Rocket League 2v2 Strategy – Defense
Defense is a fundamental part of Rocket League (obviously), but also an underestimated one. Because defending is more than making sure your opponent doesn’t score, it’s the first step of taking control of a game. That’s the main difference between high and low-rank 2s. If you look at a standard low-ranking game, you might as well watch a game of table tennis: everyone is just mindlessly hitting the ball as far and hard as they can, without any regard to the positioning of the opposition and their teammate. One of the first main skills a player learns is powershots and powerclears. If you are reading this and do not know what powershots and powerclears are, you should check out this tutorial from Sir Timbers:
As you go up the ranks, this starts to change a bit, people control the ball more. But why do they do this? And how should you implement this in your play-style?
First of all, we’re going to state the obvious: you’re defending well if the opponent doesn’t score. This should always be your first priority in defense too: make sure you don’t get scored on. This means that if your teammate has the ball, and is going into offence, but you’re not entirely sure he has full control of the ball, you stay back and prepare for the worst-case scenario.
Now, I know this sounds obvious, but this is one of the most common mistakes I see people make in 2s or Rocket League in general for that matter. If you’re not really thinking while playing, you’ll automatically move up slightly when you see the ball moving up-field. If an opponent gets a good challenge on your team-mate, you’ll be hopelessly out of position. Just relax, wait it out, don’t be afraid to stay in goal a little while longer until you’re 100% sure that you’re moving into offence. One thing to note here is that even though this all seems very obvious, being able to read your teammate and if he is in full control of the ball and if there is a dangerous situation is a very important skill to have and train. People often train positioning and mechanics, but reading teammates and opponents is just as important as all the other aspects of Rocket League.
So, we’ve identified that the main reason people do power-clears and hit the ball away, is so that the opposition can’t score. Which makes sense, since the ball is not close anymore. So why is it sometimes good to not try and play cricket and hit a 6, but keep the ball close instead? The main reason for this is because you love your teammate. Really, you do. Or you should anyway. Imagine this scenario: Your opponents have some solid pressure on your goal. You’ve been in full-on defence mode for at least 30 seconds, barely able to scrap enough boost together. A ball comes, with a nice bounce, 1 opponent is close to you in the corner, and the other one is around the halfway line. What do you do?
Most people will just hit the ball as far as they can, then turn around to grab the corner boost, accidentally passing the ball to the guy in midfield, concede, and get a “Great pass!” from their teammate. So what should you have done? If you keep the ball close in those scenarios and go through the boost to grab it, you’re in a better position to 50/50. On top of that, your teammate will love you. What you do forces the opponent in the corner to either try to block you or rotate back, which leaves the guy in the middle having to contest when you clearly have control over the ball. You can probably get to midfield before they actually try to contest the ball. Your teammate has now had time to grab a few boost-pads, and is more than likely ready for the ball to come, with more boost than the first scenario.
Squishy does that here beautifully. First, he delays his contest to force his opponent to take a shot that he knows he can save. Notice how he only uses one jump, so the ball doesn’t get too much speed, and he can stay close to it. Afterwards, he doesn’t rush to hit the ball away, because he saw the Batmobile turn backwards so he knows he either needs to contest this badly or rotate back, and his teammate needs to go for a hard 50/50. He can just dribble this out of his own half, grab boost, and attack. If he had hit the ball full force, it’d have gone straight to the opponent in midfield, and Squishy, and in particular his teammate, would’ve been in a dire situation.
In general, power-clears are fine. Especially when you’re not sure of your dribbling and 50/50 skills, and you can get a power-clear and you’re sure it will be out of reach for the opposition – go for it! However, when you’re not sure you’ll get a good clear, and you’re not sure your teammate is in a good position, just keep the ball close and try and get a good 50/50 as a worst-case scenario. Don’t do a Russian Roulette: hitting the ball and praying that it will not result in the opposition scoring.
Now, I want to go back to the statement that I gave earlier: “(…) if your teammate has the ball, and is going into offence, but you’re not entirely sure he has full control of the ball, you stay back and prepare for the worst-case scenario.” For the offence part that’s coming next, it’s really important to understand when offence is actually offence, and when you’re still trying to get out of defence. If you’re ever not sure whether you’re going into offence, you’re still in defence and your first priority should be to not get scored on. It’s very possible to be in control of the ball but still in defence.
Rocket League 2v2 Strategy – Offense
So we’re now masters of proper defense. Onto offence. I’m going to start off with the most important lesson there is to learn about offence. To be specific, offence is not about scoring goals. Yeah, I agree, it’s very important, and you’re never going to win a game of Rocket League if you can’t score. However, always trying to score is going to end up backfiring. For example:
You’re on the side-wall because a ball is flying in midfield. You go off the wall, barely beat the opposition, and the ball bounces beautifully on the backboard. Whilst you are flying towards backboard as well after your aerial, your teammate goes for the 360-no-scope freestyle and… misses. Through your tears of anger and despair, you can just make out the upside down Merc that scored on you.
In this scenario, you’re probably mad at your teammate for missing. However, his mistake wasn’t missing, it was going for the ball in the first place. His priority in this scenario was scoring, when it probably shouldn’t have been. Because you went for your sick off the wall aerial pass, you were out of position afterwards. You were flying towards backboard, low on boost, so you need time to recover. That’s exactly what your teammate should do in this scenario. Make sure you get a better position again. Specifically, that means in this scenario he probably should’ve waited to see if their goalkeeper went for the ball. If he did, he’d have to respect that hit and back off. Otherwise, if he knows he can beat the goalie to the ball, he should try and keep possession and play time so that you can recover and actually be helpful.
Now, when reading this, you might actually realize something – that your fancy off the wall aerial, was the thing that started this. Yeah, sure; if your teammate had scored it’d have all been fine, but it started with you ending out of position – this is the thing that is most important. Your mindset was also to try and score. You’re blaming your teammate for a mistake that you made as well. So what should you have done in this scenario? Keep control of the play.
Keeping control of the play is what you do for a large portion of a game of pressure 2s.
Again we’re going to watch Squishy. Notice how he is supporting his teammate right now. His teammate is up, so Squishy is positioned quite defensively so that if his opponents get a power-clear towards the net, he can save it. His priority isn’t to score; it is to make sure the opponents don’t get the clear. He places the ball out of reach of the goalies, so his teammate has some time to position themselves for the upcoming 50/50, and then Squishy scores an absolute screamer. All because he didn’t try and score: he made sure to keep up the pressure.
Then the obvious question arises: when do you try to score? The answer is simple: when it is safe to do so. The general rule of thumb is, you only try to score when in a 2v1 scenario. This is because in a 2v2 scenario it’s often just too dangerous to go for a lot of plays; they’re all very risky.
For example, if your teammate has the ball and it trying to pass it to you, it’s very easy for the opponents to have 1 guy going to net, and the other trying to intercept the pass. If you end up going for the pass, but it gets intercepted, you’re out of position and your teammate now has to defend a 2v1. Whilst if you’re only against 1 defender, he has to choose: going back to goal or trying to intercept a pass. There’s now a lot of room for outplay, and even if you can’t get a goal out of this scenario, your opponent is probably not going to get a great clear either – he’s being pressured by 2 opponents and is only looking to not get scored on. Your teammate can now continue the play for you.
The only thing that then remains, is to get into a 2v1 scenario. This can be done through multiple means. For example: dribbling it past an opponent, flicking it past someone, getting a good 50/50, beating opponents to a ball, or simply your opponent whiffing. Especially in a pressure game without mechanical gods, you’ll see the last 3 being the reason for a lot of goals, because they create these favourable situations that are very low-risk.
And that’s basically what it’s all about. You try and minimize the risk of getting scored on in every scenario while trying to score in the end. You’re not really actively trying to create an opportunity in which you can score, you’re trying to keep control of the play until such an opportunity arises.
I hope that was informative for you guys! If you still have questions, feel free to send me a message on the Discord, and I’ll be more than happy to help you out. Good luck on the pitch! Also if you are looking for training packs check out Chupa49’s Rocket League Training Pack Guide