[toc]Last year was one of esports’ biggest years to date. The industry has been growing at a meteoric rate, with pioneering ideas being brought to life and previously unimaginable developments being released on a frequent basis.
As we ring in the new year, here are some of the stories we anticipate breaking more ground in 2018:
MLG and Halo reunite
This should be an exciting year for Halo esports.
A mid-December announcement revealed Major League Gaming’s renewed partnership with Halo for the upcoming season, enticing the impassioned competitive Halo community for the best year yet.
The legacy franchise, Halo, has been around since esports’ inception, much before it was a household word. The two companies grew up together in 2002 when MLG launched, but parted ways a decade later due to fundamental changes in the game that altered Halo in ways that were too big to ignore.
However, the unification of both parties is a testament to a decade of what many remember as Halo’s “golden era” and holds a bright torch looking to 2018 and onward.
Blizzard’s Overwatch League
The lead-up to Blizzard’s Overwatch League was one of the most followed stories in esports this past year.
Many fans and industry analysts watched the OWL grow from idea to execution, surmounting to the league’s preseason debut in December. The engineering brilliance behind the preseason blew away expectations for the league’s initial outing and raised enthusiasm ahead of the OWL’s opening week. More excitingly, OWL surpasses its own far-reaching ambitions, which is only the first chapter in its development.
“Launching the league next week. We’ve been working on launching Overwatch League for over two years now and next Wednesday is going to be the culmination of a lot of hard work from a lot of people across the organization,” Overwatch League Commissioner Nate Nanzer said regarding the start of its inaugural season.
The league’s debut matches kick off today.
Franchising in esports
The Overwatch League sparked the new trend of franchising in the sphere that is revolutionizing the esports ecosystem.
In May, Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, bought into the OWL for a reported $20 million. Kraft’s investment would be the first of many franchise buy-ins last year, one of 12 in the OWL alone.
Riot Games’ North American League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS) will introduce the same concept into its league moving into 2018.
Franchising presents a level of certainty: Investors can write hefty checks to purchase teams, with promised longevity for the growth of the industry.
Many investors and speculators are seeking proof of concept and stability in esports. Solidity for the year to come is presented by franchising. Expect to see more new and developing leagues utilize this model moving forward as the OWL and NA LCS validate franchising dexterity .
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ revolutionary aspirations
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, more commonly shortened as ‘PUBG’, experienced what some would consider unimaginable success in 2017.
In less than a year, PUBG broke out into a consistent top streamed game on Twitch, selling over 24 million copies in just its early access stage.
PUBG made headlines in August of last year when the young and fresh battle royale game knocked off longtime titleholder, League of Legends, as Twitch’s No. 1 watched game. It takes a lot to ruin League of Legends’ 34-month stretch at the top. Looking ahead, PUBG’s future performance is expected to dominate.
PUBG’s viewership has attracted a ton of attention, raising the question of its esport prospect while also shifting organized tournaments into overdrive. In 2017, PUBG went from releasing its public beta to awarding almost $800,000 of prize money during tournaments in such a short time. Although PUBG’s esport scene is still in a developing state, the velocity of its rise is exhilarating.
Most recently, PUBG’s developers announced the goal of converting the game into a global media franchise. The company’s CEO, Chang Han Kim, has also indicated being in discussion with Hollywood and Netflix in regards to creating content based on the game.
At the rate in which PUBG has came out the gates in its first year, anticipate the game to make a few more huge leaps in 2018.
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2K League brought to life
The NBA has been working feverishly towards its 2K League, building a premise for the league’s structure and operation during its 2018 inaugural season.
Last year served as a primer for the league as it kicked up speed to lead up to its successful debut. The league’s ambitions are quite toilsome; the organization has been carefully fine-tuning the league up until this point, ensuring a smooth and healthy start.
The start of this year has already brought us the 2K League’s official logo, with a promise to be coupled with the unveiling of the 17 team logos. The NBA announced it would be sharing integral details of the league from now until May regarding the upcoming tryouts, draft, season schedule and more.
With the concept of the 2K League in discussion for so long, esports enthusiasts from around the globe are anticipating seeing the league coming to life this year.