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  1. #1

    The State of WoW Arena as an eSport?

    Let me preface this by saying: I haven't paid a lot of attention to the WoW professional/eSport arena "scene" since late Wrath.

    I remember back when most if not every Intel Extreme Masters/Major League Gaming event had a WoW 3v3 bracket...but now that I'm planning on attending IEM Hanover and looking at the roster, all I see played is LoL and SC2 (which are both great games, and honestly I'm going to the event for the LoL tournament). Has WoW completely dropped off the eSports radar? I remember in WotlK, Blizzard was making a huge push to have WoW arena be an eSport on the level of CounterStrike and Starcraft.

    What the hell happened?

  2. #2
    I dont know what has happened since its gone, but ive heard roumors that it might come back to the eSport scene again soon.

  3. #3
    SC2 sort of took over as the esport focus and wow dropped off.

    The biggest issue was that wow pvp is just never balanced enough for it to be a true esport due to fotm OP classes and gear.

  4. #4
    Theres multiple problems with wow being an epsort.

    First its not exactly a fun game to watch. SC2 has crazy monsters fighting futuristic marines with lasers and explosions everywhere. WoW has 6 guys running around pillars with text flying everywhere.

    Second its hard for someone new to understand whats going on. SC2 is a complex game but its always red army vs blue army and its easy to tell who is winning with whoever has the most guys. WoW is a constant back and forth with no clear winner until one team is dead on the floor.

    Third when listening to the commentators for WoW it gets damn confusing. They spurt out about 30 spell names in about 5 seconds and then someone almost dies but then come back to full health. Some games end in 30 seconds while others last 15 minutes, the 30 second match can be exciting but confusing while the 15 minute match is more understandable but boring. While in SC2 and LoL you have a starting point and a progression to what is going on thus being far easier to understand and follow whats going on.

    It all boils down to WoW not being a good candidate for an esport.

  5. #5
    Field Marshal Redversion's Avatar
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    While balance is an issue, I do not think it is an enormous one. For example, if you look at fighting games not all characters in those are viable. An example would be Super Smash Bros. Melee where you have a huge roster available, but more than half the characters are not seen as "tier 1."

    The biggest wall that World of Warcraft faces in the eSport scene is that you need to play WoW to understand what is going on, and even then not everyone that plays WoW knows what is going on. There are many spells in WoW and they keep adding more. Also, arenas are very spontaneous. Random kills happen, and it's very anti-climatic to be watching a game and suddenly a player dies that the commentators were not even watching.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Redversion View Post
    While balance is an issue, I do not think it is an enormous one. For example, if you look at fighting games not all characters in those are viable. An example would be Super Smash Bros. Melee where you have a huge roster available, but more than half the characters are not seen as "tier 1."

    The biggest wall that World of Warcraft faces in the eSport scene is that you need to play WoW to understand what is going on, and even then not everyone that plays WoW knows what is going on. There are many spells in WoW and they keep adding more. Also, arenas are very spontaneous. Random kills happen, and it's very anti-climatic to be watching a game and suddenly a player dies that the commentators were not even watching.
    You know, as someone who doesn't really play SC2, I feel like some of these "The game is confusing if you don't know how to play, the commentators use jargon, etc" are completely unfair when said in regards to WoW, as they apply just as well to SC2 as well. Yeah, I can enjoy watching things explode on screen in an SC2 match, but when the commentators start talking about why players are building X, unit abilities, etc, I get completely lost.

    As well, WoW "balance" was enough to keep it around as a viable eSport from BC era to (I guess it truly died off as an esport in) Cata?

  7. #7
    If I remember right, WoW stopped being a real eSport in season 9 or season 10. Nearly everyone lost their partnerships/sponsors and it was dropped from the MLG circuit. MLG didn't go into much detail but it was pretty much said that it was because of lack of eSport support from Blizzard, and the fact that the game wasn't balanced.

    (Also, it's not a very good spectator sport. If someone watches WoW and wants to try it, they can't.. unless they level for weeks and then gear up for weeks).

    Player-run tournaments are nice, and get a fair amount of viewers (nothing in comparison to LoL tournys), but until Blizzard themselves host a 24/7 tournament realm where players can start a character at level 90 with max gear it wont get picked up by MLG etc again. (and give tournament hosts access to a tournament UI - a large problem was the GM spectator client was only allowed to be used during Blizzcon).

  8. #8
    While arena certainly lends it well as a competitive e-sport (balance issues aside), it isn't well suited as a spectator e-sport. There are some things that could be done to help address this, but there are some fundamental obstacles that I really don't see being overcome.

    Complexity is a huge issue. While we don't tend to think of WoW as being all that complicated of a game, visually speaking, when you take into consideration the number of abilities being used and things happening during the average 3s match, it is quite complicated.

    You and I can watch streams, or can watch footage from one of the BlizzCon tournaments, and it makes sense to us. We're WoW PvPers though.

    The important thing about e-sports (same as regular sports) is that you have to be able to understand them and appreciate them as a spectator, even if you don't play the game/sport at all.

    The thing we take for granted is just how complicated and "visually hectic" WoW PvP can be for someone who doesn't actively PvP. You can take a PvE hero, someone that plays the same game 6+ hours a day (but doesn't pvp), and even they can get totally lost watching the same tournament video or livestream that you and I make perfect sense of and find entertaining.

    If someone who plays the game that much (but in a different way) can watch an arena match and honestly ask "what he heck just happened?" at the end of it, it's probably nearly impossible for someone who doesn't play the game, or has only experienced it casually to really appreciate what's happening.

    If you look at more successful e-sport platforms, they're much simpler in terms of what the viewer sees or needs to understand to appreciate the game. That's not to say that the games take any less skill, or are any less complicated in terms of strategy or win conditions, but those win conditions and strategy are represented visually in a way that's easier for a viewer that isn't necessarily "in the know" to digest or relate to.

    Like I said earlier, there are certain things that Blizzard could do to simplify things somewhat for the viewer, but when you think of all of the things that separate good pvpers from great pvpers (in WoW arena), those ill still be all of the things that don't translate well to the viewer.

    It's easy to recognize smart team play, or to appreciate a particularly amazing on the fly headshot in a shooter. It's fairly easy to grasp feint and counter tactics, or marvel a risky, balls-to-the-wall gambles in an RTS.

    No amount of spectator UI improvements will really make things like management of DR, smart CC, or well planned alignment of burst and switches as intuitive as the above, particularly to people that don't actively participate in WoW arena themselves. To the average viewer it's just "Team X won because they killed 3 people (or one) first", and by itself, that doesn't make for great entertainment.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Nimosus View Post
    I dont know what has happened since its gone, but ive heard roumors that it might come back to the eSport scene again soon.
    not a chance, ever since arena was dropped from MLG, blizz doesn't even try to pretend they are attempting balance.
    Stormspellz -mugthol
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  10. #10
    This game is entirely balanced around raiding, that's why it didn't catch on years ago. Even if it were balanced today the pvp community is a fraction of what it used to be, most have moved on. This means less competitors and a smaller audience.

  11. #11
    SC2 is dying and WoW doesn't seem to be making a comeback. LoL is the new hotness right now for better or worse.

  12. #12
    I really don't understand what everyone is on about when they say that WoW use to be an esport... MLG was nothing, just a small event when it came to WoW. WoW has never been a major esport so stop it.

  13. #13
    Banned Ryan Cailan Ebonheart's Avatar
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    Wow's pvp will never be an e-sport because the entry level for new players is so unforgiving. There's really no unranked system or public queue matches for people who are new to the game to get a better understanding and possibly find people at their same level to play with. When you play this game as a new player, you're basically at the mercy of the social hierarchy and have to lie about how good you are to be accepted by the hive mind.

  14. #14
    The Lightbringer Ermahgerd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Banzubie View Post
    Theres multiple problems with wow being an epsort.

    First its not exactly a fun game to watch. SC2 has crazy monsters fighting futuristic marines with lasers and explosions everywhere. WoW has 6 guys running around pillars with text flying everywhere.

    Second its hard for someone new to understand whats going on. SC2 is a complex game but its always red army vs blue army and its easy to tell who is winning with whoever has the most guys. WoW is a constant back and forth with no clear winner until one team is dead on the floor.

    Third when listening to the commentators for WoW it gets damn confusing. They spurt out about 30 spell names in about 5 seconds and then someone almost dies but then come back to full health. Some games end in 30 seconds while others last 15 minutes, the 30 second match can be exciting but confusing while the 15 minute match is more understandable but boring. While in SC2 and LoL you have a starting point and a progression to what is going on thus being far easier to understand and follow whats going on.

    It all boils down to WoW not being a good candidate for an esport.
    Tbh all of your points are more of opinions.

    WoW not being a fun game to watch isn't exactly true, and to use SC2 as arguement is even worse. I tried watching SC2 gameplay, but it was A HELL OF A LOT more confusing to me as I had no CLUE to what the F was happening. You also might say that WoW is "just" 6 players walking around pillars, but you also get to see multiple perspectives, and some of the spell/ability animations look pretty damn sick.

    With your second point I agree. It's hard to figure out dafuq is going on if you're new/not doing PvP. But the same goes for any other tournament game. Like I said above, I tried watching SC2, but it was extremely confusing. Same goes for LoL tournaments btw. For someone somewhat new to the game like me, watching an LoL tournament with like 10 players with 10 different champions of the IDK how many champions is really confusing.

    As for your third point, it's true that they spur out every important ability that's going on, some commentaters might even have to take a chill pill, but yet again. When I watched a LoL stream it got quite hasty aswell and I couldnt keep up with anything.

    Though, now I do agree that WoW is only killing. There's no RBG tournaments because they're boring as fuck to watch as there's nothing exciting going on.

    WoW used to be a good candidate for esports. Just look at the infamous orangemarmelade tournament.

    Bah, I'm basically countering myself by saying I do agree with you that WoW isn't a good esport candidate anymore. Everything is too imbalanced and there are way too many DPS cds in the game. I think pvp was better during wotlk (idk about tbc, only started playing at the end of the expansion pack).

    But yeah, I'm throwing it on PvP being too imbalanced and gimpy.

  15. #15
    Lack of spectator support
    Lack of balance from one season to the next
    Horribly boring to watch (Yey, Pillarhumping for 45 minutes at Blizzcon)

    Those seem to come to come to mind quickly, all of them pretty much make it a terrible eSport to watch as a spectator.

    I reckon RBGs could possibly be made into eSport material, if the meta for RBGs can be shifted away from Spellcleave and into something more DotA/LoL-oriented. But as it stands, unless either get a drastic revamp neither will ever be considered as an eSport again.
    "Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it." - Ayn Rand

  16. #16
    I think one of the bigger issues is that the commentators that Blizzard always gets for BlizzCon/other tournaments are absolutely AWFUL. They're terrible, there's no nice way of putting it. They don't engage the viewers, the babble about unimportant or stupid things, and the stuff they say at times is retarded. I remember watching one tournament and a commentator mentioned a DK having to sac his pet to live - commentator A asked commentator B "Do you think it was worth it for him to sac his pet to live?" Commentator B looked at commentator A as if he were the biggest derp in the world and was like "Um... anything is better than dying and losing..."

    Other things people have brought up are valid points.

    Balance is only an issue for sponsors. People aren't going to want to invest money in say... Reckful back when he only played rogue because of the risk of a patch hitting and rogues all of a sudden being complete shit. This of course can be minimized by players being able to play multiple classes at the top level, but it is just another barrier of entry and do people REALLY want to level 3 classes and then gear farm on them EVERY season... a perma TR sort of thing would help with this tremendously but... blizzard will never do that because it would kill the "RPG" aspect of the game.

    They could make a UI that could make watching games more appealing to people that don't understand the game on a deep level, but mostly having good commentators would help that a bunch. For example if you watch MTG (Magic: The Gathering) tournaments, they have the ability to pull a card up on the screen so that people can see exactly what it does - then the commentators can spend a few seconds briefly explaining the card - this should be done for abilities. Commentators need to have an intricate understanding of the game like Day9 does for SC2, because what makes WoW exciting is the "clutch" plays and the little things going on that can be difficult to actually notice - like people kicking 0.5 second casts, instantly mass dispelling ice blocks/bubbles for kills and things like that.

    Anyways, I have basically relegated myself to the fact that WoW will never be a true e-Sport, although I think it does have potential... I just wish Blizzard would realize this and capitalize on it... I have plenty of ideas that my friends and I have come up with throughout the years if people want to discuss the matter in more detail.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Thassarian View Post
    Lack of spectator support
    Lack of balance from one season to the next
    Horribly boring to watch (Yey, Pillarhumping for 45 minutes at Blizzcon)

    Those seem to come to come to mind quickly, all of them pretty much make it a terrible eSport to watch as a spectator.

    I reckon RBGs could possibly be made into eSport material, if the meta for RBGs can be shifted away from Spellcleave and into something more DotA/LoL-oriented. But as it stands, unless either get a drastic revamp neither will ever be considered as an eSport again.
    I finally found my opposite equivalent.

  18. #18
    Problem with RBGs as an esport is that they're currently 10v10 oriented. That would be a HUGE commitment for a sponsor to send all those players to tournaments constantly. If they toned the number of players down to even 5v5 (which they've discussed) I think that and a proper spectator client could go a long way in making RBGs somewhat of an esport. Especially given that RBGs are objective-based play. I'm not sure the current battlegrounds would be very compatible for 5v5s though. It would really have to change to something more GW2-esque with control points capture-able in more of a king of the hill style rather than click flag and wait 8 seconds.

    I donno though... there would have to be such tremendous changes to make RBGs any sort of esport that I don't think it'd be worth it. Arenas would really be the best way to get WOW back into the e-Sport scene but even then it is ultimately in Blizzard's hands.

  19. #19
    Moderator Yvaelle's Avatar
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    From what I remember of MLG withdrawing their support - it was because they wanted greatly expanded power over WoW, private arena servers with near-GM level commands for commentators and MLG admins (tournament servers came later) - and possibly even the right to have an alternate buff/nerf universe specific to high end pvp. Blizzard denied their requests, and they got angry and stormed off ostensibly crying about how 'WoW is unbalanced'.

    I used to be sponsored in Counter-strike 1.6 and Source (and Quake 3 to a lesser extent) - while those games clearly lend themselves more to being easy to follow (you are a human, you are shot in the head, that's probably a bad thing!), I don't actually agree that the problem with WoW as an eSport is that it's hard to follow. I think that while games like LoL and FPS and RTS make sense to have a commentator: WoW doesn't.

    I can watch how any given CS team moves out of spawn - and tell you with 90% accuracy what their plan is for the round: my experience is beneficial commentary to the uninitiated. A competitive LoL player knows all the combos / synergies for each team - they can anticipate who will be in each lane for each team and what to expect (how the ganks will occur, sona/MF double ultimates etc) - their commentary is beneficial. A competitive RTS player can watch early build orders and largely predict the strategy of both sides - their commentary is beneficial to viewers who don't know all the latest strategies and recognize them off a build order.

    By contrast, applying the same commentary that works for all three of the above, to WoW arenas, makes no sense at all. Way too much is going on at any moment in WoW for a commentator to recognize and predict what six top-end players are doing in real-time and accurately predict future outcomes. That doesn't mean that WoW is a shitty eSport - it just means we view it and commentate on it incorrectly. Often times the best way to watch a top end match is with no commentator - and just listen to the communication between the teams themselves - this is why the WoW pvp community has gravitated toward live streams (twitch) and youtube.

    If you listen to how Reckful and Talbadar communicate - anyone with any MMO experience can follow along quite well - who is on defense, who is on offense, how their CC chain is going, who their kill target is - teams have to communicate this amongst themselves, and listening to how the team is communicating and responding to their opponents is much more informative than a commentator. By contrast, having someone belligerently yelling acronyms at you in a radio voice - making predictions about strategies that are almost always wrong - is disorienting and confusing. I've played Spriest/Rogue/Healer comps since s8 and consider myself a pretty good spriest - I'm probably more qualified than any MLG commentator to predict Reckful/Talbadar's behaviour in real-time - and I can't. I can comment usefully on FPS, LoL, and Dawn of War 1/2 (but not SC2) - but despite all my WoW experience over the last 8 years - that kind of commentary is useless.

    WoW arenas are like watching a fist-fight tournament between a 32 alien species, where two teams of three different alien species face each other at the same time. Punches and kicks and lunges and grapples occur way too fast to comment on or predict the strategy of accurately in real-time - but the event itself looks pretty awesome if you just watch it for what it is (a brawl)! To enjoy viewing it, you only have to enjoy viewing the brawl - but to try to predict it you need to know which species (classes, if you haven't caught my metaphor) spits acid, or teleports, or transforms into a gelatinous blob when attacked.

    A more useful model for MMO eSports would have greatly diminished commentary during the fight, and more pre and post-game commentary about strategies going in and whether the fighters felt their initial strategy was successful after the match: like Boxxing, Martial Arts, or UFC. During the match, you should be listening only to the teams communication with each other. RBGs might be a more appropriate emphasis for early MMO eSports - you can talk about team strategy and success and what they need to watch for much better than in arenas. Actually - that's the crux of the problem right there - RBGs, FPS, LoL, RTS commentary is ALL macro-level commentary for the most part - arenas are solely micro-level combat and so the commentary is trying to keep up with a far more complex micro-level engagement.
    Last edited by Yvaelle; 2013-03-06 at 09:32 PM.
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  20. #20
    Stood in the Fire Fernling306's Avatar
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    Sadly WoW is far ahead of any other mmorpg in terms of an esport. There was a few that attempted, but they failed miserably, mainly gw2.

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