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Battle Royales fight to settle in eSports

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Unsurprisingly, the eSports market is huge. Counter-Strike, League of Legends, Dota 2 and other games have been around for a long time and are recognized worldwide as the main pillars of electronic sports. Interestingly, the Battle Royales, which have dominated the gaming industry for almost three years, lacked the same strength in eSports until 2019. The year was marked by Fortnite's first World Cup and the meteoric rise of Free Fire, showing that there is room for this genre in electronic sports.

Of course, Fortnite's competitive game had been around for a while, yet the game had some difficulty establishing more respected tournaments that didn't have entertainment as their primary proposition. Remember the infamous case of Infinity Blade in 2018, which completely changed Fortnite's goal on the eve of a competitive event. The Winter Royale had a total prize pool of $ 1 million, and was plagued by the extremely powerful weapon.
In 2019, Epic seemed to better understand the nuances of eSport: Fortnite won a competitive mode, Arena Mode, and a gigantic World Cup with well-defined calendars and awards. The championship was a success, distributing $ 30 million, beating Twitch's record of simultaneous spectators and putting champion Kyle “Bugha” in giant spotlight. Sure, there were problems with some cheating, but nothing that would tarnish the excellent promotion made by Epic Games.
Since then, Fortnite's competition has boiled down to the Champion Series, an online tournament announced shortly after the end of the World Cup. By 2020, it would come as no surprise if Epic had an even more robust calendar, blending in-person events with online tournaments.

Apex Legends experienced significant growth in the year 2019. (Image: APEX)

Fortnite is not alone in the battle for the Battle Royales' sporting relevance. Launched in early 2019, Apex Legends already has some championships around the world, with traditional eSports organizations recruiting their own squads. Taking a quick look at the Esports Charts data, however, it's easy to see that Respawn's game needs a bigger structure in its scenario: out of the ten most watched tournaments, 8 were promoted by Twitch.

The number of spectators is not the most encouraging either. The leading Twitch Rivals Apex Legends Challenge peaked at 569,000 simultaneous viewers, comparable to Fortnite's sixth largest audience. Going down the rankings, the situation gets even more complicated: second place peaked at just 200,000 spectators, falling behind twenty Fortnite tournaments.

What about PUBG?

One of the pioneers of Battle Royales, PUBG has fallen behind in the eSports world. The game promised a strong 2019, with a well-established schedule and very high prizes: the Global Championship distributed no less than $ 6 million dollars. Even with so much investment, the Global Championship had very low audiences, with simultaneous viewers peaking at just 197,000. In addition to being low by eSport standards, the number also dropped sharply from the 2018 Global Invitational tournament. At that time, there were over 700,000 simultaneous viewers at peak audience.

On the bright side, the Global Championship has increased its overall prize pool from $ 2 million to $ 6 million thanks to microtransactions and the community. The tournament took on a similar format to The International, with skins purchases being partly redirected to the prize pool.

Geng.G won the PUBG Global Championship. (Image: PUBG)

With that in mind, PUBG Corp. “It's been an amazing year for PUBG Esports, and seeing all this talent around the world competing for a fan-supported awards sums up everything we are trying to achieve,” said Jake Sin, the game's eSports director, in material sent to the press.

Whether squandering millions or winning over simplicity, Battle Royales still have plenty of room to grow in the eSports world. With Fortnite and Free Fire leading the way, Apex Legends, PUBG and other titles can find healthier formats to settle in this universe.

Brazilian, 23 years old, I follow eSports since 2010 with a good experience in Counter Strike Global Offensive, Fortnite, League of Legends and Valorant with articles and news published in the electronic sports scene.