Category: In the Driver’s Seat

In the Driver’s Seat With Chaser, GM of the Bulls

In my latest interview for “In the Driver’s Seat”, I had the absolute pleasure and opportunity to chat with CHASER, the General Manager of the Bulls. CHASER became General Manager after the start of Season 11 for Minor League Esports (MLE). Not too often do members of MLE become a General Manager during the course of a season. I was interested in knowing how the transition has been in taking on his new role and more about him as well.

To start, what has been the most difficult aspect of being a General Manager? Inversely, what has been the best part? Have there been any difficulties in transitioning into your new role?

The transition has been pretty seamless, really. Taelo did a tremendous job in setting me up for success. We talked before he ultimately stepped down and shared with me all his insights. I of course was understanding of him needing to step back from being the General Manager too. He needs to take care of himself and he’s always welcomed back to become a Bull, if that’s in the cards.

The most difficult part so far has been learning all of the ins and outs from a League Operations (LO) perspective. E.g. learning how to use the new replay bot. I am thankful that I have prior experience with being a General Manager for Baltimore in United Rogue, so that helps in understanding LO related matters.

The most rewarding part has been seeing all of the hard work we have done in the offseason pay off during the regular season. Our Champion League squad may be the best we have ever had and we have had three rank outs with Academy League too. Hard to see our players rank out but it is super exciting to see and I’m happy for them and their own development. It is so rewarding to seeing that type of success. Rainbownoms has been great as our Assistant General Manager and the Master League and Premier League teams have been wonderful to have around. Our drafts across all four teams went perfect and our success so far this season really vindicates our draft decisions.

When did you join Minor League Esports?

I have been in the League since [season] 5 or 6 (I cannot exactly remember when), but I first got on a team in Season 9. Before I got into the League, I was doing a lot of work with Boost Legacy including moderating, casting, administrative work, etc. When the community organizations were picked for the RLCS qualifiers several seasons ago, Boost Legacy was not picked. I saw that Minor League Doubles (MLD) was picked and I wanted to see what their production value was like. I tuned into an MLD stream and saw InanimateJ and Curtis casting, wanted to join immediately because of them. I also felt that MLD made every play and every player special and I wanted to be a part of that.

I gave a lot of effort in season 8 to be on a team, but unfortunately, I did not land on a team. I was a 13.5 [salary player] at the time and felt like I could bring a lot of value to a team but still was not drafted. For season 9 then, I really doubled down my efforts and went fully in on tryouts, participating in them nonstop for a month. I would stay up late and attend multiple tryouts a day just to improve my chances of getting on a team. That effort paid off as Rainbownoms selected me 6th overall for the season 9 draft. I did not expect to get selected that early, so it was rewarding that all my effort during tryouts paid off.

What has been your overall record as a player?

I have gone 48-37 overall, including playoffs. I was around 500 two seasons ago and had a winning record last season.

What is your favorite car in Rocket League?

The octane, my titanium white octane specifically. When I first started playing Rocket League I was a paladin main. That was before I knew anything about hitboxes and the like. Then once I started getting better and took the game more seriously, I switched to cars more popular within the scene.

What is your preference, 2s or 3s?

I would say 3s, just based on rank. I peaked at 1476 at the end of last season. My goal is to push for Grand Champion and would like to hit it, but we will see what happens. I would love to win an MLE Championship too.

What is your favorite non-standard mode?

It would have to be a toss-up between rumble and hoops. I like the aspect that anyone can beat anyone in rumble due to the power-ups. I also like how beneficial hoops is to my aerial pay and I can really practice my reads in hoops.

What is your favorite MLE memory?

I have three MLE memories that really stand out. The first being when I got drafted for the first time. I was in a call with my friends during the season 9 draft and they knew how much I wanted to be on a team. We were all watching the draft together on stream and it was incredible to be able to celebrate with them when I was drafted.

My second memory would be getting to play with Vandy during season 9. We had such great chemistry and it was super deflating when he ranked out the day before the playoffs started. We brought in our reserve Rook to start for the playoffs and we, unfortunately, did not have the same chemistry due to a lack of playtime together. We played against the Bears and did not like our chances due to our recent roster changes. We battled through and brought the series to a deciding game 5, but ultimately lost. Super proud of how we played considering the circumstances and I am left wondering how Vandy and I would have done if he had not ranked out. I feel like we would have had a great shot at the Orange Conference title.

The last memory I want to share is our playoff series last season against the Dodgers. Season 10 as a whole was a lot of fun with the Champion League squad. Anyways, we lost the playoff series in Game 5, in overtime, and it was super deflating. It was made extra tough for I felt like it was really my fault that we let in the series-deciding goal. However, my adrenaline was at an all-time high during that moment. I messaged Furphy afterward and it was heartwarming to share a mutual respect for one another. Both teams battled so hard for the win. It was the best series of MLE I have ever played in. The playoffs are a totally different experience.

Please watch the Dodgers and Bulls series in its entirety here!

What is the best part about being a Bull?

I would say our comradery and our chemistry is our most unique attributes of being a Bull. We all want our teams on the Bulls to succeed. It’s awesome to see each squad improve over the course of the season. For example, seeing our Academy League squad go 16-9 with no 12.5s is exciting and inspiring. I should say though, a lot of the franchises in MLE have their own special communities too.

What is your favorite hobby outside of Rocket League?

Really into iRacing right now. It’s not quite a full simulator, but close, with my Logitech wheel and pedals. It is a bit expensive to get into, but the enjoyment pays for itself. You can work on building your safety rating and track rating and you can also choose between rally car and Formula1, for example. Also, I enjoy cornhole too.

What made you want to take on that responsibility of being a General Manager? You could have always said no when that opportunity was presented to you.

I know Taelo would not have brought up that possibility with me if he felt like I could not do it. Taelo helped to mold me into the leader I needed to be, he trusted me, which means I could trust myself. Along with my experiences in United Rogue, I know I could handle it. Especially with the amount of hard work we did in the offseason, I had trust in our team as a whole. I thought about applying for a General Manager position in the next offseason too, so the process just became expedited a bit.

How did you get your discord name?

It’s simply a variation of my last name, a nickname of sorts.

Where do you see yourself in 2-3 years?

For right now, would love to stay on as General Manager of the Bulls going into next season. Perhaps another team calls for me, you never know. However, I am loyal to the Bulls and in debt to them for taking a chance on me.

Outside of MLE the wife and I are looking to buy a house soon and start a family.

Any last comments or words before we wrap up here?

MLE better watch out for the Bulls, for we have 4 teams to fear. Fear the stampede, charge on.

In the Driver’s Seat With Kunics, GM of the Spectre

In this installation of “In the Driver’s Seat”, I had the absolute pleasure and opportunity to sit down with Kunics, the General Manager of the Spectre. It was wonderful and insightful hearing all about his extensive MLE experience, as well as getting to know him more as a person. Spoiler: Kunics is a fantastic human being.

We’ll start off with a fun bit of trivia, that some people may not know, which is that I almost became a Jet in Season 6 instead of yourself. Please explain how that entire scenario went down, even I am not aware of the whole story.

I played my first season of MLE [then Minor League Doubles (MLD) ] on a laptop, for it was far better than the Xbox that I started playing on. However, during Season 6 the charger port on it died, so I was unable to recharge my laptop and became a reserve because of this. Blackwatch was Captain of the Jets at that time and was wanting to bring me on as a starter. Kracerlink, who drafted the Platinum League [the league that predated the Academy league] team, works in IT and therefore had an extra PC for me. Blackwatch had an extra GPU and there we go. They generously came together and got me a computer to use. You, Rolo, were the backup plan in case they were not able to make that happen.

When did you join the League?

Technically I joined in Season 4 during the Grand Finals, but my first season was Season 5 with the Jets. I found out about MLD through Springy, a player on the Elite at the time. I joined the Ascending Champion Esports discord server, through a recommended post on Twitter. I recently got on PC and was looking to make PC friends to play Rocket League with. Springy randomly asked me to sign up for a tournament with Badger Milk, so I said yes. Springy brought up MLD during the tournament and got me to sign up. That Season 5 Jets team consisted of me, Springy, Dur, with Blackwatch as coach.

What has been your overall record in MLE?

As a Jet I went 44-53, so slightly negative. I was on the Demolition for Season 9, went 16-9, therefore 60-62 overall. Since being General Manager of the Spectre, our teams have gone 161-146, with our Premier League team making playoffs last season. I am currently maintaining a spreadsheet that is tracking the Spectre record overall, as well as individual and team records.

What is your favorite car in Rocket League?

Currently the Fennec, but I have played many vehicles up to this point. When I first played Rocket League, I mained the Backfire, with sacred boost, rat rod wheel, and the cavalier topper. Please do not ask me why I remember that. I eventually switched from the Backfire due to the turning radius.

What is the best non-standard game mode?

Hoops, easily.

What is your favorite MLE memory?

 My first season, Season 5, we made the playoffs as a wildcard. There we played the Sharks and it was the most intense series ever. Arguably [the] top 5 series of all time within MLD at the time. We ended up losing the series in Game 7, after being down 3-2 in the series, but it was such an adrenaline rush. My hands were visibly shaking afterward.

Of note, the VOD is on YouTube, so please watch! However, what you will see is that my name was Sith Droid during Season 5. I quietly switched to Kunics during the offseason between Season 5 and 6.

Sharks vs. Jets, Season 5 Wildcard

What is your favorite Rocket League memory, generally speaking?

When we made Top 128 for RLRS play-ins a couple [of] seasons ago. Back then I was still Champion 2 and was super excited and proud to make it at that rank. I played with Mateo, who was high Champion 3, and Rox, who was Grand Champion. We did not do too well during the actual play-ins, for we had little warm-up beforehand. The experience itself though, qualifying by beating a full Grand Champion team to make it, was awesome.

What is the best part of being a Spectre?

The best and worst part is that as soon as you become a Spectre you score those most insane own goals and it happens too frequently to be a coincidence. I was given the nickname “Boonics” and it is my alter personality, one where I score the nuttiest of own goals. Unfortunately, “Boonics” has spread throughout the franchise.

What is your favorite hobby outside of Rocket League?

As per my old name, I am a Star Wars fan, as well as a sports fan. I cheer for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Penguins (please do not be mad at me for that). Really into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well.

Currently, a university student studying statistics. I started in Animation then switch to 3D Game Design. I unfortunately did not have the same motivation for it as others in my program. Therefore, I took a year of exploratory courses to see where my interests lied. I know I am a very logical person, so I decided to take a major that fits with my interests and suits my strengths, and landed at statistics.

What is the best part of being a General Manager?

Helping everyone on the team improve. I view myself as a coaching General Manager and I make sure to review one replay each week with each squad from their previous series. And of course, hanging out with the team and making new friends throughout each season.

What is the hardest part of being a General Manager?

Dealing with players that are not responsive or are not working well with the team, and potentially needing to make the tough decision to drop them or not.

What made you want to be a General Manager in the first place?

For a little bit of context, MonsterJamers was the General Manager of the Spectre in Season 8 and Legend was the General Manager in Season 9. After season 9, I was encouraged to apply for a General Manager position, but I really did not see myself getting it. I applied anyway and was hoping to create a stable team environment. I have been on some wonderful, stable teams since Season 5 and I wanted to emulate that on another franchise. I could not be the General Manager for the Jets so I wanted to be the General Manager for the franchise with the best and worst color combo in the Mystic division.

Where do you see yourself in 2-3 years?

In three years, I hope to be finally done my college degree and I am really looking forward to being done. I hope to move out and have my own apartment/place in that timeframe too. I am sure life will eventually take over, but I hope to be the General Manager for the Spectre for as long as possible. And I really hope to be involved with MLE generally for as long as possible too, for I probably would not be playing Rocket League if it were not for MLE.

Anything else you would like to add before we are done here?

During the offseason between 5 and 6, I played in a fun tournament with Ninjarider, a former caster, as Sith Droid. Then during season 6, he was casting one of my games, and my name was Kunics then. He had no idea who I was and one of his lines was, “Who’s this Kunics guy, I really like this Kunics guy.” That phrase is now one of my twitch notifications.

 Kunics’ teammates coming together and getting him a new PC so he could play, is a moment that I think exemplifies why MLE is so special. Since that time, Kunics has forwarded along that same level of support and dedication to his teammates and players. From creating a database to keeping track of all Spectre records to providing replay analysis for each League, “Boonics” gives back to MLE as much as he can and has done so for several years. Thank you “Sith Droid” for being such a stand-up and genuine person of this community.   

In the Driver’s Seat With Adi, GM of the Sharks

In this installation of “In the Driver’s Seat”, I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down and chatting with Adi – General Manager of the Sharks. I have had minimal interactions with Adi up until this point and was looking forward to getting to know him more. After our 40 to 50-minute conversation, it was quite apparent to me why he was given the responsibility of the Sharks franchise for Season 11. Hopefully, the following interview leaves you with the same impression I was left with.

when did you join MLE?

My first season was Season 8 with the start of the Foundation League. I was unable to do tryouts at the time due to my scheduling with school, so I was doubtful that I would get picked up. At the time I was on Xbox and CaliforniaDays (a player for the Blizzard) saw my Rocket League clips on Xbox and was impressed with what he saw. So I was a bit of a dartboard pick in the third round based on my clips. Even to this day, I am still really great friends with the players from that Season 8 Blizzards team. We were all going to meet up in Austin this past April but then Covid-19 happened, unfortunately.

What has been your overall record since being in the MLE?

As a player I have gone 41-34 across two teams, the Blizzard and the Sabres, which is not too bad at all! I was not aware of what my record even was before the question. Being my first season as a General Manager, we’ll have to see how my teams do this season. But I will say this, I do remember my first ever match in MLE and just how nervous I was. I remember my hands were visibly shaking to start.

What is your favorite car in Rocket League?

I would consider myself an Octane Main. I was a Venom Main when I first started playing Rocket League.

Do you prefer 2s of 3s?

I prefer 2s far more than 3s. 3s feels like you drive as fast as possible and you hit the ball as hard as possible and it does not feel as enjoyable as 2s. In 2s, you need the skill to beat out that first man and I enjoy that test of skill.

What is the best non-standard mode?

Heatseeker – for the demos.

What is your favorite MLE memory?

Taking down the undefeated Wolves last season with Andy. The Wolves were a different roster by the time we faced them but were still a dominant squad. We went down 0-2 to start. At that point, we decided to just relax and just go for it. We readjusted and came back with the reverse sweep. We hung out in voice chat with the entire team during the game and had an absolute blast during the series and celebrating afterward.

What is the best part of being a Shark?

The best part is that we have a really great group of people on the Sharks. I draft teams based on personality. I value chemistry over mechanics and that is evident with how the players interact with me and each other. Just this past weekend, the Premier League Sharks beat the Flames 3-2. After the series, Tunloink messaged me saying that he felt like he slacked during the week in preparation for the match and that he would pick it up moving forward. Getting that message, even after the win, was heartwarming and reaffirms that we have “buy-in” from all the players. More importantly, though, we are all having fun playing Rocket League with one another.

Another fun thing we have with the Sharks is “Shark Bait of the Week”. Where if you play in scrims, participate in the Franchise Cup, and play in series, you earn fish. If you end up with the most fish at the end of each week, you get admin permissions in my server, where you can change up names, add fun channels, and give that recognition of those really investing into the Franchise. This idea was from BigC and my time on the Sabres, so all the credit for it goes to him.    

What is your favorite hobby outside of Rocket League?

I would consider myself a big-time sports fan, with me really getting into Formula 1. My meet up, with my friends from MLE in April, was us going to Austin to watch the United States Grand Prix. We had everything booked in February too but again, COVID changed our plans. I also play tennis a fair bit in my free time.

What is the best part of being a General Manager?

Getting to see the players grow as people and players. For example, Kkube [player for the Champion League Sharks] was super nervous to start the season and went 0-5 in their first series. Tonight, on the mainstream, he went 4-1. It’s wonderful to see that development and growth between series. On top of that, being able to hang out with the boys, have movie nights, and supporting them throughout the season.

What is the hardest part of being a General Manager?

Managing players that are not as active as other players. This is an issue for some players [who] are more introverted, which is fine. It means that I need to support them and strike a balance in their management. I need to find a way to encourage those players which includes working with captains to troubleshoot and solve problems.

Of course, there is also scheduling…but it has been made easy with Hobo as my Assistant General Manager.

What made you want to be a general manager?

My first season was okay but my second season with Helly I started to play more Rocket League in order to have fun with my friends. During that time, I ranked out from Academy League and was picked up by the Sabres. I had a similar experience on the Sabres as I did on the Blizzard. I was having a wonderful time and I wanted to get better at Rocket League with my friends.

While on the Blizzards and Sabres, I took a year off from college to work. During that year off, I saw all of my IRL friends graduate. When I came back to school, those friends were gone, and I lost some of that interaction. But in what I lost I also gained legitimate friendships with players on both the Sabres and the Blizzard. I am quite grateful for that and being a General Manager, I wanted to foster that community and build friendships as well. I wanted to follow the lead that Helly and BigC set out for me.

You mentioned you took a year off from college; what was your degree in?

Computer Science and Stats Major. I now work for a Federal Contracting Agency. During my year off I worked full time with the Environmental Protection Agency. Specifically, front end and back end stuff for their pesticide program. It was incredibly rewarding to work and I want to continue to work in fields that benefit society.

Where do you see yourself in two, three, or maybe five years?

I plan on pursuing a master’s in business administration. I am interested in using data analytics to help solve social issues.

Speaking to analytics, during Covid-19, I have developed a quick little “cheat sheet” for the Sharks. It shows the player’s all of their statistics from the season, shows the statistics of their upcoming opponents, and all of their matchups thus far. I wanted to create something to help them before each series and I hope to expand upon that document.

I am also in the Alpha testing phase of an app that I have created. It is sort of like Tinder, but for local restaurants. You and your friends input all your food preferences and the app produces restaurants based on that input. You “swipe right or left” on these restaurant profiles and it helps you and your group find where you should eat. So I would love to see where this app comes to in the next several years.

Lastly, I hope to be the Sharks General Manager next season too. I want to continue to grow those relationships that make MLE so special.

 

From “Shark Bait of the Week”, to trying to meet up with his friends from MLE in Austin, to the Xbox clips that landed him a roster spot. Adi from the Sharks is the epitome of what a General Manager is and what the face of a franchise should be. His constant focus on relationship building and personal development is something we can all strive for, not just in MLE, but in our day to day lives.