Could the new EA title break into the esports scene?

20:00, 18 Jun 2020

When EA officially announced Star Wars Squadrons on June 15, it sent the internet into a flurry of conversation, where the main question was: is Star Wars going to break into esports?

Due to release on October 2, 2020, for PC and console, the game’s 5v5 element sparked queries all over Twitter, with many asking if this was EA’s way of breaking into esports (again) with an unlikely title.

The title seems tailor-made for competitive gaming, but before we can talk about the viability of the game as an esport, we should get into the mechanics of the gameplay itself. The overview on the official Star Wars Squadrons site describes the title as:

Master the art of starfighter combat in the immersive piloting experience Star Wars™: Squadrons.

Tactics and coordination with your team will be a large part of the game, as your squadron meets up in a “briefing room” before the battle, then taking control of “different starfighter classes” piloting and modifying your ship, and destroying “your opponents in strategic space [5v5] dogfights”.

There are two announced multiplayer modes; Fleet Battles will focus on destroying the enemy team’s larger flagship, whilst Dogfights is basically Team Deathmatch, with the objective of destroying as many opponents as possible.

The connections don’t end there, as cosmetics and customisation will also be included (of course they will, it’s EA), and upgrades will be earned through XP earned via playing the game. The upgrades earn weapons, hulls, engines, and shields, while the cosmetics will alter your cockpit, the exterior look of the ship and appearance of your pilot avatar.

Going back to the point of this title seemingly being made specifically with esports in mind (much like Riot Games admitted VALORANT was) the signs are all there in plain sight. The strategic and tactical elements that make the game competitive and skilled are apparent; the different starfighter classes allowing for the tropes of competitive gaming such as tank, support, and DPS. The “briefing room” pre-lobby all but confirms the esports avenue, as it offers the chance to coordinate and plan your hopeful victory with your squad in-game. This is not only indicative of a title that wants to take this to a larger arena, but a new refreshing take on gameplay and strategy perhaps not yet seen in esports.

The Star Wars (and just gaming) fans of Twitter blew up the timelines with their hopes for a new vibrant esport on the scene.

One eagle-eyed fan even made the point that now Disney own Star Wars, and as ESPN esports takes off as part of that family (owned by Disney), the possibility of this collaboration (and broadcasting) is strong.

The nostalgic and welcoming aspect of Star Wars, for fans and non-fans alike, is what may pull fans and pro players to the game. The ease in which fans could buy into the game and its esports angle is, well, easy. Star Wars fans are well-versed in dogfights, not only from the films but from games like Battlefront, and a casual gamer could jump right in, and not be too taken aback by the stylistics of the game, as it takes off from a universe they are very familiar with. The ships, landscapes and even the outfits of the pilots will all be a comfort blanket to those with a love for Star Wars when they begin to sink their teeth into this adrenaline-fuelled adventure.

Star Wars Squadrons Esport

The dogfights aren’t all that are there to tempt Star Wars fans, Star Wars Squadrons also comes with a single-player story mode, not unlike other competitive titles such as Fortnite (Save The World), again adding fuel to the fire that even though a single-play mode exists, the opportunity for an esport is still there in its multiplayer model.

When it comes to which pro players could break into this burgeoning esports title, we need to look no further than two types of competitive games: ones involving piloting vehicles, and ones with a LOT of strategic planning and tactics. Our mind wanders immediately to both Rocket League, for the control of vehicles, or Overwatch for tactical skills transferring over.

Rocket League pros with insane vehicle control skills like current top players Jstn, Aztral, or Scrub Killa could prove to be lethal Star Wars Squadrons pilots. Retired RL pros Remkoe and Greazymeister could also come out of the woodwork to revive their esports career in this new and exciting scene.

The similarities in the tactical sphere between Overwatch and Star Wars Squadrons could be many. DPS players may not fare well in this new environment but OW pros that main tank or main support, a swell as the shot-callers, have a more sophisticated tactical strategy. Players who have demonstrated flexibility are more suited to adapt to a new game, such as OW-turned-VALORANT pro TviQ, or recently retired Korean player NUS, who was a main support.

Star Wars Squadrons Esport

Of course, the main pool of finding Star Wars Squadrons players could quite easily come from Star Wars Battlefront II streamers such as AnarchYxNinja1, who has made a name for themselves for impressive plays on Twitch.

More information about whether or not Star Wars Squadrons could become a new esport could come in the form of the EA Play Live event, on June 18. Star Wars: Squadrons could bring esports to a galaxy far, far away.

 

Images via EA

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