The Broncos playing during the final | Courtesy of Daniel Duque

Boosts, goals and demolition: CPP students kick off in Rocket League tournament

By Daniel Duque, May 7, 2024

Associated Students Incorporated hosted a Rocket League tournament in The Game Room at Cal Poly Pomona April 26. Students with different skill levels faced off in an intensity-filled, yet friendly, competition.

While players of all skill levels were welcome to compete, the eventual winner turned out to be mechanical engineering student Nathan Faraj and computer engineering student Nathan Rahbar, who have 11 years of combined experience in the game.

Rocket League is a sports-based multiplayer video game where players control rocket-powered vehicles in enclosed arenas while attempting to hit a giant soccer ball into the opponent’s net. The game allows players to drive on the field and walls around the arena, as well as use rocket-powered engines to zoom across the arena at high speeds. Players can even fly while attempting to score the most goals before the conclusion of the five-minute match. Additionally, players can take advantage of the rocket-powered boosts to crash into the opposing team’s players, which disables them for a few seconds.

Eight players teamed up in pairs and competed in a two-round, best-of-five games tournament. The teams were named “Team Nathan,” “Kirkland,” “The Broncos” and “Eight Eyes.” Players varied from casual to highly ranked, but that did not stop the participants from trying their best.

Before the tournament kicked off, participants expressed their expectations for the competition and discussed their strategy.

“We are going to cook, and we are going to win,” said Faraj, who has been playing Rocket League for eight years. “I’m just going to do what I know and try my best.”

Playing along Faraj was Rahbar – who with three years of experience playing Rocket League, and despite not having the same experience as his partner – was well prepared to compete and perform well as a team.

“He [Faraj] has a lot of good game sense because he is a higher rank than me, so I’m just going to let him boss me around, keep him in the back while I score the goals,” said Rahbar.

The first best-of-five matchup was between Team Nathan and Kirkland. During the first game, Team Nathan had a comfortable two-goal lead. However, computer science student, Bryan Bergo, forced the match into sudden death overtime for team Kirkland. Ultimately, Team Nathan scored to give them the 1-0 lead in the series.

In what seemed to be a close first round, Team Nathan ramped up its strategy with determination, and established a 3-0 lead to conclude the round and take the pair to the finals.

“I was like ‘man, we are losing, we need to try better,’ so that is what we did, and it ended up working in our favor,” said Rahbar.

For the second matchup of the first round, The Broncos and Eight Eyes competed to face Team Nathan in the finals. The Broncos relied on a highly offensive strategy to overwhelm Eight Eyes and reach the final after three matches with many goals and wide differences in the scoreboard, highlighting a 10-0 score during the first match of the round.

Eight Eyes’ computer engineering student Justin Herrera and mechanical engineering student Dominique Muñoz reflected on their performance during the tournament.

“I don’t think anything went wrong. I think it was just us getting the rust off and then getting used to the controls again,” said Muñoz. “We got matched against really good players.”

Despite their defeat, Herrera expressed his satisfaction with the tournament, and stressed how the team plans on participating in future competitions.

“It was fun, it was a welcoming environment. I will train my butt off to compete again next year,” said Herrera. “Me and my partner will come back better than ever.”

The final round between Team Nathan and The Broncos kicked off with intensity. Both teams created multiple scoring opportunities, keeping a 2-3 difference during the last minute of the first match.

Showing offensive and defensive balance in their strategy, while also disabling the opposition with demolitions, Team Nathan achieved two wins before the final match. One with a score of 4-2, and another with a score of  5-1.

With a 2-0 advantage in the series, Team Nathan lacked intensity during the third game, leading to a highly contested match between both teams. With five seconds left, and a 5-4 score in favor of Team Nathan, The Broncos were just seconds away from forcing sudden death overtime, but the match finished as the ball was heading inside the net.

Team Nathan won the tournament with an undefeated record and was awarded 25 Bronco Bucks for each team member.

Inspired by the team’s win, Rahbar expressed his enthusiasm to keep competing in the future, and stated that Team Nathan plans to participate in the Rocket League Championship Series – an annual esports competition where highly ranked players from around the world face off to earn prize money.

At the same time, Faraj jokingly described what it takes to be successful in video game tournaments.

“You need to be toxic,” said Faraj. “You must get in your opponent’s head; if you are a nice player, you won’t get anywhere. You have to get in their head and demotivate them.”

Intramural Support Assistant Supervisor and tournament host Edgar Tinjaca reflected on the impact these tournaments have on students focusing on social interactions and encouraged students to participate in the future.

“They are all playing the games they like, and some people are playing the game for the first time. It brings students out,” said Tinjaca. “We try to get as many students to come out. That way, we can have more people meet more people and have bigger competitions.”

Feature image courtesy of Daniel Duque

Verified by MonsterInsights