Esports is quite huge, it is not limited to popular disciplines like League of Legends or Dota 2. There are dozens of games that consistently gather a large audience at their broadcasts. One of the best examples of this is Rocket League.
Rocket League was released in 2015 and instantly became one of the main hits. Numerous awards and nominations, a huge game base, the competitive nature of the game — all this together inspired developers to go into esports. It appeared to be a quite wise decision — Rocket League became stable and well-developed esports discipline.
The first Rocket League esports league was launched in April 2016. It was the dawn of the new discipline — nobody actually didn’t know know what to do, what is interesting to watch for the big audience. Developers tested different formats, communicated with the community and generally learned how to organize professional esports tournaments. The key event of each season appeared to be the final of Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) with the best teams from around the world. The final holds in different cities of North America and Europe. Organizers also hosted qualifying championships in three regions — North America, Europe and Oceania (it appeared as a separate region after the second season).
The discipline quickly began to accelerate with the third season. Then really big clubs started to join the league, like NRG Esports or FlipSid3 Tactics. The fourth season turned out to be the most striking — as such famous clubs as PSG eSports, G2 Esports, Cloud9 became part of the league. The last two were able to reach the fourth and third places in the main tournament, thus they gave a large number of viewers in the final days of the championship.
So far the most successful season is the fifth, which took place from March to June 2018. The list of participants in the regions can be called stellar: Cloud9, Evil Genius, NRG Esports, G2 Esports in North America, in Europe: Fnatic, Team EnVyUs, compLexity Esports, PSG eSports, FlipSid3 Tactics. This fact attracted a lot of fans and viewers to the qualifying championships from the first week. It had the huge drop during the last week (the same the previous season did), but all viewers returned and multiplied during the playoffs.
It would seem that the future of the discipline is lined with golden tiles. The organizers even decided to double the prize pool of the key tournament to $500,000, which is still not that much compared to other disciplines. However, things didn’t go very well from the very beginning with the sixth season — the results of the qualifying tournaments with the average and the maximum number of viewers turned out to be worse than two previous seasons. I suppose there are three reasons for that:
1) Some large and popular esports organizations left the discipline (for example, the departure of Team EnVyUs from the European Region appeared to be a big loss);
2) Discipline does not develop and cannot attract a new audience due to the lack of new ideas and a small prize pool;
3) Active promotion of Fortnite during this time period.
The biggest trouble is with Europe. The number of viewers during the playoffs dropped during the playoffs and it was less compared to the previous stage. The reason for that situation is simple — there were no popular teams in the playoffs: Mousesports left the tournament after the first match and Fnatic couldn’t even reach the play-off.
The key tournament of the season will begin on November 9th. American big teams like EG, G2, and Cloud9 can still save the situation if they will play good enough. The previous champion — Team Dignitas from the European region also reached the main event so the fight will be hot.
Rocket League is the excellent and stable representative of the Tier-2 esports discipline. It has her own fan base that watches eSports events. However, it is important to understand that esports is quite different from traditional sports — the game must evolve constantly, otherwise, it will lose players. The developers received the signal — something needs to be changed, so it will be interesting to see what they will do in the near future in order to return the audience back to their game.