The year 2019 is shaping up to be the Year of Esports, and E3 was more than proof that our favorite circuit is exploding into the mainstream conscience. Esports were everywhere you looked during the three-day convention, and I was lucky enough to attend under Daily Esports’ name. In this article, I’ll be covering the various esports events and influences that were present at E3 2019 (for more general E3 coverage, check out our YouTube channel).
The first big event came right at the beginning. At noon on the first day, players Kodak, Gator, and coach Casores of the Overwatch League Atlanta Reign answered questions read by OWL host Malik Forté. Most of the questions involved the day-to-day life of the Reign’s players, their opinions on the current meta, and a Q&A section where the audience could ask questions. Jump to 40:00 to hear me ask whether they support a 2-2-2 role lock. (Spoiler alert: All three are in favor!)
The Esports Station was a cordoned courtyard outside the Staples Center housing the convention. It was open even to street pedestrians and hosted an endless series of different esports competitions. The primary three titles were Overwatch, Apex Legends, and Dragon Ball FighterZ. Usually, these competitions would involve guest stars, either professional players/streamers or gaming podcast hosts.
There was an equally commanding esports booth inside the Staples Center as well! The Esports Zone wasn’t running 24/7 like the GameSpot station, but it housed a great number of different tournaments.
My favorite was the IndieCade Games Audience Competition, which housed three indie titles for participants to compete in on the main stage. Since most audience members were unfamiliar with the titles, it led to some intense fighting. Each indie game included a member of the development team who introduced the game to the audience, such as Dani Sanchez of the Killsquad team.
The rest of the tournaments were tried-and-true titles like Fortnite, NBA 2K, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. I got the chance to participate in the PUBG Free Play Pro-Am Competition, which starred Geesh and Caliburn carrying convention-goers to second- or third-place finishes. (Seriously, nobody but the two of them ever put up a decent performance, me included.)
Finally, if you were lucky, you might have spotted Jack (from Jack-in-the-Box) walking around in a Dallas Fuel uniform! If you spotted him, he’d happily pose for a photograph and give you a coupon for a free Jumbo Jack. He wasn’t nearly as chatty as in the commercials or Fuel House, though. Jack was always accompanied by a spokesperson who handled the talking, much like the Escapist’s Zero Punctuation cosplay, which was doing a similar style of promotion.
It wasn’t just the showcases and tournaments with a clear esports presence. Even the featured discussions in the E3 Coliseum repeatedly commented on the impact esports is having on the games industry. Bandai Namco hosted an entire discussion about the strength of fighting games in esports immediately after Respawn covered the game design behind their smash breakout hit Apex Legends.
Even in “Gaming Inside the Story: Single-Player Narrative in VR,” a conversation that had nothing to do with esports, Jason Rubin — the VP of the Special Gaming Initiatives at Facebook — talked about how VR game development accidentally led to the birth of an unexpected esport. He further discussed how he thinks VR will affect the future of the esports industry.
All of this paints a very clear picture: Esports is exploding with no sign of slowing down. As the rest of the world realizes just how entrancing its mixture of sports, gaming, and entertainment is, we can only expect things to get bigger, better, and bolder from here on out. Buckle up, ladies and gentlemen — we’re in for a wild ride.