Is Battlerite the Next Huge eSports Title?

by Taylor Smith
on June 20, 2017

Professional video gaming – also known as eSports – is one of the fastest-growing sports on the planet. Revenues have exploded over the last few years, and now tournaments are selling out massive basketball arenas and generating massive television audiences on major platforms, such as ESPN. Games like League of Legends, Dota 2, Counter-Strike, Overwatch, Super Smash Bros. Melee and StarCraft II are just a few of the games that have broken into the eSports world. Games like Madden NFL and FIFA (soccer) are also incredibly popular among the eSports community.

Other games are always looking to break into the professional ranks, and one that seems to be gaining some serious momentum is Stunlock Studios’ Battlerite. Stunlock is the same studio that brought Bloodline Champions to the mainstream, and Battlerite is considered to be Bloodline’s spiritual successor.

Gameplay

Battlerite is similar to Bloodline, League of Legends and Super Smash Bros. in that it’s a team arena brawler that takes place in either 2v2 or 3v3 formats. Solo queues and team queues are also available. Players may choose either melee, ranged or support characters with which to do battle. Matches are short and stripped of uncontrollable elements in order to ensure that no external factors play a part in determining the outcome of said matches.

On Tuesday, June 27, Battlerite will receive its biggest update since its initial launch. The Summer Mega Patch will include a new character named Blossom “The Forest Mender.” Blossom is accompanied by her companion bird, Maxwell. The update includes 11 new legendary outfits, 10 character graphical updates, a new quest system, a weekend game mode, a new campaign mode and an updated and improved stadium experience. General gameplay tweaks are also expected in the update.

At E3 last weekend, Microsoft that Battlerite will be coming to Xbox One and the Windows 10 Store next year. The game has sold more than 600,000 copies on Steam Early Access for PC. Clearly, interest in Battlerite is growing exponentially.

eSports?

So, as you may imagine, we’re already hearing some chatter regarding Battlerite’s potential as an eSports title. There is no telling whether this may happen or when, but there’s plenty of reason to believe it has what players want out of their competitive games. PvP games of this sort have a lengthy history of being successful eSports titles, and there are plenty of avenues to explore with Battlerite from a competitive perspective.

It’s still relatively young, but the most important factor in determining which games have what it takes to get onto the eSports stage is the size of the player base. Obviously, nobody wants to watch people play a game they’ve never heard of. Battlerite still has a ways to go before it’s on the level of something like LoL, but it continues to gain steam and head in the right direction.

Battlerite launched on Steam in late 2016 and immediately surged to the top of the charts. Bloodline was a fairly popular title, but it never saw the kind of viewership that Battlerite was able to generate in an incredibly short span of time. Pre-release marketing for Battlerite was far from extensive, yet it has been able to generate a substantial following regardless.

The developers at Stunlock had eSports in mind when they designed certain tournament aspects of the game. Developers made it easy and user-friendly for players to host competitions of their own, and made the game easy-to-understand yet difficult-to-master. This is key when it comes to professional gaming. Any old jamoke can pick up FIFA and score some goals. However, a very small percentage of players has the kind of mastery required to play the game at a professional level. In that way, eSports are no different from real sports. Other than, ya know, standing up to play.

Red Bull caught up with Battlerite’s eSports manager, Alexander Hermansson, for an interview last month. He had an interesting comment regarding the game’s potential future in the professional ranks:

Q: Since launch we have seen a lot of competition and the start of a promising eSports scene for Battlerite, but at what point did the team realize the game could attract a community around it that might want to watch others play?

A: “That Battlerite had the potential to become something interesting to watch and compete in, at least for me, was clear from the very start considering how there was a fairly healthy scene in Bloodline Champions.

I think that far from many know that in Bloodline Champions SK Gaming, Team Dignitas, Low Land Lions, X6tence and others had signed teams. And that there also were a few tournaments with over $10,000 in the prize pool, which at the time back in around 2010 was a pretty decent prize pool. So with that in mind and how Battlerite is the spiritual successor to Bloodline Champions, it only seemed natural that the game would grow in the same direction.”

Hermansson went on to say that the game’s head of VR (virtual reality) came up with the idea to create a tool to watch and record matches from a cinematic perspective. That made it easier for the developers to shoot trailers for the game, which caused them to realize that this might be a game people might actually enjoy watching on their own. Cutting-edge camera angles are a part of what separates Battlerite from other similar games.

What’s the Next Step, and What about Betting?

Hermansson noted that the key for Battlerite is to be able to continue to attract new gamers while also continuing to add to the current product in a way that won’t turn the current audience off. Hopefully, the aforementioned summer patch is the next step in the process towards getting Battlerite on the eSports stage. There have been many games in the past that have had eSports aspirations, only to wind up falling short for a multitude of reasons.

From the sounds of things, it appears as though the folks in charge of Battlerite have been taking the necessary steps to ensure the game retains its inherent qualities despite the massive surge in popularity in a short time. Some teams have already emerged and done well in weekly tournaments, and back in February Onslaught eSports announced that they have signed the North American team Legendary to compete in Battlerite. While two of the team’s initial three players have subsequently been terminated by the company, Onslaught plans to continue participating in Battlerite competitions moving forward.

Having a Battlerite-specific team under the Onslaught banner was a huge step for the game’s potential long-term success in the eSports realm, and there appears to be no end in sight. As long as the new patch goes over well with the current audience, there’s no reason to believe this title won’t continue on its upward trajectory and eventually establish itself as one of the world’s most popular eSports titles.

ESports are growing rapidly, as is betting on eSports. The world has grown more knowledgeable about the world of professional gaming over the last several years, and, as such, a monstrous gambling market has emerged. As Battlerite continues to march towards eSports status, we’re already seeing a betting market for the game begin to establish itself.

As of now, though, there is no means of betting on Battlerite, considering it hasn’t reached eSports status yet. However, the developers clearly had some aspect of gambling in mind when the game was being created. Having no external factors, which means all attacks inflict the same amount of damage, no crazy weather, etc., means the outcome of the games is entirely skill-based. Obviously, that is a major factor in potentially establishing a betting market. A level playing field matters.

Of course, making the game completely skill-based may also make it much easier for bookmakers to handicap. If players aren’t able to achieve anything to give them an actual advantage over anybody else, handicapping Battlerite may be as simple as “which team has the better players?” As a result, upsets may not happen as often in this game as they do in others. That could obviously negatively affect the betting market, as bettors are constantly looking for an edge.

Of course, we really have no way of knowing how the betting market will pan out unless (until?) the game is fully released and gets onto the eSports big stage. That may happen sooner than later, though, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated when and if the game eventually breaks through into the mainstream. Until then, though, do as much research as possible on Battlerite. Then, you’ll have the edge you need over the field that may not be as familiar with the intricacies of the game.

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