September 13th marked the return of Drippay to the Australasian Rocket League space. We were thankful enough to get the opportunity to sit down with him to discuss his experience overseas, what happened and his thoughts on the state of Oceania's Rocket League community.
Matthew “Drippay” Den-Kaat is no stranger to the competitive limelight here in Australasia, having competed at a top level in this region for almost four years. But January 12th of this year marked a whole new opportunity for Drippay, as it was announced that he would be moving to North America to compete with Evil Geniuses, a globally renowned esport organisation that has been a part of Rocket League for over a year and a half.
What happened to Evil Geniuses Rocket League?
Despite favoured expectations for the Evil Geniuses (EG) roster, they failed to obtain a position in the Rocket League Championship Series for North America, and were relegated to the Challenger Series. Although the roster went on to place 3rd/4th at Dreamhack Dallas 2019, it was inevitable that the line-up would soon disband due to missing out on RLCS.
Both Klassux and CorruptedG were released from their contracts a week after Dreamhack Dallas 2019, with Drippay the only team member being kept on. In an announcement by Evil Genius, Phil Aram of EG stated “We’ve chosen to hold onto Drippay’s rights for the time being. EG invested a great deal to bring him to the US earlier this year, and although the results didn’t eventuate, we still believe he can serve as the foundation of a top-flight RLCS roster next season.”
It’s believed that Evil Genius has since sought opportunities to maintain a spot in the RLCS, but fell short and have not made a return to the competition. The Rocket League competitive community were made aware of Drippay’s release from EG on the 15th of August, and would soon return to Australia.
Drippay on his experience with Evil Geniuses
Initially, there was little to no public information regarding Evil Geniuses pick-up of Drippay, other than the obvious point of his strong performances at past RLCS Finals. We kicked-off our chat with him by asking how it all came about.
“After RLCS Season 6, I was getting a fair bit of interest from international teams. A spot on EG opened up after one of their players left to join G2 Esports. EG reached out to me and showed interest straight away, so I decided to seize the opportunity,” said Drippay.
Although things didn’t work out for Drippay at Evil Geniuses, he intended to remain focused on competitive performances. “It was definitely a tough time for me, and it was hard to stay on track with my competitive goals,” says Drippay. “I just removed myself from the game for a bit and took some time to re-evaluate. It definitely helped me look at things from another perspective and get my motivation back.”
Whilst on the topic of competitive goals, we talked about what competition was like in North America. “The competitive scene in North America was incredible from my perspective,” Drippay said. “Pretty much everyone who is competing in the NA RLCS was a Rocket League player full-time, because of the backing from organisations and Psyonix”, he concluded.
Return to The Chiefs Esports Club
Soon after the announcement of Drippay’s departure from Evil Geniuses, Rocket League’s competitive community was hit with a shock-wave of hype, as it came to light that Drippay would be returning to The Chiefs Esports Club.
Drippay last competed with The Chiefs back in 2018, initially signing with the club from the self-named “Billy Fan Club” line-up back in 2017. Drippay is faced with the scenario of the club no longer holding his former long-standing teammates, Jake and Torsos, with Jake retiring from competitive play and Torsos now playing for the Renegades.
We talked with Drippay on his decision to return to The Chiefs Esports Club, despite not having competed alongside his new teammates, CJCJ and Express. “I chose to join The Chiefs because I felt like CJCJ and Express were a great fit as teammates. We’re all good friends, and we get along really well,” said Drippay.
Although he hasn’t reunited with former teammates, The Chiefs Esports Club has remained the top team in this region with their new roster, despite the departure of Drippay to Evil Geniuses and his former teammates going in different directions earlier this year. We will soon get a good look at how the roster shapes up, with RLCS League Play right around the corner.
View on Rocket League in Oceania
Now that Drippay has returned to Australia and will soon be featuring in the RLCS League Play, we were keen to get his thoughts on the competitive scene in this region.
“The current competitive environment in Oceania needs a lot of improvements in many different ways. Other regions such as North America and Europe are on a completely different level, and there are so many factors that create this,” said Drippay. “The major regions have so much direct support and funding, enabling players to play Rocket League full-time and at a professional level. Once Oceania gets this support, we will be able to see immense improvements to the competitive atmosphere.”
Whilst mentioning lack of support and funding, Drippay talked about the sparse number of local competitions. “This links in with the competitive atmosphere topic. It is extremely important to have regular competitions to help keep the scene strong in this region, and we just don’t have that now,” said Drippay. “Pretty much the only reason we are able to stay on top of this is due to the RLCS World Championship offering Oceania two spots at the event. Although it’s great for this region, it only helps those two teams.”
Drippay’s solution to this issue is that “Psyonix needs to give more direct support to the region and the other tournament organisers need to help create more opportunities for our local scene to compete.”
Before closing the interview, we asked Drippay what his intentions were back in Australia. “Coming back to Oceania, I just want to start enjoying the game more. Sometimes I get caught up trying to perform well, that I forget that it’s all about enjoying myself,” Drippay concluded.
Rocket League had an extremely strong end to 2018 for Oceania. Drippay and his former teammates represented The Chiefs over at the RLCS Season 6 Finals, securing fourth place overall. Despite that success, alongside plenty more strong results that year, it seems the number of top-level competitions has dwindled since The Gfinity Elite Series closed. It’s clear that the community in Australasia is driven to improve the competitive atmosphere of the game, despite lack of support from Psyonix and other tournament organisers.
We wish Drippay nothing but the best back at The Chiefs Esports Club and throughout the up-coming league play for RLCS. Here’s hoping that Oceania represents well at the RLCS World Championship, so developers and organisers alike are reminded how passionate and strong this region can be.