New – and not so new – games that could become a force in eSport
This time last year, there were many media commentators saying that 2018 was going to be a big year for eSport, and for once, the facts lived up to the hype. It was not just a case of coverage continuing to grow and even more big-name sponsors adding millions to prize funds, though. The very games started to evolve.
The rise of Overwatch and Fortnite, have shown just what a dynamic environment this is. Of course people are still playing, watching and betting on DOTA 2, League of Legends and CS:GO. But it would be unreasonable to assume that they will remain at the top forever. So what other games will join the fray at the top of the eSport charts over the next 12 months or so to upset the established order?
PUBG is a game that is familiar to all of us, as is the rags to riches story of its creator, Brendan Greene. Yet for all that, the game has spent the past year languishing in the shadow of Fortnite. But while Fortnite has the headlines and the $100 million prize pot, technical and formatting glitches have meant that its eSport offering has left many cold. PUBG, on the other hand, has been working hard behind the scenes, partnering with broadcasters and organizers to set up a pro-league network across multiple regions. This is an ecosystem that will see steady and sustainable growth, in what could be a classic “hare and tortoise” scenario.
Super Smash Bros
A core tenet of eSport is that it should be accessible to all, something that is in danger of being lost in this age of multi-million dollar pro tournaments and global TV coverage. Super Smash comes as a breath of fresh air in this respect. The new Ultimate version of the game that came out late last year lends itself far better to eSport, and both Wendy’s and Coca Cola have injected cash into local tournaments. This has caused a groundswell at grass roots level, with events taking place practically every week.
Magic – The Gathering Arena
Super Smash Bros is a game that has been with us for some years but has only recently been reinvented for the eSports age. Magic takes this philosophy even further, having been around for almost a quarter of a century as a tabletop game. The beauty here is that it already has a strong and highly dedicated community of players, and the launch of its eSport variant last September has attracted immense attention on Twitch.
No evaluation of up and coming eSports is complete without a look at mobile gaming. Those who say the format will render console and PC gaming obsolete might be stretching a point, but mobile eSports is certainly growing in significance. Clash Royale is leading the field here, and is one of the few eSports that is mobile-only. It can no longer be seen as a niche component of the market, and is rapidly becoming a serious eSport force in its own right.