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Player Unknown: Battlegrounds is becoming an E-Sport

Fans of recent breakout hit Player Unknown: Battlegrounds (and judging from Steamdb at the time of writing there’re plenty of you, with 3 million+ players in the last two weeks) may be interested to hear that the Battle Royale-style shooter will soon be entering the proverbial ‘big leagues’; just a few days ago, the ESL announced that an invitational, competitive event for the game will be featured at next month’s Gamescom trade fair in Germany.

The tournament will be taking place from the 23rd-26th of August, and will feature a prize pool of up to $350’000 – not bad takings, albeit funded in part by the sale of vanity items to the public. Those items do deserve a mention however, since excess sales will see the profits donated to one of any number of charities. With the game only climbing in popularity, now seems as good a time as ever to capitalise on the enthusiasm surrounding it and the rising numbers of infamous players populating the servers – if the ESL and developers Bluehole Studio play their cards right here, they could be onto a winner.

I will be the first to admit I know little about Player Unknown: Battlegrounds, and less about the minutia of the E-sports community. Most of my knowledge of the game comes from the simple fact that spending any time in video game-related outlets on the web these days makes it impossible NOT to pick up some information on the state of the game through sheer osmosis – it’s becoming that prevalent. As an outside observer, however, what I can say is that the format of the game is an interesting one for a competitive event, and if it works well could end up possibly carving out a whole new niche in the world of E-sports.

When one thinks of competitive gaming, the first things that come to mind are likely fighting games, MOBAs, or first-person shooters (whether free-for-alls like some Counterstrike modes, or team-based in the case of Overwatch). Whatever genre, it’s rare to have more than 5-10 people playing at a single time. Player Unknown: Battlegrounds, of course, works on an entirely opposite principle; having 80-100 players in a single match is not merely a novelty, but the entire point of the game. With winners being decided over the course of three sets in a variety of modes, and the chance for alliances and rivalries to flare up in any of those games, it’s possible we could get some interesting stories indeed out of the upcoming tournament that would cement the game as an E-sports favourite. Online communities have been discussing for a while now if the title’s success could see a wave of Battlegrounds-style games eclipse MOBAs as the ‘new hotness’ – this writer, in particular, would be interested in seeing if another developer could fulfil the promise a game like this year’s For Honor initially showed.

Do you think Player Unknown: Battlegrounds has what it takes to succeed as an E-Sport? Will it come to define the next trend in game development, or is it really just a fad taking its time to pass?

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