Will Battle Royale generalize competitive gaming?

Let’s start by stating the obvious, the Battle Royale genre is, and has been for a year or so, the go-to trend everyone wants a piece of. Successful titles (do Fortnite and PUBG ring any bell?), viewership records, there is no shortage of superlatives or in-depth analyses to make sure you talk about the (current) golden boy of video games.
But let’s take a different approach, and see what can the Battle Royales really bring to the table, apart from entertainment and numbers in the millions, not that it would not be enough, but we are sure there is more to it!

Indeed, those games came with their own revolution for competitive gaming and esports, especially with the new formats they brought along. Grand scale battles were previously a prerogative of large-scale shooters such as Battlefield or Planetside, with large groups of players fighting in battles ranging from sixty-four to several hundred players at a time. If competitiveness was without a doubt present, there was not much room for structured competition. That changed when the Battle Royales started pitting a hundred players against one another, with all but a single goal to reach, be the last man standing (or prone, we are not judging!).

Top #1 from the first game of El Rubius’ Youtubers Tournament

The Free-For-all is no innovation, games like Quake or Unreal Tournament were very used to it, and had a vivid competitive scene, arguably kickstarting esports. But the real change that Battle Royales bring is one step above, not at the match structure (it’s just a matter of scale, even though it’s linked), but at the tournament level. Indeed, in the past, when you wanted to organize a 64-players tournament, you had to select a structure. Will it be Round-Robin followed by a Bracket? Or maybe just a huge Double-Elimination Bracket? What about Swiss Stages, Leagues and the mix of all of those? For a player, the huge deal was also that you could get eliminated pretty early on, leaving you with nothing but your eyes to cry and watch your defiler carrying on. As a spectator, some structures were, puzzling, to say the least, and to this day, some tournaments are organized with structures that require you to have a PhD. in esports to understand…
In a Battle Royale, if you want to organize a 64-players tournament, well, it’s easy enough, you just play N matches, cumulate points from those matches, and just like that, you have your tournament, ranking and winner! It’s easy for players, it’s perfect for viewers, as it’s almost 100% gameplay, with a few minutes needed between each match to start the next one.

All of this generates a great commitment because everyone gets to play all games (unless of course, they are quitters when they calculate they mathematically can’t win anymore), and viewers can cheer for their favorite player/team all competition long. Plus, the timeframe and simple structure make those kind of competitions available to all, and saying that, we are eyeing towards streamers who want to set up a fun tournament for their viewers for example…

Add the fact that at the community level, they will usually be solo tournaments, and you have a great recipe for success, as it’s easy to register, fast to set up and players remain involved.
For all of these reasons, it was important for us to provide our community with the right tools to organize such competitions in even better conditions, hence why we have been working hard to make sure the platform would be ready by the time the games allow everyone to organize their own tournament, and it’s close… real close!

Smash Bros, Black Ops IIII and other announcements!

This week has been rich in long-awaited announcements, and several of them have a very interesting competitive side to them. Let us take a look at what 2018 (and beyond) has in store for us based on those latest news!

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nintendo

The Nintendo Direct from the 8th of March was stacked with announcements for the 3DS and Switch consoles, including many games ported from other platforms. But three titles have retained our attention because of their competitiveness.

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First off, Splatoon 2, the original shooter IP from Nintendo will soon move to its 3.0 version, with a whole solo extension called “Octo Expansion” and a whole lot of content, from stages to clothing and weapons. Release date is set to some time this summer.

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Then, it’s time for a N64/GBC game to get a sequel on the latest consoles, with Mario Tennis Aces. 3DS and Wii U versions of the original games exist since 2013, but it’s a brand new game that has been announced, full with competitive features! Release date is on the 22nd of June, with a pre-launch free tournament already planned.

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Last, but not least, rumors had it in past weeks that a new Smash Bros game was in the pipes, but that went from rumor to official announcement with the conference. All we know is that the game should feature Link from Breath of the Wild and Splatoon character, and that the game is set to be released in 2018.

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activision

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After weeks of rumor, Activision finally announced the next Call of Duty title, which will be a sequel to the Black Ops franchise by Treyarch, soberly titled “IIII”. More information are bound to be shared this spring, and the release date is set on the 12th of October.

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ubisoft

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Another great name to have gotten its sequel announced this week was Ubisoft’s The Division. No real insight on what the game will offer for competitive players, but the devs say they have learned from past experience, and the great idea that was the Dark Zone might come back in a more polished form!

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epicgames

fortnite-mobile
And the final big announcement from past week is the Mobile version for Fortnite that has been teased by Epic Games. The mobile version will support full cross-play and cross-progression with existing platforms (except with XBox One apparently), and a first iOS beta will open on the 12th of March, followed by invites, and an Android version in the coming months.

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All those new games have their seat ready on Toornament already, and we can’t wait to see which ones will pack a punch and become great competitive titles!

Improve your Press Strategy with Toornament

In our efforts to empower our organizers, Partners or not, we would like to share with you a few tips about how you could improve your communication and press strategy.
Talking about your competitions to the specialized press is easy, but having them cover your tournaments and writing about it becomes infinitely more complicated. That is why we developped some tools to help you in that approach.
So if you are interested in having your competitions radiate and shine on the interwebs:

A look back on 2017

2017 has been a huge year for Toornament, which underwent its biggest transformation ever with the release of the V.2.
The first half of the year was entirely dedicated to bringing those sweet new features to you, while the rest was about keeping the flow of novelties and improvements coming your way. And now is the time to stop for a minute, and gaze upon what 2017 brought along!

Toornament V.2


The biggest evolution Toornament has ever known basically revamped the whole website, especially on the organizer’s side, with some major points:

The Match Lobby


Participants like to talk, would it be to exchange information about an upcoming match, or to gloat after a win. Whatever the reason, we released one of the features our users most requested: the Match Lobby.

Support V.2



Because having a great platform comes with providing great support, we created a true Knowledge Base and opened up new support channels to make sure everyone could get the answers they were looking for.

Participant Interface



To further improve the quality of life of our users, we merged the public tournament pages with the Participant Dashboard in a new Participant Interface. This was only possible thanks to the changes initiated with the V.2 release, that has proven being an invaluable improvement (because it opens up so many other possibilities you’ve only seen a glimpse of!).

Registration Multi-Selection



It is easier than ever to handle and manage your registrations, thanks to the Registration Multi-Selection, which allows you to select any number of registrations to act on them all at once!

Miscellaneous

Adding to these major changes, the year was full of lesser updates, full of optimizations and bug smashing, all aimed at making Toornament the best esports platform there is.
Among those, you may recall:

What’s in store for 2018?

For those of you who are not familiar with our Public Development Roadmap, let me tell you we plan on making 2018 even more incredible than 2017 was!
Next feature in line will be the Tournament Check-in, rolling out first thing next year!
2018 will also be the launch year for our Partner Program, aimed at rewarding our best organizers with business opportunities and premium stuff.

Oh, and by the way, i might have forgotten to mention that we are also working on a new tournament structure:

E3 2017: What’s new for Esports?

This year was the 23rd edition of the E3, also known as Electronics Entertainment Expo, in Los Angeles.
Many announcements have been made, but we are going to focus on what may be important for Esports world-wide.

So let’s see, in chronological order, what conferences have unveiled for Esports:

The first conference of this year’s Expo was Electronic Arts’. They fired announcements like a machine-gun, with some new titles and a lot of famous licenses sequels. Among those, the sports games had the place of honor, with Fifa 18, Madden 18 and NBA Live 18. The first one is already a well-established esports game, and NBA is going to become a huge actor in the landscape really soon, so who knows what the future has in store for Madden and other sports games?
They also announced some new content for Battlefield 1, with a new game mode, clearly competition-oriented, with smaller teams and lively maps. Story to be continued…

Microsoft hit hard this year, with a new console ready to hit the stores. The Xbox One X (or Project Scorpio) is about to become the most powerful console ever. What we know is that it features full retro-compatibility with previous consoles (games & accessories), and no doubt Microsoft will bet on it to be their new go-to platform for esports.
On games, two epic licenses with esports potential will see sequels this year: Forza 7 and Dragon Ball FighterZ.
The conference was also the occasion to bring up the updates to come for PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (that will be available on the Xbox One X), and a newcomer in the Arena-Survival genre: The Darwin Project.

If you need to remember only one thing from the Bethesda’s conference, it’s the resurgence of Quake esports. After having been one of the first ever esports titles, Quake is back with the recently released Quake Champions to reclaim its throne in the First Person Shooter category.
The competition will crown Quake World Champions, and $1,000,000 is up for grabs between Duel (1v1) and Sacrifice (4v4) game modes.

Just as usual, Devolver Digital went against the flow and offered a true WTF experience during their conference. Not much potential for Esports in their announcements, but a title which could feature a true competitive side: Serious Sam Bogus Detour, a top-down 2D shooter with (Team) Deathmatch and other PVP modes, available this summer.

Ok, this is no Esports, but i can’t not mention it… Beyond Good & Evil 2 is nigh!
Ubisoft also announced the next edition of Just Dance, which will probably see its World Cup start soon!
Skulls & Bones has been unveiled, featuring tactical naval battles, playable in solo or 5-players teams, and with a strong emphasis on competitiveness to become a legendary pirate!
They also decided to encroach on Cardgame’s territory, with a South Park game, very soberly titled Phone Destroyer, with cards from the South Park universe and a real-time multiplayer mode, so Wait’n See!

Sony made a point of honor giving space to Virtual Reality during the conference with many titles designed for VR, or existing titles becoming compatible with the PSVR.
On games’ side, the next Call of Duty opus, CoD WWII was displayed with a very dynamic trailer. The next Pro League will be played without jetpack or futuristic weapon, but with historic weapons and flamethrowers…
To be noted also, GT Sport, next opus of the legendary Gran Turismo series, with a beta soon available in Europe and UK!

On Nintendo’s side, a lot of big announcements for sequels to the legendary licenses of the brand. Mario, Kirby, Yoshi, Pikachu, Samus Aran or Link, no one was left behind.
But several titles are leaning towards Esports, with Splatoon 2, Arms and Poken Tournament, which see tournaments every day on their E3 stage!
Moreover, the release of Rocket League on the Switch, with a full cross-platform support, means that you should be able to compete in the next Championship Series from your Nintendo console!

Finally, outside of conferences was announced the Injustice 2 Pro Circuit, with ELEAGUE returning to fighting games after their Street Fighter V Invitational to host the $250.000 World Championship in October.
Supercell also revealed their new game with a Youtubers’ tournament: Brawl Stars (already available on iOS) , an arena shooter, definitely competitive, with 12 different brawlers, several game modes and maps.

The end of the year will definitely be exciting for all esports fans, and 2018 is bound to be even better!

Esports are getting more popular, and structures more complex

As esports keep growing and attracting new actors and public, a foreseeable tendency emerges: diversification of tournament formats and structures. With countless new games and loads of organizers entering the fray, it was to be expected that standard sport formats would not be sufficient to cover every single case. Anyway, some organizers are going to great lengths to ensure the competitive integrity of their competition, even if it means going through major hassle with the structure itself, or its features.

By covering all the major competitions, we have come across a wide array of structures and formats, and some of them were… puzzling, to say the least.

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Oh, but we know you, words are good, but you want facts!
How about the now-standard Activision-MLG structure used for Pro Call of Duty events? It’s quite simple on paper, an Open Bracket where teams can freely apply, then try to qualify through a 4-groups Double-Elimination format. The four teams winning each group will qualify and join the 12 invited teams in the Open Pool, which only purpose is to seed them. Indeed, best 2 teams from each of the 4 Pools will enter the final Championship Bracket in the Winners Bracket, while 4th team from each group starts the competition in the Round 1 of the Losers Bracket, where they’ll fight teams having finished 2nd from the Open Bracket groups. Winners of Round 1 advance to Round 2 where they’re to face 3rd ranks from the Pool Play, and from here on, it becomes a standard Double-Elimination bracket.
So simple, right?
There is no questioning the competitive integrity or logic of such a structure… But what a headache for a new viewer who would like to spend some quality CoD time watching it live!

Another great example of such format, centered more on competitiveness that simplicity, is the world seeding-based international events happening in League of Legends. The Mid-Season Invitational Play-In Stage.1 just finished, and here’s what the whole Play-In stage looks like:

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We explained the format and whole season in detail in a previous blog post

It’s basically about teams entering the tournament at different moments, with different structures, to reflect on their region’s past results in international events. It does make sense, but once again, the complexity of the format and its implications are deeply intertwined in the whole year’s competition, and one-time viewers probably won’t have the knowledge needed to understand the whole thing.

Which leads us to the Seasons, with their Leagues, Regional Splits, Mid-Season Brawls and other Major Events, Pro Circuits, Clashes, Promotion Matches and the likes of them… Easy to get lost in so many different competitions going at once, even if you’re only following a single game. Take League of Legends for example again, a standard year is composed of 2 Seasonal Splits & Playoffs, Promotion tournaments to promote/demote teams from the Professional League, a Mid-Season international event and the World Championship. Simple enough? Sure, but there are 13 different regions, each with its own ruleset and variations on this global format. And then, some teams qualify and they all mingle in the international events.

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Now, the vast majority of unique tournaments run with a well-known format, or a slight variation of it, with the Double-Elimination Bracket being more and more preeminent. But the increasing number of new and complex formats brings the question of whether esports will go large, or stay a niche hobby for people really into it. Sure, nothing prevents a casual viewer from enjoying a single match, or even a whole tournament, without understanding everything about it or its implications, but implication is precisely what drives (e)sports, when a connection appears and exists between fans and players/teams.
And with this, we have the 4 groups that need to be contended when organizing an esports event: organizer, teams, players, viewers. They all want a great tournament, but are not always looking for the same thing from it.

  • Organizer wants a format that runs smoothly and ensures competitive integrity.
  • Teams want their players to be able to perform at their best, but also a format that allow for their team to get ranked where they deserve.
  • Players want of course what their teams want, but also to have fun and have a shot at winning.
  • Viewers want the best viewing experience possible, and being able to cheer for their favorite team.

But there is no problem! Everything is compatible! Except no, not necessarily. For viewers to have a good experience, you have to have your matches played in a set timeframe, which will restrain how many matches you can play, meaning all teams won’t be able to play as much as they could, because you’ll have to eliminate some. So you go with a Seeding Group Stage, which doesn’t eliminate any team, but then, you take away the possibility for underdogs to create major upsets and rush a bracket with some state-of-the-art strategies and lucky strokes…

It’s all a complex balance, and to attain it, one must do sacrifices along the way, as no format will content everyone involved.
Hence, complex structures are becoming more and more common, and it might scare away newcomers. This was one of our driving factors when developing the upcoming Toornament new structure feature: allow for a complete freedom on the organizer’s side when it came to structures. This way, nothing would hinder an organizer from creating the competition he wants, to try and achieve that tough balance.

There is no denying, nor condoning or denouncing the fact that structures are becoming more complex, it is happening and we have to adapt. It may be prejudicial to some, but is a blessing to others, and while it requires more engagement to get into, it also shows how serious esports is becoming, with this constant search for the best, in all aspects.

The real Esports opportunity lies in their ecosystem

Here’s a great column by The Chernin Group’s Edward Chang on GameIndustry.biz :

eSports: The missed billion-dollar opportunity for publishers and platforms

Now, we don’t usually publish opinion piece on our blog but this it’s hard to pass on this one. You should read it.

tl;dr Esports belong to publishers and this can be a hurdle for third-party start-ups and platforms. If publishers want to thrive in Esports, they have to nurture a dedicated ecosystem.

Spoiler Chang nailed it.

The post goes through the relationship between the top Esports publishers and the Esports platforms. With a defensive / conservative approach to their game, publishers seem to slow things down and only think short term. Esports are about long term vision.

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Credit: Newzoo

Advanced statistics, tournament organization, bets, in-game items, replays, spectating experience and custom services are some of the many opportunities which could amplify the Esports reach and economy.

At Toornament, we’re blessed to be integrated with some of the major games and work hard to integrate with more, at a deeper level. We’re an Esports platform but we believe that the real platforms are the games themselves. They must be the source and epicenter of a rich ecosystem of integrated services and businesses, in which all parties will benefit from each other.

Video games are closed products, but Esports must be an open platform. If we keep this in mind, the industry will really thrive.

Read: eSports: The missed billion-dollar opportunity for publishers and platforms

2017 – The Esport Preview

2016 has been an incredible year for Esports, with wider recognition from governments, stronger commitment from video game publishers, stability improvement for teams and players and overall, more money.

In the wake of 2016, 2017 is poised to be another exciting year for Esports, but we feel it could be the Risky year -which makes it even more exciting. Here’s how and why :

Blizzard

overwatch-league

The largest Esports publisher is Blizzard indeed, with 4 full-fledged disciplines. But each one of them is facing a challenge of some sort:

  • Overwatch is highly popular, but its fast-paced nature makes it a pain to spectate. How do you make a 12 people fast-FPS with MOBA elements easy to watch? We hope they have the answers over at Blizzard, as the Overwatch League will start this year.
  • Starcraft II is still the undisputed king of RTS, but the genre is waning as MOBAs took over in the last few years. Blizzard has a great game, but need to offer something different to reinvigorate its scene.
  • Hearthstone is another huge hit in the Blizzard roster. The TCG is followed by hordes of devoted fans. But on the Esports’ side, many question the weight of Random Factors, creating insanely entertaining moments, while penalizing the best players. We’ll closely follow if the next expansion help tackle this hotly discussed topic.
  • Heroes of the Storm is struggling, simple as that. Despite its different approach of the MOBA genre, the Blizzard all-stars brawler never got the required traction to spawn a healthy scene. Let’s see if the new modes will kickstart the game for good.

Activision

Heavily relying on its star IP Call of Duty, Activision arrived late on the Esports scene but finally did so all guns blazing (no pun intended). Throwing heavy Esports effort with a rich league, Activision still has to cope with the lower sales CoD has been experiencing for years now. Can Esports save the largest video game saga in the world?

The avalanche of huge tournaments around the worlds like the 100K Paris Open @ ESWC Winter seems to think so.

Riot

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2016 was an interesting year for Riot. League Of Legends stays on the Esports throne by a long margin, but faces unprecedented critics from team owners and fans alike. From the LCS format to the shared revenue, Riot will have to address many complaints if they want to keep their game relevant, as it enters a maturity phase after years of mad growth.

Riot announced many changes for 2017, from the crowdfunded money prize, to broadcasting rights and shared revenues with the LCS teams. It will be interesting to see how these changes work out.

Electronic Arts

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One of the best upsets in Esports has been FIFA 17. While football games have always been heavy on sales while light on Esports, the FUT mode changed the deal. Allowing players to build a fantasy team from scratch, FUT brought the virtual side that makes Esports so attractive to a sport simulation, while empowering players with real coaching skills. We can’t wait to see if FIFA will really grow from there and reach the top tier Esports club.

Valve

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2016 has been great for Valve. The International broke even more records, Dota 2 v.7.00 feels like Dota 3 and CS:GO is still thriving. A bit too much, one might say. With a very open scene, the legendary FPS calendar became crowded with redundant competitions, chiping away the teams’ value. We know that Valve has been gradually building an official calendar for both Dota and CS:GO through its Major system. 2017 may be the year some major independent competitions disappear while a few lucky ones make it into Valve’s agenda…

The new kids in town

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2016 showed that it’s really hard to break into the Esports club. Few games have lively community and pro scene. Fans and pro-gamers alike can’t follow too many games. But Esports are damn too exciting to pass on and 2017 will welcome rookies trying to grind their way to the top.

Ubisoft’s “For Honor” is clearly labelled as an effort to build an Esports scene. Despite its unique pitch (Knights vs Samurai vs Vikings Team Deathmatches), For Honor will benefit from lessons learned on “Rainbow 6 : Siege”.

One of our favorite competitive game from 2016 will be officially out in 2017: Steam’s favorite “Battlerite” is a great, highly skilled Arena Brawler, the kind you can’t put down once you’ve tried it. We hope it will become the next Rocket League, an independent game with a huge and active community.

Last but not least, Clash Royale may confirm its impressive 2016 start. Supercell’s latest mobile hit has proven it is worthy of the Esports moniker, with great tournaments and a very active scene. Everything points toward the real Mobile Esports awakening in 2017. Wanna bet?

Support your local Esport association

From traditional media to traditional sports clubs, Esport is finally getting the recognition it deserves.

Last, but not least, governments are embracing the movement and build legal and economic frames to structures our booming industry.

Following the steps of South Korea, several countries have pledged to support their local scenes, opening talks with national federations and associations.

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France Esport and the French government

Quebec is one of the latest case: The Canadian province of Quebec now considers Esports as skill-based competitions. Until now, they were clasified as “publicity contests”. This victory for the FQSE (the local Esport federation) follows a similar one in France, were France eSports association helped the government separated Esport from luck-based games and is willing to authorize Esports matches on television – they are still considered adds for a video game.

All these progresses in Quebec, France, but also Spain, Great Britain, Russia, Finland or Malta were made possible because of Esport fans, volunteers and professionals pushing the boundaries. We at Toornament are also involved in numerous Esports initiative and we hope you’ll join the movement make yourself and your local Esport community heard by your officials!

 

Toornament is the free Esport Platform

Yep, Toornament is free. You’ll read this sentence a few time during this blog, but want to make it super clear: Toornament is free.

With our explosive growth these past few months a lot of new members, organizers and participants alike, asked the money question: do I have to pay to run a tournament? Are there features to unlock on you mobile app? How much does it cost to access the API? etc.

Our take is simple: Toornament aims to be the most powerful Esport platform. Toornament aims to remain free and open.

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We’re on a mission to elevate the Esport tournaments quality bar for Esports communities and the best way to achieve it is to make the best product possible and open it to everyone.

So yeah, you got the brief: Toornament is the powerful, open and free Esport platform.