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Despite being unofficial, the Mannfield Night 5K, hosted by John “JohnnyBoi_i” MacDonald, is the only real professional 1v1 Rocket League competition. There is the occasional online tournament, but nothing so extensive as this. And while the RLCS and other big tournaments are exciting, that viewing experience is vastly different from 1s at the highest level. I’m going to tell you exactly why you should be watching this over on JohnnyBoi’s Twitch and YouTube channels, because if you’re not, you’re missing out.
3v3 versus 1v1
Let’s be clear first: 3v3 tournaments are great and show us fantastic team plays. There are few goals more satisfying than a tight passing play between a full team of three players. But with the pace and six players on the field, there isn’t as much room for individual highlights. That’s not to say they don’t exist, of course. RLCS and ELEAGUE were chock-full of incredible solo goals.
But here’s the thing: in a high-level 1v1 match, almost every goal is an incredible solo play. We see the world’s best Rocket League players being given enough time to prepare their attempt at goal. There’s just one defender to outplay and no teammates to worry about. And while that might seem obvious, the kind of goals that result from this are something you don’t often see in 3v3 games.
A turtle flick by Hrant “Flakes” Yakoub in his first Mannfield Night 5K matchup
High-scoring Rocket League games
It’s not just the quality of the goals that make for exciting games, but the quantity as well. It’s not uncommon for 1v1 games to go to double digits. With the best 1s players, world-class goals are pretty much guaranteed. Every attack is promising and dangerous, unlike 3v3 games where defenders often have an easy time clearing the ball away. Offense goes back and forth all the time and a single mistake will usually result in a goal. You can’t look away for a moment because every touch of the ball can result in a ridiculous solo play.
But the reasons don’t just stop there; 1v1 games are as personal as they can be. If a particularly embarrassing goal is scored, there’s just one player you can take revenge on. With enough of such goals, it becomes a mental game as well. There are no teammates to set you straight and no other opponents to outplay in return. If you want to take revenge, you’ll have to do it against the same player who just made a fool out of you. The players have to pull it together and put it out of their minds or they will collapse. And with no one to back them up, things can look very bad for them in a very short time frame. The interesting part about this is that one game can finish 10-1 and the next 0-8. Every game is different, and the players would do well to remember that.
One of the many dribble-to-mid-air bumps Dylan “eekso” Pickering pulled off to score against Flakes
A closer eye on individual players
A common complaint I hear from new as well as existing fans of Rocket League esports is that games can be disorienting and hard to follow with six players and a continuously changing perspective. In that regard, 1v1 games are a bit easier on the eyes. No players that come flying in out of nowhere, and the perspective switches between just two players. This leaves us with much more freedom to admire the mechanical skills these players possess.
Additionally, it’s exciting to see players from outside of the major events rise up and take it to the established players. Kyle “Scrub Killa” Robertson, currently playing for Renault Vitality, was one of the most hyped players ahead of RLCS Season 6 despite never having played a single match in his life. Why? Because he continuously dominated the 1s arena while he waited to reach the minimum age of 15 to play in the RLCS. He often featured in show matches and 1v1 tournaments, winning most of them, and making himself a coveted player for established teams looking for an upgrade.
In the Mannfield Night 5K, we see players such as eekso, Flakes, Marten “Oscillon” van Zee, and Gabriel “OSM,” who have never played in the RLCS. They show how good players can be despite not playing for a world-class team in 3v3. And that doesn’t mean they can’t be good at both 1v1 and 3v3. Four out of the eight players play in the RLCS. While some of them are so strong that they make quick work of the lesser known players, other underdogs can bring a real challenge to the table. Can they knock the ultimate favorites into an unfavorable position and make a name for themselves? Who knows, maybe we’ll see one of these players picked up by an RLCS team soon? And then you can say you knew about them all along.
A fake-to-wavedash goal by eekso
The first real way to measure the best 1s player
There have been multiple 1v1 tournaments over the years. The most notable is, of course, the Twelve Titans, held in 2017 and 2018. Both iterations were won by Scrub Killa but employed a system not often seen in tournaments: best-of-1, winner-takes-all. With a round robin system, we get a good look at both individual mechanical skill as well as consistency. And while the online leaderboards are an indication of who should be in the conversation of “best in the world” (or in this case, “best in Europe”), a ranked game with nothing on the line obviously isn’t as intense.
Fortunately, JohnnyBoi also made sure that the results from round robin league play actually matter. Where in RLCS ending in third or sixth makes a tiny amount of difference, finishing high in the Mannfield Night league gives the players a tremendous boost towards the championship. Finishing in eighth place will see the player fight through all contenders one more time in a single elimination gauntlet. The one who finishes in first place will only have to win a single best-of-7 series to crown himself the Mannfield Night 5K Champion.
The league play matches take place every day throughout December on JohnnyBoi’s aforementioned Twitch channel at 10 a.m. PST / 12 p.m. CST / 1 p.m. EST / 6 p.m. GMT / 7 p.m. CET. The VOD appears on his YouTube channel several hours later. From Dec. 31 – Jan. 6, the gauntlet matches are aired.
For the Dec. 4 match, look no further than below, where all goals from this article’s gifs came from. They were made with popular gif-creating software Gif Your Game, who also patron the event.
Michael Kloos is a Dutch esports journalist and enthusiast with a particular like of Rocket League and VALORANT. He is also an avid fantasy/sci-fi reader and writer. He spends most of his time trying not to be in the real world.