Doing what is necessary to live up their potential — an interview with eUnited
“I also don’t believe you can be a top team without the offense to back it up and I think that is something we struggled with previous rosters and players, and the potential to have a deadly offense is there with Mike.” — Hockser
Let’s start with the basics. How would you describe yourselves? And what are you like away from the game?
Sub’N: I would describe myself as a people person. As crazy as it sounds, in school I would prefer to work in groups rather than by myself. I’m always interested in getting to know the people around me better so we can both have a better time. The way I am in-game is pretty similar to outside of the game. I’m always looking for ways to improve what I do. Something that frustrates me is people around me going through a hard time while I sit back and do nothing — that’s probably why being a coach suits me so well.
Hockser: I would say that I’m more on the quieter side unless I’m with people I’m comfortable with. I am also very competitive but for some reason I can be randomly unmotivated and apathetic towards competing. Before I played video games, hockey was what I did in the most of my free time until 2016. That’s when gaming really took over and put me in the direction of potentially competing in the future.
Ayjacks: Outside of the game I’m pretty shy unless I’m with people who I feel comfortable with.
WondaMike: I would describe myself as someone who likes to keep everyone happy outside of playing Rocket League. I did play 2 sports, football and lacrosse, overall having an athletic childhood.
Do you play other games than Rocket League in your free time? If so, what do you play? Do you play with any other people from the Rocket League scene?
Sub’N: CS:GO, VALORANT, Hearthstone Battlegrounds, and Smite have been my go-to games lately. I actually never play with anyone from the Rocket League scene. I’ve always had my group of [in real life] friends to spend time with. I’m also 5–10 years older than most pros, so spending time outside of Rocket League with them makes the age difference more obvious. Most of the friends I’ve made in Rocket League my age have retired already.
Hockser: Right now? Definitely VALORANT and sometimes Fall Guys, [I] used to play CS:GO as well. Depends on the day and game, sometimes I play with people outside the game, sometimes I play with other Rocket League players.
Ayjacks: I don’t play many games other than Rocket League, but if I do play a different game it tends to be VALORANT or Fall Guys. I like to play with Chicago, the Version1 boys, the [Team] Envy members, and Tbates.
WondaMike: Yes, I like to play Call of Duty: Zombies to pass the time usually, but as of recently I like to play Fall Guys and Among Us. I do play with other players from the Rocket League scene, [but] mostly [in real life] friends, though.
Your team doesn’t have a very strong presence on Twitch, with Mike being the only one to stream somewhat regularly. Is there a specific reason for this, or is it just something that you haven’t explored yet?
Sub’N: I had a really fun time streaming during the summer of 2017 when I quit my job and didn’t have school to worry about. It was the only time in my entire Rocket League career that I had the time to do so. 2015 onwards, I have always had the time equivalent of 3–4 jobs: Rocket League, school, part-time work, [and] helping my parents with their projects. This is the case even now after I’ve finished my undergrad degree and have moved on to my master’s in sports psychology. I do want to come back to streaming as it was a lot of fun, but that won’t happen for the next couple of years at least.
Hockser: My internet has problems, otherwise I would probably stream occasionally.
Ayjacks: I’m not very outgoing so streaming is pretty far out of my comfort zone.
Players will have to participate in many competitions in this new RLCS format, such as The Grid, The Field, or the Regional events. How do you plan to manage all these competitions, minimizing stress and making sure you don’t burn out? How big of a role do you expect your coach, Sub’n, to play in it?
Sub’N: I’ll be keeping an eye out on the overall well-being of the players. When I see someone is clearly tired and not bringing 100% to scrims and tournaments then we will make sure their practice regiment is not overloading them. Top tier play is a balancing act between enough quality practice and enough quality rest, we have to focus on both.
Hockser: For me personally I am doing nothing school/education related which allows me to focus on competing and decrease stress outside of the game. Sub’n as well as being a Rocket League coach, also helps us with the mental side of things that aren’t necessarily Rocket League related, Which include burn out, stress, motivation, etc.
Ayjacks: A way to minimize stress is to identify our goals and confirm how our play style works. I think the goal to not burning out is maintaining a healthy lifestyle so you feel good when it’s time to play Rocket League. I think Sub’n has a very big role because he has to help us remember what we are working towards.
WondaMike: Still trying to figure that out at the moment, burn out seems to be something I’ve had a problem with recently and Sub’n has been helping me resolve the issue.
This off-season you made a really late change after competing with Memory for about ≈3 months. What did you feel, from your perspective, was needed?
Sub’N: As a coach my philosophy is always first and foremost synergy on and off the field. I think we potentially could have done great things with Memory — I’ve worked with him for a long time and know he’s a very capable player. As the roster lock was coming close, it became noticeable that the team was not gelling personality wise which lead to the game play problems not being resolved quickly enough for us to comfortably move forward with the roster. I’m glad to see how Memory’s current team is doing, it was a difficult decision for us, but I think it was for the best for all parties involved.
Hockser: We felt like our ceiling with Memory wasn’t high enough to compete at the top of NA. We believe that with WondaMike, and enough time, we can be a top NA team. Almost immediately after picking up Mike, I needed a break after something happened outside of the game which prevented the team and I from practicing both together and me, individually (Editor’s Note: eUnited also didn’t participate in the ESPN Invitational because of this). This break took away valuable time for RLCS that could have helped iron out issues that I will mention later. I also don’t believe you can be a top team without the offense to back it up and I think that is something we struggled with previous rosters and players, and the potential to have a deadly offense is there with Mike.
Ayjacks: Since Hockser and I have been on a team, we’ve struggled to keep pressure and we mainly are stuck on our side of the field. We felt that someone with really good mechanics would help these problems.
Mike, I think it would be pretty fair to say that you’ve had a roller coaster of an off-season, having tried out with multiple rosters. What was that like from your point of view? Were you, at any point, afraid that you might not find a spot on an established team?
WondaMike: Yes, at multiple points I was afraid of not finding a team, and the off-season was not fun at all to be honest, but I’m happy where I ended up.
How has the experience been so far under the eUnited banner both on and off the field? Does anything stand out to you? Any surprises so far?
WondaMike: The whole eUnited experience has been pretty standard to what I expected which I am very happy about, no bad surprises which is always a plus.
Scrimmages are an important part of your journey to the top. Are there any teams that you guys prefer to scrim more than others? If so, what’s the reason behind it?
Sub’N: From my perspective I have no preference, I try to set up scrims with a variety of teams so we can prepare for anything. I guess I prefer us to scrim teams we have a hard time against.
Hockser: Any of the top NA teams (NRG, SSG, G2, etc,) are always the most enjoyable and productive to scrim. I don’t think you can be the best team without scrimming the teams at the top of your region.
Ayjacks: I like to scrim Version1 because they consistently challenge us even if we are playing really well.
WondaMike: I personally prefer to scrim the top teams like NRG and G2, better practice for sure.
At the time of writing, you find yourselves in the 9th spot in the standings of The Grid. Where do you expect to be at the end of Week 9? Additionally, the team suffered an unfortunate exit in stage one of the regional after being 2–0 in the Swiss bracket. What went wrong and what were the lessons learnt?
Sub’N: I don’t really pay attention to the standings; we should be trying to play 100% no matter what so what difference does it make? We learned that we still need to solidify our play style identity. When we’re not completely certain of why we win or lose that’s an indication that we’ve got to review what is expected of everyone so we are on the same page. Every player should understand their own and their teammate’s play styles. Additionally, I learned just how hard-working Mike is. We were extremely drained mentally after that Game 5 OT vs SSG, but Mike more-so. It turns out he was playing Rocket League 140–160 hours every 2 weeks for the past couple months and he burned himself out, not to mention he still found time to exercise and have a social life. He’s adjusting his schedule to be more sustainable now, but I respect how much effort he’s putting into this career.
Hockser: I don’t expect to find ourselves out of the top 6 in The Grid by the end of it, but you never know with how many teams are capable of competing and even beating RLCS teams. I’m still confident in top 6 at the very minimum. In the Swiss Stage I really think we put so much into that SSG series that we had nothing left for the rest of the day. Any team in that bracket would have beaten us after that happened and that simply isn’t good enough in this format. The main takeaways from the Swiss Stage is that we are not able to bounce back and stay composed after losing a tough series and that is something we are heavily focusing on going forward.
Ayjacks: At the end of Week 9, I expect us to be top 6 in the standings. Exiting in Stage 1 the way we did made us realize that all the teams are here for a reason, so we need to respect all of them. We also learned how important it is to be healthy and have a good sleep schedule.
WondaMike: Being 9th in The Grid right now, expecting top 4 by Week 9 and, as the regional goes, I performed bad after that SSG OT because of burn out and having no energy to be honest even stay awake after it.
Thanks to the eUnited roster for taking time to do this interview!
Achilleas Fotiou (@achilles_xf)