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Fnatic India Pubg Mobile

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Fnatic Planning Facility in India After Acquiring PUBG Mobile Team

  • Fnatic plans to establish an Indian gaming facility after acquiring a PUBG Mobile team in the country.
  • As of June, PUBG Mobile had amassed more than 400M downloads, with 50M daily active users.
  • The $2.5M USD PUBG Mobile Club Open 2019 will conclude in December.

U.K.-based organization Fnatic today announced that it has acquired an Indian PUBG Mobile squad, and according to a representative, the team plans to establish a local facility in the country.

Fnatic acquired Team XSpark, a team that competes in the mobile version of PUBG Corporation’s battle royale shooter, PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS. Division director Victor Bengtsson told Indian publication Spiel Times that Fnatic has larger-scale plans in the country.

“For the initial months, we’ll focus on the sports side and content. Over time, we are looking to set up a gaming facility and staff up so that all the fans and gamers in India can get the full Fnatic experience that they deserve, in terms of products, experiences, and of course content,” Bengtsson said in the interview, adding, “One of the core reasons for us coming to India is to create a platform where fans of esports can find a home.”

The free-to-play PUBG Mobile has seen significant growth across Asia, with Tencent announcing in June that the game had been downloaded 400M times internationally, with 50M daily active users. The $2.5M PUBG Mobile Club Open 2019 competition is currently underway, with the Fall Split Global Finals set to take place in December.

eSports Comedy CBS

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eSports Comedy Scores Put Pilot Order at CBS

CBS has given out a put pilot order for a comedy set in the world of eSports, Variety has learned.

The untitled single-camera series follows a recently retired pro basketball star who attempts to reconnect with his estranged son by buying an eSports franchise. Dan Kopelman will write and executive produce. Aaron Kaplan and Dana Honor of Kapital Entertainment will also executive produce along with Rick Fox. Warner Bros. Television, where Kopelman is under an overall deal, will serve as the studio.

The series is no doubt particularly resonant for Fox, himself a former basketball star who became a co-owner of eSports team “Echo Fox” back in 2015. The team currently competes across a number of titles including “Super Smash Bros.” and “Fortnite.”

Kopelman previously created the CBS comedy series “Me, Myself, and I.” His other credits include “Malcolm in the Middle,” “Big Wolf on Campus,” “Galavant,” and “Rules of Engagement.”

Most recently, it was announced that CBS had given a pilot production commitment to “The United States of Al,” a multi-camera comedy that hails from “The Big Bang Theory” creator Chuck Lorre and “Big Bang Theory” executive producers David Goetsch and Maria Ferrari. That series follows a former Marine who returns home to Iowa, with his Afghan interpreter joining him to start a new life in America.

Calling All Gamers

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Calling All Gamers: The Army's Esports Team is Ready for Its Close-Up

This article by Haley Britzky originally appeared on Task & Purpose, a digital news and culture publication dedicated to military and veterans issues.

For the first time, the Army brass and defense industry folks descending on Washington, D.C. for the annual Association of the U.S. Army conference will be joined by the Army's latest pride and joy — it's team of professional gamers.

Yes, the Army really has that.

The U.S. Army Esports team has become the darling of Army recruiting as the service goes all-in on meeting the youths where they're at: the digital space.

In 2018, Army Recruiting Command (USAREC) put out a request asking active duty and reserve soldiers to come put their gaming skills to the test and try out for the Esports team.

While thousands of soldiers gave it their all, only 16 were ultimately selected as competitive gamers and assigned to the Marking and Engagement Brigade at Fort Knox for three years of "constant competitive training, recruiting engagements and interaction with the public on a daily basis," the Army said in its 2018 release.

Those 16 team members all have different stories as to how they came into gaming. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Jones — who told Task & Purpose that he's essentially the general manager for the Army Esports team — said that some grew up with gaming; others got more into it after joining the Army because they were in control of their own budgets and factored in the newest gaming systems; one player was even a semi-professional Halo player before he joined the Army.

And while the team members themselves aren't recruiters, they hope to spark an interest in the Army in people who are already engaged in the Esports world. Jones said that the team has been able to show a new audience "the human element, beneath the uniform.

"Everybody assumes that we're all exactly the same — robotic, or something like that," Jones said. "This tells the human element, it shows that we have passions just like everybody else. We just have a different profession."

It's no surprise why the Army decided to jump on the bandwagon for an industry growing in the way that Esports is. In February, Reuters reported that Esports revenue around the world would hit $1.1 billion in 2019, a 27% increase from 2018. In North America alone, the generated revenue was expected to hit $409 million, more than any other region in the world.

The total Esports audience is expected to reach 454 million people, per Reuters.

And the Army has already begun leaning heavily into the digital space, making it a priority for recruiting efforts.

Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, the head of USAREC, told reporters at a roundtable in September that at Esports tournaments around the country, approximately 80,000 people are on the floor of the tournament at any one time. And that's not including the people who are tuning in through various social media platforms, like Twitch, a live-streaming video platform.

Muth told reporters that studies have shown that of their target audience of 17- to 24-year olds, around half of them are "on some type of egaming." He said that typically, an Army event yields around 350 leads from potential recruits. But one Esports event brought in about "900 really good quality leads."

"We think that Esports and the digital plane is going to become the number one lead generator," Muth said.

He also bragged on the Army's Esports trailer, saying there's "nothing that exists in the United States that's like it."

And it is certainly something to see.

Task & Purpose went to check out the trailer in-person on October 11, at the service's first-ever ArmyCon. On the inside, eight seats, complete with a gaming PC, an Xbox 1S, a PS4 Pro, and a Nintendo Switch. It's almost completely dark except for some neon green lighting. Jones told Task & Purpose that it can be adjusted for all eight players to be on the same game, or for each to be playing their own.

The opportunity for gaming is abundant, to say the least.

On the outside, four flat-screen TVs projecting the gaming that's happening in real time from four of the seats inside. Jones said that along with the competitive gamers, he brought on people in charge of production, social media, and commentary.

"We're kind of our own ecosystem," Jones said.

That ecosystem can travel to major high school or college events, festivities like ArmyCon, and more. It was debuted at the Salt Lake Gaming Con in Salt Lake City, Utah — a major gaming convention. And while interested spectators were waiting in line to get a closer look, local recruiters and Esports team members worked the crowd, explaining the Army mission and the upsides to serving.

Aside from the practical mission that the Esports team has set out to accomplish, another hope is that they're able to get rid of preconceived notions about who can and can't be a U.S. soldier — and a successful gamer.

"All of these soldiers are successful soldiers," Jones said. "And that's telling everyone out there that may have assumptions on either side — whether you're a gamer and people assume you live in your mom's basement, or the other side saying well gamers can't do this — we can prove them both wrong. Not only can you be a gamer and be in the Army, you can absolutely excel at it."

eSports Washington Post

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Why The Washington Post Chose To Cover Esports

A few years ago, Washington Post assignment editor/producer Mike Hume was hanging with a former colleague from ESPN talking about the growth of esports.

What if the daily newspaper launched an esports section, thought Hume. And covered it with the same determination and smarts that’s won the paper 47 Pulitzer prizes?

Three years later, Hume’s brainstorm has become a reality. On October 15, the Post will roll out Launcher, a new subsection of the sports department devoted to video games, esports competitions and gaming culture.

The esports industry is expected to surpass the $1 billion mark in revenue for the first time in 2019. With a youthful audience in the advertiser-coveted 18-34-year-old age group, esports is attracting new players like the Post.

“It’s a very new-age dynamic. But (gaming) to a degree has replaced the weekend card game or the weekend golf match,” Hume said in an interview. “It’s a way for good friends to keep in touch thousands of miles away. Old college roommates. Old high school friends. It’s perfect for that.”

Hume, who joined the Post in 2014, will serve as Launcher’s first editor. His staff will include editor Mikhail Klimentov, reporters Gene Park and Elise Favis, video producer Jhaan Elker, and art director Joseph Moore.

Launcher has been in the planning stages for two years, Hume said.

The spark that put it over the top was a story by Park about a new EA video game called Star Wars: Battlefront II in November 2017.

His story broke down the controversy over whether a new “loot box” system promoted gambling.

Park wrote it from the perspective of somebody who plays and appreciates video games. The gaming community loved it.

Now that story is a template for what Hume hopes to deliver in the future.

“It really took off for us. It was one of the most-read articles on the entire web site for us at the time,” Hume said. “That’s what convinced me that, “OK, if you do this the right way, if you treat the audience with respect, if you speak to them knowledgeably and bring something of value to the conversation, you can succeed.’ That’s what we’re going to try to do going forward.”

Even if you don’t play video games, the gaming culture has penetrated sports and pop culture, he noted.

Many pro athletes play video games religiously. They’re up on all the latest games and gear and reference them frequently in their social media posts.

“You have a lot of pro athletes who have grown up on video games, who will bring their gaming systems with them when they travel, who will spend considerable time in their hotel rooms playing them while they are traveling for road trips,” said Hume.

“That too is gaming culture. They’re going to put their headsets on, call their friends back home who are thousands of miles away, team up and play online. That’s how they’re communing. That’s how they’re socializing.”

Even things like the latest kids’ dances are not coming from junior proms, according to Hume. They’re doing dances that were put into games like Fortnite, he added.

“It just resonates. If you didn’t know what video games were, if you didn’t know what Fortnite was, you’d be like, ‘What is going on out there?’ But if you understand the game, it makes total sense,” said Hume.

The esports business has attracted big-name investors from the traditional sports world in recent years, including Michael Jordan, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

The global market is predicted to grow 26.7% to $1.1 billion in revenue this year, according to a study by Newzoo. It could hit $1.8 billion by 2021.

Around 82% of total revenue, or $897.2 million, will be generated by media rights deals, advertising, and sponsorship.

Even better, esports boasts a youthful audience that stick and ball leagues with aging audiences drool over.

Roughly 79% of viewers are under 35 years, according to Goldman Sachs. The industry’s monthly global audience on platforms like YouTube and Twitch is expected to grow to 276 million by 2022 from 167 million in 2018.

How’s this for a bold prediction? Newzoo’s Senior Market Analyst Jurre Pannekeet predicted esports will help gaming grow into a bigger industry than traditional pro sports.

“Gaming as a whole (including esports) is already on track to become a bigger industry than traditional professional sports,” wrote Pannekeet. “We expect that the global games market will generate revenues of $180.1 billion by 2021, and esports will be a major driver of this.”

The Post’s new Launcher new section will include:

-Feature stories on how gaming is pushing its way into the forefront of pop culture.

-Updates on the latest gaming trends, such as the expansion of esports leagues, streaming, and in-game economies.

-Coverage of the industry’s top leagues and events that now fill arenas nationwide.

-Tips from pro gamers on titles ranging from Zelda to Fortnite.

-Reviews of the biggest game titles.

Nerd Street Gamers

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Nerd Street Gamers Closes $12M Series A To Build IRL Esports Outposts

Nerd Street Gamers, a fast-growing national network of esports facilities and events, has raised a $12 million Series A led by an unlikely investor, retailer Five Below. For those who aren’t familiar with it, Five Below is a fairly ubiquitous retailer that sells items for $5 or less (hence its name).

Existing investors ComcastSeventySix CapitalElevate Capital, and angel investor George Miller also participated in the round.

Philadelphia-based Nerd Street Gamers builds facilities (dubbed “Localhost”) that house esports leagues, training camps, tournaments, and showcases on professional-grade equipment. It saw 277 percent year-over-year revenue growth in 2018, according to founder and CEO John Fazio.

As part of its deal with Five Below (also Philly-based), the two entities will build 3,000-square foot Localhost spaces connected to select Five Below stores beginning with a multi-store pilot in 2020.

Depending on what they can glean from the pilot, Five Below and NSG will plan a future rollout that could include more than 70 locations over the next several years, they said.

I was curious as to how the deal came about.

Fazio told me that Five Below had approached his company through a mutual connection about a year ago for its advice on creating “authentic gaming experiences” in their stores to promote their new gaming products.

“As we began working together, we realized how closely our missions are aligned,” Fazio said.

He said the deal with Five Below will help his company realize its vision of “ a world where esports is accessible and inclusive for everyone.”

“Too few have access to the type of equipment and internet connections required to compete at the top levels, and by addressing that at a national scale we can increase real-life opportunities for millions of people,” Fazio added. “By working with Five Below, we will be in a position to open venues in every major city in the country, bringing esports to a whole new segment of gamers.”

In a statement, Five Below CEO Joel Anderson described the partnership with Nerd Street Gamers as a “unique opportunity.”

“Gaming is a trend our younger customers are actively enjoying, and working with Nerd Street Gamers will help us to provide an exciting gaming experience that appeals to our core customers and beyond,” he said, while at the same time showcasing the retailer’s technology-related products and accessories. Five Below has over 850 stores in 36 states.

In addition to the Localhosts connected to Five Below stores, NSG plans to build 50 larger regional and university-based facilities. It currently has facilities in Philadelphia, Denver, and Huntington Beach. These include the first public gaming facility in a pro sports arena, and Localhost Rowan University, which was built as part of its effort to bring professional-grade esports training facilities to universities across the country. (Note that as of September 2018, the National Association of College eSports had more than 80 member colleges and universities, with 79 of them providing partial or full athletic scholarships to student gamers.)

Nerd Street Gamers was developed inside the Jarvus Innovations offices in 2014 before being spun out into its own business in 2016 by Fazio. What initially started as an employee LAN party (computers connected by a local area network) quickly grew into some of the largest competitive gaming tournaments in the country, he said.

To date, the company says it has raised $13.9 million. It has 37 employees, up from 13 a year ago, according to Fazio.

Esports is a growing industry, despite monetization challenges. Last month, we reported on PlayVS, a startup building the infrastructure and an official platform for high school esports, raising a $50 million Series C in its third funding round over a 13-month period.

 

Contact Sports Than eSports

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Parents are More Comfortable With Kids Playing Contact Sports Than eSports

 

Soccer, baseball, and football are being challenged by League of Legends, Call of Duty, and Fortnite Battle Royale.

One of the above is sports, the other one is eSports, and despite just one extra letter separating the two, parents across America have very different views on what they’d like to see their children doing with their recreational time.

In broad terms, nearly half of Americans would be comfortable with their kids playing eSports, while almost 9 in 10 people are okay with their kids playing “regular” sports. The numbers are even more stark in the people who are “very comfortable” category, with people nearly four times more likely to be very comfortable with their kids playing sports as compared to eSports.

The difference in opinion between sports and eSports becomes much smaller when we look at ‘contact sports’ only — but most parents would still prefer their kids playing football instead of Fortnite.

What’s more is when comparing eSport comfortability to contact sport comfortability, the data show that nearly 60% of people who are uncomfortable with eSports are comfortable with their kids playing contact sports.

The divide in eSports vs. sports is even more noticeable when just grandma and grandpa are asked about it, with grandparents more comfortable with sports over eSports by a nearly 150% margin.

Men, by a 2-to-1 margin over women, consider themselves  “very comfortable” with their kids playing eSports. Men are also more likely than women to be “very comfortable” with organized sports and contact sports, but not by nearly the same margin.

Household income plays a significant role in how comfortable parents are with their kids playing both eSports and regular sports. In the case of eSports, people making more than $100,000 per year are 15% less likely to be comfortable with their kids playing eSports.

Conversely, households that make under $50,000 are 26% less likely to feel “very comfortable” with their kids playing organized sports compared to households making over $100,000. One potential reason? The rising costs of traditional youth sports.

Unsurprisingly, the more someone is interested in either sports or eSports, the more likely they’re going to be feeling good about their kids engaging in either activity.

People who say sports are a “passion” of theirs are 42% more likely to say they are “very comfortable” with their children playing sports compared to people who just “like” sports.

The same idea, writ large, applies to people who play video games. They are a remarkable 440% more likely to be “very comfortable” with their kids playing eSports compared to people who have no idea what the “Konami Code” is.

Lastly, here’s a five-pack of some interesting takeaways from the CivicScience study.

DUDE: There wasn’t much of a celebrity tilt in the study as to whether parents who like such-and-such a celebrity are more likely to go one way or another when it comes to sports and/or eSports. Except when it comes to Seth Rogen. Nearly 70% of Americans with a favorable view of the actor would be just fine with their children playing eSports, which is 35% more than the public at large. And those who like Rogen are twice as likely to be “very comfortable” with their kids playing eSports.

CAN’T STAND A MESS: Thirty-five percent of Americans who keep their fridge neat and tidy are against the idea of their kids playing traditional youth sports. That’s more than three times the public at large.

CAN’T PUT IT DOWN: Americans who take their phones into the bathroom with them are more than twice as likely to be OK with eSports for their kids than people who leave their phones out of the necessarium.

ALONG WITH THE DWARVES, ONE SHORT OF A BASEBALL TEAM: For whatever reason, people who think Snow White makes a good role model for children are 26% more likely to be at least somewhat comfortable with their kids playing youth sports as opposed to people who think Snow White is a sniveling do-gooder.

DARN IT ALL TO HECK I PRESSED THE WRONG GOSH DARNED BUTTON: People who rarely or never swear or curse are nearly twice as likely to be “very comfortable” with their children playing eSports as opposed to people who can’t stop (bleeping) cursing.

The Best Esports Games for 2019

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The Best Esports Games for 2019

Ignore your parents' short-sighted college advice. If you dream of becoming a professional video game player, start getting good with these 13 excellent esports games. These titles have the official tournaments that can launch you on your quest for gaming glory.

If your parents ever disparaged your video game obsession as a huge waste of time, they're either a) out of touch or b) lacking in vision.

That may sound overly harsh, but there's some truth in my take. Esports, the video game industry's competitive arm, has amassed huge audiences, incredible cash pots, and sponsorship that enable elite gamers to transform their passions into careers. In fact, research firm Newzoo estimates that esports will generate $1.79 billion per year by 2022.

The Esports Business

In North America alone, esports are pulling in more money than anywhere else, about $409 million, and part of that money is calling Allegheny County home as the Pittsburgh Knights have taken up residence. The “team” has, at least. The players, because of the global and virtual nature of play, can be anywhere.

Of course, esports are more than purely capitalistic ventures. Though gamers dig the idea of standing on stage holding oversize checks, the true reason for traveling to tournaments around the globe is to prove they're the best in their titles of choice.

Esports comprise many games, both popular and under the radar, in numerous genres. You like shooters? You can pop some caps in a rival playing Counter-Strike: Global: Offensive. In the mood for a battle royale of epic proportions? Player Unknown's Battlegrounds has got you covered. Into sports? In a merging of the two worlds, the NBA and Take-Two Interactive—publisher of the super-popular NBA 2K video game series—partnered to create the NBA 2K e League. In the esports world, there's a video game, and related scene, for everyone.

Maybe there's too much choice. There are so many video games on the market with a competitive, multiplayer focus that getting started in playing, or simply watching, professional video gaming may prove intimidating. Fortunately, this guide to the best esports games is designed to gently nudge you in the right direction. After all, every game going after that sweet esports money isn't worth your time. And there are a whole lot of those.

The Esports Criteria

This guide contains several esports-worthy titles that PCMag's staff has reviewed and wholeheartedly recommends playing. In fact, many of the titles that we suggest checking out also live in our best PC games roundup, though we also toss a bone or two to console players.

To be considered for inclusion in this guide, a game simply has to have official tournament support from its publisher. Though we love many of the smaller, community-backed efforts, such as the incredible Tecmo Super Bowl community, we had to create a cut-off point, lest damn near every competitive game be deemed worthy.

So, that's that. If there's a notable esports game that's not listed below, that means we either didn't review it yet or score it well enough to make the cut. What you'll find below, however, are some of the best esports games played by amateurs and professionals in 2018—and likely beyond. Dig in. And, more importantly, have fun playing.

 

Counter-Strike Global Offensive

Valve's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) debuted in 2012, backed by a strong heritage of multiplayer FPS titles, including the original Counter-Strike and Counter-Strike: Source. Years later, the fast-paced PC game still mostly holds its own against more modern titles, partly because of its established core gameplay and active community.

Visually, however, CS: GO is starting to show its age, and it's not as thematically rich as Overwatch. Still, many folks enjoy CS: GO's no-frills experience and its highly competitive esports circuit, which includes the Eleague Major, a competition with a $1 million prize.

Dota 2

"Easy to learn, hard to master." This phrase is used to describe many things, especially in gaming. Few titles exemplify that mantra more than Defense of the Ancients 2 (Dota 2), one of the most popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games on the planet.

This free-to-play MOBA tasks you with selecting one of more than 100 playable Heroes to take to the battlefield, utilizing that character's unique abilities, play style, and attributes to help your team achieve victory.

Sure, the MOBA genre proves inscrutable to viewers who are unfamiliar with the play mechanics, but the annual Dota 2 International has insane cash pots (more than $30 million!) and stiff competition that makes the game an esport worth watching if you’re willing to learn the ropes.

Dragon Ball FighterZ

Beside Fist of the Northstar and Jo Jo's Bizarre Adventure, there are few anime properties as intrinsically suited to the fighting game treatment as the Dragon Ball series. Spanning multiple series, movies, and generations of characters, Akira Toriyama's manga-turned-anime-turned-game series is all about buff monkey men, humans, aliens, and androids trading blows in actual earth-shattering battles.

The series' latest video game adaptation, Dragon Ball FighterZ, ditches the Xenoverse games' arena-brawling model in favor of 3 vs. 3 tag-team fighting on a 2D plane. The gameplay shift is just one of the many reasons Dragon Ball FighterZ is being held aloft as one of the most intriguing esports titles. Its beautiful design, intense combat, and accessible control scheme add up to a game that anyone can jump into for Super Saiyan thrills.

Besides appearing at Evo, the anime fighter has an expanded competitive scene courtesy of Bandai Namco's Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour.

Fortnite

Fortnite is the battle-royale game to beat. In fact, Epic Games confirmed in early 2019 that Fortnite hosted 7.6 million concurrent players in one record-breaking session. This notably beats Player Unknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) highest-ever player count recorded on Steam, which topped out at just more than 3 million players. Fortnite's popularity is off the charts.

Fortnite has a lot going for it, including approachable gameplay modes, bright and zany graphics, and an excellent construction system. Iffy combat and the presence of microtransactions detracts from the experience, but, as it is a free-to-play game, fans of the genre should still give it a shot. The title is on virtually every platform that plays video games.

2019's inaugural Fortnite World Cup saw 16-year-old Kyle "Bugha" Giersdorf take home $3 million from a $30 million prize pool.

The King of Fighters XIV

SNK's latest entry in the long-running The King of Fighters series ain't the prettiest fighter in town, and the title doesn't consistently headline Evo, but it's one of the best competitive fighting games on the market.

KOFXIV's deep combo system, team-based action, massive 58-person roster, varied special attacks, supers, and offensive, defensive, and movement options combine to form a spectator game that's as thrilling to watch as fighters with higher profiles. To be fair, those same qualities make KOFXIV a somewhat intimidating game to master, but should you put in the work, the rewards are immensely satisfying.

Even though KOFXIV isn't a main Evo game, it's supported by the SNK World Championship series.

League of Legends

League of Legends, Riot Games' free-to-play, multiplayer online battle arena title is, simply put, the best MOBA game you can buy. Its gameplay incorporates elements of role playing, tower defense, and real-time strategy—a combination that differentiates it from the many cookie cutter MOBAs that have flooded the market.

League of Legends' accessibility is one of its highlights, but that does not mean it lacks complex core gameplay elements. The way skillshots, cooldowns, unique abilities, and equipment work in tandem makes League of Legends the face of MOBA gaming, outclassing the likes of Dota 2 and Heroes of the Storm.

In terms of esports, Riot Games supports the title via the League of Legends Championship Series. The tournament boasts a prize pool of more than $2 million.

Mortal Kombat 11

Mortal Kombat 11, developer NetherRealm Studios' newest fighting game, is far more than the cracked skulls, severed spines, and blood spurts on which the series built its fame. The narrative sequel to Mortal Kombat X, Mortal Kombat 11 uses time travel to pit characters against their rivals in the past in order to alter the present.

Thanks to animation improvements and new offensive and defensive mechanics, the mercs, ninjas, gods, and monsters play better than ever. As a result, Mortal Kombat 11 is an excellent entry point for people unfamiliar with the series (or those who've lapsed).

NetherRealm Studios supports Mortal Kombat 11 via its Mortal Kombat Pro Series esports initiative.

Overwatch

Shooters don't always have to be dark, gritty, or realistic. Cartoony fun has its place, even in gun-filled PC games. That place has been filled by Valve's Team Fortress 2 for nearly a decade, but now Blizzard's taken the reigns with Overwatch. It takes all of Team Fortress 2's hallmarks, such as colorful levels, multiple game modes that focus on teams attacking and defending, and cool characters with vastly different play styles, and adds a few MOBA-like twists.

Overwatch is a thoroughly enjoyable first-person shooter that's filled with mechanical variety, thanks to the game's many heroes and classes. As you might expect, it has developed a highly successful esports scene. Blizzard supports the Overwatch competitive scene with several esports initiatives, including the Overwatch World Cup.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG)

Like many other games in the open-world survival or first-person shooter genres, the primary goal of PUBG is to be the last player alive. However, PUBG doesn't adhere to the genre norms. It takes some of the best aspects of open world games, combines it with the mechanics of a good first-person shooter, and accommodates a player base typical of MMOs.

There's also a good balance of gameplay elements. For example, you get to choose where to parachute down on the map, everyone starts without a weapon, and there's a deadly and giant shimmering blue dome that reduces the playable area every so often. It's tense, but extremely entertaining.

The PUBG Global Invitational has a prize pool of more than $2 million.

Rocket League

2015's out-of-nowhere hit, a game that still dominates Steam sales charts, is one of the few sports games not associated with a real-life league that receives massive esports love.

Rocket League, with its fast car-based game play, explosive hits, and thrilling shots on goal is a raw thrill, especially when it's played by professionals. Seriously, if you thought your last-second score was impressive, wait until you see someone with supreme skills drive up a wall, flip off it, and score from center field.

The Rocket League Championship Series is where you'll find the world's best players pulling off incredible maneuvers. The most recent competition featured a $1 million prize pool.

Samurai Shodown

The original Samurai Shodown found an audience back in the 1990s thanks to its unique weapon-based bouts, feudal Japanese setting, and bloody flourishes. Still, it was a tough fighting game for some people to pick up due to the methodical combat and shocking damage scaling; characters hit brutally hard, so a few simple mistakes could cost you the match and your quarter.

Despite no new series entries in more than a decade, developer SNK rebooted Samurai Shodown, preserving many of the classic gameplay mechanics that made the original games so memorable.

Samurai Shodown became an Evo game in its first year (2019), and is also supported by the SNK World Championship series.

StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void

What's a real-time strategy (RTS) title to do in a gaming landscape packed with MOBAs? If you're talking StarCraft Il, the answer is simple: continue to offer best-in-class gameplay and multi-million-dollar cash prizes in the StarCraft II World Championship Series.

The StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void expansion has the military strategy that die-hards adore, while simultaneously serving as a fantastic conclusion to Blizzard's five-year saga. It's truly one of the most satisfying strategy games ever made, though novice RTS viewers may not appreciate all the complexities on display during high-level play.

The Global StarCraft II League has a prize pool topping a half million dollars at the time of this writing.

Street Fighter V

      Street Fighter V, despite its rocky start and DLC shenanigans, may very well be the most accessible esports title for people who don't identify as gamers.

The simple premise of two people punching themselves unconscious is one that's damn near universal. The idea has existed in many forms, including ancient gladiator clashes, professional boxing, and UFC—and is instantly recognizable, despite the hadokens, sonic booms, and other ridiculous super-powered attacks.

As a result, Street Fighter V is one of the rare esports games that receives significant mainstream airtime, with several high-profile tournaments being broadcast on Disney XD, ESPN 2, and TBS. It's bolstered by the Capcom Pro Tour, a series with a cash pool that tops $600,000.

Tekken 7

Tekken 7, like the main-line Tekken games that came before it, is a tale of fathers and sons attempting to murder each other to purge the Mishima clan from the Devil Gene, a magical DNA bit that transforms certain people into hell spawn.

Though Tekken 7 is known for its single-player story, the game thrives as an esport due to its multiple fighting styles, 3D movement (which creates new avenues for attacking and dodging), and slow-motion effects that kick in when both fighters' life bars are low and they perform simultaneous close-quarter melee attacks. High-level play results in many Kung Fu Theater-like moments that you won't see in rival fighting games.

The Tekken World Tour is where the best pro players duke it out, for prizes totaling nearly $200,000.

School Participation In Esports Grows As Supporters Fight For Relevance

School Participation In Esports Grows As Supporters Fight For Relevance 1180 813 esctoday
Esports Advisers Say The "Requirements Are Similar To Traditional Sports"

No one at Montello High School had received an athletic scholarship since 2000.

Finally during the 2017-18 school year, two students did. They weren't captains of the football team or all-star softball players — these were the best video gamers.

The next school year, two more students won scholarships for participating in esports — a growing field in extracurricular high school athletics of organized, competitive video game play that pits students against teams from other schools.

The Montello School District serves fewer than 700 students in an area northeast of Baraboo. For the small district, esports is proving to be a real opportunity, said David Lockstein, information technology director at Montello.

Internationally, esports has ballooned into a multi-billion dollar industry, with professional leagues, brand endorsements, a devoted subculture and niche news websites. The debate rages on about whether esports is actually a sport, with advocates saying it requires the same amount of practice and focus as other sports, and naysayers pointing out deficiencies in encouraging movement and body strengthening.

But Lockstein said scholarship awards for esports lend credence to recognizing the activity as a true sport, and participation in esports has gone up over the past several years.

Bryan Erskine, technology director at the Clinton Community School District — about 10 miles northeast of Beloit — said the first year esports was a multi-district event in Wisconsin, eight schools participated. The second year that number grew to 16. During the 2018-19 school year, 32 schools participated.

Now, at least 80 schools have shown interest in participating, according to the nonprofit Wisconsin High School Esports Association.

"Interest has been huge, and I would expect that growth to continue," Lockstein said.

At Clinton, students build their own groups of at least four participants and can play in any of the two seasons throughout the school year. Across the state, students play sports game Rocket League, first-person shooter game Overwatch, fighting game Super Smash Brothers and multiplayer online battle game League of Legends.

League of Legends is a free game, helping to reduce the cost for players. And the games run well on school computers, which negates the added cost of students having to buy their own equipment to play, Erskine said. Adding that the games also encourage communication, teamwork and time management, and differ in the amount of team members required to play.

Tabby Fiedler has been a gamer since she was at least 4 or 5 years old, more recently getting into video games such as Minecraft and World of Warcraft. Now a junior at Montello High School, she’s been tapped as the varsity team’s main healer for Overwatch played during this fall season.

"It can help us meet new people or get people involved in games," Fiedler said of her school’s decision to participate in esports. "You never know what someone is good at, you build skills and there’s critical thinking involved."

At Montello, about 40 middle and high school students participate on the team, though a majority of them perform in the background. Some work on broadcasting the games and others work with graphics or computer programming.

Students have to be actively engaged in school, Erskine said. They also need to keep their grades up and their behavior on point, or they risk not being able to play.

There’s implications for the future, too, Lockstein said, because students are learning skills that could tie into careers later on, possibly even in the realm of esports. The job search site Indeed lists more than 800 job openings for esports-related positions in the U.S.

Erskine said despite rising popularity, advocates are still trying to teach the benefits of esports to teachers and community members alike.

"It’s something we hope schools will incorporate," he said.