Could World of Warships sink its eSports rivals?

Wargaming’s new naval game is only in beta, but it’s shaping up to be an incredible spectator sport.

World of Tanks has gone from a small hard-core tank simulation enjoyed by those who love the tiniest details on Panzers and M3s to one of the biggest eSports in the world, with a Grand Final that brings in millions of viewers and offers hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money.

Never a studio to rest on its laurels though, World of Tanks developer is working on a new game, World of Warships. Despite its very early closed beta state it’s already shaping up to join World of Tanks on the major eSports stage: here’s why.

eSports support from Wargaming
World of Tanks was never originally developed to be an eSports title, according to multiple sources at Wargaming. The team were just creating a game they wanted to make; it was the community’s desire to form a large eSports scene around the game that lead Wargaming to set up the League. Already, the same thing appears to be happening with World of Warships, it is still early in development and Wargaming have said that at this moment they are not developing Warships to be an eSports game – but the community is already starting to call for competitive World of Warships events and dedicated support for competitions, as shown by the fan support for the handful of minor online tournaments that have already taken place, featuring teams such as Seal See Kätzchen and PS-PS-PS.

As the community is already calling for competition it is difficult to see Wargaming not supporting World of Warships as an eSport. However now it has the experience of running the World of Tanks competitions and hosting multiple large-scale events; hopefully it can avoid many of the teething problems it faced first time around.

Potential for massive plays
One of the best parts of watching any eSport is when a pro players manages to pull off something amazing, whether it be a 1v5 clutch in CS:GO, a perfect five man black hole in Dota or wiping out an opponent in a single turn with one health left in Hearthstone. It’s these moments that makes everyone’s jaw drop in awe, and makes people shout and scream at their screens. Fortunately World of Warships has the potential for these types of plays to happen on a regular basis.

Actually hitting an enemy with the majority of weapons on offer in Warships is quite difficult, especially at range. It can take time for your guns to get into position and if your enemy is moving at the same time it becomes very difficult to line up a shot, even more so when using things such as torpedoes. But there’s still the opportunity for lucky strikes, like a half court lob thrown to beat the buzzer: that sort of spectacle is what eSports is meant for. It’s an unlikely but not rare occurrence in closed beta – we can already hear the noise the crowd makes when an eSports organisation pulls off a hit like that in 1v1 from across the map for the first time in competitive play.

High skill level
World of Warships is not about reflexes, but making lots of calculations, and quickly. You have to consider your position, the enemy’s position, how fast they are moving and what the distance is between the two of you all within a very short time frame. This means that the skill level in Warships is incredibly high, as it’s not only difficult to hit others, but a missed shot could give the opposition a lot of information and could potentially turn a close game.

Being able to watch those who operate on another tactical level is another draw to eSports. World of Warships seems to have the right balance of easy to pick up and play, yet incredibly difficult to master, even at this early stage of development.

Lots of possibilities for crazy strategies

An aircraft carrier in World of Warships

Much like its bigger brother, World of Warships has different tiers of ships along with different classes. It’s the classes that will result in the crazy strategies, as unlike World of Tanks some of them are very different. There are the big bulky battleships you would expect to see, with large guns and lots of firepower, but poor manoeuvrability. Joining them are the smaller and quicker destroyers that carry the deadly torpedoes and the cruisers who will inevitably become the scouts. However the class that will really impact top flight competitive strategies are the aircraft carriers.

Aircraft carriers totally change the game in more ways than one. When you play as an aircraft carrier the view of the game changes to a top down view of the map where you click to move your ship. However the real fun of aircraft carriers is launching the sets of aircraft you have and coordinating attacks from this top down view. If played well a single aircraft carrier can change a game, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see multiple aircraft carrier strategies to totally confuse the opponents.

Tense gameplay
One of the reasons many have said that World of Warships won’t work as an eSport is due to its slower pace – in our experience in the beta, matches regularly run longer than 20 minutes with only brief flurries of action punctuating the ocean calm. But having slow gameplay can actually be a good thing; it gives the casters a chance to actually explain what is happening as well as allowing the game to go from virtual standstill through to all out fast paced fight within seconds. The explosion of action will create incredible hype moments that with the right casting team could become as iconic as “The Play” from The International 2 or other top quality eSports moments. Sure, there might be a fair bit of downtime during the games, but with the right set of competitive rules and entertaining casting teams the slower gameplay could make for a refreshing change.

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