Riot Games’ answer to Autochess has been struggling on Twitch in the last few weeks, leading to criticism about the long-term health of the game. Every metric in terms of hours watched, average viewers, and amount of streamers has been going down at a rapid rate.
This comes as organizations like Cloud 9 look to pick up Teamfight Tactics players in the hopes that the game will become a competitive title. C9's CEO Jack Etienne spoke about the viability of TFT esports with Chris 'MonteCristo' Mykles on September 5, and what it would take to revive the game on Twitch.
According to streaming stats site Sullygnome, Teamfight Tactics viewership in the last 14 days has decreased by 40%, from 14 million hours watched to 8.4 million. The average viewer count for these streams has declined too, with the top TFT streams now averaging 25,000 viewers compared to the 42,000 two weeks ago.
The game has also dropped out of Twitch’s top five games in the last month, now sitting at tenth in the popularity charts. While a drop in viewership was expected, a plummet this drastic wasn’t on many people’s minds. Riot has been working on keeping the game fresh with new units and items, but without a spectating mode in game, the competitive side of TFT has suffered.
Jack Etienne said that there's a long way to go for TFT to regain some traction on Twitch. The biggest hurdle for the game to overcome is to implement a spectating client, and the Cloud 9 CEO had his own visions on what that would look like.
"Say there's a player you really like, maybe you can drop down and you can say "I love this player, I want to follow this player through the match" instead of jumping over to someone else," he said.
The popularity based off the amount of active players seems to be there, but the long-term health of the scene relies on the game being watchable on services like Twitch. Cloud 9 are willing to take the risk though by picking up players and content creators to see where the scene goes.
“I love working with Riot, I love TFT personally, I see the popularity of the game. Maybe not all the boxes are checked for TFT to be an esport, but there’s enough interest there for me to take a risk and be involved.”
That final big box is a spectator mode, so the game becomes more watchable in a tournament setting. If the viewing experience for the game is improved, people may be more inclined to watch tournaments and streamers, and the game's popularity on Twitch could regrow.
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Riot has put a spectator mode for the game at the top of their development priority list. In a recent stream, lead developer Stephen ‘Mortdog’ Mortimer mentioned that it was coming soon, but there was no timeline.
“It takes time, but absolutely. Especially because spectator will enable things like tournaments,” said the Rioter.
Being able to run big tournaments is the next step in TFT’s evolution. It is lagging behind the likes of Dota Autochess in that regard, but Riot have done things in the past to support a budding competitive scene, including running a $125,000 Twitch Rivals event.
There is a chance for Teamfight Tactics to climb back up the Twitch rankings once spectator mode comes online, but for now, the game’s steady slide down is set to continue.
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