You might not have heard about Arena of Valor yet, but soon enough you'll be hearing about it non-stop.
The mobile MOBA, also known as Kings of Glory and Strike of Kings, is already China's biggest mobile game and gaming monolith Tencent has taken it worldwide, with a European launch taking place earlier this year and a release in North and South America occurring this week.
One giant boon for the competitive scene, SK Gaming and Team Liquid have now entered the scene, putting the game on several fan's radars. Esports Pro spoke to the two teams to find out what was what.
We sat down with Team Liquid's Arena of Valour players Chen-Long 'NyJacky' Wang (NJ), Drew 'alwaysgr33n' Arthur Miller (AG) and Dave 'Assassin Dave' Mao (AD) and also SK's AoV players Yusuf 'Light' Onat – Light (L), Yunus 'Pich' Saral - Pich (P) and SK's head of mobile & player management Martin Marquardt (MM).
What is it about Arena of Valor that appeals to you as an esports organisation?
NJ: Arena of Valor is the most played MOBA game in Asia. China already has franchise league – KPL for Honor of Kings (Original/Chinese version of Arena of Valor) in esports perspective. Also, AoV is the best MOBA game I ever played based on his in game balance, graphic design and tournaments they had like NPT and AIC.
AD: Arena of Valor is THE MOST PLAYED game in China right now with insane amount of viewership. Tencent is organizing more and more prized tournaments to attract more serious players and casual players alike.
AG: The thing that appeals to me the most about Arena of Valor is that it an easy enough game to play I can play with my roommate who has never played a MOBA before and I can play with the top players in the world and still get the same amount of enjoyment out of the game.
MM: First the game has proven to be very successful in the Asian market and we believe it has huge potential to reach same heights in the western hemisphere as well. At its core Arena of Valor is easy to learn and hard to master, the skill cap is quite low comparable to other titles of the genre, allowing all kind of players to enjoy the game on the go.
Second for us, it's a familiar move. In the past we ventured into Vainglory and since then are strongly connected with its community, AoV is no different for us.
Arena of Valor also offers great opportunities to get more engaged with the millenial audience in general and turn them into esports enthusiasts.
Considering the ease of access and the increasing part mobile devices take in our life, plus the progressive performance efficiency and the extended scope of opportunities that comes along with that, I think mobile will experience a significant upturn in esports.
L: Arena of Valor is a very promising opportunity in terms of esports because there are many successful eSports players already in the game and the competition is at highest.
P: Arena of Valor is a recently fast growing game together with it’s community in terms of eSports. I believe continuous eSports events will be very important for the future of the game.
What are the risks and opportunities of mobile esports?
NJ: I believe mobile esports would grow in next 5 years because there is a huge market for it. Also, Tencent is willing to put resources in esports and host tournaments like NPT and AIC (500k prize pool). So I see a tons of opportunities for mobile esports.
AD: In the next 5 to 10 years, Mobile games will become the trend and future due to its convenience and accessibility, so I see a tons of opportunities for mobile esports. At the same time, due to the usual short shelf life of mobile games, the lifespan of mobile esports is unpredictable.
AG : The risks for mobile esports is less than that of those that have already paved a path for esports. The foundation and groundwork has been set really all that is left is opportunities.
MM: I would say there are plenty of opportunities and just a few risks to take when you enter mobile esports as an organization.
SK always stood at forefront not only following emerging trends but also creating them. Getting early involved with the young scene of competitive mobile gamers helps us to understand their needs in a better way. For example: mobile gamers are not bound to sit at their table starring on a static screen, when it comes to how they have their most comfortable positions, which devices they prefer for a specific game they are playing (smartphone, tablet or phablet) etc. We and especially our partners can learn a lot from these things and create new content and products. Furthermore there is still some untapped potential of endemic and non-endemic sponsors to enter the space. We see great opportunities here to get more brands involved.
I would rather describe the risks as challenges which are very manageable at this point. It is a learning process for both, the publishers which need to adapt their mobile IP’s to the esports market demands and at the same time for young and inexperienced players to become the esports stars of tomorrow.
L: I think here is a good environment for players with competitive souls and very helpful for you to earn prizes if you are really good enough. But also players must be very careful playing against top players since they need more practice and well-organisation during gameplay, otherwise they will most probably lose.
P: Mobile eSports is a lifestyle because it helps you to share experience with different cultures, countries and people. It is very useful to play the game more seriously and become a better player. On the other hand, it may be not easy to balance your education at the same with playing the game very frequently. As long as this can be balanced, I think it’s awesome.
What are your hopes from competing in the AIC (Arena of Valor international championship)?
NJ: My original goal was taking down team SK, now my hope is get to the world championship series for AoV in 2018.
AD: I hope to see Arena of Valor to come to North America as soon as possible and I will be the NO.1 player in NA!
AG: My original hope was to win on stage now my hope is to get back there and actually do it!
MM: Obviously AIC in the first place was a great opportunity to reveal our lineup to the public. But it was also great for the players to meet each other in real life the first time and get some experience playing on an international stage. We are now looking forward to refine the skills and synergy of the team to be well prepared for what’s coming next in 2018.
L: Our main goal is to be the best team in the world after AIC. We are working hard and waiting for the next event. Until that day, we will train and be ready for our next opponent team.
P: After AIC, we are seeking to have more trophies. Recently, there are many strong teams are already competing each other and we would like to position our team as the best one in Europe.