Rocket League is a deceptively complex esport. Unlike other esports, there isn’t a large hero pool, a variety of game types or multiple maps to learn. Rocket League is purely a game with great core mechanics and an absurdly high skill ceiling.
Like any game, the path toward ranking up can be full of pitfalls. This guide is designed to help you identify a few things to work on at every rank which will help push you from Bronze all the way to Supersonic Legend (OK, maybe not that high, but hopefully on the right path).
So, first off, you’re probably asking, why should I listen to you? I’m certainly not a pro but I’ve played consistently since 2016 and hang around the Champ 1/2 area. I’ve also consumed a ton of RLCS gameplay and talked to many top players over the last few years to get an idea of how they approach the game.
If you’re a high Champ trying to push toward SSL, this guide probably isn’t for you. But if you’re on the pathway up, here’s a guide for how to rank up in Rocket League from Bronze to Silver to Gold to Platinum to Diamond and to Champ.
How to rank up to Silver in Rocket League
The Bronze rank is beautiful in it’s own way. At this point, remember to have fun with the game because this is one of the most pure forms of the game as everyone around you tries to figure out how to simply make contact with the ball. But if you’ve been here a little while and want to move up, here are three good tips.
1. Turn off camera shake
A default setting in the game, camera shake provides a sense of realism to the game where contact with the ball causes everything to feel a bit more violent. It works for that purpose, but it also gets really distracting. Anything that takes away from your ability to follow or hit the ball is a negative in Rocket League and camera shake is a big one.
2. Don’t get frustrated
It’s supposed to be hard to hit the ball. The game is deceptively difficult. Don’t expect to start making solid, consistent contact without putting in some real time. If you get frustrated early, that’s going to end your Rocket League rank up before it even begins
3. Be patient
It’s much better to be the person who drives into the ball after everyone else whiffs. Often the bronze rank looks like a soccer game of elementary schoolers where a swarm of cars follows the ball at all times. Try to distance yourself from that swarm. Be patient and suddenly amazing goal opportunities will open themselves up to you consistently. It’s also great practice for how the game will eventually look. Let everyone else ball chase, take this time to see how the ball bounces off certain areas, what warning signs to look for to cover the goal and when a scoring opportunity is coming.
How to rank up to Gold in Rocket League
Great, you mastered the basics. Silver is where it gets really fun. People still are pretty bad, but contact is being made here and there with plenty of whiffs to go along with it.
1. Begin aerialing
Don’t go crazy right away. There are two types of aerials in Rocket League. Single jump aerials and double jump (or fast aerials). We will cover fast aerials later, but for now, try single jump aerials. These are simple, jump up, tilt your car back, use a bit of boost to reach the ball.
Single jump aerials come with another benefit, you keep your flip. The fast aerial uses your flip to get to the ball quicker and it becomes crucial in higher ranks. For now, focus on single jump aerials. You should still be able to get to the ball quicker than opponents and timing your flip once in the air allows for stronger contact while aerialing.
2. Try to get the rhythm of rotation
Silver games are still plenty chaotic. There’s not a clear flow to the game like there is in higher ranks. But you can be the one trying to provide a bit of stability to your team through rotation.
Rotation in Rocket League is one of the game’s core mechanics. For an in depth guide, check out the link below.
Read more: 6 tips for rotating in Rocket League
Simply put, rotation just means that when your teammate is going after the ball, you stay back, when they whiff or hit it, then you go. Both are important. Going too early creates double commits leaving open goals, and going too late makes you too passive and creates more confusion overall.
3. Basic crosses
Rocket League ultimately comes down to scoring goals. A large amount of goals will come from crosses, which are passes from the side that create opportunities to score.
In Silver, begin with figuring out how to hit the ball into the corners to create great scoring chances. The most consistent way to do so will be to simply roll the ball along the back wall and have it drop into the middle. Eventually this will be easier to defend and crosses will require the ball separating from the wall, but for now, just figuring out the corner angles will create plenty of scoring chances.
Bonus tip: Check out some camera settings. Camera shake should be off by now, but increasing field of view and angle can help loosen things up. If you’re ever struggling, check out how some pros do their settings and it could help break a funk just by changing scenery a bit.
How to rank up to Platinum in Rocket League
Great, you’re moving on up. Gold is what separates the beginners from the experienced players. Players at this rank will often be pretty good at one or two mechanics but be inconsistent at the rest.
1. Fast aerial
By gold, your opponents will have caught up to the single jump aerial. Still, it’s important to know when to use each one. If you aren’t being challenged, single jump aerials are great to get more power on the ball.
But now is the time to get moving. When that ball is floating up in the air, a consistent fast aerial is going to get you there first 90% of the time in gold. It’s also the time to whiff for practicing later. In higher ranks, you could get flamed for whiffing a big aerial, but in gold, whiffs are still commonplace. Even if it takes you a bit longer, the practice you get here will be well worth it once you reach Platinum. Fast aerialing is arguably the single most difficult and most important individual mechanic for ranking up in Rocket League. Here’s a visual tutorial on how to do it from former NRG player Jayson "Fireburner" Nunez:
2. Boom that ball
Sure, plenty of the game takes place in the air, but the great players know how to play on the ground perfectly too. Simply hitting the ball with a ton of power could be enough on its own to get you to Platinum.
The best time to hit the ball is right as it makes contact with the ground but it’s better to be slightly late than slightly early. This is how you take a dangerous ball on your side and clear it all the way across the field. By perfecting these hits, it’s possible to score on a poorly rotating team back in your half as well.
Clearing isn’t always the right play, but it’s often the best move as the last person back to give your team time to reset. In Gold, it can even lead directly to scoring opportunities as well.
Gold is often when heart rates begin to rise a bit. The game gets faster, you’ve put together a few nice plays in the past but can’t do it consistently, and teammates can be all over the place.
Use this time not as a race to Platinum but as a practice ground. Go for the aerials when it’s your time in rotation, try to jump off the wall and hit the ball. It probably won’t work often, but it only becomes more difficult to practice in game situations in higher ranks. This is a good place to work on your skills, recognize that you still have a ways to improve and relax into the game. Ranking up won’t come with stress but with continuing to have fun with the game and seeing yourself improve.
How to rank up to Diamond in Rocket League
You probably feel pretty good at this point. Platinum even looks flashy. But looks can be deceiving because it easily leads to the classic platinum pitfall ...
1. Don’t blame your teammates
You probably aren’t as good as you think you are. Platinum is well-known for being the most toxic rank in Rocket League for that exact reason. People get good at aerialing but can’t rotate or make consistent contact and think they are the next pro, only being held back by their teammates. As long as you are in Platinum, you are there for a reason.
It can be easy to fixate on your opponents’ shortcomings in light of your own. Don’t fall into that trap. If you blame your teammates for losing games, you aren’t recognizing your own mistakes. In turn, you will likely be greeted with a few rage quitting or toxic teammates. If that’s impacting your game, just turn quick chat completely off and focus on your own game. This is also a good place to start looking for a consistent duo or three-person team to play with as solo queuing becomes much more of a chore from Platinum on.
2. Spend some time in freeplay / casual
As I mentioned in the last section, practicing in-game becomes difficult in plat. Toxic teammates could rage quit on a single whiff, which, while absurd, also ruins the game experience for you.
It’s good to get into a routine of spending 10-15 minutes in free play practicing aerials, dribbles or whatever you want. The training packs are also good to get you into a rhythm. Then play a couple games of casual matches where you can go flying for all the shots you want.
Spending just 30 minutes total in warm-up games will go so much further to ranking up than spending that same amount of time playing ranked matches. There’s a reason almost all Champ-level players start out this way. It’s the best way to hop into ranked, warmed up and ready to play.
3. Get good off the wall
One way to get up to a high ball is the fast aerial, the other is just using the built-in ramps. The walls will distort your perception of the field a bit, especially at first. In Platinum, the walls become a great weapon. By figuring out how to angle your jumps off them you can snuff out clears, create difficult-to-stop crosses and reach balls other players can’t.
No need to air dribble off the wall at this point. Just practice jumping off the wall, using an air roll to angle your car correctly and then using your flip to make strong contact. You’ll be surprised how many goals you can snipe just by being strong off the walls. Air rolling is also a crucial skill at this point, here’s a tutorial on what that looks like from John "Virge" Willis, the coach of Dignitas’ RL team:
How to rank up to Champ in Rocket League
Here’s where the best players are made. Now, especially in 2021, Champ isn’t quite as highly regarded as when it was the final barrier before Grand Champ. With the creation of Supersonic Legend, Champ became a bit easier to reach, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less of an achievement to become a Champ in Rocket League. It still requires hundreds upon hundreds of hours to reach this rank. Here are three skills that will push diamond rank players over the top:
1. Dribble using the top of the car
Dribbling (and subsequently flicking) with the ball on top of your car is absolutely a crucial skill. There is no better way to control the ball than roof dribbling. Free play is your best friend here. Practice just catching the ball on top of your car over and over until you can consistently drive around without letting it fall off. When done right, the ball will never need to actually hit the ground.
Flicks from this spot become the best way to generate power on the ball while keeping full control. Most people who have played 1v1 will get familiar with this, but that’s a great place to practice dribbling in game situations. Still, it also has plenty of utility in 2v2 and 3v3 too.
2. Defend off the back wall
One consistent thing you will see in every RLCS match is great back-wall defense. Prior to this point, most defense usually consists of rotating to the back post and clearing to the corners. That’s still good practice, but with balls now flying toward the back wall, being able to clear while up on the wall stops attacks before they begin.
The mechanic is a bit different than from a side wall as balls will be coming directly at you on the back wall. There are a lot of good training packs to practice this specific type of defending, but it will ultimately be the best way to prevent goals as you continue your climb up the ranks.
3. Get your aim locked in
In my opinion, although all the other mechanics are important, there is no better skill than being able to place the ball perfectly from the ground. It’s shown in RLCS too. Most goals are scored from perfectly placed shots on the ground or clean passing plays, not flashy aerials or flip resets. Sure those are often what make up highlights, but a simple goal counts just the same on the scoresheet.
Aiming with power into the corners and understanding which corner is hardest for the opponents to defend is truly the cornerstone of Rocket League. This aim also comes with better passing. Opponents are watching the goal more than teammates in Diamond, so if you can hit a teammate coming in over taking a shot likely to be blocked, more goals will be scored overall.
It’s easier said than done but this is also where finding a consistent squad comes in to help you rank up.
How to rank up to Grand Champ and SSL
I’d tell you if I knew. Considering I’ve never reached those ranks it doesn’t feel fair to pretend to know what I’m talking about. My best guess at this point is just to grind and to practice.
You probably have all the different aspects of the game by the time you reach Champ. It just comes down to consistency, power and playing enough games to climb. It certainly won’t be easy, but that’s why we play games like this anyway.
At this point, crazy flicks, flip resets, nutty double taps and ceiling shots are all on the table. Have fun mastering them all in your goal of reaching Rocket League’s highest rank.
Lead image credit: Psyonix