After alleged failed payments from Gamers First, Women’s Car Ball (WCB), a primary women’s Rocket League tournament series, is being highly criticized by players online. As of November 2023, key community members are calling for a completely new league.
February 2023 saw Gamers First, a Texas-based esports organization, take control of the WCB league from its predecessors, Kansas City Pioneers (KCP). This midseason takeover occurred due to KCP’s inability to pay out any prize money. However, missing payments have continued to plague the community.
On Nov. 11, the COO at Resolve Esports Jeff Simpkins published screenshots of apparent Discord conversations with the CEO of Gamers First, Kenny Vaccaro, on X (formerly known as Twitter). These screenshots were accompanied by scathing commentary on how the organization has driven players to boycotts and threats just to instigate conversation.
In the published screenshots, Vaccaro claims to have personally paid the money KCP could not give to competitors. He also highlights several difficulties with raising funds for the league, referencing an undisclosed future plan to help participating organizations monetize.
However, a professional women’s Rocket League player revealed that in reality competitors are “really fed up,” with the league staff having “no idea” about what the future of the league holds. A report from Esports Insider on Nov. 14 also reveals that staff members at Gamers First have not been paid themselves.
Payments for the Aug. 20 WCB Championship were promised after 30 days. This meant payments were due Sept. 19, but still had not been paid in November. According to Simpkins, “This ongoing over promising and under delivering from [Gamers First] isn’t fair and massively undermines the hard work that these women put into the season.”
As of Nov 14, neither Vaccaro nor Gamers First have publicly addressed the screenshots or clarified whether all payments have gone through.
Further damning Gamers First is the apparent prioritization of other projects over paying players and staff what they are owed. Oct. 27 saw Gamers First launch a new WCB merchandise store, with no clear indication that the money will help fund the women’s scene.
As the controversy unfolded, players started calling for a complete overhaul of women’s competitions in Rocket League. Several women, including professional WCB player for Endpoint, Evie “Slumpii,” Leonard have expressed that the only way women’s Rocket League tournaments can be revitalized is through Epic Games or Psyonix creating, supporting, or sponsoring their own league to create stability. These players hope this move will resemble Riot Games’ investment in VALORANT Game Changers and would create an entirely new league, separating from the WCB brand entirely.
Although no support from Rocket League developers or publishers has been announced, community faith in Gamers First to offer a successful women’s esports circuit has significantly reduced, putting the future of WCB and other women’s tournaments into question.
General manager for Detonate Esports and the only woman remaining on the WCB staff team, CatJeans, summarised that “The representation of the community WCB serves is no longer there,” and “Women’s Rocket League deserves better than this.”
The women’s Rocket League esports community is clearly anticipating change, for better or for worse.