FPS Esports: Trouble in Paradise

There has been a monolithic rise in FPS Esports since our last open bracket run, just 5 years ago. The big names in Esports collectively began raising hundreds of millions of dollars as Professional Esports Leagues, such as the Call of Duty League began a city franchise system much like that of traditional pro sports.

Featuring a $25 Million franchise buy in along with the attraction of top tier sponsors, the Call of Duty League quickly became a fully funded Esports Powerhouse with events online and in franchised stadiums showcasing the best Call of Duty players in the world as they compete for millions in prize pool money.

This all sounds great. But what about the longevity of the scene?

The COD League created Challengers as the official path to pro. A place for the current Franchised Teams to seriously scout for new talent as current Pro Players either retire or get dropped. Now the Challengers League is comprised of a few hundred teams and is dominated by the North American (NA) Region which the COD League defines as United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica.

 

The Challenger Champs is the biggest opportunity for a Challenger player to get noticed by a Franchised Professional Team. However, the format only allows for 2 NA Team slots out of a total of 8. Thus, creating a large problem in the COD Community. The dominant NA region has much more upcoming talent to showcase, while other regions experience an easy ride to champs. There were talks of NA Teams that didn’t place top 2, go to Europe or Latin America to win the spots there. But League officials have banned this activity.

An upset Challengers Community where the vast majority now feel they have nothing to play for and are being ignored by the League have started a petition calling for serious change to the Challenger Format. As of June 21 2022, the petition has garnered over 2,200 signatures.

There is hope that League Officials will listen to their community to ensure all of the upcoming talent is properly featured and rewarded. There are many deserving of the spotlight that have been grinding all year, every year. Just for a shot at getting looked at and earn serious enough money at champs to justify a continued full time commitment. 8 Teams is not enough to support the ecosystem. But swift action now will nurture the entire scene from the bottom up in the long term. Sign the petition Here

 

In other news, The Halo Championship Series (HCS) has been plagued with similar problems. To cut production time, the format is usually Best of 3 series which has undoubtedly cut down the hype and viewership numbers of the league. While this league doesn’t city franchise, the Professional Scene is dominated with household names in Esports. But some appear to be looking for the door out as player base and stream numbers have been plummeting. While HCS partnered orgs receive $5 for every team skin bundle sold in the game, it is minuscule compared to the $10,000+ monthly upkeep of a salaried Professional Halo Team. It has us and many others pondering where the ROI is and if the HCS Program will be continuing after the World Championships in October.