In 2019, the Battle Royal scene split between three major players: Fortnite, PUBG, and the newcomer Apex Legends. While competing in the casual scene, all three also made their attempts to enter esports.
In this article, we will give a brief comparison to their esports environments and plans for 2020.
Fortnite leads by the number of players. The unique atmosphere of the cartoon graphics and a sandbox-like building system let the game attract a vast teenage fanbase. That also explains why Fortnite is usually leading in the viewing charts, such as Twitch’s top of the month. A lot of people felt in love with the game, while some players would never even run it. So, the game took its niche, and since it’s big enough, we are safe to say that Fortnite will be fine in the next few years.
Of course, a big audience also means exposure for the sponsors and partners, so it was a matter of time for Fornite to enter esports.
Fortnite Esports In 2019: the World Cup
Epic Games announced 100 million dollars to esports and arranged a few events during 2018 and 2019, such as Twitchcon Finals and ESL Katowice Royal. All of those were more of a promotion than a real esports competition because participating teams consisted of celebrities teamed with the top players. And then they did the Fortnite World Cup.
The best part of the World Cup was the venue for the finals. The stadium was packed, and dozens of screens were showing different players. The worst part was pretty much everything else.
The participants reported that the servers were laggy, as well as the stream, and ping was around 150 ms, even though it was LAN. Proper soundproof was missing. And the most ridiculous was not letting the players wear their teams’ uniforms, apart from a couple of the most famous clubs of a FaZe‘ caliber. Great move to convince the teams not to support Fortnite players ever again, Epic! Such nonsense never happened in the history of esports. Sometimes teams are not allowed to promote betting and cover those logos with a tape, but not allowing jerseys at all is the next level indeed.
Last not least, the solo and duo tournaments, 15 million dollars for each, consisted of only six games for a discipline. However, Battle Royal genre naturally has a lot of random, so a lot of games required to get a meaningful outcome. No wonder that unknown players ended up on top.
Funny thing: Esports Awards 2019 still called Bugha, the 16 years old World Cup champion, not just the esports rookie of the year, but also the player of the year. Have you ever heard his nickname before the World Cup? How many tournaments did he win — oh, just one random six maps Battle Royal? No offense at the player, but awarders could get a little real and not try to gain cheap hype that obviously.
Fortnite Esports In 2020
Nothing is announced or revealed so far. A lot of esports teams significantly cut their Fortnite rosters, which doesn’t wonder if they can’t exposure their partners at the tournaments. We hope that Epic Games will learn the lesson and come back with something better than that rather than making another nonsense for a vast chunk of money.
The game came out at the beginning of 2019 in a very unusual fashion. They didn’t teaser it before the actual release and paid to the two most popular streamers on Twitch — Ninja and Shroud — to tweet about it and stream it for one month.
Rumors say that Ninja received one million dollars for that, and we can guess that Shroud, who had twice fewer subs by that time, got two times less. But in return, EA got 25 million players tried the game during the 1st week and 50 million for the 1st month. So, even though 1,5 million sounds somewhat expensive, simple math gives us only 3 cents for a player who installed the game and tried it, which is ridiculously cheap.
After a very successful start, Apex lost ground, letting Fortnite back in the first place. Still, it sits comfortably in the runner-up spot, leaving PUBG behind in the Twitch charts.
Apex Legends Esports in 2019
Fans were eager for the esports announcements; however, EA and Respawn hesitated to make them. They spent 1,5 million dollars in prizes on two Twitchcons and two invitationals, and that’s a lot of money indeed. Still, those were standalone tournaments.
Simply put, Apex Legends didn’t have esports in 2019, but four promotional events.
Apex Legends Esports in 2020
To sheer excitement of all Apex fans, EA made a release just a few days ago that there will be an esports — not precisely the league, but rather, an environment. That is because they didn’t specify how many tournaments of each type will there be and when will they take place. Still, the idea is almost transparent (yet we don’t know the ranking details).
That looks very promising, but there are still questions to ask. First of all, it’s not even revealed if there will be solo or team competitions. Apex is leaning to the team play; however, instruments for that are not in the game. As such, there are no custom servers as per now, and while it shouldn’t be a problem on LAN, what about online events? There is still a possibility that the participants or the teams will be playing in the general matchmaking, but, honestly, that sucks.
The plan is to hold a system with the ‘premier’ and ‘major’ events, ending with a world championship. If they do a better job than Fortnite in 2019, it must be exciting to watch.
PLAYER UNKNOWN’s BATTLEGROUNDS
PUBG is pretty much the game to create the Battle Royale genre as we know it. A quick note: they still didn’t invent the Battle Royal idea because it was introduced in the Japanese novel of the same name and then the movie. It became trendy when the early access started but lost a portion of the players due to bugs and poor game optimization. Currently, it dwells behind both of its competitors in terms of watching hours on Twitch and players online. Still, the game does fine, and especially if you consider Light and Mobile versions too.
PUBG Esports In 2019
This year, PUBG introduced the system of the local leagues, with the winners advancing to the Global Championship 2019. Apart from that system, the Japanese leagues were held, offering 13 million dollars to the winners each. The Global Championship only offered 4 million.
The leagues had a very balanced system with tens of games in every stage. Thus, a factor of random affected minimally. You must also consider the fact that the map in PUBG is vast, and the teams don’t lose the players in the very beginning usually. The players can even afford to split in the beginning.
Pretty much, the only downside of the system was that the league leaned on the long local stages. In PEL, the teams had to live in Berlin for a few weeks and play almost every day. It was hard to afford, and barely any viewer could watch it all because that was just too many games.
PUBG Esports In 2020
In 2020, PUBG will have a new system: PUBG Global Series. The local tournaments will move online, so more esports organizations can afford to have rosters and take part in the league.
They didn’t specify how will the regional qualifiers look; however, they stated that the skillful challengers would have a chance to advance to the major events, which sounds promising. Three major events will take part in 2020, winners advancing to the global finals.
PUBG started in esports earlier than Fortnite and Apex Legends, so it doesn’t wonder that their system looks the most convincing. We would also say that PUBG streams are the easiest to watch because the game is slower, that are fewer teams, and observers acquired more skill as they had a lot more time to practice.
The obvious conclusion is that Fortnite esports is, unfortunately, far behind as a competition. We can guess that it was intended. Look at that from the other perspective: when the smoke went down, Fortnite had a lot of media posts about the biggest prize pool, they got the best esports player of the year, and they got the largest player base.
Still, we see a lot of opportunities to advertise at the tournaments with such a viewership, so maybe Epic will develop their esports scene, but we don’t know how exactly. And what for PUBG and Apex Legends, those two seem to have a good idea of how they can make it work.
Let’s hope they will.