Nintendo is partnering with one of the largest community-driven tournament platforms to turn Splatoon into an esport.
Battlefy kicked off the Splatoon Showdown Series last month in partnership with the community-tournament organizer Leagues Under the Ink, and now Nintendo is stepping in to promote the event (h/t to Bryan Cashman). This is a series of open tournaments for the beloved Wii U ink shooter. Splatoon debuted in 2015, and it was widely regarded as a fun remix of the competitive, team-based shooter genre. The 4-on-4 battles require players to cover opponents and objectives in ink, and players praised the interesting mechanics as well as Splatoon’s bright and hip sense of style. Battlefy and Leagues Under the Ink award prizes to the top teams, but that could potentially expand with Nintendo stepping in to promote the league.
Nintendo hyped up the Splatoon Showdown Series in its official newsletter, and I’ve asked the company how it is involved. But it isn’t saying anything yet. But Battlefy chief gamer Jason Xu confirmed the partnership.
“Nintendo publishes some of the most loved multiplayer franchises in history,” said Xu. “Smash Bros. has proven to be a lasting esports property with a strong grassroots community, and in a growing franchise like Splatoon, we’re very excited to partner with Nintendo on bringing their freshest IP into the esports spotlight.”
Here’s what Battlefy’s site says about the events:
“Battlefy and Leagues Under the Ink introduce the Splatoon Showdown Series! Play in open, online Splatoon tournaments every weekend of November for a chance to win fun prizes. Each weekend you’ll compete in a different game mode in Splatoon.”
Starting now, Splatoon teams of at least four players can sign up for upcoming tournaments on the Battlefy website. This Saturday, for example, is the finals for a three-week-long tournament for the Splat Zones game mode. Once you sign up for a tournament on Battlefy, the platform handles everything else. It tells you who you’re playing and when. Since Splatoon does not natively work with Battlefy, teams will have to self-report the results of each match so that Battlefy can update the bracket.
Of course, this is not the first time Nintendo has given the impression that it wants to turn Splatoon into an esport. The company ended the reveal trailer for its Switch hybrid handheld/home console with a scene showing a stadium full of people cheering on teams competing in Splatoon using their Switch systems.
At first I thought the idea of a Splatoon arena event seemed silly. But now that Nintendo is revealing more of what it plans to do with the game as an esport, I’m wondering when I can buy tickets.