Rocket League: Farewell for now

November 21 2023

The Liquid Review

Farewell Rocket League 

Today Team Liquid is saying goodbye to the Rocket League Championship Series and Rocket League esports (though, hopefully not forever). For the scene insiders, our silence during the offseason wrote this on the wall. But for some of our audience, this may come as a shock because, in the past year, we put together a true contender of a team and we were enormously proud of their performance. But in the end, our roster had nothing to do with our departure.

The simplified explanation is that we feel the current RLCS is an esport where a team needs to win in order to survive. Were we able to keep our roster or sign one that matched its caliber, we very likely would have stayed in Rocket League. But we fell short of that this offseason, so you won’t see us on the starting line this year.

While we could have stayed had we landed a better roster, we also believe that this is a weakness in Rocket League’s current model. Right now, we see the esport as “win or bust.” The current ecosystem lacks the sponsorship and digital item revenue needed to let a team build off of fandom, content, and community. Despite having a successful and popular team, in a very popular esport, Rocket League provided us less revenue than esports that are smaller in size. 

However, there is a silver lining — and a path to a return for Team Liquid. Esports is a business of passion, and Rocket League has plenty. Rocket League is a beautiful, skill-expressive game full of deeply invested players and fans. Within the community, the audience, and the game itself, we still see potential. And we hope we can return one day, once it starts getting realized.

We also acknowledge that, as an organization, we could have done more to live up to our own potential. We had a strong roster and struggled to match them with strong content and coverage. We geared up our coverage towards the end — and even looked at bringing in staff dedicated to Rocket League content. However, market conditions as well as the lack of strong digital items or strong RLCS sponsors made this path much harder to follow.

So, consider this a “farewell for now,” because when the time is right, when the team is right, when the ecosystem is right, we would love to come back and do even better.

In the meantime, we want to reflect on our time in Rocket League and everything our rosters — and our community — accomplished. We’ve worked with Rocket League writer and journalist Jens Koornstra to put together a history of our team, featuring interviews from former player Fruity, former manager Lukasz, and broadcast manager Zach Shaner. On top of that, we’ve composed a handful of letters to the community from former Liquid Rocket League staff. 

We would like to thank the Liquid community for rallying around our Rocket League squad through good and bad times, the many talented people on our broadcast for helping create that community, and every player and coach who competed under our banner for making it all possible.

The Kickoff

After nine seasons of RLCS league play, Rocket League Esports stepped into the modern era in 2020, with Regionals, Majors, and an expanded World Championships. Team Liquid had been looking at Rocket League for a while, many in the org already taken by the game’s speed, spectacle, and community. The new opportunity of the modern circuit was just the push Liquid needed.

Liquid entered the esport with a bang — signing Emil "fruity" Moselund and Jack "Speed" Packwood-Clarke, two of Europe’s notable players, as well as world champion Francesco "kuxir97" Cinquemani. 

“I knew Speed from way back when we used to team on The Bricks in 2018,” Fruity said. “We were nobodies at that time, and Kuxir was a world champion. Years down the line, you end up with a player like Kuxir… I think everyone would get a little star-struck, me included, but in a good way. It made me more motivated, and I was really interested to hear his perspective, and to learn how Kuxir works. I think he’s one of the most unique characters. I wish he was more public, cause he’s such a funny guy. He’s such a goof, and I think a lot of people could learn a lot from him.”

The trio had reached the finals of the Eurocup 10K offseason tournament just prior to getting signed and were putting on a good show against the best teams in Europe amidst COVID struggles. For the roster, being on Liquid represented its own breakthrough. 

“I see it as Ferrari in Formula 1,” Fruity tells, “every racing driver always has the dream of driving for Ferrari, and I think for a lot of esports players, that’s Team Liquid. For me, it was crazy. It was everything I thought it was going to be, and even more.”

Flashes of Brilliance

But despite Fruity feeling like he had the keys to the Ferrari, Team Liquid Rocket League did not shoot off of the starting line. 

In truth, the team struggled to break from the middle of the pack in their first year, regularly placing in the 5th to 8th range. It was far from a disastrous result, but a bit underwhelming for a roster led by a former world champ. That said, when the team was on, they could be world beaters. Liquid took to the pitch for many exciting matches, but struggled to reach the top of Europe. 

 “We had flashes of brilliance. There were a couple of Grid weeks where everything clicked and came together, but I think there was always something missing,” Zach Shaner said.

There was also more to Liquid’s entrance than placings. Those days were when the nascent Team Liquid Rocket League community formed. Liquid’s team streams gradually became a place for the community and staff to congregate and to cheer on the players.

Zach "izPanda" Shaner, Head of Live Production at Liquid and huge Rocket League fan, remembers RLCS X as a good time to be a fan of the esport. You had something to watch every single day and even several team broadcasts to filter your fandom through. Team Liquid’s was no exception, with casters like Boyoroyo and DannyBoyATM bringing the stream — and community — to life.

Faith in the Players

Despite some struggles, the team kept experimenting and reinventing itself. Aldin "Ronaky" Hodzic joined, and worked on a radical new playstyle with Speed and fruity. “Ronaky, as divisive as he is,” Zach says, “was always one of the best strikers in the EU Rocket League scene. We signed him, and he continued to put up numbers.”

However, the more or less consistent top-eight finishes weren’t the results the players were looking for, and they kept pushing for more. “For [Ronaky], everything is about winning,” said Fruity. “To learn the play style we had to play with Ronaky was challenging, but when you click with it, it’s quite good. I think for us, it was sadly not something we could overcome. Speed and I are a little bit different in that way, and it’s hard for a player like Ronaky to try and adapt to another way.”

Still, Team Liquid kept faith in the team, and the team kept faith in Team Liquid. The Ronaky, Fruity, Speed trio ran until October 2021, when Team Liquid announced the exit of Fruity and Speed — a tough goodbye. Liquid was not done with Ronaky’s style, and tried to make the system work with new players. “[We] didn’t give up on it, and [we] tried to experiment more, by bringing in Flakes and Acronik,” said former Rocket League manager for Liquid, Lukasz "Lukasz" Zyromski.

The Youngest RLCS Team

However, it was Bruno Alexandre "AcroniK." dos Santos Lopes and incoming coach André Filipe de Jesus "Xpére" Ruivinho Costa, not Ronaky who would usher in a new era for Liquid. Liquid fans, and the organization itself, would never forget Ronaky’s unique style and incredible striking but the fit never quite materialized. After the Fall Closed Qualifiers, Liquid, Flakes, and Ronaky moved on.

Rocket League was changing too. The esport always seemed to belong to the young, but in recent years that truth only became more dramatic, with several teenage prospects ascending to superstardom. Liquid saw how the gears were shifting and invested in the new generation of Rocket League professionals, fielding the youngest team in the RLCS.

 With AcroniK came Oskar "Oski" Gozdowski, and with Oski came Tristan "Atow." Soyez. “Atow and Oski were kind of a package deal,” explained Zach Shaner. “Oski and Atow. were not even 15 at the time, so we had to take a Split off.” Still, the new players immediately proved their prowess by getting to the finals at the Monaco Gaming Show 2021.

The new Team Liquid needed the Winter Split of RLCS 2021-22 to warm up the engines, but after that, it was all gas and no brakes. Due to the points system of RLCS taking all Splits of the year into account, Liquid did not qualify for the World Championship, but in an odd way, that would only power the team up when it came time for their first LAN, the Spring Major. 

“Going into the Spring Major, they were so calm and collected,” said Zach. “They just hadn’t experienced what it’s like to lose on a stage. Once a person has their first loss, they can almost become afraid to experience that again, and they start to play more reserved. Our team didn’t have that experience, so they were going in calm.”

For London-based Lukasz, it was a home event. “Attending a LAN event is one thing, but playing in front of a crowd, especially a European crowd in the Copper Box, was an amazing experience for the players. The Copper Box in London also hosted the Season 5 finals, where the most memorable Rocket League series of all time was played, including the famous ‘This is Rocket League!’ moment. 

“Playing in that same venue, in front of that crowd… I think it really got to them,” said Lukasz. “It got to me as well. I was really proud of them, and how quickly they went from being unsigned to joining a top tier organization and already playing in front of a crowd in just a few months — that’s a crazy transition.”

Liquid finished 7th in the 21-22 Spring Split major, but they had gone toe-to-toe with the best, including a thin 2-3 loss against Moist Esports, the team that would go on to win it all. For a first showing, it was something to be proud of — and a sign of good things to come.

A Season to be Proud of

What followed was Liquid’s most successful season in Rocket League: RLCS 2022-23. After an impressive Spring Major, Liquid returned home to Europe and, after a rocky Fall Cup, won their first regional. Liquid took EU Fall Invitational 4:2 over Karmine Corp, one of the most legendary teams in the esport. It was an immensely impactful moment for Liquid, because, as Zach puts it, “we finally proved to the world and to ourselves that we could do it, that we’re good enough.”

The win that would turn Liquid into a contender, and Liquid vs. Karmine Corp into a rivalry.

Liquid followed that success with another Invitational win in the Winter Split and a top four at the Winter Major. A year of improvement and effort culminated in a top four placement at the World Championship, beating the last fully American team still standing to get to the semifinals. Though the team fell short of their ultimate goal, the Liquid organization and much of the Liquid community were proud of all that the young roster had done.

“We had such a great World Championship run in 2023,” said Zach Shaner, “and we’re so proud of the team finishing 3rd-4th after everything they’ve been through and sticking together, making it to being the longest standing roster [that existed at the time of disbanding]. I think it’s a testament to how much camaraderie there was with the players. Getting top four at Worlds is obviously falling short of their goals, they all want to be world champions, but I think any org is unbelievably proud to get where they got us.”

And that is where the history leaves off. On the org’s highest note, Liquid makes an exit — but it’s not goodbye for good. As Zach shows, there’s still a lot of love for the game itself.

“If it does start to turn around, or things aren’t as bad as we thought they were, I would love nothing more than [for Team Liquid] to come back. There’s almost no game that makes you feel that roller coaster of feelings as quickly as Rocket League does.”

Memories from a passionate community

A great number of Liquid fans feel the same way and supported the Rocket League team through low and high. The passion from the community showed itself best during our team streams, where even the casters got to be biased.

“Team Liquid has always been a fan-first org,” Zach says, “and we’ve pushed game developers for the right to do biased streams. Through initial testing in League of Legends with our academy roster, we had a lot of success with biased casting streams, where we would bring in Team Liquid sponsored casters, and they would cast the game on our main channel as Team Liquid fans, cheering for Team Liquid.”

With Rocket League, we doubled down on that, and we streamed as many of our games as we could on the Team Liquid channel. The two Liquid casters, DannyBoy and Boyoroyo, were pillars of the community. They, and later Cole and Stumpy, channeled the passion of the fans and made the Rocket League broadcasts some of Liquid’s absolute finest.

In honor of our incredible casters and community, we’ve put together three of our favorite moments from the Team Liquid broadcast:


Letters from Liquid:

A Letter from Emil “Fruity” Moselund

Dear Rocket League Community,

I'll never forget being part of an organization as legendary as Team Liquid. They've helped grow me not only as a competitor but as a person. Losing Team Liquid is a big blow to our scene, they've gone above and beyond with every iteration of their rosters. Thanks to every single individual and staff member in Team Liquid Rocket League for all their hard work.

~Emil “Fruity” Moselund

A Letter from Daniel "DannyBoyATM" Knight

From my heart I cannot express how thankful I am to be a part of [Team Liquid Rocket League’s] history. To [think that I was] considered and asked to be lead commentator for Team Liquid [just] from a single cast over on TheRocket/RocketBaguette! If you told me, I would not believe it was possible. I was simply a fan who got to cast the first ever [Team Liquid Rocket League] series live. To have this honor requires luck, thankfully pure Irish luck.

There are a lot of people to thank for this journey: firstly and most importantly is the fans who might have been doubters but became believers from the beginning of our ride to the end. The team and the stream would have not felt as special without you being there. Every high and low moment we felt it.

To be given this role and responsibility to express ourselves on air would not be possible without some very important people who, thankfully, I can call my friends. izPanda, Happenstance, Bntsw, Pollie, Boyoroyo, Spooks and Psycho. These are gentlemen who are the real talents that should be praised, not myself.

To confess my delight when I got to say, I was Kuxir, Fruity and Speed’s caster… Those were players that made my job feel like a hobby! Pure joy. That continued throughout my tenure and onwards. When their elements were combined correctly, you had something special. 

This community from the very beginning felt like home to me — those places are rare to find. Together we stood, from productions, fans, staff. If I was given one wish: I would love to do it again with all of you.

Thank you very much for making every moment feel so special

~Daniel "DannyBoyATM" Knight

A Letter from Jack "Speed" Packwood-Clarke

Dear Rocket League Community,

Thank you for everything, Liquid! You’ll always be my favorite org to have been a part of. I’m sad to see you guys go, but hopefully you can come back to Rocket League one day.

~Jack "Speed" Packwood-Clarke

Writer // Jens Koornstra and Austin "Plyff" Ryan
Graphics // Yasen Trendafilov