League of their own

Marquette+Gaming+and+Esports+Rocket+League+team+participating+at+the+2019+NY+LAN+tournament+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Courtesy+of+Joshua+Fendry-Gill+and+the+Marquette+Gaming+and+Esports+team.%29

Marquette Gaming and Esports’ Rocket League team participating at the 2019 NY LAN tournament (Photo courtesy of Courtesy of Joshua Fendry-Gill and the Marquette Gaming and Esports team.)

In early July 2015, two video game developing companies, “Psyonix” and “Panic Button Games,” set out to create a better version of their original rocket-car soccer video game — called “Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars” or “SARPBC” for short. While the title of that game may not resonate with many gamers, the name “Rocket League” should.

After the October 2008 release of “SARPBC,” the title was considered a self-proclaimed failure despite the game being downloaded on PlayStation 3 two million times. After refining the game and adding much-needed stabilization features and graphical updates, the new version of “SARPBC” was ready to rerelease under a new name.

“Rocket League” would be released for PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows in July 2015 with the ability to play the game on the Xbox One coming seven months later. Over five years later, in September 2020, it was reported that “Rocket League” had been downloaded 75 million times across all playable platforms according to a September Gamesindustry.biz article posted by the market-leading website for news and information about the global video games industry.

The game was so popular, in fact, that “Rocket League” tournaments for major cash prizes were picked up and begun by gaming organizations, thus expanding the Rocket League community.

In October 2019, the Electronic Gaming Federation announced that it would hold two national collegiate tournaments for competitive Division I Esports teams.

One tournament would feature teams from conferences such as the SEC, ACC, Pac 12, Big Ten and Big 12, and the other tournament would consist of teams from only the BIG EAST.  

One of the teams invited to this tournament was Marquette’s very own “Rocket League” team.

Marquette was finally able to attend their first live event in club history since the team’s conception in 2015, as this tournament was held in New York City from Dec. 7-8, 2019.

Junior Joshua Fendry-Gill said he was excited at the prospect of representing Marquette on such a large stage of competition in New York.

“I’d say I was really excited since EGF had a (Local Area Network) event in New York and the guys at EGF are really top tier at what they do,” Fendry-Gill said as he looked back at his time in New York.

Sophomore Nolan Greene said the team had the No. 2 seed going into the tournament and had to overcome an exhausting day of playing 8-10 best of five series against other teams from the BIG EAST.

Unfortunately for the Marquette Gaming and Esports team, their tournament finished on an underwhelming note as the Golden Eagles finished low in the group standings at the end of round-robin play and was sent home.

The Marquette “Rocket League” team would bounce back in their spring season, as the team won its first conference championship in team history. Almost an entire year later, in December 2020, the “Rocket League” team would play in a BIG EAST and MAAC “Rocket League” tournament that would be conducted remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

The team also got a new face on the roster this past November, as sophomore Carson Scarnegie was thrown into the spotlight with little introduction to the team prior to the tournament. Scarnegie has yet to physically meet the team in person because of the pandemic.

After going into the tournament “open minded … we didn’t want to have any expectations holding us back … we came out pretty strong,” Scarnegie said, who spoke highly of his “Rocket League” teammates despite being ranked No. 8 before tournament play started.

After winning the team’s first three best of three series against highly ranked No. 4 Seton Hall and other BIG EAST and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference teams such as No. 1 Marist, the Golden Eagles lost their next three games.

“We were pretty happy with our performance, we didn’t come out timid … we played with confidence and played our game,” Scarnegie said.

The team tied for third at the end of the tournament.

As for what is next for Marquette’s “Rocket League” squad, the team started league play for their spring league and already have a win under their belt after sweeping Fairfield in a best of three match.

“We’ve definitely improved a lot … there’s always work to be done,” Greene said.

Greene also said he is looking forward to improving the team chemistry throughout the spring season.

Scarnegie also said that he “wants to meet his teammates more” in the coming months.

This story was written by Jack Lewandowski. He can be reached at jack.lewandowski@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JacklewMu.