The Stagnant Competitive Scene
Players in Guild Wars 2 are pretty trigger happy when it comes to the term ‘content drought’, every month or two the label gets thrown around the forums and reddit from bored players who have completed the latest release of content. But at the moment, despite updates to balance and seasons, the competitive scene for GW2 is in the biggest dry spell the game has ever witnessed since launching its eSports agenda.
PvP in GW2 is an incredibly enjoyable game mode to play, due to its interactive and fast paced combat system that has multiple layers of complexity. The combat changes significantly from low level to high level play, with so much to focus on and track. It is for this reason, among others, that Arenanet pushed Guild Wars 2 PvP as an eSports game, promoting events and holding tournaments on both NA and EU frequently. Though coming to a mixed reception from the player base, there is no doubt that it was on the agenda of the company to push eSports as a primary focus of the game, and saw the rise of numerous professional teams and players.
However, since September 17 and the last World Championship series, there has been not one competitive event from Arenanet. This has started a steady flow of both anger and confusion from both casual players and the pros. The eSports push was so strong, that now almost everyone is wondering what on earth could have happened? One minute pumping out tournaments, events and advertisements, the next complete radio silence? The pro teams especially have had almost nothing to do, with Season 5 removing their ability to queue as a team for ranked gameplay. Denial eSports, reigning World Champions, even let out a PSA announcing their retirement from Guild Wars 2, as there was nothing for them to do in the game and they were moving on to other things to remain a competitive team. Though it appears they have since returned, it’s still highly disturbing that a team winning world championships feels so neglected that its forced to leave.
Even the ESL, whom Arenanet partnered with to help host, run and advertise their tournaments, has seen no Arenanet supported events in over half a year. The weekly One versus One and Two versus Two still run on EU exclusively, with gem prize pools for the victors, which makes it very good to sign up and have a go. However, the rules have recently changed, and now certain sign up quotas are needed to award gems to players. A scene already dying from being caught in this limbo, a move like this could see even less people signing up as they feel like they won’t be rewarded anyway. Despite the ESL still doing great work and streams, the question remains of how long Guild Wars 2 will continue to be a good avenue for them in the current, dare I say, content drought.
New forms of competitive play don’t seem to be coming, stronghold being disable in ranked play was a wise move in the sense that it just wasn’t getting played and caused organised teams to destroy others automatically, but it does make one of the only game modes since launch redundant at a competitive level again. GvG is something that won’t be getting any love from Arenanet any time soon, if ever, even in a returned form like the glory days in Guild Wars 1, and competitive PvE leader boards for raids are something that doesn’t appear to be on the table at all.
Of course, there are many (read, MANY) players who are ecstatic about the last of eSports push, and welcome a return to a PvE focused game. Lots of people complained nonstop about the eSports push, saying it just isn’t fun to watch, or that not enough people care about it to be the focus of the game. To back up this argument even further, the game is currently getting a great deal of praise for its new PvE content, and lots of players are enjoying the new release format that’s come with it. However, the development doesn’t have to be ‘one at the cost of the other’ as many believe, and it would be great to at least see tournaments coming back, even without new resources, in an attempt to satisfy both the PvP hard cores and the large player base desiring a focus on new PvE content for the game.
On a personal level, I loved the PvP tournaments, and am torn as I’m also super excited for story releases and raids. I hope the game can see, maybe not as a primary focus like it once was, but at least a couple of these eSports tournaments returning to keep the PvP scene more interesting and even just to help in general player growth as they see what the pros are doing. To me, a game that isn’t growing in an area is dying, as seen by WvW and even Dungeons to an extent, and I hope they don’t let this eSports drought go on so long that more teams quit and the game mode dies completely.