Junior Ben “Vortex” Friedberg scored the first goal against Seton Hall during Game 1  Jan. 26. Credit: Justin Raiff

Representing the Buckeye Gaming Collective in “Rocket League,” OSU Scarlet begins its quest for $75,000 Sunday.

Ohio State defeated Seton Hall 3-1 in the popular soccer-inspired video game this past week to qualify for a spot in the Collegiate Rocket League, which features 24 teams competing for a five-digit prize pool.

OSU Scarlet, playing for the Buckeye Gaming Collective, will be competing against the University of Waterloo in a best-of-five match on Sunday. 

“They’re usually very on and off,” sophomore Luke “Shiro” Rickey said. “Mainly because of ‘gorocksgo,’ whose mentality and dedication is usually pretty bad, but they’re still a very solid team.”

Waterloo finished the fall season with an 8-7 match record, the same as OSU Scarlet. However, since matches are best of five, Waterloo’s slightly better 29-31 game record secured a higher seed than the Buckeyes.

Ohio State is the underdog as the No. 9 seed in the league’s eastern conference, while Waterloo sits at No. 8. Despite being ranked lower, sophomore Justin “Maseter” Raiff said he does not feel any extra pressure facing them.

“It’s a new season, and we’re a new team,” Raiff said. “So this match is just going to be just like any other.”

Raiff returns to the roster with junior Ben “Vortex” Friedberg while Rickey is joining from OSU Gray.  Raiff said the introduction of Rickey over Kevin “Slepy” Higgins is a new dynamic, and the team is still trying to learn how to play with each other. 

“I have high hopes,” Raiff said. “We haven’t really gotten a whole lot of time to mess with it yet, but the more we scrim and the more we play these matches, we’ll start to figure it out like last season.” 

Rickey said that once the team discovers a style of play that suits the players’ strengths, the trio may form a competitive team. 

Collegiate Rocket League is entering its fourth year, hosting matches in a best-of-five format, in which each game in the series takes five minutes.

Both the eastern and western conferences shrank from 16 teams to 12 during the offseason. Rickey said the shrink means the level of competition is much higher.

“East, in general, got a lot better,” Raiff said.

Raiff said players whom he is looking out for during the season will be Braxton “Allushin” Lagarec playing for the University of Ottawa and Santiago “Demonator” Prada, playing for the University of Central Florida. 

Both players are former professionals now playing in the collegiate ranks. 

Akron was one of three teams Rickey said OSU Scarlet will have to bring their best for if they expect to win. Rickey said he hopes to start the season in the win column to give the team momentum to carry into more difficult matches.

“The powerhouse, Akron, is a force to be reckoned with,” Raiff also said. “There’s something to be said about a team that goes undefeated.” 

OSU Scarlet begins its season at 8 p.m. Sunday against Waterloo online.