Talking with the Director of PUBG MOBILE Global Esports about how PUBG MOBILE is fighting the battle vs. COVID-19 in 2020 and beyond
January 21-24 marks the date of the biggest tournament in PUBG MOBILE history. The 16 best teams in the world all travelled to Dubai to compete for a piece of the USD 1,200,000 prize pool.
In these unprecedented times, pretty much every game developer and tournament organiser has been forced to concede and settle for online events. However, PUBG MOBILE’s plan was to carry on through the pandemic. The PUBG MOBILE Global Championship (PMGC) Finals was set to be a live in-person event. Held at the Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai, the PMGC Finals was supposed to offer fans a brief return to the “norm”.
Unfortunately, three players tested positive for COVID-19 just before the finals were set to kick off. All three are in quarantine and have shown no symptoms, but still, the event could not go on as scheduled. The PMGC Finals will be played on a dedicated network by teams in isolation.
While discussing the change of plans, James Yang, Director of PUBG MOBILE Global Esports, had this to say: “It’s very sad. We had everything ready, a great venue… it was a very difficult decision.”
The PUBG MOBILE team took extensive precautions in hopes of avoiding a COVID-19 outbreak, but it still wasn't enough. “We did and do have a system in place. We took every precaution, we tested every day,” said Yang.
As for the players that did test positive, they will receive 24/7 medical care. Yang states that the PUBG MOBILE team is dedicated to their full recovery. Thankfully, none of the COVID-19 positive players have shown symptoms, and they plan to compete in the finals as scheduled.
Adapting To Positive COVID-19 Cases
Yang made it a point to emphasise that the PMGC Finals are NOT an online event. “This event isn’t online. All players are on the same dedicated network.” According to Yang, it’ll be very similar to a standard in-person LAN event. The only difference is instead of the players being up on a stage; they will compete in isolation.
While the original plans for a live event have changed, the show will still go on. The PMGC Finals will be a true spectacle. When asked for details, Yang smirked and told GGRecon, “you will see.” Yang continued, “we knew ahead of time that there would be no audience. It's a new environment; we can fully utilise the arena with no people.” Yang ended with a promise that spectators are in for a real surprise. “We made something super unique that we’ve never seen before.”
Despite the excitement and focus on the event, Yang reemphasised his passion for the player’s health and safety. “I feel sorry [for the players]. They did so much, and now they are quarantined in Dubai. I really hope the players can go back to their country healthy.”
What's In Store For PUBG MOBILE In 2021
As for 2021, PUBG MOBILE Esports has big plans. PUBG MOBILE has the ultimate goal of becoming a global tier-one esport. In Yang’s words, “there are very few global esports, but we are making a global esport. It may take a year or two, but we WILL be tier one.”
Yang has a dedicated roadmap in place to achieve this goal. First, they want to build fanbases in every region. In general, mobile esports are not as mainstream, yet, as they are in Asia. One of PUBG MOBILE Esports main priorities is to set up structures in the western regions like the United States and the United Kingdom. PUBG MOBILE gets decent traffic in the west, but it’s not the same.
Becoming a global esport will be a continuous process. It’s not going to happen overnight. However, Yang strongly believes that eventually, PUBG MOBILE will be a global tier-one esport.
We asked Yang his thoughts on the current diversity and country representation in PUBG MOBILE Esports. In response, Yang said, “we think we are already international, but we want to be more international. We have top teams all over the world, but it’s not enough.” Yang continued, “Asia is stronger than other regions, but it won’t always be that way.” Yang believes that soon all regions will have strong teams, and the global championship will become much more competitive and exciting. Yang is proud of the current state of PUBG MOBILE Esports but says it isn’t the end.
Further plans for 2021 include the presence of a PUBG MOBILE tournament every single day. Whether it be community hosted, pro team hosted, or an official event. Yang wants content in all regions all day every day.
PUBG has a bad reputation when it comes to cheating and hacking, so of course, the topic came up. Yang admits that yes, PUBG MOBILE had issues with cheating in 2019 and 2020. However, they are already making improvements. In 2021, PUBG MOBILE will enhance all of their hacking and anti-cheat tools. Yang claims that PUBG MOBILE should be able to provide better production and a higher integrity experience in 2021 based on what they learned from previous years.
All of this sounds great, but what about the global pandemic? What if COVID-19 gets worse in 2021? Yang is not worried. Other than the finals, the 2020 PMGC was already slated to be held offline. According to Yang, COVID-19 is very difficult to contain 100%. “We did everything we could". Yang states that they will continue to hold PUBG MOBILE events and adapt. “It’s very dynamic,” James tells us. “I can’t see any reason 2021 will be slowed down.”
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Images via Tencent Mobile