The rise of mobile esports
Watch out PC Master Race, there is a new challenger. Mobile games are starting to really mature and even reach for a spot in the esports scene. Games like Vainglory, King of Glory and Clash Royale are gathering serious numbers of players, especially in Asia. Even betting on mobile esports tournaments is now possible at Mobile Wins.
Mobile Games can be divided into four ‘genres’. Namely MOBA, strategy games, card games and shooters. Despite their differences, they share one important thing: they are multiplayer orientated. It sets the mobile esports apart from the wide range of other mobile games. Some of the games are not strictly mobile, but we do take them into account for this overview. So before deciding what genre is the most popular, let’s run through them and their biggest titles:
MOBA stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. Traditional MOBA’s like League of Legends and Dota 2 are among the most played games in the world. No surprise mobile games followed suit and quickly became (almost) just as popular. Vainglory has proven that the genre doesn’t have to lose much of it’s gameplay value compared to it’s bigger PC brothers. King of Glory promises to maybe even match the LoL experience, being an offspring of the mind of the same owners (insert long soap opera story about copyright here..). Betting on Vainglory is already quite popular, as it seems like chasing the vain gets people excited.
A classic genre, perhaps the one that started it all back in the day. Its top down camera angle give the player a nice overview, even on a small mobile screen. While initially not that popular, recent years have seen a resurgence of the genre. After Clash of Clans, Clash Royale seems to be having the best chance to be the number one strategic esports game on mobile. The game is insanely popular in China, and they have quite the numbers. Clash Royale is already making name as an esports mainstay.
Probably the most diverse among all genres. Card games have known many iterations for mobile play over the years. Think about Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Magic: the Gathering and of course Hearthstone. Blizzard’s popular card game is fully playable on the mobile version and as such, we have no reason not to put it on our list. The relatively slow gameplay and easy controls make this genre ideal for mobile esports, though it lacks the action intensity to ever take the spot as top dog.
We weren’t going to put shooters on this list initially, but the recent dominance of Fortnite in the gaming scene forced our hand. By itself, Fortnite is more popular than all other games mentioned in this article. Though it is debatable if the game has to be considered a mobile game, due to its availability on all platforms. Nevertheless mobile Fortnite esports tournaments in 2019 are almost guaranteed to happen. Worth mentioning is that Fortnite’s rival, PUBG, also has a (lite) mobile version.
We could go all the way back to Snake on Nokia 3310 when talking about mobile gaming. So we aren’t gonna do that. When looking at the history of mobile esports, our starting point should be somewhere around 2014. Before this date, computers and consoles dominated the esports scene. Then in 2014, previously mentioned Vainglory was used to showcase the graphical capabilities of the then-new Apple A8 processor. It showed the world what a mobile processor was capable off. This power would only increase with any year to come. As been said before, China sees the biggest increase in mobile players.. That usually means the rest of the world will follow soon.
Famous teams & players
The top player at the moment of writing (november 2018) for Vainglory is Hyun Joon Ahn, who plays a Druid. Believe it or not, Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos is the top player for Clash Royale. Or at least, someone that calls himself SergioRamos:) yes, that is including the smiley. Hearthstone is the most integrated ‘mobile’ game in terms of professionality in teams. Mostly because Hearthstone is a mobile game as well as a PC game. Taken that into account, we’d like to give an honourable mention to G2 Esports and Cloud9 Gaming, who together won close to a million dollars in close to 90 tournaments.
One thing where mobile esports have an edge over ‘traditional’ esports is the accessibility to tournaments. There are a lot of tournaments for mobile games like VainGlory and Clash Royale. There are world cups for Clash Royale, with regional qualifiers throughout the year and a nations world cup. For Vainglory, the world cup draws enough attention for big esports teams like Cloud9 and Razer to join in. In December, the Vainglory World Championship Finals are bound to draw a lot of people to Twitch.