dfthaman, Co-owner of RLX
Players who have been part of any scene for a long time, are always able to provide valuable insights into where things started and where it is now. Their first-hand knowledge and experience are always valuable to get a sense of the current health of the scene, what works and what do not, and what we as a collective can do to help to grow a scene even more.
For this reason, RLX chose three veterans of the local Rocket League scene to speak to us – Iosif “Gingerbeard” Vazirgiantzikis, Roekies “Polutionist” Erasmus & Rick “Elf_ZA” Thomas. Following from the previous article on our local up-and-coming talent, these gentlemen will also be present at this year’s VS Championship LAN at Comic Con Africa in Johannesburg, 14-16 September. So let’s get straight into it!
Name: Iosif Vazirgiantzikis, also known as “Jos” for short.
Playing Rocket League since: 2016
Joined the local: At rAge Cape Town in 2016 there was a mini-LAN and I came 4th. I later joined FLG (Fearless Gaming) the same year for Telkom’s Digital Gaming League (now called VS Gaming).
Teams played for: FLG, RekkieBal, Elasties Fantasties, Plakkie Klap and Cubic eSports.
In-game name: Gingerbeard. I used to have a longer beard and it was ginger-ish.
Name: Roekies Erasmus
Playing Rocket League since: In 2015 I made social clan with Elf_ZA and he introduced the game to me.
When they joined the scene: In 2016 I joined DGL and we participated in a small little competition, the DGL pre-season cup, and got beat by Stefano “Nianfo” Batazzi, mOTHER and Ulturism in the final. In 2017 I started playing more seriously.
Teams played for: Spinnit2Winnit, True N00b Gaming, The New Guys, IGSA-Phenom and now Novum Excellium, which means “new beginning” in Latin.
In-game name: Polutionist. In 2013 I played Prince of Persia and there was this boss, Alchemist, and I had a tough time to beat him. I then thought about an in-game name for myself and had an epiphany and decided on Polutionist.
Name: Rick Thomas
Playing Rocket League since: In 2015 I was browsing Twitch and clicked on a random stream which happened to be Rocket League. I showed it to my friend, Mr.Whisper, who bought the game for me and him. I then convinced Hendri “Bon” van der Walt and Polutionist to buy it as well.
When they joined the scene: I made a team with Mr. Whisper and Polutionist, with Bon as our sub, and then started DGL and came 2nd in that pre-season cup. We qualified for DGL’s Premier Division and then I joined White Rabbit Gaming (WRG) with Nianfo and Nicholas “cPZ” Fourie. Polutionist and Bon finished the first leg and then Bon retired from Rocket League (before making a return for this year’s LAN with Polutionist’s team, Novum Excellium).
Teams played for: WRG/Rocket Éclair and then VxP | Elem3ntriX.
In-game name: Elf_ZA. I played action-cricket in high school and I was called Elf because one day one guy said I looked like an Elf. I set my in-game name to Mr. T but after about a year I wanted a change. I then remembered my old nickname in school and thus Elf_ZA was born. I added the “ZA” part because there were many people called “Elf”.
“I don’t think it is dying. The competitive scene has grown a lot…” – Gingerbeard, on whether or not Rocket League is dying in South Africa.
Iosif “Gingerbeard” Vazirgiantzikis
Gingerbeard and Polutionist, you guys are going to LAN for the first time. What are your expectations?
Gingerbeard: To have fun, meet new guys and hopefully do well.
Polutionist: The same. Meeting all the people who you have played before and scrimmed against. Meeting new people is always fun. We are going to bring our best and give our best but ultimately to have fun.
Elf, this will be your second LAN; what has your previous experience taught you that you can share with these guys?
Elf_ZA: Don’t sit next to the Call of Duty guys as they are very loud, haha! Practise with music in your ears to drown out the noise and make sure to test your voice channels first when getting to the LAN venue – you need to either get the sensitivity right or get used to push-to-talk. Lastly, there will be pressure – people watching you, including some of your friends and other teams. It becomes very stressful but just zone in and try and forget about them – it is difficult but doable.
Predictions for LAN?
Gingerbeard: Finish Top 3.
Polutionist: Ideally Top 5.
Elf_ZA: Top 4 is reasonable.
“Meeting new people is always fun. We are going to bring our best and give our best but ultimately to have fun.” – Polutionist on his expectations for LAN.
Roekies “Polutionist” Erasmus
Is Rocket League dying in South Africa?
Gingerbeard: I don’t think it is dying. The competitive scene has grown a lot; last leg many teams tied for the 3rd position in the Premier Division of VS Gaming. 1st Division also have strong teams. Also, many people that are not competitive players still plays casually. So I think the game is growing but not as fast maybe as we would like it to.
Polutionist: I agree, definitely not dying. There are many decent teams coming through VS Gaming’s ladder and into Premier Division, and there is a large base of casual players too.
Elf_ZA: I feel pretty much the same, although for some they feel like retiring after this LAN but there will be people to fill their spots I think it is mostly high-level players, Diamond 2 and higher, that are complaining about the scene dying and not finding any games on local servers. I created an alternate account and found matches on local server within 5 mins. It seems like the general players base are just lower ranks. And they don’t want to play in tournaments when they see a top team like Exdee Gaming signed up as they know they won’t be able to win. We only got local servers recently and there has been growth, even though it is slow.
“To be part of the RLRS and RLCS. We should perhaps consider tournament structures similar to the OCE and SAM regions, with constant high-level tournaments as well as other tournaments limiting the rank-cap to give lower-ranked players the opportunity to gain experience.” – Elf_ZA, on his vision of the future of Rocket League in our country and how we can achieve that.
Rick “Elf_ZA” Thomas
What would your vision of the future of Rocket League in our country look like and how do we achieve that?
Gingerbeard: For a team to represent us in in the Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) one day. We have to focus on getting the community out there and getting known. We are still growing a lot and should consider organising matches against other countries, especially in Africa. Maybe even form a larger African community. But it is going to take time and resources.
Polutionist: Exposure is important – we need a Youtuber or Twitch streamer that gets famous and it can grow from there by itself. Furthermore, I think if the general community can also level up we will have more higher level players to push each other and hopefully compete with overseas.
Elf_ZA: To be part of the RLRS (Rocket League Rival Series) and RLCS. But you have Valve with Dota 2/Counter Strike with very few teams making it internationally, so it is difficult. There seems to be interest from Psyonix in us but at the moment the player-base not strong enough to consistently beat an RLRS team. We should perhaps consider tournament structures similar to the Oceania (OCE) and South American (SAM) regions, with constant high-level tournaments as well as other tournaments limiting the rank-cap to give lower-ranked players the opportunity to gain experience. Currently there is a new fibre line from Angola to Brazil in place which might go live near the end of the third quarter of 2018, which will give us a 100ms ping to SAM servers, which will give us more competition and more exposure to different playstyles.
What is your fondest memory as a player in the local scene?
Gingerbeard: Playing together with CoolGuy. We played for 2 years; we were bad and got better together. He told me about his illness, muscular dystrophy, and I realised how good he actually is. Another memory that stand out is the first RLX 6-Mans on local servers where I was randomly paired with Oscar “Lay-Z” Tarique, and receiving the Most Valuable Player award as well for that series.
Polutionist: When I started playing and saw what others are capable of. I thought I’d never get there but the more you play with others and get exposed to high level play, the better you get. You also develop a personal relationship with people in the scene. I will always remember the fun times, like when you make a mistake and someone makes a joke about it.
Elf_ZA: The first time I saw someone doing an aerial. It’s also always good to see the general mechanics improving of myself and the scene.
I hope all of you have enjoyed the positive views of our more seasoned players. Keep an eye out for them at LAN.
Let us know what else you would like to read about in the future 🙂