Blizzard have a rocky history in esports, and competitive World of Warcraft is no different. Is there a way to solve the WoW esports conundrum and let the title have a thriving professional sector?
On April 7, 2021, Blizzard announced the newest WoW Esports competition, the Great Push. Hoping to revolutionize the Mythic Dungeon Invitational (MDI) with “a new style of competitive dungeon running,” the aim of the event is for teams to push “keys as high as they can, striving to out survive their competitors and be crowned the champion.”
A radical step away from the normal rules that see squads attempt to complete dungeons faster than their opponents, the Great Push seemed like a long-awaited blessing for competitive WoW fans everywhere.
However, that wasn’t quite the case.
WoW’s great esports push goes wrong
A glance at the comments section on the competition’s official announcement is pretty harrowing. In fact, it’s a great way to dampen any excitement you may have had about The Great Push.
The top comment reads: “I’d prefer you focus on keeping WoW as WoW and way less on this ESPORTS push. WoW isn’t an ESPORTS title. Everything you’ve done to push ESPORTS in WoW has progressively made the game less fun.”
With an equally damning message, the second reads “Dude, just… stop. Just stop with this. Stop trying to turn a RPG into an esport.”
This goes on, and on, and on, and on. No one has anything nice to say in the comments, and it really is a sight for sore eyes.
Feel that hype slowly draining away? It’s like you’ve decided to take a vacation to Gorgoa, River of Souls because it sounds nice, then you realize you’ve ended up in the Maw.
The WoW Esports problem
The problem that WoW’s competitive sector faces is a systemic one, and it’s the reason why it’s never been allowed to truly take off.
When Blizzard announce new events, such as The Great Push, and are met with such an overwhelmingly negative response, it makes a lot of sense that they’d sit back and consider whether or not plowing money, time and effort into events like this is worth it.
Since The Great Push’s announcement, we’ve seen no engagement with it on Twitter from the organization themselves. No publicity, equals low viewership, equals abject failure. By that point, you’ve proven negative commenters to be correct.
So, for future events, Blizzard are less likely to draw attention to the esports side of the title simply because it seems a lot more bother than it’s worth.
Can Blizzard fix it? Yes, they can
There are a lot of WoW fans who are truly passionate about the professional side of the game. While the outlook is pretty bleak at first glance, there’s a portion of the playerbase that really do love the MDI and Arena World Championship.
A peek at the official streams show hundreds of thousands of viewers are tuning in to watch their favorite guilds (including names like Pieces and Method) race against the clock or battle it out in the Arena to secure WoW glory.
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With the influx of new players that Shadowlands has brought into the game, there are bound to be a few esports fans out there. Plus, community discussion prompted by the MDI or Arena seems to dictate what is, and is not, meta. It’s this that guides new players to make decisions regarding builds, classes and races.
High-level play subliminally inspires each and every part of playing WoW. So why not celebrate it? Sure it’ll incur some backlash on social media, but it presents esports fans with the opportunity to go and have a look for themselves.
We want to see more MDI on our Twitter feeds, we want to watch players fight for dominance in the Arena. The power’s in your hands Blizzard, show us the power of PR.
In short: Blizzard need to go hard, or go home. WoW esports isn’t something you can go halfway on – after all that’s what’s got us here in the first place.
So c’mon Blizzard, go as hard as you can.