One of the first things any Rocket League player will learn is what has come to be known as Rule #1: a player cannot be the first to back away from a head-to-head challenge. Every car in Rocket League has the same speed and power, so grinding grills with another car will leave both players frozen in a miniature game of chicken while the game continues around them.
This rule has been observed by Rocket League players since the initial release of the game, from casual players entertaining themselves in quickplay matches to professional players initiating a challenge during RLCS play.
However, a small (but very vocal) minority of players has also been promoting a Rule #1 of their own: Left Goes. This simple rule states that when two teammates are both positioned closest to the ball for a kickoff, the teammate who?s on the left of the other should go for the ball.
Coordination among teammates is a key to success in any Rocket League play, especially kickoffs. Typically, a player will use quick chat to communicate that they?re going for the kickoff, and the rest of the team will act based on their positions relative to the ball. This system is essential, as a miscommunication on the kickoff practically leaves the ball on a pedestal for an opponent to blast toward your net while your team scrambles to defend it.
When both players rush for the kickoff, however, your team misses out on a chance for the crucial second touch that can set up an easy goal. Unfortunately, these situations are all too common when playing with random teammates, as there?s not even a guarantee that they have chat enabled.
Left Goes, Rocket League?s other Rule #1, attempts to reduce the ambiguities of kickoff coordination by having the player on the left take the kickoff by default. Proponents of this rule will argue that it entirely eliminates the need for any pre-kickoff communication since the player on the left will go for the ball and the other two will look to jumpstart the offense.
It?s not uncommon to come across players in matches with ?Left Goes? in their player name to evangelize the concept, or to clarify their kickoff intentions while having in-game chat disabled. Rocket League content creator amustycow is a passionate advocate of this rule, even pranking his Twitter followers with a fake apology for ?messing up big time? and taking a kickoff from the right. If everyone is aware of the rule, the system works beautifully; every player knows their role without needing to communicate, and kickoff snafus are avoided as much as one can reasonably hope.
As it stands, however, Left Goes is not a universally supported rule, which can lead to some frustrating moments for players. Ardent supporters of the rule are less likely to say, ?I got it!? before taking kickoffs from the left since they feel it?s unnecessary, ironically making it more likely for uninformed players on the right to call their own shot or double commit to the kickoff.
A quick search in the Rocket League Subreddit even reveals dozens of posts debating the validity of the rule and plenty more arguing which Rule #1 is truly the first unwritten rule of Rocket League. In my opinion, unwritten rules should be easy enough to catch onto without explicit instruction, making Left Goes more of a helpful guideline than a universally understood rule. While the concept behind Left Goes is clear enough, there are few experiences in competitive gaming as easy to understand as the head-to-head challenge of Rocket League?s Rule #1.
Max Thielmeyer is an avid gamer and esports writer from Indianapolis. He?s a recent graduate from Indiana University with a degree in Informatics and is a writer for Indy Gaming League. To learn more about IGL, get in contact, or be involved you can visit https://www.indygamingleague.com/.