Sy Ghini, the Commonwealth Esports Championship Team Canada player, reveals why she loves the game and the positive effect it has on her mental health
“It’s flying cars playing soccer,” Canadian Sy Ghini said, of the appeal of the esports’ Rocket League game. “There is no other game to describe it, there are no other games that have the same skill sets. It has its own unique expression.”
So what does this fan-favourite game involve?
“It’s a lot of hours where you will work on the small things, like hitting the ball, controlling the ball. Like soccer, you practise the individual mechanics and then, of course, it’s learning how to play in a team setting.”
This is key for the 22-year-old, who has racked up more than 8,000 hours perfecting the nuances of Rocket League, but believes that dexterity, reaction speeds, and critical thinking play second fiddle to the simple art of working with your teammates.
“Some players want to do everything by themselves, some heavily rely on their team, but others have perfect communication and can work with anybody and that is something that is overlooked,” she said.
“You can’t just assume, you have to understand how people are playing, if they are passing a lot, wanting to take things more slowly. You have to adapt and use what you know to overcome situations. You have to be able to beat your opponent and score, but you also have to be there for your teammate who messed up a pass.”
This is why Rocket League has been a central component of Ghini’s life for the past seven years. The fact it has now given her the opportunity to become an international athlete is one thing – and something she “smiled about for a week” – but Rocket League has had much more impact than that.
“I was going through a lot of things in college, I was part of the ice hockey team, I was taking five classes, I was a biology major. I was going through so much stress, and one thing that made me lean towards Rocket League was how for those minutes it had your full attention, it was just you and the ball,” Ghini said.
“When I was having a really rough time at school, I would go home and play the game for a couple of hours and fully reset. As I got better and better at the game, I started realising, this is ‘me time’, this is where I can be myself and have no one else to worry about. That is what pushed me to keep playing, it’s a place where I could escape and work on my mental health.”
Next stop is Birmingham, UK, for the Commonwealth Esports Championships and Ghini is so grateful her two teammates share her approach to Rocket League.
“It’s one thing to acknowledge making mistakes, because everyone makes mistakes, but it’s another to have your teammates fully support you while everyone works on it together. That’s something we have that is special,” Ghini said with a smile.
It makes the trio a powerful team and now they have the opportunity to win a Commonwealth medal for Canada, something none of them thought they would “ever do”.
“It definitely sparked something in all of us,” Ghini confirmed. “It’s not necessarily just a game anymore, it’s something that’s much bigger than ourselves. Us representing Team Canada. I am still in awe about it. It’s crazy.”
Success or not in Birmingham, Ghini, who was forced to drop out of college, is looking to the future with a firm sense of positivity. She is taking courses to become a paramedic – “part of another team,” as she pointed out – and all the while she has Rocket League to rely on.
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