PUBG: PGL Might Have Cracked the Code for Battle Royale Tournaments
PUBG: PGL Might Have Cracked the Code for Battle Royale Tournaments

This article is part of our PUBG series.

There’s no doubt that the battle royale genre has taken the world by storm. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was the talk of 2017, while Fortnite has turned into a cultural movement so far in 2018. Unexpectedly, esports was immediately brought into the conversation because in 2018, everything has to be an esport. While these games are no doubt fun to play, watching them in a competitive environment is a completely different story.

Fortnite hasn’t gotten into the world of esports (although it’s on the horizon with teams like FaZe Clan and Team SoloMid locking up rosters), whereas PUBG has had four major tournaments to date. While they have been admittedly more interesting to watch than I thought they’d be, it still feels like there is something missing. It’s not the fault of PUBG, though. The main problem I have here has to do with the battle royale genre itself.

When you watch any given match in the Overwatch League, it might be tough to keep up with all the action if you are unfamiliar with the game. But at least everything is unfolding in the same place. It’s rare to look at the screen and not see almost all 12 players at the same time. Now compare that to any battle royale game. 100 (well, 64 in the case of most tournaments) players are dropped on to a gigantic map as they scavenge for weapons and gear all while moving towards a central location to outrun a storm that will kill them. Only in the final few minutes of the matches (which usually hover around 25 minutes in length) do players end up all on the screen at the same time. The casters try their best to switch between perspectives to give viewers an idea of how the action is progressing, but it’s still hard to keep up with dozens of players at once.

Enter the PGL PUBG Spring Invitational that took place this past weekend.

PGL did something that we haven’t seen at any PUBG tournament to date. First, they positioned the casters around a virtual map so that they could point out strategies and really give a clear view of the action. I mean, look at this.

Not only did they give fans a view of the action from a war room of sorts, PGL added in another wrinkle that I think needs to be a staple at any battle royale tournament.

Yeah, those are individual feeds for every single team playing in the tournament. This allows you to either follow your favorite team or get a closer look at whatever team the casters mentioned or just bounce around looking at every team out of curiosity.

These two features will go a long to making battle royale tournaments more interesting to watch. In an age where esports is trying to move from just being a niche concept to a full blown powerhouse, anything that will allow anyone and everyone to turn on a tournament and pick up on the action is a huge positive.

Every PUBG (and Fortnite once it makes the esports leap) tournament organizer needs to take a page out of PGL’s book to help improving on this genre’s esports viability. The individual team streams weren’t perfect -- maybe adding in comms would be a cool idea -- but everything PGL did was a step in the right direction.

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