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Rocket League team puts on spectacular performance at CECC championships

Boise State’s varsity Rocket League team had an amazing performance at this year’s Collegiate Esports Commissioners Cup (CECC) national championship in Arlington, TX. The group of 3 made it all the way to the grand finals and finished 2nd in the tournament overall. The highlight of their journey was undoubtedly their championship match against Ball State University, which was one of the closest championship matches Boise State Esports’ history.

Leading up to the Championship

Ball State and Boise State entered into the tournament being the favorite two Rocket League teams, seeded 1st and 2nd respectively. The Broncos already had pressure put on them being the underdogs to Ball State. However, additional events made this particular championship feel even more monumental. Earlier in the season, the collegiate Rocket League scene was rocked by the news that CRL Worlds, Rocket League developer Psyonix’s official collegiate world championship, would not be taking place. This suddenly made the CECC nationals one of the only championships the Broncos would have a chance to compete in.

Players Initial Thoughts

Additionally, for Boise State player Cade “Wuzy” Hall, CECC was his first time competing in person at a LAN (an in person, non online event) championship.

“It was my first LAN so the nerves were at an all time high,” said Hall in an interview. “I just had to remember its the same game I played everyday. If I applied that mentality, I was fully confident we would be a collegiate LAN winning team.”

Emiliano “Durtho” Flores was also confident in the team’s ability to handle the CECC LAN environment.

“Our greatest strength as a team was the ability to play comfortably and well in an in person eSports event,” recalled Flores. “Being able to play from the Esports arena at Boise State helped us a ton when we played in person for a tournament.”

picture of boise state rocket league players getting interviewed
Photo credit: Cora Kennedy/CSMG
The Opening Matches

Boise State had some competitive matches leading up to the grand finals. Each match at CECC was a best of 7. With each game in that match being 5 minutes long, best of 7s have the tendency to last a long time and really test each players skill and mental endurance. In the quarterfinals, Boise State faced Lubbock Christian University, winning the match 4-2. In the semi-finals, they faced Fisher, and again, won 4-2.

“Semi-finals was Fisher college,” Hall recounted. “We were so confident in that series. I was so much looser since I had some series under my belt and we also felt that Lubbock was a better team than Fisher.”

With a marathon of games now behind them, the Bronco’s were all set to face Ball State for the championship.

An Early Lead

While Ball State was the clear favorite to win the match by a wide margin, the Broncos soon quelled any doubts that they were on the same level as Cardinals. Both teams traded goals throughout the opening game, taking it into overtime with a 3-3 score. Half a minute into overtime, Wuzy scored the winning goal of the game with an assist from teammate Preston “PRSTN” Ferrante, putting the Broncos up one in the match. The momentum picked up further in the second game of the match, with Boise completely shutting out Ball State 4-0.

picture of boise state rocket league team playing on stage
Photo credit: Cora Kennedy/CSMG
Ball State Fights Back

The Broncos appeared like they would defy all expectations and sweep the CECC championships. But the first of many twists appeared in game 3. Ball State had a 2-0 lead over the Broncos for the majority of the game. But a last minute rally saw the Broncos score 3 goals in the span of around one minute late in the game. With just 21 seconds left, it appeared the Broncos might get to match point. However, Oath, a Ball State player, scored a buzzer beating goal for the Cardinals with no seconds left on the clock, sending the game into overtime. Less than 20 seconds later, Ball State scored a goal for their first win of the match. Things didn’t improve in game 4. Ball State won that game as well, but only 1-0.

Stakes were high heading into game 5. Like game 1, both teams traded goals until the game sat 3-3. It appeared that game 5 would head into overtime much like game 1. But with just 3 seconds left, Durtho scored a game winning goal, assisted by Wuzy. The Broncos then had 2 opportunities to win 1 more game and claim the championship. Game 6 would not give the Broncos the win they so desperately wanted. The Broncos started out trading goals with Ball State, but the Cardinals won the game by just one goal, 3-2.

picture of head coach of boise state esports talking to a player
Photo credit: Cora Kennedy/CSMG
One Game to Decide it All

The whole championship rested on the outcome of game 7. Like so many of the games before in the match, it was decided by a razor thin margin. The Broncos lead the Cardinals 2-1 heading into the final minute of the game. But with just 6 seconds left on the clock, Oath, the same player who saved the Cardinals during game 3, scored a goal to send the match into overtime. Both teams fought tooth and nail in overtime, hoping to get just one goal to win it all. 1 minute and 37 seconds into overtime, Ball State player Wovah scored the winning goal. The Cardinals won the CECC grand finals and one of the most suspenseful championship matches the Broncos had ever been in.

Reaction to the Match

While the Broncos weren’t able to win gold, they gave a performance that wowed everybody watching. It should be noted that every other team in the nation that faced Ball State during the championships got swept 4-0. Boise State was the only team to give the best team in the nation a competitive match. The casters of the event encouraged everyone to give an ovation to the Broncos for their performance

Varsity player Flores was also taken aback by how close the game was.

“I was expecting a close series, but not as close as it came out to be,” said Flores. “They have some solid players on their roster.”

Wrapping up the Tournament

The CECC Rocket League championship match was the highlight out of all games played for the event.

Even though he didn’t win the gold, Hall felt a lot of his goals going into his first championship LAN were met.

“My goals were to improve my individual game and hopefully make a breakthrough in the pro circuit,” said Hall. “The finals gave me experience.”

Flores echoed similar goals for his career moving forward.

“My goals moving forward would be to keep improving and grinding to be the best player I can be – mentally, physically and of course in Rocket League,” said Flores. “Lessons I’ve learned from this semester is to stay consistent and work hard always.”

Written by Jacob Palmer.