Look, I enjoy Fortnite, Realm Royale, PUBG, so on and so forth, as much as the next guy. But let’s be real here. A game genre that’s centered around randomization should in no way be considered an esport.
I can hear all the jeers, boos, and calls for my head now, but let’s backtrack a bit here. Generally, every major esport has operated in a kind of controlled environment with multiple tangible methods of winning. I’ll even break down some major esports as simple as possible in terms of winning the game. League of Legends: Work with 4 other teammates and use the abilities that you have complete and total control over to push into the enemy team’s base. Overwatch: Shoot the enemy team with different weapons that have various functions and capture a point/push a payload. Hearthstone: Randomly draw cards, use them to your liking and bring your opponent’s health to zero.
Did you all notice something there? Each game has a pretty high level of actions that players can directly be in control of. “But you just said randomly when describing Hearthstone!” I hear you shout toward me. You still have the full choice of playing or holding the certain cards in your hand with little to no external influence aside from a spell card from your opponent that can block your next action.
Many of those esports require an unbelievable amount of planning and practice to execute the needed strategies to win a game. In battle royale games, you’re pretty much at the mercy of multiple RNG factors that you have no control of. You drop in an area of a large map and scramble to find a weapon as dumb as a frying pan or you can end up finding a SCAR rifle and be set for the rest of the match. After worrying about loot, you have to worry about where the play area will be set and how to get there. And if that wasn’t enough, weapon spread is a bit too wild in a proper firefight. The only game I’ve really seen with a fair weapon spread is Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Blackout mode. One of the only real things players can properly practice for is landing the first few bullets from an assault rifle, team communication, and maybe even positioning in a firefight.
Now I want you to imagine this. You’re watching Ninja in a major Fortnite tournament against other streamers and no names. He lands in Lazy Links with four other duo squads in the area. Ninja finds his first chest! Oh no, a single common 9mm, bandaids, and rocket launcher ammo. Out comes a no-name team with a SCAR, rocket launcher, and an M249 LMG. Picture having to watch that scenario multiple rounds as you watch some of your favorite players be in the hands of RNG. On top of that, the current spectating mode of battle royale games is almost laughable because of how unwatchable it is. There are so many teams out on the map that you can’t cover major fights. And just because that particular firefight doesn’t have any notable streamers or esports organizations fighting, it gets skipped just to watch TSM Myth walk for 15 minutes occasionally aiming at an enemy without firing. Overall, you’re watching a game of 100 people scrambling around with no real rhyme or reason. How is that in any way, shape or form a proper competitive game? Under those circumstances, the most random player can come from nowhere and be the next Ninja or Dr. DisRespect (which has happened a few times and I applaud those scenarios).
But I will give credit where credit is due. Obviously battle royale games are still a lot of fun for people despite the internet’s glaring disdain for the genre. And yes, the planning and preparation of controlled situations in games are done very well, albeit how little they come during a match. However, this is definitely one of the situations where I would rather play a game than watch a “professional” play it.
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