The year 2017 has so far been characterised by the arrival of three newcomers onto the gaming scene. Most notably, the games "GWENT: The Witcher Card Game" and "Playerunknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG)" came onto the scene seemingly out of nowhere, and are already ridiculously popular, while also boasting huge player numbers. The game "Overwatch", which began in 2016, has already drawn in more than 30 million players to its base. However, can these relatively new games also catch on as e-sports? And will they replace the scene's big players CS:GO, DOTA2, and LoL?
Playerunknown's Battlegrounds – the 2017 Steam hit
PUBG was able to shoot up the Steam charts in a remarkably short period of time, surging ahead of previously established games like Fallout 4 overnight. In August 2017, up to 875,000 gamers simultaneously played the game, which is actually still in its 'Early Access' phase. From the perspective of e-sports, PUBG is a very promising candidate! For one thing, it includes both a constant map and skill-based gameplay. At gamescom, the PUBG Invitational was the first test of this gaming hit's suitability for e-sports. Future events may prove this battle royale game to be a new e-sports hit.
GWENT - "The Witcher" bar game.
GWENT was originally a fun, miniature game included in the popular roleplay title The Witcher 3. Due to the hype it received, CD Projekt Red decided to publish the game as a standalone title. Soon after the closed-beta release, GWENT was already catching the attention of some pro-gamers. In particular, Hearthstone players became quick converts, discovering a new challenge in GWENT. The first large tournament was won by the former Hearthstone professional, Lifecoach. He was followed by other well-known figures, such as the Austrian GameKing, who in 2016 won the IeSF World Hearthstone Championship.
At gamescom 2017, CD Projekt RED announced the official "GWENT Masters" e-sports series. Over several seasons, players can also collect so-called Crown Points on the Pro Ladder. Furthermore, open tournaments (USD 25,000 prize money) and GWENT challenger tournaments (USD 100,000 prize money) will be held. The GWENT World Masters will see the best eight GWENT Masters players battle it out for the title of 'World Champion' and a USD 250,000 cash prize. In using this format, CD Projekt RED lays the foundations for the e-sports future of GWENT: The Witcher Card Game.
Overwatch - Blizzard's new draw card
Since its mid-2016 release, the multi-player first-person shooter Overwatch has taken its place as one of Blizzard Entertainment's most important games. With the Overwatch World Cup and the Overwatch League, the framework for professional e-sports has already been established. However, Blizzard has this year come under fire for its excessive team franchising fees. Pro team "Team Solo Mid" was one of many to make a provisional withdrawal. How Overwatch's e-sports future unfolds is solidly dependent on it's publisher, Blizzard. The Overwatch World Cup 2017 finale will take place at BlizzCon in Anaheim (USA) on the 3 - 4 November.
Threatening the 'Big Three'?
League of Legends, DOTA 2, and CS:GO are currently the giants of e-sports. Looking at the USD 20 million DOTA prize money, the 170,000 on-site spectators for the CS:GO Intel Extreme Masters finale, or the LoL Stream Viewer, it's clear that the 'Big Three' have nothing to worry about just yet. Excitingly, the question still remains as to which of the newcomers will be first to make the leap to the upper echelons of e-sports.