Is esports on the docket for Realm Royale?

Is esports on the docket for Realm Royale?

Three weeks ago, when Realm Royale was about to be released to the public, a small team of developers in HiRez offices in Alpharetta, GA, did not expect much. It was made entirely on the base of their other game — Paladins — on a tight schedule and there was no marketing budget for it either. All they had going for themselves was a game and some hope, that someone will like it enough to invite their friends over.

And they did.

There is a point where it is too soon to call a game a success. The first week of the release, for example, would fit that bill. But Realm Royale had a great first week. When the game peaked at 11,000 players on Steam in the first few days, the developers were going out of their minds — it was an overwhelming success. Little did they know, that before the first week would be over, their battle royale game would be getting more than 100,000 concurrent players.

But the popularity of the game doesn’t always translate to the popularity of its esports scene and it’s even truer when it comes to battle royale games. PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS has been breaking all kinds of records for over a year now, and although PUBG esports scene had grown tremendously in the past nine months, it’s still nowhere near where it should be compared to its player base.

The most obvious explanation as to why such a scenario occurred is the challenge of making the game, which can feature anywhere from 64 to 80 players at the same time, into an enjoyable experience for the viewers. There’s no denying that spectating PUBG matches became a much more fluid affair recently, thanks to relentless efforts of the competitive community, tournament organizers, and the developers. But the big question is, when will the rest of PUBG’s massive player base realize that watching the game on a professional level can be as enjoyable as playing the game itself?

The issue, however, might not be as simple as pouring cash into the scene. When Epic Games, developers of the chart-topping battle royale game Fortnite, announced they’ll be supporting their esports scene with $100 million in the upcoming year, many of the industry veterans had a flashback. The truth is if your game is not ready for esports, no amount of money will trick people into thinking that it is. Though many have tried.

It all comes down to how awesome of a spectator experience can you deliver and Realm Royale here, however, might find another bump on their road to make their game into a full-fledged esport. At its core, the game combines the fundamentals of a battle royale game together with the elements of the game on which it is built — Paladins, which is to say there are also abilities involved. As luck would have it, ability-based shooters like HiRez’s Paladins or Blizzard’s Overwatch have proved to be especially hard to spectate.

A large map, tens of players on the server, and several fights happening at the same time can be a daunting task for the production crew as it is. Now add to that a chaos of character abilities — players flying everywhere, shooting fireballs at each other, building walls, dashing, blinking, and whatever else they might do — all in a matter of a few seconds. That is what HiRez are looking at if they were to decide to bring esports to Realm Royale. Not only would they have to overcome the shortcomings of battle royale as a spectator sport, they would also have to improve the way team fights are displayed in a high-speed character-based shooter.

It’s an intimidating task to take on by yourself and yet it is one that I would love to see them try.

Alpharetta based HiRez Studios have built their success on esports. Their original success story, Smite, has deep roots in esports going back to year one. The 2015 Smite World Championship, with $2,612,259 on the line, became the tournament with the fourth largest prize pool in the world at the time. That’s a massive achievement for a game company that had absolutely no success in the esports scene before.

But all of that changed now. Smite adapted a circuit based league model, similar to that of Riot’s League of Legends. When HiRez released Paladins back in 2016, it did not take long for them to announce Paladins Premier League in partnership with WESA. Even when they published a not-so-successful Hand of the Gods, it was immediately followed by the announcement of the esports tournament for it.

The point is, HiRez know their esports. They have built not one, but two successful esports games and are now running several leagues to support the healthy competitive environment for those titles. The point is, if they wanted, they could bring Realm Royale to esports.

But the question is, can they bring esports to Realm Royale?

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Upcoming Battle Royale games announced at E3

Upcoming Battle Royale games announced at E3

With E3 now behind us, we take a closer look at all the upcoming games that will try to enter the thriving battle royale genre.

Even though there were several titles that pioneered the genre before PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS ever entered the picture, PUBG will forever go down in history as the game that made all of it possible. Just months after the release, PUBG became one of the most popular and actively played games in the world, breaking several records at the same time.

Although made to be played casually at its core, it was only a matter of time before the game would become one of the fastest growing esports titles in the world. It took less than a year since the inception of the competitive scene to the announcement of PUBG Global invitational 2018 — a $2 million tournament to take place in Berlin, Germany, in a month’s time.

In retrospect, it was obvious that a game as successful as PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS would shake up the industry and spawn a flock of followers, all looking to secure a piece of the pie for themselves. And we caught a glimpse of what to expect during this year’s E3.

The real question is, how much of a competition will there really be for PUBG and can any of them have a future in the quickly evolving world of esports?

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

When it comes to esports, Call of Duty is no stranger. It’s been a big part of the scene for many years. Maybe not so much on PC lately, as most of the competition moved to console, but Call of Duty remained an important part of the rapidly growing esports industry.

The announcement for Black Ops 4 itself was nothing short of shocking. There’s no traditional, single-player campaign in the game for the first time in franchise history. Instead, there will be a battle royale mode titled Blackout.

Very little was revealed about the new mode, but we won’t have to wait long to find out more, as the game is set to release on 12th of October, 2018. Whether the game will offer a strong enough competitive aspect to enter esports is still up in the air, but one thing is sure — with Activision’s extensive history in competitive gaming, Black Ops 4 just might take battle royale esports to the next level.

Fear the Wolves

Vostok Games, developers of highly successful post-apocalyptic online shooter Survarium, announced their own entrance to battle royale during E3. The game titled Fear the Wolves is set to release this Summer.

The former makers of popular game series Stalker will be bringing battle royale to that very same deadly world, as the arena for the encounter is set in Chernobyl, where the dangers go far beyond the other players on the server. Anyone familiar with the Stalker games will recognize many of the dangers waiting for the players, including, but not limited to radiation, mutated animals, and of course, The Zone.

While Vostok Games have no experience publishing an esports game, there is still hope for Fear the Wolves in the competitive scene. Survarium takes pride in being a skill-based shooter and the developers are likely to bring some of that edge to their newest title. Will that be enough to keep the competition going only time will tell.

Mavericks: Proving Grounds

Mavericks is probably the most ambitious battle royale game to date, with the game offering 1000-player matches. That’s right, 1000 people on the same server, at the same time, competing for a single chicken dinner. And the FPS are apparently better than a certain game has with 40 people alive.

Now let’s just put it out there –no game with 1000 concurrent players will ever be an esport, not anytime soon, anyway. But Automaton’s Proving Grounds are still worth talking about. What impressed us the most wasn’t even the technical achievement in supporting that many players at the same time, but the new mechanics introduced by the developers, like the ability to track player footsteps or a more strategical approach to the gameplay.

Overall, Mavericks looks more like an MMO title than a competitive game, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. The closed beta starts this summer.

Battlefield V

Although EA had never fully succeeded in pushing Battlefield as an esport (not for the lack of trying), DICE’s ability to make amazing shooters paired with the appeal of a battle royale game might just become a winning combination. The developers have been doing shooters on a massive scale for years, giving them a clear edge against the competition.

Although the team behind this project are keeping their cards close to their chest, it was made clear so far that the new Battlefield will combine core elements of a battle royale game together with fundamental franchize aspects — teamplay, tactics, all kinds of vehicles, and destruction on a massive scale.

Interestingly enough, Battlefield V is set to launch on 19th of October, 2018 — just one week after Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, keeping the long-lasting rivalry very much alive.

Rapture Rejects

Created by the makers of an overwhelmingly popular webcomic Cyanide & Happiness, Rapture Rejects offers probably the most unique take on the genre we’ve seen all week.

While it may not have the best graphics, the most polished gameplay, or the backing of an AAA publisher, it has something long forgotten in the market of online games — it has character. All of that dry, dark humor, as well as the iconic art style so familiar to the readers of the webcomic has somehow managed to find its way into the battle royale game.

While the developers described the game in the same terms one might define any battle royale game out there — 100 players scavenge for resources and fight one another until only one remains — it still manages to bring something new to the table. There’s the top-down viewing angle, for one. And you can dance, too.

Facing competition as competent as Battlefield and Call of Duty will be a tough order for the small development team, but with the unique playstyle and different take on the genre, Rapture Rejects just might have what it takes to grab a small piece of that sweet chicken pie for themselves.

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ToWzErA: “Nobody will have an edge in Leicester, it is completely up for grabs”

ToWzErA: “Nobody will have an edge in Leicester, it is completely up for grabs”

With just two weeks until the PGI European qualifier finals in Leicester, UK, we caught up with the captain of Team Singularity — Kjetil “ToWzErA” Hytten.

For Team Singularity the journey to the biggest PUBG event to date has been in no way easy. Out of more than 600 teams that participated in the European qualifier, they managed to make it all the way to the Final 20, knocking out more established teams like Team Vitality, ALTERNATE aTTaX, and Finstack on their way. But it’s not over yet.

The final part of the qualifier will begin 29th of June in Leicester, UK, where twenty of Europe’s best teams will battle it out for $100,000 in prize money and three spots to PUBG Global Invitational 2018 — the biggest event in game’s history with $2 million on the line.

And according to ToWzErA, anything can happen there.

Vie: So tell us, who is ToWzErA?

ToWzErA: My name is Kjetil Hytten, I am 24 years old and I come from a west coast city in Norway, called Haugesund. I am the team captain of Team Singularity. I am a guy that is really dedicated to what I do and I put in a lot of work to make what I use my time on the most successful possible. I am passionate about esports and sports in general.

Vie: How does your family feel about your career in esports? 

ToWzErA: My family has always been sort of conservative about gaming in general. We have had many discussions about the time I use in front of a PC. A tip for other people who want to compete professionally in esports is to keep a dialogue with your parents, try to make them understand. Update them on your results, let them take part [in it], as they would if you played football, for example. They have been more supportive as of late since it gets more mainstream attention in the media and such. They are for sure skeptical, but they are really interested in it, and they want to follow my journey.

Vie: As far as I know, Singularity is your first professional team, but you have played for several top teams before, like TINDERGULD. Shed some light on what your journey through competitive PUBG was like.

ToWzErA: My journey has been somewhat challenging and hard. It all started with me playing alone. I got my closest gaming friend, C4LVINKL3IN to join me, as I didn’t see potential in the solo feature of the game. At first, I thought that duos was going to be the most competitive mode, but I quickly realized that squads was where it’s at, which I am glad about today. Of the two of us, I think I was the only one who really saw the potential in the game as an esport. He had several breaks during our grinds, where he played other games instead. And I had one final talk with him and said that I really believed he can become nuts in this game and that he already was at that time. I am really glad he listened to me because as of today he is definitely one of the best fraggers in the game.

The next task for my duo partner and I was to find someone to play with, who we felt could be of equal level as us. We contacted multiple people, but MILLAWxD and Taylor were the obvious choice for us to continue playing with. We played some casual games with them and I think we scrimmed a bit as well, but not much. We managed to place one spot away from traveling to IEM Oakland. After that, we realized what a huge potential we actually had.

After that, a new chapter began for C4LVINKL3IN and I, as Taylor and MILLAWxD left us. We tried to find players that could fit us, and we ended up with two Germans, zPAlex and DoDoUncut. We quickly understood that this team was short term, as we were disagreeing about almost everything. We played the IEM Katowice qualifier with the team, and managed to get to the close qualifier and placed 10th. We talked together as a team and decided that we needed
a change, and replaced DoDoUncut with PHRZER. This made the team stronger from day one because he had more of what I was looking for as a team captain. Then as a leader, I took the lead and decided that I wanted the fourth player to be Norwegian as well. This was because TDove was on the market, and he would be a really strong addition to the already strong trio. I had to offer him the opportunity, and he took it.

The ride from when we picked up TDove and PHRZER has been nothing else but fun. We share a lot of opinions and we have some interesting discussions within the team, and I think we all learn from each other.

Vie: Was playing professionally something you knew you wanted to do when you first started playing PUBG? 

ToWzErA: The first thing that came to my mind when I started playing PUBG, was that I want to become the best in this game. I soon realized that I was a bit late to the party, as people already had 500+ hours in this game from alpha and such. I still have a competitive mindset, and I was thinking that this is the chance of being a pro in a game for the first time. I realized that it could be an esport when I realized how many people played it.

Vie: The growth in the past few months has been insane. It’s like six months ago everyone’s been playing for honor and now there’s a $2 million tournament on the way. How do you deal with that kind of change as a player? Can you really feel the pressure now?

ToWzErA: It is amazing to be a part of. Big money shows big potential and great future for the game. This is only the beginning and that’s what motivates me the most. We are at the top of the mountain, but we’re really only halfway there. We were all prepared for PUBG to show dominance in the prize pool and they lived up to it big time. I personally don’t feel any pressure at all. I know we are performing well versus all the best teams in the world, and that’s really all that counts. I am not letting anything affect my confidence going forward to the minor.

Vie: You guys played out of your minds in the PGI quals, but for most of you, it will be your first offline event. How are you preparing for that? 

ToWzErA: A lot of people might say we played out of our minds in the PGI Quals, but to be completely honest, we played as we should. We actually should have done a lot better, but we did mistakes that ruined some rounds, and we learned a lot in that qualifier that made us a stronger team. It will be our first offline event of this size, yes, but we all have some sort of LAN experience from CSGO and PUBG in less size. It will be the first offline event for the team, and we will prepare with a bootcamp. The bootcamp will make the chemistry better, and we will practice a lot, both day and night.

Vie: But do you feel teams with more LAN experience will have an edge over you in Leicester?

ToWzErA: Nobody will have an edge in Leicester. It is completely up for grabs. Some top teams are not scrimming nearly as much as we do, and we will use our practice to our advantage. As long as we come there mentally prepared to bring the trophy home, we will have a big chance of actually doing it.

Vie: PGI offline qualifiers are just a few weeks away. Which teams are you most concerned about? Who will you be looking out for?

ToWzErA: When you say that you make me so excited! This question makes me actually think a lot, because us having to play 20 teams doesn’t only come down to how skilled you are in 16 team games, but also how adaptive to changes you are. Some teams are less adaptive to this change, and that might give some surprises at this event. FaZe is the obvious contender, they are the team everyone strives to play as. When that is said, we also really need to look out for at least four other teams: PENTA Sports, Liquid, Knights, and Team Kinguin. I also really believe that Team Redzone can pull it off, but then they need Sellis to be on fire.

Vie: Expand a bit more about the 20 team matches. How differently do you have to approach the game as a team?

ToWzErA: Playing with 20 teams means that we have 16 more players on the server. Theoretically, that can mean that 16 more compounds get taken early game in the circle, depending on how many teams do the 1-1-1-1 split in the beginning. But we think we have found a good way of playing vs 19 other teams, so we are confident even though it’s not our normal game mode. If we manage to transfer our online rotations to LAN, we are going to do well, really well!

Vie: The Global Invitational is a giant leap forward for PUBG esports, but there’s been a lot of “doubts” in the community surrounding the qualifier process. Should the top teams be granted special treatment or should everyone be treated equally?

ToWzErA: To be honest, I am glad. It’s an eye-opener to all those teams that normally get invited to the events, just how hard we actually have had it in the past. I am all for a closed qualifier, but that has to be when we actually have an official rating of the teams in Europe, made by an objective third-party, like CS:GO has. Before that happens, I think it’s only fair that every team goes through the same path.

Vie: Another debatable issue is the separate TPP and FPP tournaments. What did you think after first seeing PGI will feature both?

ToWzErA: In my opinion, it’s the best scenario possible for this event. We meet on the halfway, and we really should be satisfied with it. FPP players are generally stronger in shooting games, so we are probably going to see an FPP team win both FPP and TPP tournament. I think it’s healthy for the scene because it brings the two parts together. It’s not healthy in the long run, so we really have to hope that the majority of the Asian scene adapts and can play FPP, which is really the way a shooter should be.

Vie: Performance issues and competitive aspect aside — what do you think of the latest changes to the game? The scopes, the grips, the shooting, and now the nades, how are you enjoying all of it?

ToWzErA: Nades — love it. It is what I always wanted, a more tactical approach to the game, with flashes actually being worth it, molotov to deny camping, and frag grenades now being balanced. I am all for the scopes and the grips, makes it more customizable, and preference based. The gun nerf and buffs I have really split opinions about. On one side i really like what they did, so that it’s actually a point of picking up UMP or a Vector, but on the other side, I feel like at least in competitive, AR should be the go-to for a victory. It also doesn’t feel satisfying killing people with a gun with basically no recoil.

Vie: It feels like there’s a new Battle Royale game around every corner — Battlefield, CoD, Realm Royale, etc. What do you think that means for the future of PUBG? 

ToWzErA: PUBG is the ultimate battle royale. I think for sure people will try out the other ones, but it will not take over. PUBG is here to stay, it’s not just a hype as people say. Games are going to challenge them all the time, but PUBG Corp are getting better and better at handling pressure.

Vie: Thank you for your time. Any shoutouts?

ToWzErA: Shoutout to Team Singularity for believing in us. Shoutout to everyone that has supported us so far on our journey!

 

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MILLAWxD: “PUBG Corp has to start making the right decisions and learn how to receive feedback”

MILLAWxD: “PUBG Corp has to start making the right decisions and learn how to receive feedback”

Turns out what’s actually important is not the size of the prize pool, but enjoying the game itself, according to Marcus “MILLAWxD” Vestlund, team captain of PUBG’s TINDERGULD.

When MILLAWxD first started competing in PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS, there was little but honor on the line. See MILLAWxD became one of the few unlucky bastards, who actually fell in love with a broken game and decided they wanted to compete in the title that, at its core, wasn’t suited for competition. Though that never stopped him.

Vestlund had soon risen to the top of what could hardly be called a “scene” at a time and started proving his worth. He made his way into PUBG’s first official tournament, Gamescom PUBG Invitational, as well as Dreamhack Summer 2017, which he had won. The only problem was, he had only ever played DUO games before and at some point, it became clear that SQUADS would become the competitive mode.

And so the story of TINDERGULD began.

 

Vie: So tell me, who is MILLAWxD?

MILLAWxD: My name is Marcus, I’m 22 years old and I’m IGL and the team captain of TINDERGULD in PUBG. I work as a powder painter and play PUBG for the most part.

Vie: As far as I’m aware TINDERGULD is your first serious competitive team. Shed some light on how you got here.

MILLAWxD: That’s right, TINDERGULD is my own and first team in PUBG really, ever. It actually began that my current teammate, Taylor, forced me to buy PUBG, and so I considered it and bought it. We mostly learned how to play duo and not squads. Only later we noticed that the professionals played mostly squads, so we started playing it and tried looking for good players [to play with us]. So we started playing with Towzera & Calvinklein, we took sixth place in IEM Oakland closed qualifier. Only after that event did we realize we were good and wanted to continue on this track. [Things happened] and now we are here with our current lineup — Taylor, Mrtn, Men0xx and I.

Vie: Battle Royale as an esport has been a hot debate topic for a while now, outsiders bash it, and even insiders seem to have their doubts. But all memes aside — what is your honest opinion on the subject? 

MILLAWxD: It’s very unclear right now. I really think it may work, but it is also up to PUBG Corp, they have to start making the right decisions and [learn to] receive feedback as they do. We have come quite a long way with competitive settings, so I try to be positive about it.

Vie: The growth in the past few months has been insane. It’s like six months ago everyone’s been playing for honor and now there’s a $2 million tournament looming on the horizon. How do you deal with that kind of change as a player? Can you really feel the pressure now?

MILLAWxD: A lot has happened in the past six months. It’s fun that there really are tournaments and leagues to play in. The prizes do not matter so much to me, but of course you become much more motivated and have more goals to aim for.

Vie: Speaking of goals — PGI qualifiers, you guys were 1 kill away from qualifying to the LAN. I can only imagine your disappointment. What do you say to your team after a result like that?

MILLAWxD: Of course we were very disappointed in ourselves both on a personal level and as a team. On the first day, we played far too bad and that cost us. Day 2, we played a lot better, unfortunately, it was not enough to make up for the bad results on day 1. But we have GLL, PUBG Online, Auzom & ESU. These are the leagues we qualified for or received an invitation. And, of course, we’re sad to miss PGI, but we have a lot to play for ahead of us, such as the $100k prize pool in the Global Loot League. All we can do is to continue training and try to qualify for the LAN Finals.

Vie: The Global Invitational is a giant leap forward for PUBG esports, but there’s been a lot of doubts in the community surrounding the qualifier process. How do you feel about the open qualifiers?

MILLAWxD: I think first and foremost teams should be recognized for their results, regardless of whether they have a large organization or not. So I think organizers should base the most on the results and the teams with the better results may get invited to the closed qualifier for example, while the others run open qualifier.

Vie: Let’s talk TPP and FPP. What did you think after first seeing PGI will feature both? Do you think it’s healthy for the scene?

MILLAWxD: In fact, it does not really matter to me, both FPP and TPP have their problems. I actually think it may be a welcome change!

Vie: Let’s talk TINDERGULD. You’ve been around for quite a while, had shown some great results, but still no sponsor. Give us an insight on what is going on behind the scenes — what kind of offers do you get, how often do you get approached, etc.

MILLAWxD: Yes, what’s the most difficult is actually that we came late into the whole “professional scene”, which makes it even harder for us to get a big organization. We have received some offers of course, but what we are looking for, for example, is the team that could actually support us, so we can get a salary, given our level. If we had qualified for PGI, I have no doubts we would certainly get a good organization, so those 5 points will haunt us for the rest of our lives.

Vie: Performance issues and competitive aspect aside — what do you think of the latest changes in the game? The scopes, the grips, the shooting, and now the nades, how are you enjoying all of it?

MILLAWxD: I really like the new updates, especially the grenades, I think it’s great fun to try and implement them in more different strategies, etc. In terms of performance, it differs very much from ordinary public games to competitive play, because in competitive play FPS drops much more than usual, given that there are more alive at smaller circles, so if the FPS could get better then I would be really happy with this game.

Vie: You are no stranger to playing offline. How different is it playing PUBG on LAN? 

MILLAWxD: Yes, I’ve actually played on PUBG’s LAN client before, both at Dreamhack Summer and Gamescom, and it’s amazing performance wise. Playing on LAN has more of everything, there’s more pressure on offline events, but at the same time more team spirit, so that’s a bit of both simply.

Vie: Before I let you go — who do you think will move on from the PGI European qualifier?

MILLAWxD: There are many very good teams [in the European qualifier], but there are a lot of good teams that didn’t make it either, for example, Team Liquid. I still think that FaZe Clan will take it as usual, but others like Team Kinguin played very well during the online qualification and the Pittsburgh Knights look very promising! But there are definitely many great teams.

[Editor’s note: Team Liquid have since been invited to PGI European qualifier due to Team VALHALLA being disqualified]

Team TINDERGULD are actively seeking for an organization and are asking for any interested parties to contact them at Tinderguld@hotmail.com.

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