Competitive PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds: Rough Path to Esports

With the full game still having to be released, PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds (PUBG) is making huge waves in the gaming community. With millions of copies sold in the Alpha/Beta, with...
Competitive PlayerUnknown's BattleGrounds: Rough Path to Esports

With the full game still having to be released, PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds (PUBG) is making huge waves in the gaming community. With millions of copies sold in the Alpha/Beta, with no end in sight, many are wondering how long until PUBG becomes the new emerging competitive Esport game. Although many would assume that, due to its massive player base and the FPS genre in general, PUBG would become a smashing success within the Esports world, it is highly unlikely that a competitive PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds scene will come to share the same type of spotlight as other big names such as League of Legends, CounterStrike, and Overwatch.

Yes, it has guns, you shoot at people, and it takes a lot of skill to play. These are the same as other shooters within the genre. So, what are the issues plaguing PUBG keeping them from becoming a huge success in the competitive esports world? Simple:

Size and Scope of the Match

For the players themselves, having close to 100 players per match is an exhilarating thing, no matter if you’re playing solo, duo, or with a group in squads. It adds in the element of fear, always keeping you on your toes, and makes sure you never know what will be around the next corner. This only ramps up as you move further and further into the game, as PUBG tends to force you closer towards other players, making you check every single rock to ensure that no one is behind them, and to make sure every bush is really a bush.

The primary issue that comes to the forefront when talking about this issue is Clarity of Gameplay. Although it is not a major one from a general standpoint, the issue of clarity is a hindrance when it comes to viewing ease. Specifically, the issue in attempting to spectate or watch a group of players, or even a single player during a match of PUBG. Since there are so many people spread over such a large field of play, attempting to keep track of every interesting event that goes on would be nearly impossible. This would then make the audience feel like they are missing out, as they would sometimes be subjected to a player sitting inside of a house, camping a staircase. Riveting gameplay. Looking back at past examples, Overwatch had a similar issue when first starting out when broadcasting started for major events, as the gameplay was extremely exciting to play, but extremely difficult to watch.

Although I say this is an issue, it is not a permanent one. This is more of a stylistic issue, and one that I do not think will be a problem later on. Specifically, Gameplay Clarity can be resolved simply in PUBG: release a smaller map for competitive tournaments that hold maybe half the teams, or even one-fourth of the teams. Many will argue that this ruins gameplay, but in a highly competitive scene, clarity is easier to find when there is less to sift through.

RNG Factor

Competitive PlayerUnknown's BattleGrounds: Rough Path to Esports


This issue is the primary target of scrutiny. RNG is short for Random Number Generator, and is a common term that refers to just about everything that relies primarily on luck of the draw. RNG factors are heavily implemented within PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, from the dropship flight path to the gun spawns, to even the ending zones. Although some RNG is okay, and can even enhance the game, having too much becomes a hindering issue.

First, the RNG factor of the map. Although the map itself does not change as of this point in time, the flight path of the drop-plane changes every game, as well as the safe zone spawning points. Since there is almost no inherent way that you are able to predict the zone spawns accurately, or the plane drop path, this means that, no matter what, your advantages and disadvantages are primarily out of your control. Say you land inside of Pochinki and completely clear it out. You get 7 kills, pick up the best possible weapons, and are completely geared out. Then you come to find out that the safe zone is up at Stalber, and you have 4:00 minutes to make it. This would put you at a severe disadvantage compared to those that just happened to land at Stalber at the beginning.

Second is the weapon spawning. Weapon spawning not only changes depending on the mode you are playing in, but they do not have any set locations within each game as well. Just because an AKM spawned at a certain building once, has no correlation to whether it will spawn there the in the next 4 games you play. So, if you were to play 5 games in a row with the exact same starting pattern, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest you would find the same gun within the same location. This RNG factor causes issues when taken into a competitive scene, where skill should, in almost any instance, outweigh luck.

Competitive PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds: Not Ready For Esports

In the end, PUBG is still in the infancy stages of play. Although the game is absolutely fantastic from a player’s standpoint, the fact remains that the spectator aspect leaves a lot to be desired in a competitive, healthy standpoint. As of right now, PUBG would be able to do well within a tournament style bracket, with tournaments here and there. But, to say it would sustain itself with a healthy scene is a bit hard to say. So, the answer is a tentative no, with room to be proven wrong.

Daniel Le is an avid gamer, street performer, and depressed TSM fanboy. Although he cries himself to sleep every night, he hopes his lowly Plat 5 knowledge brings insight, knowledge, and enjoyment to all who read his works.
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