For the second year in a row, E-Frag, one of the smaller tournament organizers in the independent eSports circuit, have organized their World Championships, where national teams compete for a $50,000 grand prize and glory for their nation. This year, this tournament was won by Turkey, with Argentina taking second, and 3rd-4th getting shared by France and Denmark. Congratulations to Turkey, but that’s not the interesting thing.
In general, the eSports scene hasn’t embraced tournaments where National teams fight for their country’s honor. With top team rosters often made with players from all over the continent if not the world, and no national or international associations, which could ensure that the best or some of the best players for each respective country actually compete in a tournament like The World Championships, the idea of a tournament where teams defend their national pride is admirable, however, it’s not viable yet.
It would be different the eSports calendar was made accommodating an event like this, however, as it stands now, the best professional gamers in the world would rather train with their “clubs” to prepare for the next big tournament. While the name of The World Championships sounds nice, it’s nowhere near close to what FIFA World Championships are for football.
The idea is great, however, the scene needs to grow a lot before it can actually ring true. When you see the name of the tournament, you expect to see the best players in the world trying to carry their less-successful teammates to victory, or every single allstar from a country like Sweden, vying for a spot on the National team, all in the name of national pride. Unfortunately, that’s not likely to happen yet. Maybe it will, someday. If it does, it will be a great day indeed for eSports.
It’s not enough to say that it would be great. You have to actually cough up some ways to make it happen. First of all, the prize pool needs to be increased significantly because money brings prestige, making it worth it to train outside of your team environment. Secondly, the profile of a tournament like this should be much higher for it to be successful. If a better-known organizer had the opportunity to make something like this happen, especially if Valve, Riot Games, Blizzard, or some other developer invested in the whole venture, it would give the event more credibility, as well as better venues and conditions in general.
Finally, national eSports associations need to be established to organize training camps, travel, coaching, roster lineups and everything else done by national associations in traditional sports. At the moment, even if countries compete, who is taking care of things for each of them? Unfortunately, the question of who is going to pay for all of this is raised. It’s a very good question. Sports associations rely on government support for the most part. eSports aren’t big enough to warrant the same attention yet. They probably won’t be big enough for years, if not decades.
Only when all of that is taken care of can we expect that the absolute best players in the world will actually take time out of training with teams which pay their wages to represent their country. When it finally happens, it will be absolutely amazing. Imagine, the best of Sweden, facing off against the best of, say, France, all of them superstars in their own right, fighting in nail-biter matches, with their whole country glued to their TVs or computer monitors, city’s quiet, because everyone is watching, watching eSports. It’s a beautiful dream. Maybe, someday, it will even come true. I hope to see it.