent. At 3 vs 3, however, there’s an outside shot that two-thirds of your team know what they’re doing. In 3 vs 3, you’re also better insulated against the threat that one of your teammates will rage quit when they clock how appallingly mediocre you are, leaving you to face two opponents alone. That doesn’t end well.
Even at Gold level, there are more glory hunters than grafters. Want to earn the grudging respect of your co-workers? Then hang back. Play defensively, look after the shop while they’re off wafting at balls at the far end. When your team is attacking, park yourself midway between your goal and the halfway line, ready to collect any loose clearances that come your way. You might get beaten by the odd long shot that flies over your head, but let’s face it, you probably weren’t stopping those anyway.
Put it in the mixer
You’re not Man City standard. And if you were playing for Man City, you’d be Fabian Delph, lucky to get a spot examining Pep’s bald spot on the bench. You haven’t got the skills for tippy-tappy balls to teammates. You’ll screw it up, nine tens out of ten.
Instead, bang it into the mixer. Launch as many long balls as you can into the opponents’ area. Not only will you collect 20 points each time you do so, but you’ll earn a few assists when your teammates get on the end of your hoofball, and the odd goal when opposing defenders screw up and slice one into their own net.
Smacking balls off the side walls towards the goal is more likely to pay dirt than straight balls into the box.
Learn to fly
R Kelly was way ahead of his time. If you want to hold your own on the Rocket League pitch, you have to believe you can fly. You might scrape through Bronze and Silver by keeping four wheels locked on the astroturf, but by the time you make it to Gold you’re going to have to get airborne once in a while. T
ake to the practice courts and hammer the flying drills. Don’t even think about playing a ranked multiplayer match until you can land your car on the Hudson. Or at least somewhere vaguely in New York state.
Don’t rise to the bait
You’re going to make big mistakes. Smashing the ball into your own net, wafting at missed clearances, slicing open goals so wide you get an assist for the opponents’ goal: all of these moves are in your locker.
You’re average, and that means you’re going to be bad precisely half the time. It is known.
When you do ‘have a moment’, you can rest assured some teenage wazzock on your team will quickly fill the chat with supportive messages such as “&!#£!” and “What a Save!” and anything else he can do to remorselessly irritate your nipples.
Do not bite. Do not respond. Let the 14-year-old sulk in his own damp tissue-filled pit of self-righteousness. There is nothing to be gained from a flame war. Especially when “wind your neck in, you spectacular waste of DNA” is not amongst the chat options.