Player Spotlight: Stev
Hey guys Dazerin here again with another interview!
I talked on twitter a few days ago about highlighting bubble players which are basically players who aren't in the top 8 league play teams in their region but are just outside that bubble hence the name 'bubble' players. With the new RLCS season 4 format there's going to be a focus not only on the top 8 teams but on 8 other teams who will have a chance to qualify for this new 'challenger' division (name not confirmed) that will be introduced next season. That being said there are some players who definitely have a shot at qualifying who have been in the competitive scene for a long time but people don't know much if anything about them. I’m looking to change that with these ‘Player Spotlights” giving these players an opportunity to share a bit of themselves and to give the reader more information on players who are working towards becoming an RLCS Pro.
Hey Stev let's start with the origin of your username. How did you come up with Stev?
Well, my first name is Stephen but I went by the name of [EZ] Steve at around the time the game was just launched. I was playing with a family friend and in the process of changing the name from something random back to [EZ] Steve I accidentally forgot the second “e” and well, here we are.
How did you get into Rocket League?
Rocket League was an interesting prospect for me at the time. I've always been a huge gamer and sometimes a little too much. To be honest, my brother saw the game during the 2015 summer sale on Steam and was playing it occasionally. I KNEW that I had to get the game. I mean, it's fricking soccer with flying cars, what sports fanatic and heavy gamer wouldn't be enticed? Definitely credit to my brother for opening my eyes to this glorious game.
What was your first Rocket League team?
I played around for a few months with multiple people as I climbed through the ranks. Shout outs to Nixxos, Air Bud and Dex for the fun times all the way back then. My first Rocket League team and competitive team was uBiquitas (UBQ) and we mostly played ESL’s and fought tooth and nail through the platinum leaderboard in the fall of 2015. Our peak and ending run as a team came in the beginning of 2016, where after we claimed 4th in the monthly ESL, losing to Kings of Urban, and receiving a juicy Elite title. The other guys were content with their position and wanted to play more casually but I wanted to continue so we parted ways.
Who is your favorite player in the pro scene and why?
My favorite player in the pro scene right now is GarrettG. He’s extremely well spoken and humble on camera and also a strong representation of what we want and need from our professional players as the scene continues to grow extremely fast. It fascinates me how mechanically sound he is in most aspects of the game and always seems level headed and collected where most people would be nervous. But as his own teammate Jacob has said, “Garrett is f****** insane.”
How did you become a part of your current team “Lights Out”?
After my departure from Ninja Dinosaurs I began searching for a move-in ready team and Lights Out! had been renovating their 6 man roster down to a roster of 3, with a spot open on the starting roster. I already knew one of the members, Aeon from SoaR, and I attribute much of the consideration to his high praise of me. Thanks bro.
What are your thoughts on how your current team has been performing?
We don't have many results as a current roster, however things have been a rollercoaster. We have some mental things to work on so we keep our focus during games and general tilt when we don't focus. Everything is a learning experience and since I've already been there I’ll just have to guide them through so we can capture a spot in this season of the RLCS.
What do you think about the format for the upcoming RLCS season?
I think it's fantastic! So many more teams have gotten to a level where the game can go either way at any time. It's great that Psyonix has listened to us and provided a format that will help the tier 2 scene and those who are tier 1 but get left out due to a bad day (looking at you, Iris).
What do you think is the biggest challenge your team and other ‘bubble’ teams might have this season?
The most difficult thing will be showing up when it matters most. Nerves are definitely a factor and on that final day of the 96 team tournament, everyone is going to be eyeing those top 14 spots (13 in EU). So many good teams are around now and you'll have to play well against multiple good teams to even have a shot at those 14 spots.
What’s the current meta for the Rocket League competitive scene?
Meta? I definitely think that we’re in a pressure-oriented offensive and counter-attack oriented defensive meta. Meaning that ball control and positioning is everything. Being able to beat your opponent to the ball while also not wasting the possession is a huge asset and will win you the majority of games just by being better at that than the other team. On offense it's all about what you do with the ball and having the quick support of your teammates to challenge the ball after you no longer have control of it. Then, once the ball is reliably in their half, you just keep cycling and boost starving until eventually you force an opportunity by nature of lack of boost. The way to counter this is to control the ball on defense and make your hits count. Passing to your teammate in order to redirect it far into the other team’s half in order to allow your team some breathing room to get boost and establish pressure in their offensive zone is a huge way to relieve yourselves on defense.
Do you think your team fits that meta or do you guys have your own unique playstyle? If so what?
When I came onto the team, their play style was completely different than the current professional meta, and that's mainly due to speed. The pros do everything consistently and SUPER fast. I brought some knowledge of that and tried to impart it to them which grants them a different perspective towards high level Rocket League. I would say we currently are in a transition between their old play style and the meta, but as we work together I'm sure we’ll be using the meta by the time RLCS rolls around.
There are so many different variables that come into play when you need to win a game in Rocket League. What’s one thing you are constantly focused on when in game?
Speed. In the 5 minutes you have in game, there's almost no time to be sitting in the same exact position and watching the field develop. Everything in high level Rocket League is about being patient for the right opportunity and then pouncing on it as fast as possible. But while doing that, no one else can be slouching around because rotations need to be fluid and quick if you want to win the ball and keep control of it.
Do you think we’ve reached the skill ceiling or are we just scratching the surface of what we can do with these rocket powered cars?
I think we are coming close to the skill ceiling in regards to potential mechanical skill, at least on offense. On defense, how do you defend a ceiling shot? A redirect from your back wall to right in front of your net? Those skills will develop by nature of how the game works. Someone does something insane on offense, the defense gets shredded, the defense learns and doesn't let it happen again. When we see more and more of these crazy mechanics on offensive from the defensive end, we teach ourselves how to handle the situation and will eventually be able to defend against it through trial and error.
As a team, the skill ceiling has quite a lot of room until we hit it, I think. Now I know freestyling against players who literally don't know how to double jump isn't necessarily translatable to competitive play, but some of the most insane things between a team rely on those accurate passes and trust in order to execute. Can you imagine a time where Rocket League pros will consistently throw passes into the air only to have a teammate already there and instantly redirecting the ball? Essentially prejumpimg the pass into a direct angled redirect which causes the defense to either react or also prejump in order to defend? There are so many things possible that currently aren't done in the current meta of competitive Rocket League, and I mainly think that's because being on the ground is more consistent and you can access the entire field faster (and with less boost) than when in the air. I’ll leave this with the question, what if crazy passing plays we only see on the ground right now, move to the air?
What’s been the toughest challenge in your Rocket League career?
I would most definitely say trying to balance my schoolwork and education with the amount of time I want to put into Rocket League. It's a hard thing to do for me.
You’re pretty active in the community, what are your thoughts on the Rocket League community as a whole
I'm just one guy, but I've been here since the beginning. Lately there's been a huge disconnect between the pro players and everyone else, as well as just the casual players. Overall, the community as a whole, in my opinion, is mostly good. There are certain organizations and people who don't reflect the community as a whole, but they're here nonetheless. I think that currently with the HUGE growth of Rocket League, the game attracts many different players from other games,
and I think the current wishes of pros / competitive players / casual players differs too much when everyone has started to forget how grateful we should be for how good Psyonix listens to and treats us.
You’ve been in the competitive scene for a long time, what got you into the scene and how has that journey been?
Honestly, the competitive journey had been quite the wild ride. Many many times the teams I have been on have been so close to achieving something great but we never stick with it long enough to see it through.
Starting with uBiquitas, we had the opportunity to grow into a top 8 team during the RLCS if we had stuck it out and prepared for it. I was okay with their decision to hang up the ropes, but I wanted more.
Following my departure of the team, I found my way onto the sub spot for Orbit (Zanejackey, Hotwheelssid, Genocop) who were at that point considered one of the top 3 teams in North America by power rankings and showings. A super unfortunate scenario caused Genocop to step down from the roster at the last minute before League Play and to be quite honest, I was NOT ready at the time to be in the starting position.
I want to take a step back and talk about Genocop for a minute though. Even now, more than a year later, I still owe Genocop for much of what I've become. In the beginning, I always aspired to be one of the best keyboard mouse players in the world. Today, I'm comfortable saying that I am one of the best around the competitive scene. Back then? Hell no. But the light at the end of the tunnel was always Genocop. I aspired to be him at the time because he was also a keyboard mouse player and I really really wanted to be as good as him. It's super unfortunate that what happened happened and we don't speak anymore, but right now I’m nothing without the aspiration to be as good as Genocop.
Moving back to now, Orbit, with me on the starting roster, went 6-14 in League Play after the first qualifier in the season 1 of RLCS. It was painful enough that we split ways shortly after the fact. I ended up joining GarretG, Turtle and Moses on Exodus for the second qualifier as a sub, which is how I received my Season 1 Elite title for the RLCS.
After that, school was already over and college had already began. I committed to my studies and said I was done with competitive Rocket League. For the most part, I wanted it to not be true. I don't know why, but Rocket League will always have a draw on me, sort of like that first crush in middle school who you always think about as your first love. I honestly love the game, and everything Psyonix has built has been fantastic so far. I knew I couldn't leave the scene and I took other avenues such as attempting to write articles or do power rankings for the community in my spare time. Sadly, neither of those things are my passion. Competing at the highest level is.
During the down time I met a now twice former teammate Sham and Vortex and we again, made a run at the top 10 in North America power rankings. However, things ended abruptly after we had a behavioral dispute between a few of our members and that caused us to split, but Sham and I were still on good terms. After my break and before the third season of RLCS, Sham messaged me about joining a team for the RLCS and I figured that was my in back into the competitive scene.
The team was SoaR Gaming consisting of me, Sham, Nox Phoenix, Aeon and Iridium, all very nice guys, but something never meshed between the five of us. With a large roster, it's odd trying to involve everyone without someone feeling left out, and that tended to be the problem since the skill level was so close after Sham and me. After the 17-25 place in RLCS we joined the MCS with gschwind (pronounced GUH-Schwind) and Nox Phoenix and Iridium as our subs. Our contract and relations ended amicably with our subs and SoaR Gaming after our third place finish in the MCS, where we finished as the team named Ninja Dinosaurs.
The Ninja Dino's had huge potential to break into the first tier of competitive play, and all signs were pointing up for us as a team, however information wasn't relayed properly between the teams and things weren't handled well on both ends so I ended up kicked from the team, with an ending not so amicable as uBiquitas. I will offer no more information about the split.
Finally, following my departure from the Ninja Dinosaurs I ended up searching for a team again, and Light’s Out! seemed to be the place to go. They had just finished roster renovations and a starting spot opened up. I was looking for a move in ready situation since I don't know if school will force me to put Rocket League on the backburner again and I didn't want to build something from the ground up. Kevpert and Aaron, a former SoaR teammate, already had chemistry that I could work off of as well as open ears to my knowledge about high level play. We made some quick changers in the first few days tot the style of play and we already are becoming competitive with some of the best teams, most notably throwing a 3-0 lead with half the game left in game five against The Muffin Men (Squishy/Torment/Dappur) in last weekend’s Nexus Summer Invitational (xD). Currently we are looking to keep learning and adapting as a unit to condition ourselves to the style of play that we will expect from our competition. So far that is it for the competitive journey. Overall, it's been a bumpy ride, but one that I would do again with maybe a few tweaks here or there.
How do you see the future of Rocket League?
Rocket League, barring some massive shutdown due to something unforeseen and insane, will most likely become a household name due to the core game itself. It's soccer (fútbol), which is massively popular around the world, combined with an addictive but reasonable format (5 minute games!?) as well as game to game differences which makes each match unique. It also will be one of the first games to integrate all platforms using true crossplay (please Sony). Finally, the game is super safe and available for everyone of all ages and is easily understandable by the average spectator. For these reasons I have Rocket League being one of the most revolutionary esports and becoming the pioneer of bringing video games to household tv’s. Everything is headed in the right direction, and there's no one other than Psyonix, the community driven company I love, that I want to be leading the way.
Thanks Stev for the interview and thanks to everyone who took the time to read this I appreciate it! With RLCS coming in the next month I'm going to try to kick out as many of these as possible!