Esports Central – The elusive crossover esport

1 June 2016

The world’s most popular esports boast millions of players and extremely healthy viewerships for their biggest tournaments. I’m of course talking about MOBAs and namely League of Legends and Dota 2. These games are amongst the most popular with viewers, mostly owing to the sheer scale of their gargantuan playerbases.

The fatal flaw

As long as these games maintain their enormous player numbers, their respective futures as major esports titles are assured. I don’t see that changing any time soon and for good reason. Both have robust and proven approaches to their individual tournament circuits. Long may the MOBA continue!

So what’s this fatal flaw you mentioned? MOBAs are extremely complex. They require in-depth knowledge and gameplay experience to truly grasp as a viewer. That’s the only way to understand how the myriad different item builds, heroes, and strategies will interact on the server. This isn’t a problem for the millions of players that have sunk hundreds of hours into these games. It is, however, a rather big problem for new viewers.

Taking it to the masses

For a new viewer that doesn’t play the game, a MOBA is nigh on impossible to understand. It’s just colours, particle effects, and incomprehensible jargon. Maybe if you’re lucky and have a well-informed friend close by, you could begin to apprehend some of the mechanics and the basic concepts. It would still take someone with more dedication and persistence than the average channel flipper to keep at it long enough to be entertained. Games like Overwatch, that retain some MOBA elements within a team-based FPS framework, are easier for newcomers. These still present some difficulties to spectate. These are limiting factors to the widespread broadcast of a game like Dota 2 on television or a non-gaming streaming platform.

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