Over the course of the past year or so, we’ve been seeing a gradual shift when it comes to the scope of WoW esports. In a landscape that has been traditionally dominated by PvP – arenas, namely – PvE events have taken center stage. Whether these events come in the form of guilds or players racing to a world first achievement, or teams competing in sanctioned time trials, the intrigue has been pouring in from all sides.
What truly matters is that the ideal World of Warcraft esports experience is quickly revolving around the strongest PvE players the game has to offer. And this weekend’s MDI Global Finals proved exactly that.
Now look, I understand fully that esports, much like traditional sports, has been turned completely on its head in wake of the ongoing global health situation, so it’s a little tough to set expectations for what a “real” esports event should look like. But in the wake of all that’s going on, this weekend’s MDI looked as close to a genuine esports experience as one could possibly get.
From stellar production value to the fact that the in-game performances of teams and players were top-notch, the MDI Global Finals was one of the most impressive major esports events we’ve seen in recent months. In addition, the event showcased – no, confirmed – the concept that if WoW has any sort of future in esports, especially in Shadowlands, it’s going to be through PvE.
Regardless of genre, modern games feel the need to inject an esports scene alongside the title for purposes of added exposure, longevity, and presence in the global market. WoW, as a game that has been around since seemingly the dawn of time itself, falls into a peculiar category where its namesake is enough to sustain its popularity – any esports scene that Blizzard chooses to tack onto the game’s landscape as a whole is an added bonus.
However, as the game evolves into yet another era with an upcoming expansion later this fall, perhaps further development of a sanctioned competitive environment could be on Blizzard’s radar.
Mythic+ dungeons are a core fundamental factor of WoW’s gameplay. Apart from top-level Mythic raiding – which is normally reserved for the most elite of the elite – Mythic+ dungeons are a digestible (and most importantly, repeatable) form of content that can be easily inserted into a competitive setting. While raiding is normally a one-time thing with a limited format, Mythic+ can be expanded into wider formats. Between the different dungeons, affixes, and keystone levels, there’s plenty of room for flexibility – something you definitely need if you’re shooting for a successful esports scene.
Think of a game like League of Legends. Sure, the map stays the same each game, but with well over 150 champions in the game, the possible combinations in terms of flexibility and strategy are endless. Over the course of its lengthy lifespan, League has only grown in terms of watchability and intrigue.
As for WoW – BfA in particular – there are 12 affix combinations to deal with, 12 maps on the board, and a countless combination of classes to choose from when building a composition (although the Prot Warrior, MW Monk, and triple Hunter strategy that’s been going around as of late would lead you to believe otherwise).
With all of this in mind, it’s impossible to ignore how quickly competitive PvE is growing. Even Blizzard is starting to take notice and build a culture around its most intense players. With general intrigue from the viewerbase surrounding World First races, Mythic+ Dungeons, and PvE content as a whole, this weekend’s MDI Global Finals could simply be the tip of the iceberg with much more to come down the pipeline.
Featured image via Blizzard Entertainment.