Here’s our weelky Esports Digest with 3 stories: good news for fighting games, bad news for skin gamblers and potential good news for sports. But first of all, let’s enjoy NBA Legend Bill Walton enjoying Esports.
Fighting Esports, round 2
Last week was the Fighting Games fest, with EVO 2016. One of the largest Offline Tournament in the world welcoming thousands of competitors eager to duke it out on famous disciplines such as Street Fighter, Smash Bros, Mortal Kombat, Marvel vs Capcom, Guilty Gear or Tekken.
2016 is also a pivotal year for EVO, as the event moved away from its grassroots approach, hosting the numerous finals in an Arena and having the Street Fighter V Top 8 broadcasted on ESPN 2. Despite some caveits and usual issues, all went quite well, according to several reports.
This first step is a crucial one for the FGC, as the whole “Pro Esports” path taken by the other genres have been hotly discussed by the community, willing to remain a bit underground. The potential is here, the first tests are positive, now is the time for the FGC to jump the shark and embrace its Esports status.
Who would have bet (pun intended) that a whole part of the CS:GO ecosystem would crumble in a matter of days? The weapon skins gambling sites have been all over the place lately. Hugely popular within the community, they sponsored everything, from tournaments to streamers, raising some eyebrows about the classic addiction / fraud issues.
Things went south when several prominent streamers got caught red handed : gambling with money provided by the sponsor, getting favorable bet results or even own equity stakes in the services they promoted / were sponsored by. Doesn’t need a genius to understand that this little industry was shady and out of any control and regulation.
Comes Valve. The CS:GO publisher is infamously know for its unpredictable communication style, ranging from full hands-off to sudden decisions. The CS:GO gambling business learned it the hard way, as Valve sent several Cease and Desist letters and officially condemned the way these sites took advantage of their public API, all this after months without actions.
This will come as a hard lesson in Esports: whether you develop a healthy and legal business or shady one, everything you built and invested on will still remain in the Publisher’s hands.
Goliath likes David
We’re at the Eve of a major shift in Esports, a shift named Sport. For the past few weeks, more and more traditional sport franchises, players and leagues have made their first move into Esport. NBA club owners and players, European Soccer clubs and more recently the Spanish and French Soccer Leagues. And this week, 3 NFL Clubs will hire Madden players.
These moves are both exciting and disappointing. Exciting because the whole “Sports/Esport merger” dream is closer everyday. Disappointing because most of these organizations have huge resources but start very slow. Most of them just hired a FIFA/Madden player to represent the club in gaming tournaments. Make sense, but it still look like some glorified PR stunt. We hope that more ambitious Esport divisions will grow and look at Shalke 04’s ambitious Esports project as the current benchmark.