Back when Rocket League esports first became a thing there was one guy standing out among all the young pro-players: Michael “M1k3Rules” Costello. The 23-year-old from Ireland used to be one of the best players out there, loved by the community for his wicked sense of humour and his tendency to do something memorable, sometimes even controversial. His charisma radiates to this present day, which is why it’s no surprise that people get excited everytime his possible return to the professional Rocket League scene is brought up.
Now it seems like M1k3Rules, once a Grand Finalist at RLCS Season 1, wants to play his way back onto the big stage of Rocket League. He has a new team, is trying to qualify for RLRS and apparently wants to give it another shot. Rocketeers.gg reached out to Mike for an interview about his past, his future; about regrets and new-found motivation.
Mike, people who just recently started to follow the pro scene of Rocket League might be unfamiliar with your persona. You were one of the guys of the original Flipsid3 Tactics line-up and played your way all the way up to the Grand Finals of Season 1. After that you announced that you want to take break from the competitive scene. Looking back now: What were the reasons for you taking a break?
Back when I played with F3, I played Rocket League a lot (duh!). The way I went about grinding the game back then was all wrong, I basically had no social life. It was pretty much Rocket League all day every day. I was also fretting about some stuff related to my general health and well being. It was a horrible combo. I felt so run-down. I had to keep going though, because the very first LAN was right around the corner.
“There’s a certain twinge of regret”
So, when LAN did roll around, I had a little talk with Mark and Kux about how I wasn’t feeling up to the task of playing Rocket League full-time anymore. All 3 of us were at the top of our games, but I knew that deep down, if I only played even half as much, it’d really hurt their chances of winning a championship. So, I offered to just step away completely and let them get in somebody who was willing to grind more than me. That’s how gReazy came to be, and they went on to win the next season in Amsterdam. There’s a certain twinge of regret that it wasn’t me lifting the trophy with them, but that’s life. Things were the way they were for me, and it just wasn’t supposed to be. Not winning Season 1 LAN is a bigger regret. It would have been a very nice bookend.
A funny little thing that came from me quitting actually – on the first day of Season 1 LAN in Hollywood, Mark and I went for a walk with Kronovi outside the venue. We asked him to be my replacement on F3. He was totally into the idea of it, but wanted to wait until after LAN was over to hash out the details of how that would work, what with him probably having to move to Europe to make it happen. I think a team switch was the last thing on his mind when he smashed us in the final though, so nothing ever came of it in the end. A fun little “what if?” though.
Do you sometimes regret the decision you made back then, since Rocket League esports only became bigger and bigger and you were one of its initial star players?
I don’t regret the decision to leave. I regret that I never lifted the championship trophy. I feel like I was good enough to do it, and I should have won one. But I don’t regret doing what was right for me at the time. I feel I’m a well-adjusted person these days (puke riddled drunk streams aside). I grew up a lot between the time that I quit F3, and now. I put certain things in my life right that were wrong, and I strived to just be a better person in general.
There’s always gonna be problems but I’m better equipped to deal with whatever gets thrown at me now. It’d be nice if I was jetting off to LANs and all these events that the current crop of pros are going to of course, but I like the way things are these days. It’s cool that the scene has grown so much as well like you say, seeing guys I’ve known for almost a decade get these big sponsorship deals with companies like Renault is a bit surreal. Come to think of it, it’s probably for the best I’m not representing these massive companies to be honest.
“It’s probably for the best I’m not representing these massive companies”
For a couple of weeks there have been rumours about your possible return to the pro scene. Now you’ve actually put together a team with which you try to qualify for RLRS under the name Dilettantes. How were your first matches?
Our first matches as a team were a bit of a mixed bag. We’ve taken some scalps, but we’ve also had our fair share of dodgy results against opponents we probably should be beating. That happens to every team though, we’re still learning about each other’s playstyles, and all that kind of thing. Consistency will come with familiarity, I hope.
Your team mates are three players not many have heard of. How did you find Tahz, Zapphire2K and Kefla?
So, the main goal of this team is to just try anything and everything, anyone and everyone. That’s obviously gonna lead to unexpected rosters, which is gonna lead to a few raised eyebrows. I don’t mind that though, it might let us slip under the radar a little bit, which certainly suits Kefla in particular.
He’s a bit of a mysterious character, though isn’t he?! He doesn’t really like being talked about. He lets his play do the talking.
In your live stream you already mentioned that this team won’t necessarily be the team that you see yourself playing with going forward. Do you already have another team in mind? Is there something that you can share?
The team at the moment has 3 fantastic players, and me. I touched upon it already, but when I say it may not be the team I play with going forward, I mean the roster may change depending on how things go. So essentially, Dilettantes is “my team”, but the make up of it might, and probably will change over time.
That’s not to say I’m planning on chopping and changing everything as soon as we lose one game. I really hate that attitude. I try and foster a sort of family vibe with the guys I play with, and just get really comfortable with them. I think a good sense of camaraderie really helps. If one of the guys has to move on for one reason or another, I hope it’d only be under the best circumstances. Bad blood over a game is silly to me.
“Bad blood over a game is silly to me”
What was the main motivation to get back into the competitive scene and when did you first think about going pro again?
“Pro” as a definition is so vague in this community. What’s pro? Obviously the literal definition is someone who gets paid for doing it. Plenty of people don’t get paid and yet they call themselves pro. I don’t know what I am, maybe I’m just some chancer? Whatever you want to label it though, yeah, I just felt that urge to give it another go. Realising that the level of play at the very top still hasn’t evolved into anything I can’t handle was just the spark I needed I think.
Don’t get me wrong, some of the things those teams and players are doing are incredible, especially under such pressure at times. I’ve had that pressure though, and I feel like I can maybe still do it. You need the right team around you though. You need a good blend. Getting that right is very difficult. So something that really appeals to me, and something that really made me want to get something going again, is just having my own team.
Post-F3 I kinda just tried to qualify for RLCS with a few guys when that rolled around. I was never really on a team full time. The idea that we could maybe upset the apple cart a little bit with some surprising performances in tournaments is motivation enough, and if nothing else, it’s just nice to have a purpose when I’m playing again.
Lots of things have changed in the pro scene since you left after Season 1. What are the biggest adjustments you have to make to keep up with the competition?
Well, I think what I’m probably best known for these days is being “that guy who doesn’t half-flip! and he’s awful now!”. Yeah. That’s true. I still don’t. I mean, I can, it just doesn’t feel natural to me. The transition from Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars to Rocket League was already hard enough, but this current meta of abusing every single little tiny bit of the game’s mechanics, the flip reset double nose dive dip switch ceiling fake? I’m lost. It’s incredible to me. I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
“My old tricks are still pretty good”
My old tricks are still pretty good though, I get results against the best players through simple and effective stuff. That simple stuff gets less and less viable as the days go by though, so of course I’ve added a few bits and pieces to my game that weren’t there before. It’s not like I’ve stood still. I’m a much better player these days than I ever was. Sometimes I’ll do something in a match and I’ll surprise even myself. “Did I actually just do that?!” I’ll think. It’s usually an own-goal.
Whenever your name pops up on the Subreddit or on Twitter people genuinely seem excited to see you play again on a pro level. Did you expect that still so many people would care about you returning to the pro scene?
Is that what happens when my name pops up? Are we reading the same things?
No of course, it’s very flattering. I’ll get the same thing in my Twitter timeline every now and then – just someone asking me to go back to the pro scene. I booted up my PS4 for the first time in a few weeks recently and there was all sorts of people asking me if I’m ever gonna go back and play. I find it incredible that so many people actually do genuinely seem to care, very flattering as I say.
People just like the fact that I’m a bit of a wildcard maybe, I tend not to really do things by the book. They can really relate to that I think. It’s rubbed plenty of people the wrong way in the past, but you can’t please everyone. All I’ve ever tried to do with Rocket League and esports in general, is have fun with it.
I don’t say it enough at all, but I appreciate and love every single one of you who come out and watch and support my streams. Thank you so much. You guys are the reason why I keep going. I’ll try mix things up in the future some more like I did today. ✌
— Michael Costello (@M1k3Rules) 19. November 2017