PUBG Mobile is launching a new Global Championship tournament, one which director James Yang hopes will catapult it to the very top of global esports. The tournament is set to take place in November this year and will feature a $2 million prize pool.
Speaking in an online press conference, Yang detailed the plans for the tournament, its inspiration, and what direction he felt PUBG Mobile was heading in, as well as explaining how the pandemic would affect this year’s inaugural championship.
Perhaps most interesting though was Yang’s response when asked where he saw PUBG Mobile’s Global Championship in the next five years, which was nothing if not confident. “We want to be a Tier 1 esport. We want to be the world’s number one mobile esport, and maybe we already are. But the main goal is to be a Tier 1, main pipeline esport. League of Legends, Dota 2, we want to be as big as them. Maybe we can be bigger than them!”
Lofty ambitions, but Yang seemed under no illusions that PUBG Mobile’s road to the apex of competitive gaming would be a hard one, explaining how the structures needed for long term success aren’t quite there at the moment. “Our mobile esports ecosystem is not really built yet. We know it will take time, especially for the European region. Audiences there are willing to watch PC games, but they’re still getting used to mobile.”
There is a plan in place for helping bridge the gap between East and West though; removing the gap entirely. While the PUBG Mobile World League has separate divisions for Eastern and Western teams, the Global Championship is doing away with all that. Yang says that “we need to make this global, so we couldn’t have the divide between East and West. We didn’t want it.”
It’s a decision which does make the championship feel like a more global event, and offers some opportunities for new and exciting matchups. There will be 20 teams in total, which will be comprised of the current 40 teams competing across the Eastern and Western Divisions of the World League.
What happens in the Championship won’t affect any other PUBG Mobile tournament however, other than the fact that the overall winners may be invited back automatically next year; although that decision is not final.
The tournament will run annually as the esport’s biggest event, and while crowds are a planned feature for the future, the current pandemic limits the possibilities this year. “I think right now, the possibility of an onsite audience is very small. At this moment, we don’t think we can have any for the finals.”
For the 2020 tournament, that means setting up multiple different studios around the world, and using those as the host venue for each team. This is rather than having players compete from home, as other newly online esports have done. “It’s a new way of hosting esports events; they’re all in the proper environment, but they’re separate environments.”
Whether or not PUBG Mobile can even come close to League of Legends’ power on the esports scene remains to be seen, but it’s already redefining what the limitations are for a mobile game at a high level. The Global Championships don’t lack for ambition, and feel like a natural next step as PUBG Mobile continues to boldly go where no mobile game has gone before.