Electronic Sports, more commonly known as “eSports,” have been around long enough that they can’t simply be dismissed as a fad. These competitive electronic sports are here to stay, and are a great subculture of gaming just like speedrunners. It’s not going to go the way of the dodo simply because the hundreds of millions of dollars it generates is just too much cash. eSports is huge, and it will continue to grow in the foreseeable future.
July was a particularly significant month for eSports. The biggest fighting game event of the year took place, and was even broadcasted on cable television to boot. Blizzard showed its commitment to updating Overwatch on consoles as often as PC, and new characters hit two of the biggest competitive games. The scene is rapidly growing and its increasing hard to keep up with, but this article will hopefully gamers catch up with it.
While eSports have traditionally taken place on PC, the PS4 is quickly growing home to having many of them (even if they aren’t always the version played at events). The major games (that are on PS4) include Street Fighter V, Overwatch, Rocket League, and Call of Duty. Other titles include the free-to-play Smite, sports titles (such as Madden and FIFA) and Mortal Kombat. From shooters to MOBAs, there is just as much eSport diversity on consoles as there is on PC now. It’s an exciting time and even more games (such as Gwent and Paragon) will look to hit this market.
As an aside, I have to mention that PlayStation LifeStyle’s Chandler Wood recently wrote an excellent feature on the Call of Duty eSports scene and the World League it takes place in. Check that out if you want to take a look at that scene as it’s a fascinating article.
Evo 2016 Ruled
The biggest eSports event in July was Evo 2016, the most prestigious fighting game event of the year. Nine different games were featured on the show officially, including Tekken 7, Mortal Kombat XL, Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR-, and Street Fighter V. All of those games are out on PS4 now (with the exception of Tekken 7, which is coming next year).
Top level Injustice player (and self described furry) Sonic Fox was able to win at Mortal Kombat XL. He defeated Tekken Master in the finals (who actually plays MK better than Tekken, go figure). The winner of Tekken 7 Fated Retribution was SAINT, whose Jack-7 defeated Knee’s Bryan and Akuma. Bandai Namco then announced that both of the finalists will qualify into The King of Iron Fist Tournament 2016, which is the publisher’s own fighting game event that will take place later this year. Finally, Guilty Gear ace Machabo reigned supreme as he defeated Omito in the finals using Sin Kiske.
The finale to the event was Street Fighter V, and it was a heck of a show. The finals (which you can watch here) came down to two members of Team Razer — Infiltration and Fuudo. It was an incredibly competitive match, but Infiltration was able to stay one step ahead while playing as Nash to defeat Fuudo’s R. Mika. It was really an incredible show, and luckily a ton of people got to see it thanks to it being broadcast on ESPN2.
Blizzard released several updates to Overwatch last month. The biggest addition was a new support character named Ana. The sniper, who is Pharah’s mother if you’re trying to keep up with the lore, can both heal allies and damage enemies with her Biotic Rifle. She’s quickly become a fan favorite (maybe even too much of one considering how often I see her used in matches) and is a good fit for the game.
The other big change came in the form of a patch that impacted several characters. While most of the buffs and nerfs were minor, D.Va got changed pretty drastically. Her Defense Matrix shield now has a much shorter cooldown, but now costs a resource in order to use. Other major changes include Zenyatta as his base shields have been increased, and Mercy whose Damage Boost skill is now more efficient but can’t be stacked upon.
Street Fighter V also received a lot of updates in July, and is starting to become the game it should’ve launched as. While there’s still no arcade mode or way to play against the CPU in versus, Capcom did add a cinematic story mode to the game. Called A Shadow Falls, it takes up 16 gigabytes of space. It’s nothing special, but fans will definitely appreciate getting to see all of the characters interact with each other.
An even more exciting addition occurred on July 26 when Juri was added to Street Fighter V’s roster. While she understandably plays a lot like she did in Super Street Fighter IV, Juri has added some new moves into her repertoire for SFV. This includes her V-Trigger which allows her to cancel her attacks into one another. This opens up some devastating combo opportunities for skilled players.
Finally, a potential new eSport competitor hit the market in Videoball. Released July 12, this minimalist sports game supports two teams up to six players. The overall goal is simple and comparable to soccer, as players just have to shoot a ball into a goal. There’s plenty of depth and different modes, though, and fans of competitive gaming should give it a look. Developer Action Button has made a really compelling multiplayer game.
Let me know in the comments if you would be interested in a monthly feature focusing on different aspects of eSports. This would include everything from tournament updates to explaining the jargon that easily confuses newcomers.