Texas Tech’s Rocket League Team Cap off Cinderella Run
Texas Tech Esports’ Rocket League team impressed the nation in the Level Next National Championships from June 4th to the 6th.
The Red Raiders defeated big-name programs like the University of Texas at Dallas and Northwood University and claimed the 6th Place spot overall, taking home $4,200.
The Big 12 Tournament
Texas Tech got here because they won the Big 12 tournament. With wins over their sister team, Texas Tech Red, and Iowa State. Texas Tech Red finished in 3rd Place and qualified for the Last Chance Qualifier to get into the Round of 32. Then fell to the Missouri University of Science and Technology.
“Winning the Big 12 tourney was a huge stepping stone as it led us to the natties,” said Kevin Campbell. Better known by his tag Flashasaurus, a computer science major from El Paso. “The games were very stressful as it was closer than I wanted it to be, but we were relieved that we won,” said Campbell.
The national championship bracket wasn’t going to be easy. They faced one of their in-state rivals, the Comets of the University of Texas- Dallas, in the very first round.
“Going against the 5th seed and 3rd seed according to Stax’s power ranking made us know that we had something to prove being the 20 seed, especially with Stax heavily underestimating us,” said Campbell.
Tech started their run with a 4-2 win over UT Dallas and a 4-2 win over Northwood on Day 1. UTD, a big-name esports program, was one of the first scholarship teams in the scene. They offer scholarships in 4 games, including Rocket League.
UTD’s team was ranked 3rd in the nation during the tournament. Northwood University, hailing from Midland, Michigan, is another scholarship program that was ranked 5th overall.
“After winning both games, it felt good to let everyone know not to underestimate us anymore,” said Campbell.
These flurries of wins gained support from the Red Raider faithful, with some uninitiated flocking to watch the live stream.
“We came into day one knowing we were the underdogs, and we knew we had to show it, so we came out with some fire and great energy and got some really good results,” said Carson Logas, aka Cmoney, a STEM major from Carrollton, Texas.
Their Cinderella run was unprecedented and unexpected, so much so that Sean “Stax” Stackhouse, a caster for the event, sang “Fight Raiders Fight” in a video posted to his Twitter account.
On Day 2, the team lost a close game against LSU 3-4 and were sent to the lower bracket. After a rematch with UT Dallas, Tech was eliminated after a 1-4 loss to the Comets.
Finishing 6th in a tournament of over 250 teams, all the while not being expected to get there at all, speaks volumes about how the team held themselves and performed.
“Looking at the support the Tech Esports community was giving us was heartwarming for me. As well as watching all those tweets from the people that support us,” said Campbell. “Glad to know we had the support of the Red Raider nation when we were showing what we are made of.”
The team won $4,200 in prize money, which the team members will likely spend wisely.
“I will be buying a new PC since I’m due for an upgrade,” said Logas.
“I’ll probably save the money since I already have a good PC, but I’m thinking about buying a better camera to stream sometime in the future,” said Campbell.
The Future for Texas Tech Rocket League Black
The team, as it is right now, will likely be reformed coming into the fall season. Grant “SpaceKitten” Kitten, the longtime captain of the Rocket League team, will be graduating from Tech with his master’s degree in December. Flashasaurus will be transferring away from Tech over the summer due to financial reasons.
Cmoney will likely take the reins of the team. While the team’s situation may look grim, the community around Rocket League and esports at Tech is strong.
I asked Cmoney if he was ready to run it back and possibly win the National Championship next year. Despite losing two core members. The simplicity of his answer reminded me of the gritty, hard-working spirit every Red Raider has.
“Absolutely,” said Logas.
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Written by Campus Live Intern Dylan Winn