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Interview: OG & Red Bull's Noly Talks BLAST & RLCS London Major

“With BLAST, I think they’re doing the best they can with a bad hand."
Interview: OG & Red Bull's Noly Talks BLAST & RLCS London Major
Red Bull, Chad Wadsworth

With the RLCS heading back to the UK for the Major 2, fans will once again descend on London’s Copper Box Arena to see who takes home the second Major trophy of 2024. The last time the Copper Box hosted the RLCS was during the 2021-22 Spring Split Major, where Moist Esports took the top spot. This year, a new batch of teams are hoping for their time in the sun, including OG and their UK player Joseph ‘noly’ Kidd who’s hoping to secure a victory on his home turf. 

“We’ve got to make it there first,” noly said. “But once we do, I have no doubt that we’re going to do good.” Noly is no stranger to the Copper Box, having competed in the 2021-22 Spring Split Major as part of Karmine Corp. “It’ll be good to be back there again. Last time I got top 4, hoping to get a top 1 at the next event.”

Joseph 'noly' Kidd (middle) pictured with fellow OG teammates Jacob 'JKnaps' Knapman (left) and Robert 'comm' Kyser (right) (Picture: OG Esports)

2024 has already seen a few major changes hit the Rocket League esports ecosystem, namely with Epic Games beginning their partnership with BLAST. The two brands have worked together previously, with BLAST having produced the last few years of Fortnite events. For Rocket League, however, it’s early days, though players are hopeful that the new partnership will make a positive impact on the sport. “They've made it so everybody starts off at level one again when it comes to competing. The very top pro teams play with the very bottom — I guess people who are having fun together. Which is a bit weird, a bit awkward, since we have to go through games where we're never going to lose, but we just have to get on with it anyway,” noly explained. “With BLAST, I think they’re doing the best they can with a bad hand. It kind of got dumped on them at the last minute to make changes, but I think so far all has been good. And I think most of the pros have adapted well to it.”

We’ve got to make it there first. But once we do, I have no doubt that we’re going to do good.

With all teams starting from level one, it creates a strange situation for the top competing teams. How do you approach these matches knowing that you’d essentially have to play blindfolded in order to lose? Noly admits that they don’t take these matches too seriously, “the skill level is so big and, you know, such a big difference. At the same time there are some players where you're like, ‘okay, we should maybe take this a bit more seriously, try to get it over and done with just so we can win. But yeah, it gets more tedious than anything.

Looking ahead to the Major, one area where BLAST’s impact will surely be felt is in its production. “You can’t really see the online season too well when it comes to production. But for the Major, the events weren’t what we’re used to, nowhere near the same scale as what they’re normally like. But with what they’ve done, I think BLAST production has been incredible.”

6613eeda97f01-Red Bull UK Player Signing - noly - image 11.jpg
Noly signed with Red Bull back in January, 2024. (Picture: Red Bull, Chad Wadsworth)

For noly, specifically, 2024 kicked off with some major progression. On top of signing with OG, the pro also signed with Red Bull, becoming the first UK Rocket League player to do so. The signing means that noly will be competing in Rocket League tournaments throughout the year as a Red Bull player, while also representing the brand during the Championships. With the two moves making for an excellent start to the year, noly will be looking ahead at the path to the Major 2. “With OG and Red Bull it’s been incredible,” noly said. “Result-wise, I wish I was in a better position. Which it's still very possible to change around. But no complaints, so far. I've been treated like a king.”

It seems that UK pros, across all esports, are becoming a rarer breed. There are fewer UK organizations making their way to the main stages and, in the case of some esports titles such as LoL or CS, UK talent struggles to find its way to the top. Rocket League is a bit of an anomaly in that sense, having cultivated a larger crop of UK players compared to other games. Despite this, there’s still a trait that the English, specifically, don’t quite possess. “For English players within Rocket League, you either see them at the very top or somewhere, closer to lower and middle — just because I think the work ethic isn't all there,” noly suggested. “A lot of English people like to go out with friends, socialize a lot more, they don't really want to sit in their room and stick to it. Which, to be at the very top of any esports, that's what you need to do. Maybe it's the same for the other games. 

But at the same time, I still think there's a healthy amount of English talent that is just about there that can be developed into the next stage. I just don't think anyone's been there to help them develop at the same time.”

The Rocket League Championship Series will return to the UK for the RLCS Major 2 on June 20-23, 2024 at the Copper Box Arena in London.