New Year’s resolutions: Esports in 2019

2018 has undoubtedly been a mammoth one for esports. We’ve seen investment galore, marquee sponsorships and of course a wealth of incredible competition across a multitude of titles. There’s still plenty we can improve on for next year though. I’ve picked some of my biggest gripes with the industry this year, and outlined what I would love to see change moving forward. 

Volvo please

Valve are that company that I still continue to be absolutely bewildered by. I personally remain a massive fan of Dota 2 and am of the opinion that Counter-Strike: Global Offensive provides a near perfect esports product in terms of the pacing of a game, story-lines and drama that all occur.

There’s been brilliant action in both the aforementioned titles, with OG’s victory in Vancouver my esports moment of the year. The International yet again set a record with regards to prize money, and there continues to be no shortage of premium tournaments popping up. CS:GO started the year with an almighty bang as Cloud9’s epic ELEAGUE win walloped Twitch viewership records. From then we’ve seen the year of Astralis and the first Intel Grand Slam winner as the Danish juggernaut looked unstoppable throughout.

But we still don’t have a fundamental code of conduct, rule-book, or hint of oversight from Valve, whose nascent PR has always miffed many. Players being racist and subsequent rumours about bans from not only a tournament but China itself could have been eased with an early statement – but instead – Valve watched an utter sh*t show unfold before saying anything. We’ve had more drama around gambling in Dota, but there’s still no official statement for Dota, whilst CS:GO has a page that looks as if my granddad might have made it. Dota players have been hopping across regions to give them an edge in the DPC and whilst Valve have been quick to disqualify those obviously taking the piss, it’s still a tad blurred and definitely sub-optimal.

The meme about Valve staff just rotating around desks and dabbling in whatever they fancy seems to be actual reality. Someone occasionally wheels up to the CS dev Twitter account and posts a meme, whilst whoever’s chilling over on Artifact could teach the office a little when it comes to communication.

I’m not saying I want Valve to go anywhere near the likes of the OWL or the LCS but some better communication and a basic set of actionable rules would be handy enough.

We can…. work together! 

Petty having to be ‘better’ than everyone else is probably my biggest gripe with the industry and I’m hoping in 2019 it will stop. It’s likely that everyone that reads this will be someway involved in this wonderful sector so how about next year we all help each other rather than make snide remarks and constantly feel the need to one-up. Competitors exist in the space, people do things differently, but I firmly believe we can all learn from each other and continue to grow together.

The level of protectionism has definitely gone down due to the growth of the industry, and whilst it’s good to be wary, it’s just as important to be welcoming and continue to professionalise.

Also, whilst you’re here: here’s plenty of people that work 70 hour weeks – and in places they probably hate. I don’t see any of them popping up on Twitter and talking about the #grind. Can we stop bragging about working? Not sure if it’s just me that feels like it makes you seem like an utter tit.

No more franchising please

Going to start this by saying please, if you haven’t already, go and watch Tomi versus Carmac have a cracking debate back at ESI London about this very issue.

Whilst I don’t think that franchising has necessarily gone badly in the case of the Overwatch League and also the NA LCS, it’s now seeped over into Europe with LEC. It’s a model we don’t traditionally use in Europe for our sports and that’s something that I love. Maybe it’s because I’m a Watford fan and I’ve seen us be promoted, relegated, promoted again and now staying in the Premier League but that excitement and the prospect of relegation and promotion is what makes being a fan all the more exciting.

Hearing Green Bay Packers fans saying they might as well lose their last two games because they’ll then get a better draft pick sums up just why I’m not a huge fan of franchising. If the format’s going to be a league, then let’s have a league with promotion and relegation where storylines are aplenty and history builds itself – not this closed circuit that we’re beginning to see everywhere.