Last year, Amazon tapped and swiped its way into the esports tournament space with Champions of Fire. It’s announced a new tournament later this year: Mobile Masters Invitational (M2).
Champions of Fire, held in December 2016, focused on casual games such as Pac-Man 256, Fruit Ninja, and Disney’s Crossy Road. M2 will have players facing off in mobile games such as Summoners War (a turn-based strategy massively multiplayer online game), Vainglory (a popular 3-on-3 multiplayer online battle arena), and Hearthstone, though wins won’t count toward Blizzard’s official Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT).
The inclusion of these two games signal that M2 is designed to appeal more to core esports audience rather than the casual audience of Champions of Fire. Hearthstone is Blizzard’s enormously successful digital strategy card game based on its Warcraft universe, and has 70 million registered players on its PC and mobile versions combined. Its HCT prize pool this year is $2 million, double from 2016. Vainglory was already 1.5 million players strong when it exited its beta-testing phase in 2015, but didn’t pick up momentum in the esports scene until 2016 when it held its first world championship. It’s since attracted top-ranked esports teams like Fnatic. For Summoners War, this will be the largest tournament that’s held outside of its native South Korea.
Though Amazon is new to hosting esports tournaments, it’s been deeply embedded in the space since its purchase of popular livestreaming platform Twitch in 2014. Since then, it’s updated Twitch with higher-resolution streams, ecommerce features, and an integration with Curse, a company that specializes in game mod management and in-game communication. In addition, its in-house development studio Amazon Game Studios announced last year that it will be releasing titles like Breakaway and Crucible that are designed from the ground up to be spectated as esports.
M2 will be held in two separate events — in New York from June 23 to June 24, and in Los Angeles from August 18 to August 20. The L.A. event will be held in partnership with KCON, a festival centered around Korean pop culture. Some of the teams that will be competing include Invincible Armada, which has consistently placed at the top in Vainglory competitions, and Cloud 9, which competitively plays a number of games and won the first ever Heroes of the Storm World Championship in 2015.