Six eSports organizations have recently plunged into the Vainglory scene. This has injected money, structure, and legitimacy into a professional scene which, to this point, has been like a generally peaceful Wild West community with the devs at Super Evil MegaCorp playing the role of benevolent Westworldian overseers. In response to the wave of new teams, and the resulting ripples throughout the rosters of many organizations, SEMC invited the new organizations to their headquarters in California for a showcase in the Run the Gauntlet Vainglory Preseason Invitational.
However, the Invitational was about more than showing off new teams; developers also took the opportunity to preview their newest hero, Grumpjaw. Even more interesting for the future of the game was a video of Game Designer and Creative Content Officer Captain Neato breaking down the foreseeable future of Vainglory. The whole stream was a well-timed and sleekly packaged performance for a rapidly expanding audience. There are a multitude of takeaways from this preseason teaser, but in honor of the six new organizations we will limit it to six big ones.
- Vainglory is sexy right now, and SEMC knows it.
Multi-esport organizations are flocking to Vainglory right now, and globally eSports teeters on the cusp of flooding into truly mainstream culture. The developers and team at SEMC are more than aware of this hype, and would be remiss to not seize the moment. Players of League or DotA who wouldn’t consider Vainglory last year can’t ignore their favorite teams making forays into a new and rising MOBA; capturing this new audience could result in an influx of rookie Vainglory players who are nevertheless hardened MOBA veterans.
- Coaches and Analysts will be in demand.
With only three players per team, strategy in Vainglory is inherently more limited, in certain ways, than a traditional five man MOBA. However, the universal introduction of a double-ban draft system in professional competition makes strategic insight more important than ever. Echo Fox clearly benefited from the pregame presence of their Head Coach, Foojee. What goes on behind the scenes with coaching and strategy is tricky to quantify, but the new organizations to the scene have created a bit of an arms race, and I doubt any team will want to enter this pivotal season without the industry norm in support staffing.
- Misfits were stand outs.
One of the less hyped of the teams competing in the Preseason Invitational, Misfits started fast and finished with an admirable 2-1 record. The team of King, IllesT, and Eeko proved versatile, hardwinning their draft against Fnatic and snowballing to a quick victory, only to turn around and grind out a comeback win against a very experienced Immortals team. As broadcasters were quick to note on stream, the players on Misfits aren’t inexperienced, just less well known. It would be no surprise to see these players thrive within an organization with more experience, structure, and tools to help them develop.
- Super Evil MegaCorp is super committed to not being evil at all.
The stream opened up with a prepackaged video of CEO Kirstian Segerstrale, and Sr. Director of Content and Esports, PlayoffBeard. In what felt like a message to those watching the stream who may be new to the scene and how Super Evil operate, they doubled down on past and present commitments to engage with and listen to the community at large. PlayoffBeard and Segerstrale presented the Vainglory community as a foil to the traditionally toxic and cynical MOBA scenes; no doubt they hope some players who have long battled trolls of all sorts in other games will seek safe haven in Vainglory. Now, Vainglory isn’t without trolls or toxicity, but as a player of the game and observer of the company, I have been given little reason to doubt either their commitment to real and tangible community engagement or their claims of generally widespread community unity. Kumbaya baby.
- On 5.
See what I did there? The announcement of plans for a 5v5 game mode generated enough buzz to make many doubt reports of a global bee shortage. Captain Neato was quick to note that no plans are set in stone and they are still a long way out from implementing a 5v5 game mode; however, it’s still a bit surprising that they would reveal eventual plans to do so with what feels like the biggest seasons of competitive play to-date just around the corner.
- Expounding on rounding said corner.
All of this was about hype. No one truly knows what the next year will hold for Vainglory; everything seems to be building towards the start of the NA and EU Vainglory 8 series on March 11. One problem when it comes to analyzing Vainglory as an eSport has been the relatively small sample size; however, consistent matches and structured seasons should help bulk up our understanding of how good all these teams really are. As teams play more games, figure out seasonal play, and establish unique styles, we will see if Vainglory is the eSport on the rise it claims to be, and, if so, which players and teams will rise with it.