As we approach the finale of the Rocket League Championship Series [RLCS] X this weekend, it's time to learn more about one of the key figures from the analyst desk: Randy "Gibbs" Gibbons. Gibbs has been a Rocket League mainstay dating back to Season 1. Since then, he's gone from competitor to analyst, breaking down all the action each week and providing invaluable knowledge about the sport.
Learn how he got into video games, what life was like for him before Rocket League, and the hardest and best parts about being an analyst for Rocket League Esports in the Community Spotlight Q&A.
LiefX and Gibbs on the set of RLCS
MP: When did you first get into video games?
Gibbs: When I was a kid. I wasn't huge into them early on. I had a Nintendo and all that, but I didn't get big into them until I was about 15 or 16. PlayStation 2 Online, the SOCOM days, is when I got huge into them. My friends and I would play Halo 1. There were four of us. Me and my best friend were too good to be on the same team, so we had to split up. But, when we got PlayStation Online with SOCOM, we realized we could be on the same team. That's when we realized we were really good. Like "world" good. That's when I started online game competitions.
Was there anything in between SOCOM and Rocket League?
I competed in some first-person console shooters at a semi-pro level. My friends and I would find tournaments in smaller games. We didn't want to grind and practice all the time in games like Call of Duty, Halo, or Gears of War. So, we would find smaller games like Prey. I was the best player in the world in that game at one point. There was also Haze for PlayStation 3, if you remember that one. We won $5,000 at a tournament for that game one time. It was things like that. We would find those games like, 'oh they're having a tournament for this game. Nobody is going to compete. Let's just go play it for fun.' Because we were just naturally good at those games.
You were aiming to be a 'big fish in a small pond' kind of thing?
Basically, yeah. We didn't want to practice, so we just wanted to play games that nobody was playing. [laughs]
Is that how you ended up competing in Rocket League too? Like, you just jumped on it before everyone else did?
I played Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars (SARPBC) first. I was one of the big guys in that scene. I would create tournaments for everyone. There weren't a lot of people playing that game. One of the tournaments was a 2v2 tournament, but people played on multiple teams because we didn't have enough players. I grouped with some of the devs just to fill spots. I had fun with that for a year and a half or so, and just waited for whatever came next. Then the Rocket League alpha came out and that's when I jumped on that.
You still had to put a ton of time into it to get that good that fast, right? How much time were you putting into it at that time?
I was never that good in my mind [laughs]. LIke in SARPBC, I was never very good, I was just a smart player. Like if you look at the leaderboards, I was way down the list. Then when Rocket League came out, I had fun, but I wouldn't say I was grinding. I wasn't putting in crazy hours because I had a full time job and all that stuff. I put in the time I could, and I got lucky to team with Kronovi and SadJunior who were insane players. I just really let them do their thing and rode their coattails for the first few months of the esport.
That's cool. You competed just under a year, right?
Right. The Rocket League Championship Series [RLCS] was coming around. I knew as soon as they announced it, when big money started coming in, that's when I was going to bow out. I knew my plateau. I knew that the other kids coming in were going to get better than me. So, my plan was to play in the first season and then get phased out. I was also expecting my first kid at the time. So, that was another big reason I stepped away. Kronovi and SadJunior were the first people who knew I was having a kid. They knew at the end of the first tournament that I was done.
Was it a difficult decision?
No, not at all. I wasn't planning on competing in esports anymore anyway. I did the shooter thing. I'm like, 'I'm good. I don't need to do esports anymore.' Then Rocket League came out and I fell into it. So, it was like a last hurrah. I didn't think anything would come of it. I was just having fun with it, and then it just fell into my lap and evolved into the RLCS talent job.
Did part of you think, 'alright I'm already at the top or close to it. If I just devote more time to it, I can hang with these young people coming up.'?
No, [laughs] not at all. I was the support role. Kronovi and SadJunior were better than me. I knew my place. You have to have three insanely good people in one team, like what was going on in Europe at the time. I knew that's what it was going to turn into. I knew my limitations. If I put in the hours and hours, then maybe. But it was too much of a risk, and I didn't really want to.
Do you miss competing?
You always miss the competition, right? Like the high-pressure matches and stuff. But, I don't miss it that much. I much prefer what I'm doing now. I don't miss the practice and the grind. Sure, I miss the best parts of it, but I wouldn't do it again at this point.
At the time you were in your late 20's. What was life like outside of Rocket League?
Just a full time office job basically. I was doing some YouTube on the side. Nobody was putting in any time to teach new players how to play. I was teaching positioning and low-level things like that. People were just trying to learn how to play the game in general. I wasn't trying to teach crazy aerials or anything like that, because I wasn't able to do those things. I think that's what helped me get an audience.
What was your office job like?
I was doing tax and accounting. Just boring stuff, really.
Did they know about you competing and then being an analyst?
They knew because I had to take some time off to cast. Then, two months later I got laid off because the company got bought a couple months prior to that. The entire office closed. It was pretty messed up because they knew my wife was having a baby, and I was going to get paternity leave, but they laid me off before that. I was actually pretty happy though, because each week I was working 9-5, Monday-Friday, then immediately flying to the west coast to do RLCS, then taking a redeye back on Sunday to work again. I did that for a month and a half, and I just needed it to end.
How did the transition happen from player to analyst?
That was just really lucky. I had the YouTube channel going. I would talk a lot about Rocket League, but all while working my office job. Then, GoldenBoy messages me, and told me I had an offer for RLCS asking if I wanted to cast. I didn't want to, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity. They wanted an ex-pro on the desk to talk Rocket League. At the time, we weren't sure if I would cast matches or work the desk. I didn't think I was well suited to cast matches. So, the full-time desk role just kind of happened because they didn't have anyone to fill that role. It all kind of worked out. I kind of lucked into it.
Gibbs with his children Ryan and Ryder
Did you have any on-camera or casting experience?
Nothing. I watched a lot of sports. I knew a lot of the nuances of different sports. I had that background, but that's not much. I kind of just went into it, like most of us early on, with no experience. They just kind of took a chance on us and it paid off. A lot of us from Season 1 are still here.
What's the hardest thing about being a Rocket League Analyst?
Alright, we're gonna get real here. I've had a major speech issue, a stutter/stammer, all my life. I used to get caught on words. Now, it's like my brain will tell me mid-sentence, 'you can't say a word that starts with an S.' So, in the middle of shows or just talking in general, I have to rearrange my sentences. My brain has to do way more work than it should probably have to do in order to talk. It's part mental and part physical. When I was a kid, I had a lot of ear problems. I wasn't able to talk early on and had a lot of speech issues. Like, trying to order food, or talking on a phone is incredibly difficult. I can't say certain things on the menu sometimes. There are months when it's fine, then I'll have a bad month and I can't get the words out. It hasn't been so bad for the RLCS. I've been able to get it under control. If I try to over enunciate or change my voice, it makes it easier.
I think sometimes it's noticeable, and then sometimes nobody will notice. For a long time, the other casters didn't know I had this issue. They've noticed more this past year because it's harder since I'm talking on the broadcast from home. So, I'm trying to battle that every show.
It's the main reason why I never thought I would have this job. Being involved with video games helped me out a ton. Like, being part of a team, calling things out, and just being a teammate. Video games, as a whole, have incredibly helped my life. It improved my speech.
When GoldenBoy first asked you to be the analyst on the desk, was this in the back of your mind?
Absolutely. When I was in college and I had a presentation, I'd get nervous and everything. When I get nervous, my speech gets worse. One time, in college, I was doing a presentation and got caught on something. There was a person that audibly laughed. I'll always remember that. That was always a concern, but in being an analyst, I knew where I was going. It was Rocket League. We're all family and watching this thing that's awesome. We're all just here to enjoy it. I never really get nervous going into Rocket League shows. Worst case, I have a flub. I know the fans won't care. We're here for Rocket League and we want to help one another.
What's the best thing about being an analyst?
The best thing is hanging out with the guys. They're my family at this point. When I get to work and we're hanging out between games just chatting about whatever. That's the time when I'm hanging out with my friends. I'm a dad with two kids. I don't have time to go hang out with friends. We just kind of chill and have a good time.
Do you have any great stories from behind the scenes that maybe the community doesn't know about?
I'll tell you my favorite moment from casting. My favorite moment, NJ Prudential Center, Season 7 World Championship. It was Turtle's first World Championship. We're walking backstage and he was nervous. We had to walk around the bowl to get where we needed to go. I told him to take a right and walk through the main stage. We came out, and people were starting to fill in. As soon as we started walking out, the people in those sections started going crazy. They started yelling our names. I stopped walking and I let Turtle walk out, and they started chanting his name. It was so awesome. That was his first experience with a crowd. I told him, 'Don't be nervous, everyone loves you. Let me show you.' And of course he killed it, and started full time after that.
What do you think Rocket League Esports will look like in five years?
It's already been five years [laughs]! And I was a pessimist from the beginning! Everyone said it was going to blow up. I said, 'guys, don't get too excited.' I thought there was no way. It's cars with a ball! Nobody played SARPBC when it came out eight years ago! But at this point, the sky's the limit. I hope we can do more stuff on TV. I think Rocket League is the game that can appeal to casual fans. It's so easy to follow. I hope it gets to a broader audience, and I think it will as it continues to grow. I hope it becomes more global and we can get everyone involved.
Watch Gibbs along with the rest of the RLCS talent all weekend long at the RLCS X Championship. Tune in now through 6/20 live on Twitch, and see who will be crowned champions of the season!