Rocket League Garage:
The Story of RL’s Most Impactful Super-Fan Club

The burning question of the hour during the infamous Rocket League trading removal is: Does Rocket League Garage (RLG) survive? 

But, after reaching out to vicegold for an interview, that question quickly felt shallow. Layers upon layers of nuance felt concealed by the latest wave of blind-sighted gamer rage. I decided to delve deeper, broadening my topic to RLG’s history. I interviewed CloudFuel and serubi. I nosedived into a rabbit hole of ancient Reddit texts and scoured RLG blog posts.

I made the poor boys wait over a month to see their words hit a webpage.

That ends today:

When boiling down the Rocket League community, most of us fondly reminisce about the early pro scene. We think back to the moments when Kronovi and Kuxir toppled world leaders on a day-by-day cycle. 

Some remember early social media posts by Musty and Sledge as they began their lucky strides down the lane of content creation… Or the ragtag OG Pulse Clan banding together to drop juicy montages of delectable freestyling footwork. 

We think about the original cast of Rocket League developers chatting up future RLCS casters like Gibbs and Jamesbot, sharing gameplay insight, or sharing a laugh.

But nestled behind the curtain is an even greater legacy, one we’ve taken for granted. Before Rocket League had a professional Esports circuit, a handful of fanatics leaped forward and organized underground events. They spread the emerging competitive Rocket League gospel. They maintained our genuine interest in the game before her tailwind could soften.

I admit I took the tireless Rocket League Garage team for granted all these years. It wasn’t until Epic’s announcement to remove trading that I realized the countless cosmetic transactions these boys helped me secure.

Rocket League trade screen.

Everything about RLG felt so ingrained into the Rocket League experience. For over 6 million registered users, the two felt inseparable. But, the truth is: The Titan of the Rocket League trading scene wasn’t some corporate subsidiary – or a handful of tech gurus looking to leech a fast buck…

They were Alpha testers engrossed in the magic of car soccer. We can trace the origins of Rocket League Garage to July 6th, 2015 – a day before RL servers went live. That’s right, RLG predates the September 2016 introduction of Rocket League trading by over a year

During that window, believe it or not, these fanboys paved the grassroots foundation for what became a top 10 Esport worldwide. They filled the voids of an internet wasteland (we’re talking pre-Liquipedia, pre-Shift report, pre-Metafy, pre-Ballchasing replay crunching, pre-pre-flip musty flick montage spam).

So, please, let me tell you the whole story. 

The Early Days of RL Garage

[To serubi] When did you meet the gang?

serubi: “Sometime after May 19th, 2015, when the second Rocket League beta ended, I was browsing the Psyonix forum – as I often did – and discovered a thread by Cristian regarding his new YouTube channel called ‘Rocket League Cinema.’” 

“I forget the details of the thread, but he asked the Rocket League community for highlight clips from the recent beta to feature in an upcoming video. At the time, I took a year’s leave in the U.S. to experience the culture before heading back to Denmark for Gymnasium.” 

(Since most of my readers aren’t Danish, he’s referencing their equivalent to a college-prep high school.)

serubi: “I knew I wanted to pursue a career in programming. I’ve held an interest in software for as long as I can remember. So, during my time in the States, I studied HTML to prepare myself for my education when I returned. As I was reading Cristian’s thread, I thought to myself “That’s a great idea for a website!” With little experience, yet an eagerness to learn, I started working on a ‘Rocket League Cinema’ website prototype where users could upload clips and browse others’ submissions.”

serubi provided an image of his old Rocket League Cinema website design. Video clips could be sorted by Aerials, Trick shots, Wall shots, Turtle shots, Saves, Dribbles, Pool shots, Snipes, Own goals, and Montages.
The original RL Cinema layout by serubi.

serubi: “I think it took a day or two to come up with what you see in the screenshot above. After sharing this screenshot in the thread, Cristian DM’ed me about forming a partnership – I gladly accepted.” 

“About a week later, on May 29th, I received another DM from a user named ‘stereotype’ (AKA vicegold). He complimented my work and asked if Id be interested in collaborating on a new tournament system under the domain name rocket-league.com. I was excited to help out.”

“We swapped ideas back and forth: the tournament system, how to incorporate RL Cinema, and an academy section for tutorials. We pitched the idea a day later to Cristian, and he hopped on board, too. This is when I was introduced to QuestFerret, who vicegold also plucked for the team. He possessed leagues of programming know-how, so I learned a lot from him.” 

“For me, this was simply a hobby. I was deeply passionate about Rocket League (as I had been a part of the SARPBC community since 2009), and I saw this as a learning opportunity. The word “business” never entered my mind.”

[To vicegold] Can you tell me a little bit about early development?

vicegold: “Not many know that RL Garage was first called RL Stadium (spring 2014 – before Rocket League released.) I built the first WordPress-based version of the website within a few days. It served one purpose: updating people about the closed Rocket League Alpha test I participated in. It kept records of all items available in the game. You could say RL Stadium was the first Rocket League item database.”

“Back then, Alpha players received invite codes to distribute to friends, so I also added a little system to plug codes into the RL Stadium website, which then forwarded the new invite code to someone who requested a code before. I think, in the end, around 300 people played in the Alpha, but I could be wrong.”

[To vicegold] And what did the prototype of the current site look like?

vicegold: “We worked on the current site for about two months (May to July 2015) and released it a day before Rocket League’s official launch. It was a very basic version of what we have today. Our Co-Founder, QuestFerret, built the backend. I was responsible for design and frontend.”

The initial version of RL Garage website encapsulated the role of a community hub.

  • RL Cinema: a clip-sharing feature for uploading your best goals and saves 
  • RL Academy: a section filled with Rocket League tutorials
  • RL Stadium: hung on as a tournament creator (imagine start.gg but just for Rocket League), 
  • A public team builder – with custom title cards – for grouping up
  • The item database
  • User profiles 
  • A public forum
  • A basic messaging system. 

I tracked down a high-production promo video they spit out that seized the attention of devs and players alike:

The foundations of RL Stadium reverberate a powerful “divide and conquer” energy. Everyone banded together to achieve their unique ideas. They itched to construct the ultimate fan club. Let’s give the original crew a proper introduction:

Developer quotes from the RL Garage Anniversary Spotlight: QuestFerret: "The past 5 years have been crazy. I've not really been working with RLG for a couple of years now, but the early days of the site were brilliant. My passion was always on the esports side of Rocket League, and to have gotten to put on big events, some partnership with Psyonix themselves, was amazing. Without that experience I definitely wouldn't be in the position I am today. Thank you to everybody on the RLG team and everybody in the wider Rocket League community. It's been great getting to know so many of you, particularly those I've met in-person at events. I have to give a shout out to the teamspeak crew too, some of the best memories are all the late night chats about all things Rocket League. Thanks for helping make the Rocket League community what it is." Albino Peacock: "I started my journey here at RLG back in January 2017. Less than a year out of college with barely any real world software project experience, I was eager to contribute to the RL community that I loved so much. vicegold asked me if I could make a mobile app and I said, "Well, I never have, but I'd love to learn!" A couple scrapped versions and a couple years later, we finally released RL Garage on iOS and Android. An accomplishment I'm extremely proud of. Working on this project has been pivotal, not only in furthering my professional career, but it has given me the opportunity to meet some amazing people in the Rl community. This community helped me through some of the hardest points in my life, and for that, I am forever grateful. Thank you to all the RL Garage staff, from admins to mods to discord staff, everything you all do helps make our little corner of the internet a great place to call home." serubi: I started my Soccar journey back in early 2009, when I stumbled on Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars in the PlayStation store. I used to play every day after school with my brother, Fyshokid. The community back then was small, but extremely passionate about the game and its developers. Those of us who stuck around got to play the alpha in early 2014. We were stoked! When we started RLG, I was practically new to development. I remember studying much of the code written by QuestFerret, so I learned a lot from him (thanks, bud!). Ironically, working on RLG has taught me way more about web development than college ever has. I'm very grateful for having such a meaningful project to work on every day, which is backed by such a great community." vicegold: "While SARPBC has been just a fun little game for me and my friends, Rocket League has become a much bigger part of my working life in a way I never dreamed possible. QuestFerret, serubi, and I had the idea to build a platform for videos and RL tournaments and fantasy sports in 2015 after the RL Alpha in 2014. I never thought that this would one day become the biggest Rocket League trading platform. In the beginning, I was just an interface designer with limited programming experience. Today, I'm responsible for frontend and backend development. Creating something that helps a community so much is an awesome experience! My steepest moment was when Psyonix showed my logo for our Rocket Royale event in every Rocket League stadium!"
  • Laurids “vicegold” Düllmannvice (or “Stereotype” in older documentation) was the man of action. He boasted a level of emotional intelligence and charisma that drew people together. He handles bucketloads of PR and outreach. Throughout his career with RLG, he forged graphic design skills and related frontend site development.
  • Cristian: Cristian was an experienced YouTuber who conceptualized and actualized RL Cinema’s clip-swapping features.
Questy was the only one I couldn't get a hold of for the interview. The best I can do is build him a monument.

I’ll scribble notes about people where I can. Just be mindful that fewer words doesn’t translate to weaker accomplishments. It means I’m less familiar with them.

  • AlbinoPeacock
  • itsTobias 
  • FightMe – RLG Moderator and lead scam detective.
  • Blake “CloudFuel” Tull – Founder of RLC, Event organizer, currently a Twitch Rivals program manager.
  • Demar “Dazerin” Williams – Shoutcaster/Analyst in RLC, ShiftRLE Pro League, Mythical Esports (Interview spotlights with pros) and current RLCS caster/analyst
  • Jasher – Event organizer, currently manages seeding in RLCS.
  •  RoguishElf – RLC Admin
  • Frostbite – RLC
  • DMRawlings
  • Part_timer
  • BodaciousPie 
  • Shogun – RLCS caster
  • James “Jamesbot” Villar – RLCS caster
  • Shalthis
  • Michael “Achieves” Williams – RLCS Caster
  • Mike “Gregan” Ellis – Coach, analyst, caster, founded the principles of rotations and midline analysis.
  • Randy “Gibbs” Gibbons – RLC Power Rankings analyst, RLCS caster, Pro (Cosmic Aftershock), SARPBC NA Tournament organizer.
  • Liefx – Caster, Podcast host.

vicegold: “Until trading became a thing, we mostly built tools and overlays for Esports tournaments – like Rocket Royale and the RLC Pro League. We ran them together with CloudFuel, Jamesbot, and many other now well-known RLCS personalities.”

Item Loadout: Crimson Sovereign A/T wheels, Black Min-Spec decal, Crimson Masamune. Rocket league demo spree, explosions in the background. RL lives matter.

Let me slam the brakes here. I’ll drop the rest of vicegold’s answer in a few. Y’all will want a backstory, otherwise, this article disintegrates into gibberish.

Now’s a good time to introduce Blake “CloudFuel” Tull. CloudFuel was a late bloomer from the RL beta with an unshakable desire to pit the best Rocket League players in a ring together.

Rocket League sunk her vampiric teeth deep into the veins of CloudFuel. In every early RL thread, you can spot him sliding into conversations with prominent RL figures, developer comments, and every RLG marketing beat available on the web.

[To CloudFuel] What sparked your interest in organizing and hosting RL tournaments? Did you have any background in bracketing events or gathering folk?

CloudFuel: “I’ve always had a passion for competitive games (and Esports.) I’m older, in my thirties with the ‘wife and two kids’ background, so I’ve been floating around since the OG Counter-Strike days.”

“Back then, I made clans and worked on fan-made videos. And I’ve always been enamored by the ESL/MLG scene. I ran some leagues for Madden, Call of Duty, and Battlefield.”

“I joined the Rocket League beta in May 2015. I was coming in off of Madden, which was starting to tilt me with general dice roll RNG wonkiness. RL was cool because the player shouldered 100% of the skills involved.”

“I was instantly engrossed. I remember calling in sick for work to play Rocket League all weekend. And, back then, hardly anyone was playing! The queue took ages, and I matched up against a lot of the early greats like Kronovi, Fyshokid, Gibbs, SadJunior, M1k3Rules, etc. I remember watching them fly around the field. Their talent blew me away.”

CloudFuel hopped into a pre-5,000-user Rocket League subreddit and immediately whipped up a public tournament – before Rocket League exited beta testing. He ran the entire process from sign-ups to bracketing to post-tourney writeups on Reddit.

RL Beta2 Tournament Bracket and Team Rosters: 1st place: Scarabs (Kronovi, SadJunior, M1k3Rules) 2nd place Anglo-Dutch Empire: (Snowars, Martintheboss, Xkoekiiej_nl)

[To CloudFuel] Could you isolate a moment when you knew RL Esports was worth pursuing?

CloudFuel: “Easy. Team Red (Fyshokid/Digdog22/coolcole93) VS. I_Fame_I (Paschy90/SikiiCEM/SeventhTentacle).” 

“It was a close series. After losing the first match, Team Red cranked up the defense to a total shutout in game two. Everyone kept relaying match information onto the forum throughout the series. The matches were practically invisible, yet everyone got really invested!”

“The excitement in that thread showed me RL’s true Esport capabilities. RL’s a huge hype machine. It had simplicity, everything was easy to follow. Someone’s grandparents could get into it.”

An action shot of the starting flip animation in Rocket League. Tags: Cool anodized octane preset, Cool rocket league designs, clean octane

[To CloudFuel] Did you dream big from the beginning?

“Putting RL Esports on the map wasn’t the initial goal. I just decided skilled players deserved an audience. There weren’t any opportunities for pros to land on a big stage. I worked as a community liaison with ESL and MLG. I helped them fire up a ‘World Championship,’ but it felt lacking. I wanted to open up qualifiers and help new players get their names out.”

It’s worth noting that “Team Red” formed the early foundations of Team Rocket and “Fame” carried on as Crown & Jewels, both of which became prominent teams in pre-RLCS events. These days, Cole is better known for his YouTube channel, SubParButInHD.

The “Scarabs” who waltzed through all their matches housed Sadjunior and Kronovi. That’s 2/3rds of the iconic Cosmic Aftershock trio – the team that dominated throughout 2015 – and the first US team to pluck an org. And, as most of you know, Kronovi carried home that season 1 RLCS world champion cup.

That’s an impressive scouting report for an impromptu Reddit tournament with a tight deadline.

Anyway…

CloudFuel scurried to the Psyonix devs to see if they had an Esports agenda, and when they replied along the lines of, “Nah bro, we’re still fending off server overload,” Cloud scampered to the plate.

He gathered a squad to help smooth over upcoming events. You can spot him scooping up the future RLCS caster Gibbs in one of the threads I linked above. Then came his second major event:

CloudFuel on the topic of "Rocket League Central 'PC Needs Love Tournament'" CloudFuel: “ESL started supporting Rocket League early on, which was cool to see… but they only supported PS4 players. It’s pretty weird to look back on since the scene turned a 180 favoring PC, but RL had a massive PS4 scene early on since it launched as a free monthly game.” “On July 14th, I created an event called ‘PC Needs Love.’ At the time, I thought I was well-organized - but it’s funny looking back. I was collecting everything through Emails: Sign-ups, roster changes, reschedulings... It was a mess that took a month and a half of planning - and I loved every second of it.” “In the tournament, I picked up a last-second entry from Jamesbot. He picked the silliest name, the “Dertroit Roketcats,” and the logo was just as absurd. He kept cracking jokes about how his team was seeded 44th. In retrospect, it was all very on-brand James behavior.” “I found out he had experience commentating for Turtle Rock Studios. He had creativity and drive. He kinda became my right-hand man.”

Cloud and James proceeded to blast a pathway for the underground RL Esports scene.

CloudFuel didn’t stop there. He tripled down as a mod on the Psyonix forums, Rocket League subreddit, and the founder of the current RLCS subreddit, /r/RocketLeagueEsports. His tournament write-ups carried that latter sub through her early years.

CloudFuel: “Everyone used to crack jokes about me being like Ash Ketchum. They’d say things like, “Oh, there goes Blake again, gotta catch ‘em all!”

And since he was researching car soccer down to Psyonix devs making Forbes listicles, it only makes sense he pitched a cold Email to vicegold and his fresh Rocket League Garage crew about coordinating on-site events.

vicegold ghosted.

(As a fellow site owner, I can guess why that Email never saw a response. Small website inboxes attract spam offers and catfishers like moths to a flame. The email was buried in random get-rich-quicksand and super sketchy junk-mail links. And, even if my hunch that Fysho introduced the two is true, vice and his boys’ ambition kept them overworked and overwhelmed!)

So, convinced RLG fell inactive, CloudFuel fired up an inadvertent rival site: Rocket League Central.

[To CloudFuel] It looks like in the early days, vice overlooked your emails and you accidentally created two identical sites. What ended up happening to cause you guys to merge?

CloudFuel: “My original plan for Rocket League Central was to keep it simple. I only planned to organize tournaments. As more people got involved, their ideas started flooding in. They wanted news updates, Esports collabs, player showcases, and clips.”

“I had no experience working on websites, and I quickly realized what I’d gotten myself into. Meanwhile, these guys at RLG were pumping out great layout designs. They already had a tournament bracket interface locked and loaded for casual use. I thought I could carry that to the loftiest competitive scene.”

“Vice, Quest, and Chewy really stepped up production, and the guys at RLG were already putting out these immaculate web designs. Merging made everything click.”

Meanwhile, vice spotted Cloud’s ESL announcement.

And, as the history books proved, Rocket League Garage and Rocket League Central were a match made in heaven.

On September 2nd, RLC and RLG merged. Cloud started reaching out to players about their wants and needs from the production team. He realized they itched for casters and cameramen (remember that Director’s Cam didn’t exist. Event organizers snuck in extra players to cycle through spectating players.)

After joining forces, the roster started expanding like a balloon and weekly Rocket Royale events nurtured the pre-RLCS circuit. Cloud assigned Shalthis and Jamesbot flashy new commentary roles. Cloud scooped up Liefx in a casting competition. He helped whip up a rotating weekly “Power Rankings” council, originally consisting of himself, Gibbs, Doomsee, Shalthis, and SLxpress. 

Things got serious.

CloudFuel: “The ‘Power Rankings’ grew into a phenomenon. I posted them all over the place every week. We published them to RLG and spammed reddit. It had its own Twitter account that’s still floating around. The column helped identify talent. They spread controversy. They sparked aspiration. Everyone wanted on that list.”

“It was cool because everyone brought their own grading and write-up style. I was always the statistician, crunching hard numbers. Gibbs tossed in playstyle insights. Spreading the workload between a team helped us catch early favorites. Psyonix Dirkened even started getting involved.”

What was it like behind the scenes before Psyonix started adding spectator features? CloudFuel: “There was some serious skill going on behind the scenes. Lobbies could only have 8 players and 6 of them were on-field. That meant the camera and commentary crowded into two slots. Cameramen would often add commentary while finding a delicate balance between free cam, static cam, and individual player views. It was like an art form. Certain people had reputations for accidently slipping into matches, joining games too early, or joining too late. We made a few memes out of them.” “Shout out to Pasch and Silent Echo. Then there was a period when auto-cam came out that we gave it a shot, but it was an awful watching experience. We ended up reverting to the complicated method until director’s cam released.”

This is a good spot to slam the brakes on CloudFuel’s passionate interview hijack. We’ll check back with him later.

[To vicegold] How did the site develop after merging with RLC?

vicegold: “We’ve partnered with Psyonix to increase viewership and they announced our tournaments via in-game billboards and promoted them on Twitter, which helped a lot! All of this predated RLCS, so it was a really exciting time for us!”

“In addition to Cloud, we had people like Dazerin, Jasher, RoguishElf, Frostbite, DMRawlings, and Part_timer writing articles about all things Esports. They covered tournaments and interviewed pro players like Kuxir and other early elites.”

In case those names sound foreign, most of the old writers from RLG either work for Twitch or Psyonix now. I should mention that Psyonix’s core developer Dirkened helped spill rocket royale write-ups, too.

Anyway, when vicegold says ‘all things Esports,’ he’s serious. Rostermania, performance analysis, org news, if you can imagine it, RLG was publishing it.

Clippings from RLG Pre-RLCS interviews with Flipsid3 Games.

vicegold: “Our first iOS-exclusive mobile app – released in 2015 – only consisted of a rank tracker. It was entirely built by BodaciousPie during his free time.”

[To vicegold] Have you held a historically close relationship with members of Psyonix/Epic?

vicegold: “We never had any contact with anyone at Epic Games apart from one conversation about something unrelated to Rocket League. But we had a great connection with Psyonix!”

Here’s the viral clip of Jamesbot’s girlfriend catching him streaming RL in the dark with a random pigeon-head mask. It led Psyonix devs to add the topper into their game:

I remember spotting vicegold state developer involvement in RLCS fantasy leagues on their site before the Epic Games buyout, too.

vicegold: “Personally, I was sporadically in contact with 4-5 awesome people at Psyonix over my 9-year course. Nowadays, contact is very limited, but we always knew who we could ask when we needed clarification or help about anything. They’ve always been super responsive.” 

“We even had a little video chat with their former CEO Dave Hagewood once. It was exciting! I know other RL Garage team members built friendships with some Psyonix staff as well. They’re really great guys all around!”

What Happened to The RLC Crew?

Before trading launched, RLG gained significant community traction. The RLC circuit earned an official Twitch partnership and had grown an immense reputation. To put it in perspective, Stax abandoned the Mock-It Esports team because they declined his request to cast an event for RLC.

(Again we see Cloud offering public casting advice that helped shape a future caster’s career. Someone, please, snag a Congressional Medal of Honor for this man.)

Casters and players alike considered RL Central the ‘Big Leagues.’ But, behind the scenes, Twitch formed a partnership with Psyonix for the first season of RLCS. They began scooping up Rocket League Central talent in troves.

CloudFuel cites the growth spurts of RLCS and Rocket League trading as a bittersweet time.

Circa 2016-2017, Cloud picked up a direct role with Twitch to manage RLCS and develop/support the competitive Rocket League ecosystem. It drained every ounce of his time, and he needed to sacrifice RLC to breathe life into the new competitive RL ocean.

[To CloudFuel] What was your most satisfying moment when working with the RLG team?

CloudFuel: “Definitely the RLC Pro League playoffs.”

“It felt like everything we’d done up until that point was leading to that moment. The weekly Rocket Royales grew stale. The same teams kept competing over and over. The prize pool money started running dry.”

“We had a benefactor that donated an early $3,000. We were distributing $500 at a time. So we needed to cook up a format that permitted more time to collect prize money. So, we introduced a full-fledged season with a playoff bracket that we’d knock out in a single day.”

“But, at the same time, it was a little scary. We didn’t know if the players would still invest their time in us if we held the winnings for such a long time. We didn’t know how much money we’d actually gather. We were worried viewers might lose interest if we stretched the event out too long.”

“To top it off, teams were still changing rosters weekly or missing events.”

“But the event was massive. We had qualifiers. We ran a circuit of 64 teams from both North America and Europe. Rocket League hadn’t seen anything like it. MLG was still invitational only. Meanwhile, we limited ourselves to 8 invitationals and doubled the qualifier bracket.”

That Octane silhouette looks awful familiat, eh? We can thank folk at RLG for amping up the RLCPL production value.

“We stretched the season from January to March, then we knocked out the playoffs in a single day.”

“When March 6th arrived, we had a $2,200 prize pool. But we pulled an insane donation drive for the playoff stream. On that day alone, we added another $3,000 to the prize pool. Psyonix developers raided the chat to root for their favorite players. Then they dumped $1,000 into the pool. It was unprecedented! That was like the big culmination moment.”

“Imagine if the NFL ran their entire playoffs in a single day. I remember capping out at 10k viewers. Then, in the finals, we ran a lengthy best-of-9 series.”

“I knew that day that Rocket League had made it as a major Esport.”

“Psyonix adopted a lot of the practices we established during the RLC Pro League: casting on Sundays, ending streams around 5 PM, dropping exhibition matchups to a single game, etc.”

After that, things started moving fast. 

Psyonix crammed the first two seasons of RLCS into a six month whirlwind. By 2018, Psyonix severed their partnership with Twitch to solo-host RLCS and even the boys in RLC started seeing forks in the road.

On one hand, the shared experiences between the folk of early Rocket League Garage elevated each Rocketeer to unimaginable heights of expertise. It’s also crazy serendipitous that everyone invested unearthed great paying gigs in fields they loved.

But the team began to fragment. To the team, it felt like walking a college graduation aisle, staring longingly toward the sea of faces they’d grown so fond of.

serubi's steam review of Rocket League says 1,400 hours played, 5-stars, and "Better than bread!"

[To serubi] Was a rift forming between the crew before you guys took off with trading? (It looks like most of the early crew took an intense interest in Esports.) Did trading help rejuvenate your purpose?

“Hmm, I suppose you could say that.” 

“When we adopted RL Central to the RL Garage family, it was still very much its own thing, with CloudFuel running it. The RL Garage team — QuestFerret, vicegold, and I — were just helping them with backend work. I say “just“ as if it was a small task; but, in reality, QuestFerret and vicegold put in a lot of work to make the RL Central livestreams a reality (overlays, website integration, etc.).”

“After RL Central’s Rocket Royale tournament pulled a Psyonix sponsorship, Psyonix hired many commentators from the RL Central team to cast RLCS (Jamesbot, Shogun, Liefx, Achieves, just to name a few). I know CloudFuel is working as a community program manager for Twitch now, which is quite an achievement. So, while RL Central dwindled shortly after RLCS debuted, many of the RL Central team members kicked off their careers because of it.

“With RLC, I helped out where I could, but as a full-time student at the time, my usefulness was limited.”

“Meanwhile, the core RL Garage team was still intact maintaining the tournament system on the website, the Item Database, and so on. Trading definitely shifted RL Garage’s identity. It’s what we’re primarily known for, after all. We always wanted RL Garage to be the #1 Rocket League network, and I think that is true in many ways.”

The Split-Off: RL Garage Growth And Development

Of course, today’s success story is about the Rocket League trading goliath. 

What I find most spectacular of all is that RL Garage spawned a second sunrise from the dust left in the wake of corporate entities gobbling away their biggest audience. More than that, their new role eclipsed their previous legacy in a heartbeat.

RL Garage lifetime traffic metric graphs. Top shows organic traffic growth trends, middle shows keyword performance metrics, bottom lists App metrics provided by serubi.

[To vicegold] What inspired you guys to create the Rocket League Garage trading platform?

vicegold: “When trading released in 2016, it became immediately clear that finding trade partners was strenuous. It pretty much required you to ask for items through in-game chat or the Rocket League Steam page.”

“It was our co-founder, serubi, who realized a dedicated trading platform could help players find their dream items better than any forum or in-game chat. He immediately started working on integrating the basic version of trading into our website.” 

“We never really expected trading to become a market. We just wanted to offer players options for finding items they liked.”

The narrator yearns to mention that Rocket League trading became a colossal market. Throughout the years, people complained about exceeding daily trade limits – without any signs of halting. Various items soared above a $100 sticker price. Collectors and scalpers scoured for RL cosmetics like hungry stock traders.

Some crazies made an actual living out of swapping RL items. 

And, in my recent survey about Rocket League trading, 82.1% of users supplemented their journey with RL Garage.

Rocket League Trading Demographics & Behaviors: 91.3% of polled players traded in Rocket League. 82.1% of traders used RL Garage to supplement their Rocket League trades. 26.8% of polled players spent over 50 hours trading, and 11% of players invested over 200.

[To serubi] What was your initial reaction to Psyonix adding trading to RL?

serubi: “My reaction? I got straight to work. Psyonix added trading on September 8th, 2016. Before the day’s end, I already pitched my idea of creating a trading site to vicegold and QuestFerret.”

“Two days later, I had a working prototype. And, on September 19th, it was deployed live for everyone to use. It wasn’t perfect or anything, but I’m quite proud of that one!”

serubi supplied a photo of his functional prototype he shared with the team. <3

“I remember when I first announced RL Garage trading. There was some skepticism floating around on my introductory Reddit post. There was already another trading site called Great Pass, so not everyone was sold on what RL Garage offered.” 

“Regardless, the system I built grew popular with the community. I listened to the feedback we received and made frequent updates to improve the platform, which helped with user adoption. That was hugely rewarding – to see thousands of people use a trading system I created.

“I feel like I’m praising my work too much here! I want to make it abundantly clear that vicegold, QuestFerret, Albino Peacock, ItsTobias, and the rest of the dev team were instrumental in making it the success it became. And, obviously, our moderator team who handled reports and scammers deserves a lot of credit.”

“If I remember correctly, the introduction of our trading platform also marked the first time that the ad revenue we generated was enough to cover our monthly server expenses. Before that, vicegold would pay out-of-pocket to run the servers.”

And what sparked your interest in Rocket League cosmetics?

serubi: “Back in the SARPBC days, we only had a handful of cars to pick from, with just a few decals each. That was it as far as customization goes.” 

“When I received Psyonix’s alpha invite back in 2014, the cosmetics immediately caught my attention. So much so that I took screenshots of some of the items! I don’t remember exactly where in the game I found these, but I do remember that they weren’t equippable.”

IYKYK

serubi: “Servers were constantly overloaded during the official game release. Psyonix made the game free for PlayStation Plus members, which led to an unexpected number of players. Unable to play online, I found myself inspecting the few items I’d acquired. One of them was the Money Rocket Boost. I was investigating it up-close in the replay editor when I noticed that the faces on the bills weren’t faces at all – they were the blowfish from Psyonix’s unreleased game, Crash Course. To me, it felt like Psyonix was giving us “SARPBC Veterans” some acknowledgment because we were the only ones who understood the reference. After that, I went on an Easter Egg hunt and discovered quite a few more.”

serubi's Wall of RL Cosmetic Lore: Crash Course Blowfish Easter Egg, Locomotive Bread Easter Egg, Pricing Alpha items, SARPBC loading screen discovery, Estadio Vida secrets.

“I’d say the alpha items I received for testing the game also played a role in my interest in cosmetics. These items weren’t tradable at first, so if you saw someone with them, you knew they were the real deal.”

“Psyonix even worked with us to add the RL Garage flag to the game. That was very special to me.”

The RLG flag took a centerpiece during vicegolds interview, too. In fact, he claimed it as his best RLG memory. They laugh it off, saying nobody but the RLG team dares to use an antenna in Rocket League, but imagine the hype youd feel if you wrote about RL Easter eggs and one day woke up to BECOME one!

Was the item database your idea, too? Did you have to shoulder the load alone at first? 

serubi: “The Item Database was actually vicegold’s idea.”

“The first version of the Item Database on RL Garage was very similar to vicegold’s RL original Stadium page. On that, you could view items from the beta and add the ones you owned to a list.” 

“However, in the summer of 2021, I completely rewrote the Item Database as part of my Bachelor’s project. I got an A! That’s the version you still see today.” 

How the heck did you keep up with the quick cosmetic rollout?

serubi: “In terms of updating the database with new items, that’s a role I took on from the beginning. In the early days, I would literally screenshot items from inside the game (I had to unlock them first). Then, I’d spend hours painstakingly photoshopping out overlapping text and color gradients.”

“This was manageable at first. Psyonix didn’t put out many items the first year. In 2016, as trading was introduced, Psyonix released new items more frequently. To lessen my workload, I figured out a way to extract the item thumbnails from computer memory. While this still required me to unlock the items, it meant the tedious photoshopping part was over. It also produced much better results.”

“I still had to rename every single file manually according to the item paint and upload them to the site with all the correct item attributes. It was still a lot of work (sometimes 10+ hours per update), and it became quite discouraging when other sites (I won’t name names) would scrape our item data as soon as I updated our Item Database. By the end of 2019, we had custom mods to more or less automate the entire item extraction and upload process – only requiring a manual review before going live.” 

Psyonix granted RL Garage exclusive API access. At one point, they offered to purchase the website outright from vicegold and his team. Although, they enjoyed what they did. They cherished their creation and wanted to continue feeding and nurturing her – no matter how hard things got.

Do you have any metrics to support the claim that the most active traders hold lower ranks or don't play the game? vicegold: "Only Psyonix and Epic Games would be able to prove that. But since we have 6 million registered accounts, we can see some fluctuation toward traders playing less than casual players who don't trade often, yes. Apart from trading, RL Garage also provides a rank tracker, which helps players track how they fare in ranked modes. With this data, we know if players actually play the game before, after, or while trading on our platform. Most of our top traders are ranked Platinum this season."

[To vicegold] When did the new trade-exclusive mobile app launch?

vicegold: “The current mobile app was released in 2019, after being built by our Co-Owner Donnie (AlbinoPeacock) in ~1.5 years. It included most of the trading, item database, and messaging functionality known from our website. He quickly iterated on it after release and it soon became the main way for many users to use RL Garage.”

“Today, around 70% of our users mainly use the mobile app.”

When did you hit your biggest strides?

vicegold: “The biggest change obviously happened when the game went free-to-play in 2020. I remember arriving in Greece 2 days before the update hit. Our user numbers skyrocketed overnight (8-10x higher than before).”

“We always struggled with our server infrastructure before. Nobody in our team had any Devops background, so I just winged it over the years (and learned a lot!) Somehow our servers kept up with the huge traffic influx.”

“The surge allowed 6 of us to work on RL Garage full-time. It was unprecedented. We did so for almost 2 years, which was the best time we ever had with the project.”

The timing aligned like a starlit sky for serubi. He’d just graduated college, raring to waltz into the job market, and his hobby project fell into his lap as a thrilling full-time gig.

“My personal highlight was the release of the Rocket League Car Designer we built together with Martin, GLH, and Bakkes from the BakkesMod team. I started working on the concept for this 2-3 years earlier, but the F2P launch allowed us to finally build it. Our users loved it. Their adoration made pouring thousands of hours of designing, coding, and fine-tuning worthwhile. It was also our first big non-trading-related feature after the launch of trading.”

I imagine vicegold won over the Bakkes team when his team devised a plugin for detecting RL Garage’s known scammers. (I can sense a portion of my readers facepalming themselves for not knowing Bakkes offered more than client-based car mods and wicked workshop maps.)

How The Epic Games Trade Removal Announcement Hit RLG

[To vicegold] How many people were you staffing at the time of the announcement to remove RL trading?

vicegold: “At the time of the announcement 3 people were working full time on RL Garage – serubi, Maksym (who joined the project around a year ago), and I. We also had two part-time support staff members – Derya and FightMe and many Discord staff members.”

Do you have any backup plans moving forward?

vicegold: “Personally, I’ve already started working on other jobs over the last months. I’m involved in 2 other web/mobile projects. I’ve also started woodworking furniture over the years, but that’s not a career path I see myself pursuing in the near future. Outside of us remaining 3, most of the other members of our team already switched to different full-time jobs at the beginning of 2022.”

More than anything, those involved in RL Garage seem grateful for the valuable experience they picked up along the way. I know that might come off as a cheesy anime trope, but when I gaze upon their latest design, I feel inclined to hire the boys to spruce up my mess of a site.

I can only imagine how their skin crawls as they’re stuck scrolling past the whimsical image dumps that I less-than-delicately crafted on freeware.

That experience extends well beyond Rocket League’s reach. The vast, intricate web lies at their fingertips.

CloudFuel says, "There's one thing I can always feel optimistic about as Fortnite's metaverse continues to grip Rocket League. It's the chance to view RLCS matches live, in VR, blood pumping within the stadium walls. We saw it first with the Fortnite concerts, so it'll always exist in my mind as walling within the realm of possibility."

Meanwhile, the experiences of CloudFuel pave a beautiful cobblestone path of inspiration for struggling content creators like myself. He believes pulling dream gigs is “anyone’s game” with dedication, an eye for opportunity, and unadulterated passion. He laughed as he often shrugged off his main job as his “side hustle” and cited getting laid off as his lucky break for going all-in on the RLC Pro League.

[To vicegold] Have you reached out to Psyonix to pitch an auction house style platform for their upcoming cosmetics “metaverse?”

“No. I’m sure they often considered this in the last 8 years, but decided not to include an auction house, otherwise, they would’ve integrated it way earlier in Rocket League’s lifecycle.”

“I also doubt an auction house would be in Epic Game’s financial interest. In their announcement to remove trading, they discussed cross-game ownership of items and how trading causes issues in that regard. An auction house would bring similar issues to 3rd party trading, just directly in-game.”

“I think one big issue with trading people often overlook is Psyonix’ and Epic Game’s direction of including licensed franchises and cars in their games. Whether it’s Marvel characters in Fortnite or licensed cars like the Porsche or the Golf in recent Rocket Passes. The painted versions of these cars are tradable. I can’t imagine the hurdles Psyonix had to overcome when they dealt with VW, Nissan, etc. to allow players to swap these licensed cars. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the last two Rocket Passes featured licensed cars from Volkswagen (they own Porsche too), as they might have closed two deals in one here.”

 “Cutting all tradeability from the equation might simplify and cheapen costs to their metaverse when closing future deals with licensed cars.”

I couldn’t scrape enough heart to tell him the woman responsible for securing those licensing deals, Allyson Szramek, bit the bullet during Epic’s mass September 2023 layoffs… Or that Epic used her final Nightmare Before Christmas bundle as a haphazard silencing method to ease the backlash on Rocket League trading removal a month after canning her.

Allyson Szramek was in charge of bringing licensing deals into Rocket League. Until being laid off Oct. 2023, she worked with Psyonix since 2017. She brought in the "Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Cars" bundles, Volkswagon and Porsche, among many others. She also ran their marketing campaigns and aligned these items with the RL brand.

How RLG Wants to Be Remembered

First off: I think they’ll survive. Twitch almost ripped RLG off the map once before, and they bounced back stronger than ever before. I’m sensing an upcoming return to RL Cinema.

In the end, I walked away from these interviews speechless. The further I dived, the more evidence I dredged up supporting the idea that Rocket League Stadium’s successor quietly became the most important community to form for Rocket League’s longevity.

The trading features on Rocket League Garage alone already sold me on this piece. But there’s a massive iceberg nestled beneath the waves. These guys:

  • Helped weave Psyonix’s partnership with Twitch 
  • Rallied up an infantile circuit of pro players 
  • Single-handedly drummed Esports community hype and involvement
  • Provided benchmark education for onboarding Rocketeers

Their stories ooze with everlasting greatness.

It’s funny. When I reached out to vicegold, he was swimming in an ocean of shouting reporters. He responded, “What publication?” And I stammered to tell him “Oh, uhh… my s****y blog.” And he apologized…

When PCGamer butchered his interview to publish their little clickbait-quickie and his site sat crumbling amidst Epic’s ruthless structure fire, he still offered me the time of day. I think vicegold saw a little of his early ragtag team in me… in all of us, really. He adores the RL fanboys, the developers, and the creators.

PCGamer headline: "Rocket League trading site founder will never 'build a product based on the decisions of another company' again after one decision from Epic puts him out of a job"

I can summarize the RLG boys’ depth of character in one fact: serubi made me gloss back over my piece and uncapitalize his name in all 20+ instances. They don’t consider themselves “proper nouns” to be remembered. When I asked all three of these guys questions about their achievements, they all scurried to thank the help of others instead.

I adore that about them. They’re all so genuine.

The fact that Neo-Psyonix ripped the carpet out from under RLG is sad. Sure. But everyone involved walked away with a glamorous success story. Achieves, Jamesbot, Gibbs, and Shogun found dream careers in casting RLCS. The quieter folk settled into production positions at Twitch. vicegold and his backstage coding crew evolved into full-time developers.

These boys don’t want our pity. Nor do they need it.

No. If I had my say, I’d build them an RLC reunion tournament. A safe space where they can gush about the glory days. A stern thank you from the Rocket League community where they can participate in an event similar to what they’ve provided – without having to lift a finger.

But even that might come off as too strong. If it weren’t for RLG, I’d never have gotten my grubby little hands on my treasured lime Infiniums way back when I started getting invested in Rocket League in 2017. If you’re still reading along, you probably remember your first pull from trading in their robust online marketplace, too.

I think vice wants us to remember that sweet dopamine rush we felt when pulling our first easy trade.

Rocket League would have collapsed without them.

Dave Hagewood, founder and CEO of Psyonix photo compilation from the development desk to his new Yacht.