State of the competitive PUBG scene

The inaugural season in PUBG is well under way with teams finishing Phase 2 across all global regions and taking a much needed respite. Meanwhile, a select few will represent their countries and regions at the PUBG Nations Cup tomorrow. Among all the action happening in Seoul, we take a look at the “not great, not terrible” state of the PUBG Esports world.

Read also: PUBG ranking system explained

© Bluehole

Thus far, the first season average viewer numbers during a game day hardly surpasses 15,000 (Bots and double-count included). PUBG Esports is not drawing massive viewership in, and they do not seem to possess any sort of consistent fandom strategy at attracting them. Apart from streamer skins and caster skins, information about the competitive scene hardly gets out to the regular players. A small hardly noticeable banner on the top left corner of the in-game client is pretty much the only way someone gets informed about PUBG Esports.

There is also a large disconnect between the competitive and streamer scene. The most prolific PUBG streamers are hardly interested in competitive PUBG. Some are even openly critiquing the esports scene and how it is being executed. On the other hand, the professional PUBG players are hardly famous and attract almost no views on the streaming platforms. (Apart from Kaymind or Ibiza, who аre absolute gods!)

The issues plaguing PUBG are not unique to esports as a whole:

  1. League and team stability
  2. Financial feasibility
  3. Partnership and viewership

What is unique is that PUBG seems to be failing at all three aspects simultaneously.

Bluehole/PUBG Corp. seems to be well aware of the issues as all three were somewhat addressed recently (Aug 8) by Shin Ji-Seop the Central Director at PUBG Corp. Key takeaway quotes were:

  • “It is an important task to bridge the gap between general PUBG and Esports PUBG”.
  • “Next year we will improve the communication and team support.
  • “Year ’21/22 is the stage to upgrade and sustain the ecosystem”

There is also hints, that the competitive settings might finally be available at the public client, allowing for “normal” people to finally experience gameplay on the tournament realm.

Twitter user @subzidite2 kindly shared the information in a recent twitter thread:

But the announced 5-year plan and the changes to the competitive system might be coming a tad too late.

Less than one week ago, Cloud9 announced they will be dropping their entire PUBG roster and leaving the competitive PUBG scene.

Prophie quickly took to Reddit and Twitter, announcing that the squad  will remain together without an organization and compete in North Americas NPL Phase 3. The reasoning behind the Cloud 9’s decision is not yet known. The roster finished 2nd in both Phases of the season, so the team’s performance was not the reason. This leaves two possibilities; Either an internal conflict between the players and the organization or Cloud9 simply did not find supporting their PUBG roster as a feasible investment. The second option seems likely as Ghost Gaming’s Head Coach Jabroni pointed out in C9’s twitter thread.

Teams are also complaining at large about PUBG Corp’s decision making and lack of interest in the opinions of the professional players. NaVi’s Bestoloch (among many) also heavily critiqued the decision to include Sankhok to the competitive rotation. A decision made without consulting the professional players yet again.

If more teams in Europe and Korea follow suite in Cloud9’s example, we might see PUBG in big trouble in 2020. On the eve of the PUBG Nations Cup 2019 a lot is at stake for the competitive PUBG Scene/PUBG as a whole. With organizations losing faith, pro-athletes being discontent and dwindling player numbers each consecutive month, PUBG might be going down the path of H1Z1.

Let’s hope the 5-years plan works!