On December 1st, the West’s first premier mobile esports tournament culminated in Tokyo, Japan. The Clash Royale League World Finals played host to six of the best teams from the inaugural season, pitting them against each other to see which team would come out on top.
Esports Insider attended the World Finals, which was hosted at the Makuhari Messe, and had the chance to speak to Tim Ebner, Head of Esports at Supercell to get his thoughts on the very first season of the league and what fans can perhaps expect moving forward.
Esports Insider: What have you done in the inaugural season of the Clash Royale League that you’d do differently in a second season?
Tim Ebner: There’s always things we’re learning. I think it’s more of what’s worked really well. We’ve gotten better at promoting the game with rewards and incentivsed viewing, and we can do that better yet. More tightly integrating esports with the game itself – an example of this is the Clash Royale League Challenge which started with 25 million players entering with the possibility of becoming a professional player. The more we can integrate esports into the game, the better.
ESI: What are you thoughts on franchising in esports, is it something we could see in the CRL?
TE: Can I see it? Potentially yeah, but we don’t have any firm plans yet. We adopted a team format this year and we able to bring in a lot of organisations. They’ve been a valuable part of the league and supported the players.
Having the team format is more interesting to watch, and bringing in the organisations is great. The players enjoy having a tight group they can work and practice with. I think all of that’s good. The organisations help promote and have fans across a number of games.
There’s a lot of value in having teams involved, but the right and best structure for the team format takes time to figure out.
“Many organisations know the game and want to be involved.”
ESI: Would you consider it a risk including the Western region into the league considering mobile esports isn’t as big here as it is in the East?
TE: I’ve never thought of it as a risk, more so as an opportunity. The game is global, it has players everywhere and we want to support all of them with esports. We don’t think about it as mobile esports being more difficult in the West, it’s more about bringing esports to a more casual player base.
To the extent that mobile esports is big in the East, it’s more ‘hardcore’ games – they’re more similar to PC games despite being mobile titles. I think that challenge is equal to West and East: how do you bring esports to a casual audience?
ESI: Do you see it as detrimental that you broadcast solely on YouTube, opting to not use the likes of Twitch?
TE: I’d rather emphasise the strengths of YouTube. The reason we’ve done this is we’ve had, for years, a strong amount of influencers and content creators on YouTube – going back to Clash of Clans. We’ve had a big audience on YouTube for a long time so it’s about leaning into that with esports.
“Maybe we’re the entry point to esports for some”
ESI: Was it easy getting the likes of Cloud9 and Team Liquid to get involved in the CRL, providing salaries and so on?
TE: I don’t think it’s about it being hard or easy, but what did help was that many organisations know the game and want to be involved. All of them are looking to grow their business and know mobile is the biggest gaming platform there is so there has definitely been strong interest and support.
ESI: Do you see mobile esports as a threat to PC and console esports?
TE: Our challenge and opportunity has always been having this huge player base and finding out what extent we can get them into esports. A lot of them are not esports fans, so to the extent that we’re successful I think that just helps to grow esports overall. Maybe we’re the entry point to esports for some and fans develop an interest in traditional platforms.