Before I dive into a variety of ways Guild Wars 2 could improve its eSports coverage, I just want to head off any predictable criticism that tends to arise when this topic is discussed.
1. Guild Wars 2’s eSports scene isn’t a drain on ArenaNet’s resources (quite the opposite).
2. Guild Wars 2’s development teams work on separate projects - their pursuit of competitive PvP does not impact any other area of the game.
3. Guild Wars 2’s structured PvP is popular but no, not to the heights of League of Legends or DOTA 2.
4. It’s fine not to like Guild Wars 2’s PvP but it’s important to note that it’s the primary reason why many players play the game.
Back onto the subject in hand, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the ESL Pro League Final. As someone who has followed Guild Wars 2’s PvP for many years (and spent many thousands of hours playing it) there’s undoubtedly room for improvement. There are many things it does right (the ‘setup’, the shout-casters, the calibre of the teams and the intensity of matches that Guild Wars 2’s PvP offers). However, I think this final highlighted several key areas that can be improved.
Personalize The Teams
For anyone who has followed Guild Wars 2’s PvP, you’ll more than likely know the names of the most famed players and teams. Unfortunately anyone new to the game, or new to following PvP tournaments will only have limited knowledge. Although the new website is great it doesn’t go far enough in providing a history of the teams or a biography of each player. Who is Nos? Why is he a good Necromancer? What is his gaming history or his strengths and weaknesses? Even at a team level, we only have a very brief paragraph about each team. There’s so much scope here to personalize each team and its players so that viewers can identify and relate to them.
Although there was a showreel for each team that played out before their matches, it still didn’t answer any of the above and instead concentrated far too much on an attitude of “We’re going to win, because we’re awesome!” (alongside a whole bag of cheese - “friendship!”). Interviewing the teams, to get unique answers and insight into their play style, mindset and history is a perfect opportunity for creating a fanbase.
Improve The Camera Work
Guild Wars 2 is an action packed game and all too often during the ESL Pro League Final the camera work was haphazard. There has to be a realization that you cannot cover all the action, all of the time. It’s impossible. Unless we’re going for multi-viewing, similar to sports coverage on Sky, a decision has to be made by whomever is controlling the camera as to what is most important for the viewer. A three versus three fight on a Control Point might be exciting, but is it pivotal? In contrast, a 1 on 1 on another Control Point may be far more engaging and have a greater impact on the match if one of those players dies. If that's the case, make the call and switch to that instead. Finally, can we see more play from the players perspective? It’s far easier to see what skills are being used and you still maintain an exciting view of the action.
Focus On Quality
Twitch quality does vary and yet Guild Wars 2’s is particularly poor. The image is often low quality (regardless of Source setting) and makes for identifying skills and names particularly difficult. In addition to this, far too often sound and video de-sycn which is frustrating to watch and listen to. I’m no technical expert and I couldn’t possibly tell you how ArenaNet can go about fixing this. What I do know is that other eSports titles such as Heroes of the Storm or SMITE don’t seem to suffer such problems and I can only assume it’s a combination of physical and technical wizardry relating to the game engine and supporting hardware.
Prize Money Is Good. Pride Is Better
Offering a huge prize pool for Guild Wars 2’s ESL Pro League Winners is a fantastic incentive for anyone but it shouldn’t be at the forefront of the competition. Whenever I hear of big cash prizes, I often think about Masterchef (bear with me). As one of the world's most popular TV programmes, it still doesn’t offer any other prize besides its trophy. Winning Master Chef is sought after because it’s an accolade many simply want. I’m not in any way suggesting that all those who participate in Guild Wars 2’s competitive scene are only after the money, but I know a handful who are (I’ve asked). Instilling a sense of pride - that you’re the best in the world - should be at the forefront.
Improve The "Team" Infrastructure
I’d like to think of myself as a good PvPer having played Guild Wars 2 for a long time and yet I’ve constantly struggled to find a team that wants to be competitive. As it currently stands, the infrastructure for finding like-minded players who are also looking for a team is very challenging. It took me almost eight months to find my last and even then, it fizzled out within weeks.
1. The forum is partly to blame, having lumped together all “Looking For” requests into one section. Weeding through this lot to find a team is a headache and at times exhausting. It needs to be its own section so that players can quickly and easily find what they’re looking for.
2. There needs to be a “Looking For Team” section in game - similar to Looking For Group - that people can advertise on so that if you’re in game, you don’t have to constantly spam chat in the hopes of finding a like-minded player.
3. Having an official ArenaNet Discord channel dedicated to structured PvP and forming teams would be a huge help. Yes players can make their own Discord server, but we all know that ArenaNet putting their name to a server would help immeasurably.
Having the right infrastructure for forming teams will not only help the community (we all know solo queueing in any game can be a miserable experience) but it should open up the competition and challenge teams we constantly see.
How would you improve Guild Wars 2's eSports potential? Let me know!
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