ELEAGUE and Psyonix announced a large scale multi media partnership on February 11. The announcement details a feature series of videos for Seasons 7 and 8 of the Rocket League Championship Series and a Collegiate Rocket League tournament at NCAA Final Four Fan Fest.
The partnership is the first of its kind in esports. 2019 is a make-or-break year for Rocket League, and this partnership is a step in the right direction for the esport’s pursuit to ascend to tier one. Psyonix will make yet another infiltration into the mainstream.
Psyonix’s Baby, All Grown Up
Given the success of the game (the player base surpassed 40 million in January), it can be easy to forget how smart Psyonix was in releasing the game. Rocket League’s predecessor, Super Sonic Acrobatic Rocket Powered Battle Cars, had a nice following, but didn’t sell well. Recreating the game was a bit of a gamble.
A gamble that certainly paid off. The decision to release the game for free with PlayStation Plus created an explosion that has led to a substantial esport. Rocket League was on ESPN 3 during the X Games. NBC Sports Group put together the largest 2v2 Rocket League tournament in history. Collegiate Rocket League has been a success and TBS took a special interest in the game as a whole.
Psyonix has left game development entirely and become a Rocket League company. The company has taken full control of the esport and has funneled energy and funds into expanding the esport. Esports Operations Manager Josh Watson told Red Bull, “The definition of success for us is when Rocket League is the biggest sport in the world”.
That’s a high bar, but it seems more likely everyday. The partnership with Turner Sports and ELEAGUE is Rocket League’s statement of intent. If an esport is ever going to catch on with main stream media, it’s going to be this one.
If Rocket League Is a Big Deal, Why Isn’t It Tier 1?
Rocket League is making big moves but continues to lag behind even in its own realm. RLCS streams are consistently out paced by League of Legends, Dota 2, Counter Strike etc. Why isn’t Rocket League outgunning other esports?
The game is relatively young, but other esports like Fortnite and Rainbow Six Siege both released after Rocket League and have larger followings and prize pools. The issue could very well be marketing.
Turner Ad Sales will “represent all the advertising and sponsorships across Seasons 7 and 8 of the RLCS”. This is enormous. The Turner team will push Rocket League to a larger audience than ever before.
The game is the perfect entry level esport. If someone is curious about esports but is intimidated by steep learning curves, Rocket League is the game for them. It’s just car soccer at its core – something that can be understood by anyone.
Easy entry levels means that it just needs to be put into the path of more people to grow. There is no convincing necessary, just watch one game and you’ll be hooked. Events like Fan Fest at the NCAA tournament in Minneapolis are perfect for getting a lot of eyeballs on the game.
Fan Fest is targeted to the audience of young people that Psyonix has been trying to hit since the game’s release. Turner will be put a lot of work into advertising the event as well as creating content surrounding Season 7 and 8.
This partnership takes Rocket League out of its adolescence and thrusts into adulthood. There’s no more time for growing pains. It’s time for Psyonix to hold power slide on the landing and fly into esports royalty and mainstream acceptance.
Feature image courtesy of Psyonix.
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