The boss of North American esports at Riot Games says battle royale games like Fortnite are on his radar, but have a long way to go to become esports.
Chris “RiotChopper” Hopper, who heads up the NA LCS and esports division of Riot Games, discusses the viability of games like Fortnite and PUBG, and if they are threats to League of Legend’s dominance.
League of Legends is, arguably (depending on the metric you use), the biggest esport in the world, with established franchised leagues, guaranteed player salaries and much more.
But, as ESPN notes, back when it first started out it was seen as “too casual” to become a proper esport in comparison to the likes of Starcraft II – the biggest esports game at the time.
And of course a very similar criticism is being made of Fortnite currently, and so despite its massive viewing figures on Twitch and YouTube, which is an imperative for any esport, many think it isn’t fit for the competitive side of things.
Hopper, speaking to Forbes, says he does not currently see Fortnite, or PUBG for that matter, as a ‘threat’ to the current dominance of League of Legends, saying it has a long way to go.
“As a gamer, I love to see new titles like [Fortnite] which explore and push the boundary of genres like FPS or survival, but in terms of their viability as an esport, I think it’s yet to be proven.
Some early tournaments have certainly been exciting, but there’s a long way to go to turn a title from a Twitch favorite into a permanent esport. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with a title throwing a few tournaments and burning bright before failing to establish a sustainable esports scene, and it’s yet to be seen whether Fortnite or PUBG will be able to make that step.
But until they become consistent, accessible, sustainable leagues, they’re more on my gamer radar than my esport radar.”
Developers of Fortnite, Epic Games, are majority owned by Tencent – the same company which owns Riot Games, developers of League of Legends.
Tencent recently invested a massive amount of money in order to bring Fortnite to China. Half of the ¥100 million ($15.8 million) investment will be used on “pushing the game as an esport”.
With Tencent’s experience with League of Legends, they can undoubtedly take such a popular game like Fortnite and with the right planning and investment, it could be the next LoL.