The battle royale hit PLAYERUNKNOWN’s BATTLEGOUND tops its record number of concurrent players on an almost daily basis. Despite this huge success, the game’s first official tournament, the Gamescom PLAYERUNKNOWN’s BATTLEGROUNDS Invitational , might not be true to what is to be expected from a tournament with $350,000 USD on the line.
A bit less than three weeks prior the tournament, the ESL announced the terms and conditions under which players can sign-up for the duo mode competition.
In order to compete in the duo-mode competition of the four-days tournament, you need a minimum 2,000 rating in a not further defined game mode. Since the leaderboards have been reset just a few days ago, players have time until the 18th of August to reach the entry mark and sign up. In addition to these requirements, the in-game statistics of each player will be considered to determine who receives a secured spot in the tournament. It hasn’t been said however which of the multiple in-game statistics is going to influence the decision. It’s likely however that the K/D/A ratio and/or win ratio will be determining factors. Furthermore, you need to purchase tickets for the Wednesday and Thursday of Gamescom 2017 and be at least 18 years old in order to be eligible to participate.
What does that mean for potential participants?
You will not know if you receive a secured spot before the 18th of August. The duo mode tournament itself takes place from 23rd to 25th of August. That means players have no more than five days to book their travel and accommodation, which is not paid for by ESL or Bluehole. In case a player is not from within the EU you also need to take care of your visa during those days, which is, realistically speaking, impossible. With 345,000 visitors, the Gamescom in Cologne is one of the largest entertainment exhibitions worldwide. Affordable accommodation in the Cologne area is booked out months in advance. As of the time of this article, the cheapest room in Cologne is $148 USD per person and night. Airbnb offers rooms starting at $94 USD per person and night.
Additionally, every participant is required to hold event tickets for Wednesday and Thursday ($33 USD combined) in order to attend the event. Why not Friday? Simply because every other day of the Gamescom 2017 is already sold out. That said, tickets to the Gamescom grant free local travel through Cologne. Last but not least, PLAYERUNKNOWN’s BATTLEGROUNDS is rated 18+ in Germany. That means that visitors or potential participants under the age of 18 years are neither allowed to play nor to watch the game at Gamescom. This is not a major issue but recent years have shown that 18+ titles, especially tournaments, had a hard time at Gamescom since a huge number of visitors is not allowed to interact with those titles due to the legal age restrictions.
If the tournament organizer hasn’t reserved accommodation for the potential participants, that would mean a quite high participation fee for players who want to be part of the tournament. The situation described in the article only refers to the duo mode part of the tournament. The conditions for the solo and squad competitions might differ.
How could this situation be fixed?
There are $350,000 USD on the line, but it is unclear in what volumes the prize money is going to distributed between high ranking teams. With a given prize money distribution list there would still be time for players or teams to pitch esports organization and possibly find an arrangement to cover travel costs in exchange for a share of prize money. Sure, there are few ways to measure the strength of a team in PLAYERUNKNOWN’s BATTLEGOUNDS these days and especially what to expect from them at an offline event. But as an esports organization, you cannot clearly calculate the risk given the circumstances.
Many have raised their voices and would have preferred an online qualifier in order to give more players the chance to get involved. There is no clear reason why Bluehole and ESL didn’t go for an online qualifier. Bluehole and ESL met during the ESL One Cologne 2017 to discuss details of their cooperation and announced their partnership some weeks later. All of this took place not more than a month ago and less than two months prior Gamescom 2017. The tight time schedule might be the reason the qualification process got replaced by a sign-up and selection process.
TL;DR: If players aren’t locals or planned to attend Gamescom anyways, it is very unlikely to see them competing in the Gamescom PLAYERUNKNOWN’s BATTLEGROUNDS Invitational. As a result, the tournament will not properly represent the current state of PLAYERUNKOWN’s BATTLEGROUND’s competitive landscape.