The World of Esports — Here Are the Major Events to Watch Out For In 2019
The year ahead is simply dripping with esports events, as we take a look at some of the most promising tournaments and leagues of 2019.
Let’s be perfectly honest here: it’s not easy to keep up with all the competitive gaming action at all times. The world of esports is a particularly busy one which incorporates tons of different titles across a bunch of wildly-different genres. From StarCraft II’s long and deep strategic plays to the lightning-fast world of Halo 5: Guardians, these massive tournaments don’t necessarily take each other’s events into consideration.
Because of this, viewers find themselves prioritizing certain events over others to ensure that they get to see the high-level play from their favorite titles. So, here are some of the standout events that might be worth keeping an eye on for the year ahead.
First up is Blizzard’s latest heavy hitter on the competitive circuit, Overwatch. From the ground up, Overwatch is a hugely-interesting game. At its core, it is a team-based FPS, but it takes an enormous amount of attributes more commonly associated with RPG titles and implements them into the game. To top it off, it’s got a staggering roster that features a wide array of characters, each with their own special moves and skill sets. At first glance, its Hero select screen looks more like that of a fighting game than it does a shooter.
Last year’s Overwatch League was a major affair. It saw the best teams in the world going toe-to-toe in an attempt to sweep up the prestigious top spot. The finals last year saw the London Spitfire straight up thrashing the Philadelphia Fusion and walking away with a massive million dollar prize. This amazing feat was executed in front of over 10 million viewers worldwide.
It’s difficult to think that 2019’s season could be even larger in scale, and yet it looks like it will be. Not only will each of the 12 teams from last year’s Overwatch League be returning for another shot at the title, but there will also be a new wave of teams entering the competition this time around.
A total of eight new squads are stepping up to the plate. Once again, America is well represented; this time, the nation will see newcomers like the Washington Justice, who’ll be seen wearing (somewhat corny) red, white, and blue uniforms. They’ll be competing against their fellow countrymen, the Atlanta Reign.
Representing Canada will be the Toronto Defiant and the Vancouver Titans while Europe has put forth a single hopeful team in the form of the Paris Eternal. Asia sees the largest number of new teams added to the roster with the Gangzhou Charge, the Hangzhou Spark, and the Chengdu Hunters exploding out of China to bring the fight to the rest of the world.
The Overwatch League has officially kicked off as of last week, with a whopping 20 teams duking it out to become this year’s champions. To make things even more interesting, the season even began with a grudge match between The London Spitfire and the Philadelphia Fusion.
While team-based combat can be both entertaining and strategic, nothing in esports comes even remotely close to the sheer adrenaline-charged exhilaration of fighting games, and this year looks set to be particularly impressive.
Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition will be returning in March as Final Round in Atlanta kicks off a string of events for Capcom Pro Tour 2019. This year will see top players from all over the world fighting for those ever-important position points through a number of premier events which are dotted throughout the calendar. These are scheduled to take place in different locations around the world including Saigon Cup 2019 in Vietnam, Fight Club in Germany, Celtic Throwdown in Ireland, and many more.
On the other side of this, there is also an upcoming 3-on-3 Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition season which is currently scheduled to flash kick into action in April of this year. The North American Street Fighter Pro League differs from Capcom Cup in many ways, but it still incorporates its presence somewhat through its team-picking process.
The interesting layout of the League will see the top ranking players from Capcom Cup 2019 acting as captains for each of the six teams. Following this, online tournaments will lead the way to the second position while the final position will be filled by players of the fighting game community’s choosing. From here, the North American Street Fighter Pro League will be spread across two seasons throughout the year.
Of course, the daddy of professional fighting game events is, and always has been, Evo. Scheduled to commence in the first week of August 2019, the juggernaut of a competition returns to Las Vegas once again. Along with Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition pros such as Tokido and Problem X expected to compete, chances are we will also see Tekken 7 superstars LowHigh and Saint, along with 2018’s Esports Player of the Year Sonic Fox, who specializes in DragonBall FighterZ along with pretty much everything created by NetherRealm Studios.
Finally, we’ve got this year’s season of Pokémon events. In many ways, this could be seen as the polar opposite of each competitive circuit mentioned so far. While everything from Overwatch to Mortal Kombat 11 calls for lighting fast reaction times as you maneuver back and fought on a battlefield, Pokémon is a deeply strategic turn-based series with its own competitive roots.
It’s quite easy to disregard Pokémon as an esport, mostly due to its adorable aesthetic and the fact that the games are primarily aimed towards children. However, beneath that cheeky smile of the series’ cute yellow mascot and behind the latest generation’s line of starters is incredibly deep, thought-provoking, and clever gameplay. The doubles format which is used in Pokémon‘s VGC rulesets on the official circuit means that no single creature should be able to dominate the battlefield at any one time. However, the flip side to this is that it also calls for trainers to consistently consider moves that could be coming from two separate positions instead of one. Essentially, this opens up a much more complex game.
The wealth of knowledge needed when entering a Pokémon tournament is simply jaw-dropping. While each esports game calls for players to know every possible defensive and offensive choice for each member of the roster, Pokémon essentially has more than 800 characters to choose from. This makes the potential for possible team combinations and creative moves sets astronomical.
However, this year’s Pokémon World Championships, which is set to take place in Washington, D.C., promises to be particularly entertaining. This should be the final year that Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon will be represented at the event before the upcoming 8th generation titles coming to Switch later this year. These titles were more fleshed out variations of Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon which, in turn, were released back in November 2016.
With this in mind, it means that players have had three years of team-building experience in this generation. That should give way to some of the highest quality action and the deepest gameplay that these titles have to offer before the upcoming generation of games takes over at 2020’s events.
This is just a small sample of the some to the events to watch out for in the year ahead, which should showcase some of the best gameplay action imaginable. There is no shortage of esports events scheduled throughout the year, so regardless of whether you’re a PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds fan or a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate enthusiast, 2019 should have everything you need for watching competitive games all year round!