Playing professional esports has given 17-year-old Ethan Klumpp an opportunity to travel the world; Kansas City has been one of the most livable cities he’s visited yet, he shared.
“My experience in Kansas City, it’s different from the other U.S. cities that I’ve been in,” said Klumpp, an Australian who plays for the Kansas City Pioneers Rocket League team. “It’s a lot more chill. It’s not as busy with people around you at all times. You can live here. I can see myself living here more than [a place like] Los Angeles.”
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Three of the four team members on the KC Pioneers Rocket League team hail from Australia. For the first time since they joined the team, the Aussies were flown to Kansas City for a bootcamp ahead of the Rocket League Championship Series Winter Major Thursday through Sunday in San Diego, California.
KC Pioneers’ Rocket League team is currently ranked in the Top 16 Rocket League teams across the globe, noted Sam Kulikov, a co-founder of the KC Pioneers.
“Our Rocket League team competes in the Australian Rocket League Division, also known as the Oceania Region,” Kulikov said. “By representing a team from the Oceania Region, we are able to bring resources to smaller, under-developed regions in the Rocket League ecosystem and build up great teams in their early stages.”
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The Rocket League players started as early as 15 years old, Kulikov continued, noting that they have qualified for every Major event, including the World Championship, thus far.
Kulikov and his team felt passionately about bringing their players to Kansas City before San Diego so they could practice at a world-class facility, as well as intimately connect with the culture of the organization, he said.
“We wanted them to experience the power of the Midwest and the pride that we have when it comes to supporting our own,” Kulikov shared. “We wanted them to see and feel what it’s like to know you have an entire city behind you.”
“This is definitely the best bootcamp we’ve had so far,” Klumpp said, noting it feels good to be in the home of the KC Pioneers. “… This facility is amazing. It’s been really fun.”
During the Rocket League team’s first trip to Kansas City, they visited iconic landmarks within the city and experienced such local favorites as a Kansas City Royals game at Kauffman Stadium over the baseball club’s opening weekend, pickleball at Chicken N Pickle, a shopping spree at MADE MOBB and lunch at Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que.
“The thing I’ve looked forward to the most is the barbeque,” Klumpp said. “The barbeque gets really hyped by these guys. They say it’s the best barbeque in America. We had brisket yesterday, and I am not a big barbeque person, but that was pretty amazing.”
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Kulikov encouraged the Kansas City community to tune into the Rocket League Championship Series Winter Major this week and cheer on the KC Pioneers.
“We feel really good heading into the RLCS Winter Major,” Kulikov said. “We have a pretty tough group of some of the best teams in the world, but we know we have what it takes to make it to Championship Sunday. The boys are confident, excited and fueled by the support of the Midwest. They’re ready to take this trophy home.”
“We’re feeling confident,” Klumpp echoed. “You always have to be confident going into it.”
The Championship will be streamed Thursday through Sunday on Twitch at Twitch.tv/RLEsports.
To be a Kansas City Pioneer means to be excited about your city and the work you are contributing to it, Klumpp shared.
“The passion is here in the city,” Klumpp said, “and it shows in the organization as well.”