Competitive PUBG has come a long way since its first major event at Gamescom. Most esports organizations have picked up a team and new online leagues and tournaments have been popping up every month. The hype and anticipation for IEM Oakland has been immense within the scene. For the first time, the best performing teams from the online leagues are invited to a big event. There have even been qualifiers, giving everyone a chance to make it to the event if they were good enough.
The talent lineup at IEM Oakland has done a fantastic job. The combination of ESL figures, with a lot of experience from previous large events, and people from the online competitive PUBG community like Martin “Avnqr” Gøth, worked out really well. While the casting and interviews were very positive, other parts of the event’s production have left a lot to be desired. Here are a few suggestions on how the production can be improved from a fan’s point of view.
1) Information Overlays
Information overlays have a lot of possible uses and can really enhance the viewer experience if used in the right way. The above video shows one possible example of how this could be used. The spectator at the Asia Invitational event checks a crate and spots an AWM. Within seconds an overlay pops up showing all the different sniper rifles available in the game including statistics for each one, giving new viewers a better idea of how good this weapon is. Pop-up overlays like this could be used to give information about teams, items, areas of the map as well as current standings.
Live statistics from the tournament could also be thrown on popups like this. Most damages dealt and longest kill distance for example. There might be technical reasons for why some of those statistics might be hard to show live in the current state of the game but it is something to look into in the future.
2) Team Status Overlay
Global Loot League (GLL) added a very useful overlay in their pre-season matches. All of the participating teams are listed on the left side of the screen with a number next to them, indicating how many players of a certain team are still alive. It is updated live as the match goes on. Fans can easily know the status of their favorite team. I think that something similar to this overlay should be a standard feature in all future PLAYERUNKNOWN’s BATTLEGROUNDS tournaments and leagues.
While GLL’s overlay is a big step forward, improvements can still be made to it. Instead of just tracking members alive on each team, it could also track the number of kills. The GLL overlay is a permanent part of the stream, making the actual gameplay take up a smaller part of the screen. Changing the overlay so it can easily be turned on/off and showing it on top of the gameplay, like the Sniper Rifle overlay above, is another possible improvement.
Of course, the best solution would be if an overlay like this was added as a built-in part of the spectating client.
3) Post Match Analysis
Utilizing a screen showing a video of the map for post-match analysis, was another highlight of the Asia Invitational. This has already become a standard part of the post-match analysis in games like CS:GO and Dota 2. I think it could be even more useful in a game like PUBG. There are so many teams to keep track of and it’s impossible to notice all of the clever rotations, positional plays and drop locations during the actual match.
If the analysts have access to a pausable video of the whole match from the map perspective, there is so much useful information they could deliver to the viewers. After the match is finished, they can go back and track the top 3-4 teams from where the dropped, all the way to the final circle. We can see exactly how they positioned themselves and rotated in order to end up where they did. We can also see how teams decided to drop compared to the previous match.
The strategic part of the game is probably the hardest aspect to convey to new viewers. Every match is different from the last because of the flight path, circle mechanics, and loot. This leads to a lot of unique strategic situations that are hard to plan for. A lot of decisions have to be made on the fly. I believe that PUBG’s success as an esport relies a lot on giving the viewers some understanding of the decisions that teams are faced with. A lot of those decisions are only apparent when you track a team’s movement on the map in relation to other teams, the geography, and the circle.
4) Showing the Map
When spectating competitive PUBG, there will always be some people who think the map is being shown too much and others who think it is being shown too little. Some people value constant action above all, while others like watching team movements and regularly being able to check if their favorite team is alive and where they are located. Finding a balance between the two can be really hard. In the long term, I think a better solution has to be found. One alternative would be to have a secondary stream that only shows the map. Anyone interested in always having that tactical overview could then open up that stream on a second screen.
An even better solution would require some cooperation between the Twitch developer team and PUBG Corp. Utilizing interactive Twitch plugins, it would be possible to let viewers look at the map at any time, similar to how Hearthstone card descriptions are shown on streams. Implementing something like that would be a huge improvement for the viewing experience.