Rocket League Solo Queue Journey 4: Standard vs Doubles

May 11 2022

Rocket League Solo Queue Journey 4: Standard vs Doubles
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Hello, everyone, and welcome to the final week of this Solo Queue series. I hope you have tagged along and learned something new as we all look to improve. 

For the first few weeks of the challenge, I exclusively played Standard, the 3v3 mode. For this final week, I wanted to try Doubles to take a different perspective on my play. And, oh boy, it shone a light on some weaknesses.

That was the whole point, though. The dynamic between Standard and Doubles is interesting when you take a deeper look. The way you take on challenges, the pattern of play, and the spacing available; all contribute to a very different feel. So, let’s first take a look at the spacing and challenges.

In Standard, you have that third teammate available to assist in creating pressure or recovering for defense. In Doubles, you have to be much more aware of your teammate’s position and adjust your own accordingly. This requires focus on your boost management, and one of the most important things I noted in my games, the timing of when you go for a challenge. 

Although I am a fairly high-ranked player in Standard, nearly every loss in Doubles was because of my own awful timing. I would go for an aggressive challenge that would leave my teammate stranded in a 2-v-1 if I did not execute the challenge properly. In three’s, I would usually have a second teammate to immediately follow up after I forced out the play. Doubles forces you to be careful about your challenges, so you do not abandon your teammate. However, you still have to attack the ball aggressively since, if you do not, the opponent is afforded so much more space. It can be a tricky balance, but time and practice are very helpful in this instance. You do not necessarily need top-tier mechanics. The more repetitions you have in those difficult circumstances, the more you will be able to tune your instinct for when to fake-challenge, when to shadow the ball, when to dive all-in, etc. 

Your positioning in two-v-two is also important because it is so connected to your ability to make an attempt at the ball. It is often ill-advised to go for a lot of aerial plays because a single misstep could leave you out of the play for too long as your opponent initiates a counterattack. Because of this, many plays will be on the ground with dribbles and fifty-fifties. You need to be able to follow up a fifty-fifty from your teammate quickly. This means, as already mentioned (and should be emphasized again!), you need to be aware of your boost management. As Doubles has so much free space on the field, a pinch or poor fifty-fifty can fly into dangerous areas without having a teammate already there to bail out the play. 

Those are some of the challenges facing you in Doubles, but there is also a fantastic upside—creativity! The extra space means you can take more time with the ball to practice new mechanics and flashy plays. I do not view myself as a fantastic mechanical player, but when there was so much space, it seemed fairly easy to go for more difficult plays. It did not always work out, but the point is to practice them, so they do work the next time. When you time your touches well, it feels very rewarding as there is one less defender to interrupt you. 

The next significant bad habit I fell into was how easily I resorted to boom-ball, or simply clearing the ball for the sake of clearing the ball. In Doubles, you have so much more time and space. Even if you are in a tricky spot, you should be able to develop the ball control necessary to work out of the corners or beat a player in your defensive half. That is the benefit of focusing on your close ball control in these instances. If anything, I would recommend keeping the ball too much when you are trying to learn. Instead of bailing on the play and just hitting the ball downfield to an opponent, invite the pressure. Test yourself to beat the challenger, get a flick, a dribble, a pass. Anything, even if sometimes it backfires when you mistime, and the opponent tackles you, leading to an easy goal. If you keep the ball too much at first, this will help teach you how far you can push the limits. 

Doubles are more punishing than Standard when you make a mistake (just do not put me in Solo Duel, please). You have so much more time to work with, but when you do not execute well, it can be punishing as your opponents take control. In Standard, it can sometimes feel simply like challenge after challenge since the extra players clog up the field. In Doubles, you have the chance to be precise and work on hitting the ball the way you intended. This ranges from setting up your bounce dribbles, power shots, and air dribbles. It all takes consistency to earn results. Remember that solo queue is your opportunity to improve. It does not have to be your sole focus to win. The results will come. 

Take this practice from Doubles back into Standard. Your increased focus on ball control, finishing, and challenges should only be more noticeable when you find yourself under the increased pressure of 3v3. A specific example is working in the corners, both offensively and defensively. In Doubles, I found I had so much more time to carry the ball out of the corner and set up a play rather than simply trying to beat one person who was pressuring me. This extra time allowed me to look for a pass, an air dribble, or slow down to set up a ground play. In Standard, I tend to simply hit the ball quickly to try to avoid being tackled. The ability to make a play from your own corner is a great way to start an odd-numbered counterattack. 

When I was attacking, it seemed less impactful to work into the corners. If I went into the corner, my teammates tended to be more passive rather than positioning aggressively for a pass to avoid being beat by a simple counterattack if the pass did not work out perfectly. Because of this, it might be more useful to try to play a more direct style in Doubles. Try to dribble straight at the goal with flicks or power shots off the backboard to set up your teammate. The lack of an extra defender means you can often exploit the space on the backboard to keep pressure on your opponents. 

The final note I want to make is just how important precision is in any game mode. As mentioned in Doubles, the ability to place your shots well or control your dribbles is incredibly important. When working out of defense, Ball control can bail you out of many dangerous situations. While flashy mechanics are great, one of the greatest differences between pros and regular players is just how consistently they put the ball right where they intended. It makes it so much easier for you to win when you can consistently put the ball off the backboard or quickly set up a dribble rather than wobbling around for a second or two as you collect yourself.

As you rank up, the ability to put the ball where you want will help give you confidence and develop your speed as you learn how to read the game better. Too many opportunities go to waste when the build-up was fantastic, but there was no clinical finish. No matter the game mode, your opportunities to score might be limited or harshly punished for throwing away an easy chance.

As you continue your climb, reflect on your own chances in-game. Sometimes you need to change the way you approach the play—like a slow play versus a hard hit downfield—but sometimes, it is simply because you did not hit the ball right. Experiment, try new things, and be creative with it! We are here to improve and have fun in the process. The important thing to remember about Rocket League is that no two situations are the same. My advice might be able to help, but it is only generally applicable. You might find yourself in scenarios I have never seen myself. Tune your instinct and your mechanics until you feel comfortable in new situations and can read the flow of the game, and you will see your confidence skyrocket.

Thanks so much for joining this series, and I hope you hit your ranked goals this season! If you want to follow your progress, make sure to download the G-Loot tracker to track your stats.

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Matt Gerrity
Matt Gerrity

Sports fanatic, card game connoisseur, and fan of the Oxford comma. Make sure to support your healers.