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So long, esports, and thanks for all the hits

By Michael 'Zechs' Radford
Oct 19, 2010 00:41

ImageWoW's run as an esport brought the Zechs Files many hits, but it seems likely that their relationship is about to come to an end.

World of Warcraft in esports: going, going…

This is a column I’m thought about writing many times over the past six months or so. In all that time I’ve never been quite sure whether it will actually die; never been brave enough to stick my neck out. But now, with some reluctance, I feel I must.

I thought about writing this when ESL dropped WoW from this season’s IEM. I thought about writing it when World of Ming went under. I thought about writing it just based on the general lack of buzz around the game these days. But with MLG all but confirming they won’t support the game in 2011, I think they have put the final nail in WoW’s esport coffin.

Since ESL chose not to run WoW tournaments any more, MLG was the last non-Blizzard event on the calendar. With that gone, and with Blizzard promising to concentrate more on battleground in Cataclysm, WoW’s esports time is drawing to a close.
"WoW was always the spotty, red-haired cousin that never quite fit in."

In all honesty, WoW was always the spotty, red-haired cousin that never quite fit in. People who didn’t play the game despised with a vitriol I haven't seen since CS:Source first game out. Even 80% of the people who do play it think that PvP is a joke and complained bitterly when arena gear was better than PvE gear back in TBC. On top of that, the game has never been properly balanced and, in hindsight, I’m not sure Blizzard ever honestly tried to balance arenas correctly.

Now, this might seem a bit strange coming from the author of such columns as “WoW is an esport,” but I think the phrase “the lady doth protest too strong” is appropriate here. In other words, I was trying to convince myself more than anything else. I admit, I enjoyed moments of WoW’s brief esport stint, and there were some genuinely exciting moments. But all the time there was a nagging doubt about the game’s validity – did it ever really belong with the likes of WC3 and Quake Live? Maybe not.

For me, ESL is the most legitimate esports organiser in the world right now, and the fact that they refuse to run the game speaks volumes.
"As excitement for Cataclysm grows, enthusiasm for arenas seems to be going the opposite way."

But let’s be clear, WoW as a computer game is not dead. That would be an utterly ridiculous statement for a game which recently hit the 13 million subscriber mark. Cataclysm is looking pretty sweet so far and the new spells feel pretty cool (just don’t try killing any druids right now, right?). The UI changes are superb and as an MMO, World of Warcraft is getting better and better.

But as excitement for Cataclysm grows, enthusiasm for arenas seems to be going the opposite way. Season eight dragged on and on, and at the end it was filled with so much scumbaggery that any kudos that online play once had was completely demolished. With LAN tournaments basically dead, and online play rendered meaningless, there is simply nothing left to make WoW a legitimate competitive game any more.

Additional reading
World of Ming:Taldabar exposes the corruption of US gladiators
SK Gaming: No more WoW at MLG



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