Rocket League, a video game best described as soccer played with rocket-propelled cars, will soon have an established presence at East Tennessee State University.
ETSU announced Tuesday plans to add a varsity Rocket League team to its competitive video game roster this fall, making it the third team in the university’s esports lineup alongside Overwatch and League of Legends.
“For the past year students and fans have not stopped asking if we could launch a Rocket League team,” ETSU Chief Information Officer Karen King said. “Many of them are students that want to be part of that team.”
The university’s Rocket League team will begin with six players, bringing the total number of students participating in esports at ETSU to 28. The university has already started the recruitment process and will offer three varsity-level scholarships for its Rocket League team.
Rocket League was initially released in July 2015 and became free to play in September 2020.
“Since it’s become free to play, the popularity of that game has risen tenfold,” ETSU esports head coach Jeff Shell said. “A Rocket League team is really going to help us grow our fanbase, but the presence of the Rocket League team will be a major recruiting draw for ETSU.”
Shell said the team will have its season in the fall and will also participate in spring competitions in a collegiate Rocket League circuit that feeds into professional play.
ETSU announced in December 2019 plans to form a varsity esports team, which at that time included Overwatch and League of Legends. The university’s recent renovations of the D.P. Culp Student Center included the installation of a state-of-the-art varsity esports arena, which features a 32-foot video wall.
The university said its Overwatch team experienced a successful inaugural season, finishing 8-1 in its group and earning a spot in the National Association of Collegiate Esports playoffs, where they made it to the final 16 teams. This spring, they will compete in the New England Collegiate Conference.
The university’s League of Legends team will start its first official season of competition this Saturday at 4 p.m. against the College of Charleston.
ETSU President Brian Noland said the university’s esports teams help attract new students to ETSU.
“Being part of a team is a way for students to be part of our campus, to build friendships and to build lasting relationships at the university,” he said.
Fans can follow the university’s esports team on Twitch at www.twitch.tv/etsuesports.