Esports: Closing Edition
Read to the end for Godzilla: Tekken and a bonus train picture.
Greetings from Amtrack's California Zepher, and thank you for Ch-ch-choosing to read EsportsTj.com. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback about the newsletter, which makes me happy. I’m posting this mid-Utah, enroute to Colorado, so please excuse any train related typos. I’ve got to get this up before I lose service again!
Riot games is “Unlocking Wild Rift Esports for the west” by canceling every league west of Vietnam. This is a major blow for Riot’s mobile ambition ceding the space to Tencent's PUBG Mobile and Honor of Kings.
Disclosure: I was employed last year on Wild Rift's North American league and World Championships.
Perspective: I'm disappointed but not surprised. Riot poured money into the league which only broke three digit viewership for the finals. I'm proud of the work that me and my colleagues put in, but it never felt like we were building a product that was connected to it's target audience.
This has been a consistent stumbling block for mobile esports. The kids aren't on Reddit and they don't browse Twitch. The kinds of people that play Wild Rift are very hard to reach through the mechanisms that sustain the LCS. No one's really cracked the code on that, but I think Omega Strikers is doing some interesting stuff with their Discord first community outreach.
Related: Omega Strikers developers Odyssey Interactive announce a "Pause" in open beta. The ex-riot team have built a game I genuienly love, a sort of 3v3 airhockey moba, (disclosure: they paid me to commentate it last month) but the numbers aren't promising. As they outline in an astonishingly earnest dev blog, even players who enjoy Omega Strikers aren't sticking around long term. They’re pulling the game offline and majorly reconfiguring it prior to launch.
This is a crazy move, that I think speaks to the moment we're at in live-service gaming. All video games are just websites, and it's easy for Odyssey to take theirs offline and tweak it. If you’re curious: I spoke to one of the studio's four co-founders for the youtube channel Core Assist about the decision.
Closures continue with:
Another loss for games journalism as Tech website Protocol shuts down amidst layoffs at Vice Motherboard and the recent shutdown of Input Magazine. G4TV is closing down, as Fanbyte lays off everyone but it's guides writers, and Future (the parent company of Techradar, Android Central, Windows Central) announces editorial layoffs. Most of these sites were / are profitable. Journalism doesn't seem compatible with venture capital. Ironically, one of Input's best bits of reporting was on the failure of Venn. It's well worth a read if you've ever wondered what happened there.
Activision-Blizzard closes shop in China, at least with it's publishing partner Netease. The Overwatch League has multiple Chinese franchisee’s, so I don’t know what’s going to happen if they can’t find another publisher.
Ubisoft closes down their boycott of steam, following similar moves from Sony and Activision-Blizzard. This seems to indicate that no one has dethroned Steam or even reduced it's importance to PC games sales.
This comes as American courts(the original closers) close the case on Cooking Mama: Cookstar(infringement), Microsoft's Acquisition of Activision-Blizzard(monopoly capitalism) and Elisabeth Holmes(fraud). The last item proving that you can't get out of jail time by telling the judge that your dog was eaten by a mountain lion, which was worth trying because I did get out of a middle school science assignment that way.
Give me your email.
To avoid all this closing I spent my time this week watching trackmania players attempt a level designed to evoke Bennett Foddy's viral 2017 game Getting Over It.
I think a lot of people outside of Europe don't realize how important Trackmania is to French people. The game normally plays like an adult version of Super Monkey Ball, so this massive helltrack megastructure is it’s logical final form. At press time only one streamer has completed the level with the map maker’s $500+ prize pool resting on anyone beating Wvirtual's PB. You can join in on the fun by skimming the trackmania twitch directory.
Call of Duty's new Tarkov mode is "The Most Call of Duty" (Waypoint). I would argue that the new movement tech some users discovered which allows them to gallop around the level like Andy Serkis in Planet of the Apes is more Call of Duty. Either way Call of Duty pro Scump has had enough, announcing the end of a 12 year long career as one of the most recognizable faces in esports. 100T reacted to Scump's retirement by reactivating the nations Strategic Doublelift Reserve.
Other Career Moves
14 Turkish academy players were banned from League of Legends for matchfixing. The OWL's XZI moved to VAL. He'll have to live up to G2's Valorant team which just became world champions in the woman's division. This is funny because G2 were dropped from the Valorant Men's Division for disrespecting women. The team is great fun to watch, with impressive in game performances and stunning album drops.
Maybe it was the presence of Lauren "Pansey" Scott, who has always been one of my favorite commentators, but I think I enjoyed the recent Women’s World Finals (part of Riot’s Gamechangers program) more than any other Valorant Tournament in recent memory.
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That’s all from the train,
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