ESL and Oculus have announced the return of Echo Arena to VR League’s Season 2 lineup. With only a few days’ notice to the tournament debut on May 20, players scrambled to finalize teams and find time to practice together before competing in this season’s Swiss-style best of one format. Although competition has already begun, it’s not too late to join the action in this popular esports game from Ready at Dawn!
Much of the Echo Arena fun takes place in the newly expanded lobby, which includes more training options, a dedicated quarter-court arena where you can spawn your own personal practice disc, and the option for single player private matches. Once you press that button to find a match, however, you’ll go into a game where your team will try to keep possession of the disc and score goals by flying, boosting and punching your way through a virtual zero-gravity arena.
If you enjoy Echo Arena and think you’re ready for tournament-level competition, here are some tips to help you have a chance at a portion of VR League’s $220,000 Season 2 prize pool!
- Stretch and warm up. This is an essential component of the game. Tournaments can last up to four hours (longer for finals) and you will be physically challenging your body. Stretch your arms, shoulders, and neck muscles in particular. Warm up your calf muscles by jogging in place or playing a slower-paced VR game prior to tournament matches. Just as importantly, stay hydrated throughout the games and keep moving in between matches so your muscles stay warmed up.
- Master advanced skills. When you enter league competition, it’s essential that you use master more advanced skills in the game. You should be able to launch without bumping into the tube, boost and regrab successfully, dodge opponents, etc.
- Practice with your team. Echo Arena truly is a team esport. Create a private match to practice launching and other techniques, discuss strategy, determine primary positions, etc. The best teams develop a positive synergy that enables them to anticipate one another’s actions in the game.
- Arrange scrims with other teams. If you want to compete at the higher levels, you need to practice against other competitive teams. Most people who queue in public matches want to have fun and enjoy their experience, not be crushed to death in a mercy win by an ESL team. Talk with other teams and arrange private matches for scrimmages and your practices will be much more challenging and effective.
- Anticipate disc location. If a disc is bounced – purposefully or because it has gone astray – you don’t necessarily want to “chase” it. If you pay attention to the dynamics of the arena, you’ll begin to anticipate where the disc is headed so you can alter your course to catch it rather than simply chasing it and risking someone else getting there first.
- Boost and regrab. When possible, travel in pairs. At the very least, quickly come back together if you’re separated. Since boosting and regrabbing is the fastest way to get around in the arena, it can’t be emphasized enough. Of course, you can boost off an opponent, but you run the risk of them regrabbing you and getting there first. It’s much safer to coordinate constantly with your team for boosts. Spend time in a private arena practicing regrabs.
- Use the obstacles to your advantage. We’ve all miscalculated a grab at some point and smashed full speed into an obstacle. They can be useful, though, if you learn to bounce off, grab them and swing around or “hide” from opponents so you can then jump out and steal the disc.
- Communicate with your team. Whether you prefer your own terms or commonly used ones, it’s important to have terminology everyone on your team understands. If you’re open at the “podium,” for example, that’s an easy, quick call-out to any teammate with the disc for a “pass to podium.” Some teams also name specific plays or particular moves. The key is to communicate in such a way that your teammates understand immediately what you’re doing.
- Use your goalie. If your team chooses to have a goalie, use that person to direct the other two players to better defensive positions. When on offense, a good goalie needs to know when to come forward and play mid-field or full court. It’s also a good idea for goalies to spend time in a private arena practicing long shots from the tunnels and other areas where they might snag a sweet three-point shot when opponents are otherwise distracted.
- Assess the situation before throwing the disc. Don’t immediately chuck it downfield. Look around for opportunities to pass, juke (out-maneuver) an opponent, carry the disc for a distance, etc. Always be aware of what’s going on in the arena, where other players are, etc.
- Develop a passing game. Besides boosting and regrabbing, learning to pass successfully as a team is probably the most important skill you can learn. Teams that make the short distance, fast-paced passes can work the disc downfield with amazing efficiency.
- Switch up defensive strategies. Try different defensive strategies depending on the offensive style of the opposing team. If you have a team that takes the advice above, for example, and passes a lot, it might be more effective to go to a one-on-one defense rather than zone.
- Don’t become predictable. This can be easier said than done. Many players, myself included, prefer to play a certain way and it becomes a habit. Even when the best teams are doing the same thing repeatedly, however, their moves become ineffective as soon as someone figures out how to counter them. Be sure to change your gameplay sometimes so you’ll keep your opponents on their toes and hopefully keep moving that disc down the arena toward another goal.
The format for this season is such that even teams who begin after week one still have a chance to make it to finals. It’s not too late to create a team so find some players you enjoy playing with and join us for next week’s competition. If you truly don’t want to commit to a team, you can join the Echo Arena Discord and assign yourself the “VRCL Free Agent” role. Make friends with the regular players and let them know that you’d like to be considered as a sub for weeks when they need one.
Sign up today on ESL Play and add your team to the roster for this season of Echo Arena. Have fun and best wishes in your journey of esports competition!