The West Virginia Rocket League team won 25 straight games and swept its way through the playoffs over the weekend to win the 2023 CCA Summer Series. (Photo: Michael Carvelli)
Debuting a new roster for the new school year, the Rocket League team gave WVU Esports its first tournament win of the season as it dominated the College Carball Association Summer Series this weekend.
A 4-0 series win over St. Edwards in the grand finals capped off a playoff run of four consecutive sweeps as the Mountaineers solidified themselves as a contender and a team to beat coming off last year’s trip to the Collegiate Rocket League World Championships.
“We’re just getting started and still have a lot of things to get better at and learn as a team,” WVU Esports Director Josh Steger said. “This summer national championship was our first statement to let the world know that this team isn’t just all talk.”
Back from last year’s group that made history as the first team in program history to qualify for a world championship event is junior Jarret “Angel” Birch, who emerged as one of the nation’s top players after scoring more than 100 goals across all competitions in the spring season.
The Summer Series served as some of the first action representing WVU for two of the newest members of the program — freshman Matt “Daunt” Ehresman and sophomore Ryan “Tool” Futral. The trio picked up wins against Virginia Tech, Algonquin and Indian River State College in group play of the Summer Series to qualify for the single-elimination playoffs.
After advancing due to a forfeit in the Round of 32, WVU had 4-0 victories over King University, Central Florida and fellow 2023 World Championships qualifier Northwood White before taking down St. Edwards for the championship. Last year’s Rocket League team also made it to the Summer Series finals but lost in the championship game.
“I feel like our teams in the past have always been good, but we were always missing that last thing to make us great,” Steger said. “With this team, as soon as we formed, I knew they had that chance to be great. Everyone has the same agenda and the players are getting along and there are great vibes. I just love how things have come together so quickly.”
Once students are back on campus for the start of the fall semester, they will begin competing in leagues like NACE Starleague, where WVU was a finalist last semester, and attempt to qualify for the CRL fall season while participating in other tournaments along the way.