The eyes of the gaming world were on the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles last night, where The Game Awards put on their annual show to a plethora of industry heavyweights. Amidst the glitz and the glamour were some standout moments: from a bizarre (but hilarious) expletive-ridden diss of the Oscars, to Melina Juergens’ heartfelt acceptance of the ‘Best Performance’ award for her first ever piece of acting work.
But let’s get down to brass tacks. All three esports awards were solely determined by fan ballot across Twitter DM, Facebook Messenger, The Game Awards’ website and Google Search Voting, and voting was closed a day before the event. With that said, here’s the big three winners to emerge from the event:
‘Best eSports Game’ – Overwatch
Overwatch walked away from the show with two awards, taking both ‘Best eSports Game’, for the second year running, and ‘Best Ongoing Game’ – a 90% jury-voted category.
Blizzard’s Overwatch success in the esports category comes practically at the birth of their competitive scene, as the Overwatch League kicked off its preseason just yesterday. With the season proper of their showpiece competition not officially opening until 2018, it has been no surprise to see a fair amount of backlash from the community regarding their success. However, it’s a fan-voted award, so the trophy ultimately reflects the passion of the Overwatch player base in supporting the title.
The award is sure to reassure investors into the OWL, with the extra dose of legitimacy and prestige helping promote the tournament in the public eye. It provides further good news for Overwatch teams, who will have been buoyed by the recent announcement that they can earn revenue through in-game sales of team jerseys.
Runners-up in the category were Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, and Rocket League.
‘Best eSports Team’ – Cloud9
Cloud9 raised $25 million (£18.9m) in their first round of venture capital financing earlier this year, and have capped off 2017 with an impressive display of popularity, taking home the ‘Best eSports Team’ award.
Cloud9 fields professional teams in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Super Smash Bros Melee, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Vainglory, Rocket League, PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS, and League of Legends, where they finished as runners-up in the NA LCS and progressed to the quarter finals of the World Championships.
Other finalists were FaZe Clan, Lunatic-Hai, SK Telecom T1, and Team Liquid.
‘Best eSports Player’ – Lee Sang-hyeok / Faker
Long has League of Legends been synonymous with its South Korean star Faker, a three-time world champion and indisputably the best player in the history of the MOBA. This year’s success, however, comes at a bittersweet time for the 21 year-old. His team SK Telecom T1 were dethroned at the Bird’s Nest stadium in China during the World Championship Final.
Faker himself still had a fantastic performance at the competition, and a strong year playing his fifth competitive season of the game. Fans will be hoping he can maintain his position at the pinnacle of the scene for years to come.
The runners-up for the year were Marcelo “coldzera” David (SK Gaming, Counter-Strike: GO) – winner at The Game Awards last year, Nikola “NiKo” Kovac (FaZe Clan, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive), Je-hong “ryujehong” Ryu (Seoul Dynasty, Overwatch), and Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi (Team Liquid, Dota 2).