After more than 18 months since the team’s formation, FC Barcelona decided to officially part ways with their Rocket League squad. The decision was not made by the players themselves, but rather by FC Barcelona’s main brand management.
Good, but not great run for FC Barcelona Rocket League squad
FC Barcelona Rocket League squad was formed in April 2019, when the Spanish football giant decided to expand their brand further into the esports scene, after having already formed a Pro Evolution Team in 2018. The inaugural Rocket League roster featured Adrián “ByMateos” Mateos, Dan “bluey.” Bluett, David “Deevo” Morrow, Yanis “Alpha54” Champenois and coach Robert “Roken” Kendall, all formerly of Savage! Rocket League team.
The pre-established synergy between the players allowed FC Barcelona to start making some serious noise early into their competitive endeavors. They needed only a month to lock in a silver medal at the Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) Season 7 – Europe, where they narrowly lost to Renault Vitality in the grand finals.
In months that followed, FC Barcelona added a few more significant achievements, most notably a fifth-eight place finish at the DreamHack Pro Circuit: Dallas 2019, ESL Masters España Season 5 – Finals title, a quarter-finals appearance at the RLCS Season 7 – Finals and a fifth-eighth place finish at the DreamHack Pro Circuit: Valencia 2019.
The first roster modifications happened at the end of July when Alpha54 decided to jump ship and joined Team SoloMid. More roster changes followed throughout the next week with the arrival of Aldin “Ronaky” Hodzic, as well as departures of a substitute player ByMateos and head coach Roken, who got replaced by Germán “El General” Micciullo.
A period of relative stability saw FC Barcelona secure an ESL Masters España Season 6 – League Play title, third-fourth place finish at the ESL Masters España Season 6 – Finals and a top-six at the RLCS Season 8 – Europe. Despite their success, the Spanish organization opted to make additional adjustments to their squad by signing Hrant “Flakes” Yakoub as a replacement for bluey, in January 2020.
Throughout 2020, FC Barcelona Rocket League team added a few more noteworthy achievements but struggled to keep up the pace with the elite European teams. They have secured a third-fourth place finish at the RLCS Season 9 – Europe, a couple of semi-finals appearances at RLCS Season X – Fall weekly tournaments and a bronze medal from Rocket Baguette: Summer Grand Prix.
Towards the end of their run, FC Barcelona signed two more players in Amine “itachi” Benayachi and Sebastian “Seeb” Ferrada. The duo helped their new team pocket a third-fourth place finish at the RLCS Season X – Fall: EU Regional Event 3 and made another playoff appearance in the RLCS Season X – Fall: EU Major, but failed to impress with a 1-3 quarter-finals loss to the eventual champions Team BDS.
While a consistently strong squad, FC Barcelona never managed to reach the summit of the European Rocket League esports scene. It remains to be seen, however, whether their lack of success led to the decision to pull the plug on FCB’s Rocket League project.
“Many people will be asking ‘why’ [did the team disband], this was a club decision, not Barça eSport’s,”
said head coach El General.
— Germán Micciullo (El General) (@RS_ElGeneral) October 26, 2020
“I want to reassure everyone that the esports section did everything they could to keep the team in the organization. As to the future, the boys will decide what to do between them. I will be heading back to Latin America and get my hands back in Rocket Street and TOing, doing what brought me into esports in the first place and what I love.”
The future of ex-Barcelona Rocket League team
Since Monday, October 26, Deevo, Ronaky, Itachi and Seeb are without a team, but will likely continue competing as a stack under the name Ex-Barça. As it stands now, no player has made his plans public, except for itachi, who went on Twitter to announce he is looking for a new esports organization to represent.
It is still uncertain whether the remaining three players will try and continue their esports careers together and look for an esports organization that would offer them all contracts. Nevertheless, Deevo, Ronaky and, Seeb have all established themselves as one of the best RL players from Europe so it’s safe to say they won’t need to wait for long before they get picked up.
FC Barcelona down to only one esports team
By disbanding their Rocket League squad, FC Barcelona are now left with only one more esports team in their Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) squad, which fields Saúl “The_Palma” Chávez, Claudio Henrique “Henrykinho” Mesquita and a two-time PES World champion Guilherme “Guifera” Fonseca Agostini.
It is still unclear whether FCB will look to expand into more esports titles in the future. There is, however, a chance FCB might look to follow the footsteps of other football giants and form their own FIFA esports team.
As of October 2020, there are more than a dozen high-profile football teams with their own FIFA esports squads, including Sporting Lisbona, VfL Wolfsburg, Inter Milan, Ajax, Levante, Lille, New York Red Bulls, Paris Saint Germain and FC Basel.