Over the Weekend Amazon’s Champions of Fire Tournament was hosted at the Time Inc. Studios in New York City. The free and open to the public ‘casual’ mobile gaming tournament saw 12 famous Twitch.TV streamers compete against each other for $50,000 in Prize Money.
Yassuo won the best-of-11 final to earn 10,000 in prize money, beating out Hearthstone streamer Hafu:
The notion that Yassuo was able to beat out other 11 other professional players in 10 wildly different games is quite an achievement, conjuring up memories of PAX’s The Gauntlet. The games played ranged from auto-runners like Sonic Forces: Speed Battle, to whatever genre you’d want to consider Flappy Bird Family.
You can watch the entirety of the tournament below:
The most interesting – and perhaps frustrating ‘thing’ about the Amazon Champions of Fire and Mobile Masters Tournament series is that they’re essentially exhibitions. One off tournaments that change up the players, the kinds of games, and the venues. Almost a casual gaming ‘showcase’ if you will, not unlike a circus or Harlem Globe Trotters game. The appeal for the masses is in ‘who’ is playing, versus what is being played.
Which is tricky. With gaming being so very massive across PC, console, and especially mobile, it’s entirely possible a casual ‘Minion Rush’ player on their phone never heard of Swiftor or Nothernlion or Yassuo – or the tournament for that matter. Using ‘famous’ game players is a great way to get eyeballs on the event, but something seems…off.
Mobile Masters and Champions of Fire feel almost like a Monster Jam or Circus – attractions. Curiosities. But they’re missing their very own Truckasaurus or man being shot out of a cannon; That ‘thing’ that’ll reach everyoneand bring them in (and keep them coming back), even as a novelty. Famous YouTubers are great, but ideally something uniquely Amazon or unique to this tournament would be ideal – perhaps VR integration. Perhaps online qualifiers. Perhaps being able to *bet* on players.
But at the same time, the beauty of Mobile Masters and Champions of Fire being put on by Amazon is the fact Amazon is behind it, and Amazon is *not* stupid, has money to burn, and Mobile Masters and Champions of Fire very much feel like an investment in the future. Keep in mind Poker was broadcast regularly on television but didn’t really ‘blow up’ until a perfect storm of hold card cameras and the growth of online real-money poker unleashed a torrent of a Poker Boom we still feel today.
What I mean by this is Amazon is chipping away at the proverbial equation. With an eye to the future. Mobile is the way to go, and as phones get more powerful and begin to integrate with our television and lives even more than they do now, they *will* become the dominate gaming platform. Maybe not today or even this decade, but eventually you will plug your phone into a dock, Switch style, and it’ll house your games, your data, your everything.
And when it comes to those games, and especially competitive ones, Amazon is clearly preparing for the future. Until then, we’re waiting for a killer app. A game or innovation that will invest players *watching* the game as much as the players playing it. Like Poker.
Sure, Sonic Forces: Speed Battle is fun to watch, so is Minion Rush and Real Racing 3, but none of them have the drama and stakes of a high-level poker tournament or football game.
…Yet. By starting this series of tournaments now, by building the infrastructure and ‘brand’ of Mobile Masters and Champions of Fire, Amazon is putting themselves in the best position to capitalize on the inevitable mobile gaming boom.
If I were you, I’d watch.