Fans watch the 2023 RLCS World Championship
Photo via Rocket League Esports

‘Esports winter’ slashes pro Rocket League budget, fans mourn loss of core talent

Another one bites the dust?

The Rocket League Championship Series is suffering the full force of the so-called “esports winter.” Popular talent and community figures revealed they have been axed from the broadcast team on Jan. 15, adding to fan dissatisfaction surrounding Psyonix’s contentious changes for the 2024 season. 

Recommended Videos

The most notable exclusions from the RLCS broadcast are Michael “Achieves” Williams, Joey “Jorby” Ahrens, Travis “Subie_Smash” Hale, and Sean “Spaceman” Rogers. Subie_SmAsH and Jorby have cast the RLCS since 2017, and Achieves has been a prominent Rocket League caster since before the RLCS even existed. 

RLCS Caster Subie_SmAsH in action at the 2023 RLCS World Championship
Rocket League legend Subie_SmAsH in action at the 2023 RLCS World Championship. Photo via Rocket League Esports

Their lack of invitation to return to RLCS broadcasts is clearly a devastating blow to all four casters. Jorby said in a post on X (formerly Twitter), “I don’t know how to process this, or what it means for me,” prompting fans even to suggest boycotting the RLCS altogether.

Psyonix has certainly created a stir with its pre-season announcements so far this year, including cuts to the prize pool, the reduction from three competitive splits to two, thinner distribution of prize money, total open qualification, and now the exclusion of fan-favorite casters. Epic Games also announced its partnership with BLAST on Jan. 4 in a “multi-year deal & collaboration” with the RLCS.

Community reactions indicate these sweeping changes are less than welcome, stirring concern for how the RLCS will survive the industry’s economic struggles without causing lasting damage. Even initially positive reactions to the BLAST collaboration have since been overshadowed by extreme worry over the future. 

Pro Rocket League player Evie “Slumpii” Leonard summarised the collective sentiment towards these decisions: “It honestly feels like the best parts of our esport just got stripped away.” For others, it feels like the game is entering a “dark age,” with “despair” replacing excitement ahead of the season start. Some question whether they will even watch the 2024 season.

Epic Games and Psyonix’s desperate struggle to slash costs in the RLCS are indicative of a much wider problem with the esports industry that has persisted through 2023. The “esports winter” has been marked by swathes of organizations withdrawing from competitive leagues, mass layoffs, and growing fan dissatisfaction. 2023 saw a mass exodus of teams leaving VALORANT Game Changers, the rapid decline of the Overwatch League, and even the downsizing of Riot’s LCS League of Legends region

Evidently, the winter is far from over. Whether the RLCS can retain its fan base is in doubt, and significant efforts are necessary if community trust is to be regained.

The RLCS returns on Jan. 27 with the RLCS Major 1 Open Qualifier.


Dot Esports is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more
related content
Read Article Rocket League fans think item rarity name changes are an own goal
Promotional artwork for Rocket League that shows cars fleeing an explosion.
Read Article Rocket League promo codes
Read Article Fortnite player claims Epic scammed them out of Rocket League credits
Fortnite Crew subscription poster
Related Content
Read Article Rocket League fans think item rarity name changes are an own goal
Promotional artwork for Rocket League that shows cars fleeing an explosion.
Read Article Rocket League promo codes
Read Article Fortnite player claims Epic scammed them out of Rocket League credits
Fortnite Crew subscription poster