Hello, I'm Reikai_, Grand Champion in Rocket League (3v3) and a previous mid-Master League player in Starcraft 2. This guide contains a comprehensive approach to get you to Grand Champion in 3v3 quickly.
I used mental models (in particular, frequency, detailed later) as well as previous comprehensive posts to rank myself up. Now, I'd like to give back and help others rank up, especially with Rocket League now going free-to-play.
I imagine since you're reading this post, you'd like to make it to Grand Champion. I think that's a great goal at 0.77% of the player base. However, I've noticed that when people try to get better at anything (RL included), there tends to be a gap in goals and practice.
Do you want to be the flashiest, fanciest player possible? Then practice Air Dribble and it's variants (Flip Reset, Musty Flick, Double Tap) the whole time, and then head to 1v1. You can't even get to GC in 3v3 doing this, I think. Your skillset would be too lopsided and/or unbalanced.
Do you want to be the best player you can be? Then practice becoming skilled and comfortable in all phases of the 3v3 game. Currently, the best players for 3v3 are the pros playing 3v3. They're the ones pushing the boundaries and showing the best possible way to play 3v3 at any given moment.
By trying to be as good as possible, you'll improve much faster than saying, 'What can a player do that's 1 rank above mine?' You'll skip over lots of stop-gap, waste-of-time skills and go straight to what the pros are doing. The essential skills that is, not the flashy ones. More below on that when I explain Frequency.
Watching Pro Games
Speaking of pros, watch the best current pros you can possibly find. Replays, Youtube, and past stream videos are all excellent sources of material. Old replays actually aren't that good because this game has evolved so much. For example, going back too far in RLCS (the Rocket League pro scene) and you get pros that aren't even as good as some 'average joes' today. You also want RLCS matches, or 'tryhard' games, where a streamer isn't necessarily just screwing around. If there's money on the line or the pro is playing with their team, you can almost bet that the pro will be trying his/her hardest and showing you the best stuff.
Another reason you want to watch pros: Their gameplay is -packed- with 2 lists. The first list is full of things you MUST do (score goals, pressure the other team, be in position, etc.). The second list is full of things you should NEVER do (concede goals, play slow, be out of position, etc.). Watching pros constantly and picking up those patterns of what to do and where is crucial, and there's no place that happens faster than going straight to the source. For example, watching a content creator's Rocket League youtube will give you a new concept, but seeing that concept implemented (close to) perfectly really only happens in pro matches. Here's a link to the replays from the latest RLCS season (#9): RLCS Season 9
Both NA and EU are good, but I'd say NA is ahead right now. Start with them.
Bottom line, find your favorite RLCS pro who's style inspires you and try copying what they do (decisions they make, mainly).
This, along with dedication to spend time improving are the big, overarching themes that need to be in place for you to make it Grand Champion. If you embark on this path, you need to know that you will -not- be the same player at the end that you are at the start. You need to embrace that and be willing to destroy/remove your old ideas of how to play the game. This will make room for the new (Grand Champion-level) ones. Aspects of this mindset:
* I will learn the best way to perform the skill in question. * If there is a better way, I'll use my old method while practicing using the new method in training. * Once I feel confident to perform the new skill in ranked, I will use only the new method and completely abandon the old method. * I take my information from the best sources available, and critically think about any secondary sources (non-pros, content creators). * I will take no excuses from myself as to why I 'can't' perform a certain skill. Someone else did it, so therefore I can too. Common mistakes that stop you from improving:
* Being tilted or upset at something, whether that's in the game or outside of it. * Thinking you're trying to improve, but actually staying in your comfort zone and simply pushing your current skills to current limits * Not pushing yourself beyond current limits and getting uncomfortable * Letting your brain quietly switch out goals when you get impatient * Gunning for the next rank NOW instead of just trying to improve, even if that means losing as you try a new skill * Getting convinced somehow improvement isn't worth it because of some external factor * Bad teammates, matchmaking 'errors', other excuses * Not dedicating enough time/energy/effort to this. * Not a total showstopper, but will slow you down. * If you don't have a lot of time with the game, simply make sure you focus and actually improve. You'll still see results.
Frequency, or what ideas at the Grand Champion level are actually the most important?
Frequency means, what gets used the most at the level you're trying to achieve? What concepts are game breakingly advantageous, and which ones don't really matter at all? Which skills are a total must-learn, and which ones can you let slide for now, and come back for later? In order to improve quickly, pick the most important skills to learn first and spend most of your time on.
2 quick definitions: Jumpshot
means some combination of jumping, boosting, and dodging into the ball. It doesn't always mean as hard as you can, but rather making the ball do what you want. In a lot of places, it's known as 'power shot', but Jumpshot includes the less powerful, more accurate version. This Kevpert tutorial
has the shooting version, but you should play around with it. See how long you can hold the jump, how fast you can do it, try it off the wall, combine it with air roll, etc. Fast Aerial
is the fastest possible double jump aerial variant with regards to gaining altitude quickly. If you're wondering, there are 3 total double jump aerial variants, and all 3 are good. See this Kevpert Tutorial
. I'm mainly referring to the 3rd variant, but all 3 are good for different scenarios. You'd use this to beat your opponent to a ball that's higher up than a Jumpshot could reach. Make no mistake, a Jumpshot can reach a ball slightly higher than the crossbar (with dodge!). Mechanics
* A (Essential) * Jumpshot * Fast Aerial * Reading the bounce from any and all walls, and being able to play it * This is a great use of freeplay, if you were wondering what you should do in there. * Use the D-pad with BakkesMod installed to practice random scenarios. * Powerslide (correct powerslide, not the incorrect tutorial version.) * B (Good to add in, but not at the expense of above) * Recovery (not landing on your head, not landing sideways and stopping) * Expert boost management * You need less than you think; 33 + 1 pad (12) = 45 boost can almost reach the ceiling with Fast Aerial! * Dribbling or flicking * C (Extra stuff) * Air Dribble * Flip Reset * Musty Flick * Etc. Strategy
* A (Essential) * Prediction * What's probably going to happen next? * Is there a shot opportunity for us? For them? * Remember, unless the ball is on target already, only an opponent car can score your goal. Look for the shooter. * Who's car is closest to the ball? * What team has better position right now? What should I prepare for? * Positioning * Understand rotation, especially back post rotations (See the guide below in Training Material) * Knowing to make saves by starting on the back post and not in the middle * Know where to be to score easily/find shooting opportunities easily * Use the camera to see where your teammates are to know what to do/where to go * Understanding when to challenge and when not to challenge * Be aware of what each position should be primarily and secondarily concerned with * I may write up a guide on this too if there's enough interest, it's somewhat deep * B (Good to add in, but not at the expense of above) * Adapting to the game you're playing * Did your teammate cut rotation? Fill the last position. * Is the other team too aggressive? Punish them with power clears (Jumpshots aimed deep into your opponents half, preferably on target to the goal). * Is your team too aggressive? Play third man and babysit the match on defense to win. * Is there a weak player in the match? Can you gamble and make a challenge on that player? It might be a goal. * Playing to the scoreboard/time remaining * Don't challenge as 3rd man if you're up 1-0 and there's 30 seconds left, stall and delay and let your teammates help. Only make a save if necessary. * If you're down by 2, start getting aggressive now. Don't forget to actually try the skill you were working on! * C (Extra stuff) * Boost stealing/demoing/bumping (Only do this stuff opportunistically. The other points above are so much more important.) Mental
* A (Essential) * Focus/Effort/Trying as hard as you can * Avoiding at all costs being mentally lazy for the duration of the match. * Actively trying to win the game and improve in the same match. * More on balancing these two mindsets below in Competitive Mindset. * Thinking of the right thing at the right time * Think of the next ball in the match, and watch the replay after. * Don't think of the ball you just missed now! You'll miss the next one. * B (Good to add in, but not at the expense of above) * Never giving up/always doing something with the current match * Sometimes, at 1-5, there's a reason to forfeit, but you don't have to. You can use the rest of the match to practice. * However, at 1-3, go for it and try to win. * C (Extra stuff) * Keeping your teammates pumped up with compliments/jokes
Why are Jumpshot and Fast Aerial listed first in mechanics? Because they are the 2 most used mechanics in the game when it comes to playing the ball. Most goals in GC aren't great goals. Most are mistake punishing or loose ball opportunity recognition. Usually you don't pick up the ball, grab 100 boost and clip on your opponent. At the same time, the save is usually also made using these two skills. Either the ball is reachable with Jumpshot, or it's high up and you Fast Aerial.
The target is different, but each mechanic is about the same: reach the ball before you opponent and hit it where you want. To the goal for offense, into the corners (which makes the ball temporarily unshootable due to angle) or ceiling in the opponent's half on defense. Same with 50/50s; you generally Jumpshot the other car as hard as you can (there are exceptions to this). Same with power clears used to build up your team's attack or relieve pressure; it's generally a Jumpshot focused on power. Still not convinced?
If you're still not sure that most goals in Grand Champion are boring goals, consider this evidence. I went back and rewatched the last 10 games that I played to get GC. I counted the goals that were scored (both mine and opponents).
* Total of 54 goals scored. 66.7% of goals scored were Jumpshots, usually from the ground, usually front bumper (it's an easier version than the air roll shot). * 25.9% of goals scored were Fast Aerial, and usually resulted from a ball off the backboard or a floating midfield ball. * Only 7.4% of the goals used another mechanic other than Jumpshot or Fast Aerial. * On top of that, only 4 out of 54 goals scored had 'quality' to them, or made me go, 'wow, that was a great goal.' * The rest? 92.6%, or 50 out of 54 goals were some type of tap in, long shot, or defensive mistake. Something preventable.
Given the above, we can make a few takeaways.
* Jumpshot and Fast Aerial are the 2 most frequently used mechanics in Rocket League. * Thus, we should practice those the most given we'd get the most mileage out of them. * Other things can and should be practiced, and even along side the above, but the majority of practice time should go to those 2 until mastered. * Practice fun shots if it keeps you inspired (I practiced flip resets and double taps when I started feeling bored or stuck) * The number of 'lame' or 'non-wow' goals means that defense is -sorely- lacking at ALL levels. * Focus on your defensive predictions and backpost rotations and you should see a jump in your win rate. * Getting the ball up on your opponents backboard is an easy way to score goals. It causes all sorts of havoc to their formation. * Grand Champion is mainly speed and consistency: Being able to shoot the ball hard and on target will get you goals, period. * Predicting these hits from opponents is the defensive flipside of this.
Why is Prediction and Positioning #1 and #2 on the list above? That's because 87.0% or 47/54 goals scored had some type of prediction/positioning element to help the goalscorer. The player who scored was either predicting that a loose ball might pop up or sitting in a position to score while another car covered the goal.
Bottom line, you want to be constantly thinking about all the possibilities of what could happen in a current situation. Cover first the ones that are risky to your team (losing a 50/50), but also position to take advantage of that same 50/50 going your way. Data/spreadsheet: Reikai_'s GC Goal Histogram 10 GC Reward games: Reikai_'s 10 GC Reward Replays
(Once downloaded, put them in this folder (your equivalent) to watch them: C:\Users\reikai!\Documents\My Games\Rocket League\TAGame\Demos)
Learn new concepts for fun
Here's a exhaustive list
of most mechanics in the game from milesAKAkilometers
. Most are more flashy or showy. Use this list to learn something fun when you get stuck or get bored (but don't shirk your real practice, lest you lose progress). Real practice defined here as the A and B list items detailed above.
Training + Practice + Implementation
. This allows you to skip around training packs, mirror shots left to right, and have free play ball commands. This allows you to practice custom training shots from different angles and quickly practice what you want to practice without wasting time.
Implementing a skill basically follows this cycle:
* Discovery of that skill * Training/workshop attempts, then success * Freeplay or Unranked game attempts, then success * Ranked attempts, then success
Most importantly, you should be pushing to do that skill in the most pro form possible. Shots are taken as hard and fast as possible. Aerials are done as quickly as possible. Saves are as shooting-angle-deleting as possible, and as far from your goal as possible.
Once you can do something in freeplay or training to a consistent level, go try it in ranked. For Jumpshot and Fast Aerial, I practiced shooting consistency by making 3 shots in a row before moving to the next shot. You'll probably start off by just making one, and not making it full speed. That's OK. Just keep pushing for better every time.
I list 3-shot consistency for my training because that's what it took for me to make Grand Champion. Even if you can't do that, stressing yourself to do that will make every ball you deal with at your rank feel and look easy. If you don't want to be too stressed, feel free to choose a lesser consistency (2-shot or something). Just know you'll have to probably up it later.
I sifted through tons of training packs and Workshop maps looking for the ones that would make a big difference in my game. After looking through all of those, here is a short list of the ones that were most impactful for me. Practice these exhaustively and you'll see a significant difference in your game as well.
Custom Training (Main menu, go to training, custom training, then copy these codes in):
* Shooting #1, WayProtein: 4912-A5C9-9A56-555D (3 shot consistency) * Shooting #2, Biddles: 27FE-E3D7-7FB5-7F43 (3 shot consistency) * Shooting #3, Sebbl: 7656-D60E-ED55-FF20 (even higher level pack, did not finish) * Goalkeeping, WayProtein: 776F-E2BB-2993-78D7 (3 save consistency) * Backboard reads, Rizzo (G2 pro): 07E1-81BC-DD2E-BF8C (3 save consistency, 1 exception) * Wall shots, Poquito: 9F6D-4387-4C57-2E4B (3 shot or pass consistency)
Workshop (PC only) (Click these links and subscribe with your steam account. Then, main menu, extras, workshop.):
Watch your replays, reflect and learn
Right after a ranked match, open the replay while the match is still fresh in your mind. I used to think that my teammates were often to blame when I lost, but here is where I found I usually made just as many mistakes as they did. You don't have to watch the whole match, but make sure to pick out mistakes you made, and think of a plan right then and there
of what you'll do next time to fix this. Otherwise, you'll tend to end up in next match's replay, going, 'yep, there's the same mistake...'. Reflecting like this is key; your decision making actually may never improve without looking at what you're doing wrong and changing that decision.
Something strange you may find: doing the right thing feels weird, but doing the wrong thing feels 'right' since it's habit. Thus, most improvements will feel strange at first.
Competitive Mindset + Improvement Mindset
This is the mentality you need to play ranked when you want to improve, and is basically it's own skill. It's the drive to win and fight as hard as you possibly can. To give you an idea of what it's all about:
* Play games with the mindset of turning the game into a 5-0 blowout. * Salivate at the chance to score or pass to a teammate so they score. * Sweat blood saving goals for your team. * A 50/50 is a chance to hit your opponent so hard they feel scared the next time you approach them. * You want to make them scared to ever play against you again. * You want them to be relieved when you're on their team and not against them.
Ok, what's wrong with the above? The improvement portion is missing. The majority of the time, this Competitive Mindset is where you are probably about 75% of the game. The remainder is where you implement the mechanics you learned and trained above, for about 25% of the game.
Change the percentages to what you feel is right. Just know that too much Competitive Mindset means no improvement, and too much Improvement Mindset means frustration and losses.
A bit more on this; this is only how you're playing. Never be toxic to anyone, teammates or opponents. That only makes your opponents play harder and your teammates play worse. Even worse than that, you're basically tilting yourself. Admit fault when it's your fault and try harder next match. Praise teammates when they do well, and say Sorry! when you mess up. It happens.
Alternatively, you can just turn off quick chat entirely (it's in the pause menu settings). This helped me a lot, as it didn't do much for me to see 'Nice shot!' when I scored as much as it hurt to see 'What a save!' when I missed.
General Tip Log
This is an accumulation of random things that dramatically helped me once I implemented each tip. Try your best to implement all of these one at a time. The closer you get to Grand Champion, the more people adhere to these ideas (and their exceptions). This list is intended for you to get instant value out of reading this post.
* If your opponent is closer to the ball than you, don't challenge him. You'll get beat. * If you're the first car in rotation, you can be more aggressive and consider (fake) challenging. * If you're the last car in rotation, and you know you have no help coming, you can either challenge or wait. * The lower rank you're in, the more you want to wait, as people's consistency just isn't there yet. * Higher ranks you just want to challenge because more time and space means a more likely good shot on your goal. * Try not to jump unless you have to; you have much more control on the ground. That being said, don't avoid jumping if that's easier. * For 50/50s, you basically always have to jump and dodge into them. *As you get better, you want to be doing the skills as fast, hard, and accurately as humanly possible 100% of the time. * Strive for that, but know that literal 100% is impossible. Even pros are probably 95% or so. * Further refinement of an old skill (particularly a key skill) can be more important than learning a new one. * If your teammate is cutting rotation/not following it, it's up to you to adapt and play to HIS game. * No way you can force him to play better by taking his ball and making him mad. * You have a higher winrate if your teammates are playing their A-game rather than you taking them out of their A-game, even if their A-game is subpar. * Stay in prediction/positioning mode until it's your turn to hit the ball, and then switch all of your focus over to nailing that mechanic. Then switch back. * Being adamant here will prevent silly mistakes like looking at other cars when you have a free ball to score. * Never, never, never give up on your own improvement. You can and will improve, but it will take time, and in the short run you can lose rank. * If you remove a bad habit or crutch from your play, it's possible you DERANK instead of improve. That's because the crutch is gone. * As you stick to the new skill, you'll re-rank up, and probably beyond that as the new skill is better for a reason. * It takes a while to integrate new skills into your play, even if you can nail them in training. * You're just not used to using your new, shiny, butt-kicking skill yet. * Dealing with tilt: avoid getting tilted as much as possible * Tilt is a mindset where the emotional part of you is currently stronger than the logical/improvement part. * If you're tilted, chances are no improvement is happening. * Take a break or distract yourself to make the negative emotions subside, then come back once you're positive (or at least neutral) and focused. * Zoning out: don't do it * While grinding mechanics, you may find that you're hitting the same shot 1,000 times and it never goes in. * You've zoned out, and need to refocus/reflect on what's going on. What is your car currently doing? What needs to happen instead? * Sitting there and thinking about what went wrong is much more helpful than doing the shot wrong another 1,000 times * Not to mention building bad habits/wrong muscle memory * Reflection is key; no improvement can happen without it.
A comprehensive improvement plan so you can put all of this together
* Spend 30%-50% of the time training the A and B list mechanics above (75%/25% split), and do this at the beginning when you're fresh. * Don't do more than an hour of mechanics at a time. * Ranked: Play 5 games, reviewing the replay immediately after each one. * This will decrease chances of tilting and improve odds of reflection/adjustment/improving. * Once that 5 is finished, take some kind of break for 5-10 minutes. * If you're concentrating on improving, 25 minutes of ranked + replay analysis should wear you out. * Do as many 5 game sets as time allows or you have patience for, and don't be afraid to call it quits and go back to mechanics.
Reasoning for a training plan like this:
* Mechanics are something that have to be improved over time. Never skip mechanics, as you can't make up the muscle memory later like you can decision making. * If you'd like to watch pros or think about/review your training plan, take time out of ranked, not mechanics. * Ranked is basically for implementing what you already know. You're converting the mechanics training you did previously into a higher rank. * Consider drastically changing any previous training plans you had, including this one. * If it's not working for you, switch, but only after giving it a good shot (at least 5-10 sessions to see if you don't see improvement).
References Older GC Post by inthedark72 How to Improve by Ver
I spent about 1,100 hours getting to Diamond and just having fun. I spent another 1,000 hours intentionally improving to Grand Champion. If you take your improvement seriously, I believe you too can make Grand Champion and join the top 0.77% of the player base. Learn from this post and take your improvement seriously and it shouldn't take you as long as it did me. Why? That's because you're using the best drills and most frequently used mechanics, guided by the pro scene from the start.
* Building a learning road map from this post, taking insight from your favorite pro * Objectively looking at what you should work on (what are you bad at?) * Doing difficult things constantly and repeatedly exiting your comfort zone * Implementing the new mechanic in Ranked and not falling back to old habits and mistakes * Reflect every chance you get (ranked replays, pro matches, in training). * Only when you change your thinking do you ever improve.
Please let me know any questions/comments/concerns you have on this document; I'd be happy to answer in the comments below. Is there interest in a Completely New Player's Guide? What about that question on your mind right now? :D
Road to Grand Champion, 2v2?
While making Grand Champion in 3v3, I thought some people might be interested in watching a Road to Grand Champion for 2v2. I decided to stream to answer in depth questions about this post and 3v3 in general and see if I can't repeat it for 2v2. I currently plan on streaming Monday/Wednesday/Friday at 2PM-5PM Central Time, putting these concepts into action.
If you click the stream link below, it has my schedule in YOUR time zone so you don't have to convert. Hope to see you there!
.................................. Reikai_'s Stream Link
Note: I did get mod permission before posting my link, so please ask them if you're thinking about posting. Thanks for reading!