Tencent and PUBG Corp. announced details today for a tournament for the mobile version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Star Challenge will be a global event featuring teams of professional gamers, internet personalities, and celebrities. Teams will be competing for a prize pool of $600,000, and the finals will take place in Dubai toward the end of the year.
PUBG helped popularize the battle royale genre when it became a hit on PC last year, and the mobile versions on iOS and Android have expanded the game’s audience. PUBG Mobile has over 100 million downloads. Esports events such as Star Challenge should help promote the game, grow an audience, and attract sponsors.
Esports is becoming a significant sector in gaming. According to market researcher Newzoo, esports could be worth $906 million this year. Competitive gaming has become more mainstream in recent years, with tournaments broadcasting on ESPN. Popular Fortnite streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins will become the fir professional gamer to grace the cover of ESPN: The Magazine.
Competition for Star Challenge will start in six regions: Europe, Asia, North America, South America, Japan/Korea, and China. The 20 top teams from each region will then compete in the Dubai finals. $200,000 of the $600,000 prize pool goes to the top team.
Most esports events in the West focus on the PC versions of games. You don’t see as much competitive gaming focuses on mobile in the U.S., although mobile competition is more common in Asia. Some games, like the mobile MOBA Vainglory, have had U.S. tournaments. Highlighting PUBG’s mobile players could help the game’s esports scene stand out in the West while tapping into the Asian market’s current love for competitive mobile gaming.