Rocket League team finishes in championship quarterfinals

To prepare for the CRL championship, the team played scrimmages with national-level teams.

In UTD Esports’ second competitive “Rocket League” season, Comets finished in the quarterfinals of the Collegiate Rocket League championship on Jan. 7 after qualifying through a wildcard event.

UTD’s “Rocket League” team made it to playoffs in the national qualifier then made a loser’s bracket run in the wildcard tournament to qualify for the CRL championships. Once there, they took a game off of the Eastern first seed Northwood Esports before being knocked out in the quarterfinals. After having a mediocre finish in the regular season standings, sophomore Benny “lubey” Lube said that even taking one game off of Northwood Esports was impressive.

“Realistically, Northwood is a team of pros and none of them are signed professionally. All of them are right up there with the pros,” lubey said. “Honestly a lot of people weren’t expecting us to take a game and we took a game.”

One of the team’s strengths comes from their ability to mentally reset after each game, which lubey said was a major part of playing nearly every series. This, combined with experience playing on stream in front of a large audience, led to a much-improved performance compared with earlier in the season. Head student coach Brenden “LuckyMick” Strenger pointed to this as a takeaway from the team’s first nationals experience.

“I would say our guys are on level with [the other teams],” said LuckyMick. “One thing I noticed is we definitely played a little worse when we were on stream versus when we were off stream, so I think getting them more experience will help them kind of settle in and not be as nervous.”

To prepare for the CRL championship, the team played scrimmages with national-level teams, including some that were almost pro-level, about two to three weeks beforehand. Lubey himself played with a separate team in a pro qualifier, nearly qualifying for professional play.

“A lot of people expected us to perform a lot worse than we did,” lubey said. “We caught a lot of people’s eyes going into that.”

Currently, the team is finishing up play in the Collegiate StarLeague regular season and preparing for the spring season for CRL.

“Our goal was to make playoffs,” lubey said. “We made nationals. Now our goal is to make nationals again, and we’re not going to settle for any lower than what we did.”