If there is one area that remains under-represented in the current esports scene, it’s mobile gaming. However, that could change after ESL announced it’s partnering with communications giants AT&T to create the brand-new ESL Mobile Open.
The new tournament is slated to be a year-round mobile esports league. It will start March 18. Initially, the focus of the ESL Mobile Open will be on three very popular mobile games: PUBG Mobile, Clash of Clans and Asphalt 9: Legends, a mobile-racing game. The league’s inaugural season will come with a $330,000 prize pool.
In a press release sent to GamesBeat, the CEO of ESL Gaming North America stated:
“We believe that mobile will provide the opportunity to bring the next generation of esports enthusiasts into the fold.
“A first in the industry, ESL Mobile Open was developed to provide anyone with phone access to compete at the highest levels with both established and emerging mobile esports titles.
“AT&T is a natural for this program with their commitment to innovation in esports and gaming and by promoting broad access for players of all types and levels.”
ESL Mobile Open’s first season will be contested at DreamHack Dallas, ESL One New York, and DreamHack Atlanta later this year. This means mobile gamers receive the same opportunities to play in front of packed crowds as console or PC gamers.
Although the latest predictions for the esports industry predict growth and 1 billion-plus in revenues come the end of 2019, those predictions seem largely based on the continued expansion of the more dominant PC and console markets.
However, with mobile devices now widely available, and with a growing percentage of the world’s population having access to higher speed connections, mobile esports is a vast, untapped resource.
Of course, purists and tech-heads may bristle at the thought of esports on mobile devices. But social gaming, for one, has proven hugely popular on social networks, as have player vs. player games. Thus, it’s little wonder top companies are targeting the area.
The primary reason for that is, of course, cost. It is cheaper to purchase a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet than to pay for a high-quality esports setup on PC and console. The cost issue is key for expanding mobile gaming markets. For example, poorer countries with vast populations, such as India or China, have seen the mobile industry explode.
How will the ESL Mobile Open be organized?
The first year will be divided into three seasons. The first will start March 18, and each of the three seasons will follow the same structure.
- Phase 1 – Open Qualifier – This is the initial phase of the tournament in which all players competing in the event will compete across four weeks. At the end of those four weeks, the top 50 percent of players will move on to the next phase.
- Phase 2 – Closed Qualifier – The top half of players then face off. Once again, the field will be cut by half upon completion of this phase.
- Phase 3 – Final Eliminators – The remaining players compete once again, with several games being broadcast live by the ESL. From these games, a small number of players will earn chances to compete at one of the three big events, DreamHack Dallas, ESL One New York or DreamHack Atlanta, on stage in front of thousands of spectators.
Registration to compete in the ESL Mobile Open is available right now for PUBG Mobile and Clash of Clans, with registration for Asphalt 9: Legends opening on March 18. More information on these events is available on ESL’s Twitter and Facebook feeds, as well as at their website for the tournament.
If the first season proves to be a success for ESL and AT&T, it is likely the range of games on offer for mobile players will expand.
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