The PUBG Mobile Club Open Global Finals were a thrilling experience for viewers, but have you ever wondered what it’s like to participate in an esports tournament? How players and commentators prepare for games or what they think about gaming phones? We spoke to two of the teams — Spacestation Gaming and Top Esports, as well as caster Lauren “Pansy” Scott about their experience, their PUBG Mobile tips and tricks, as well as their thoughts on mobile esports.
One of the most obvious and undeniable facts about PUBG Mobile is that it has a huge player base. The game has over 100 million downloads on Google Play alone, and according to Tencent, over 50 million daily active players. But what separates the professionals from the casuals and what does it take to reach the top?
One of the teams we met at PMCO 2019 was team Spacestation Gaming. A group of fun and enthusiastic players from North America, who as they themselves admitted, were attending one of their first professional esports events. Two of the players discovered PUBG Mobile just like many of us have — through its growing popularity on Google Play.
But as a newly formed team, they faced quite the challenge. Kent “Juicy” Masang JR said that: “You can’t go into it without having done your research on these teams.” Spacestation Gaming watched footage of their opponents in preparation and tried to adopt new tactics and minimize errors in gameplay. They stressed that the game is just as strategic as it is mechanically challenging.
What it takes to go pro
So how can you become a professional PUBG Mobile player? For new or aspiring players, the team recommended tweaking your settings, controls and sensitivity: “Don’t pick one thing and just be settled with it forever. Always try to fine tune everything you can.” But what if you have a lower-end device? How much does it affect your gameplay?
Sixless qualified to his first tournament with an old iPhone 5S.
When asked how much hardware and specs matter, most of the team agreed that they are important, but not the be-all-end-all of competitive mobile gaming. “When I first started playing, I was actually playing on an iPhone 5S and I qualified for PUBG Mobile Star Challenge last year using this phone,” shared Brandon “Sixless” Patterson. But what did make a difference for him and his team’s performance was constant practice of four to six hours per day.
This brought us to the question of how accepting players’ families were of their career choice. All Spacestation Gaming players are in their early 20s and they admit loved ones weren’t as understanding in the beginning but came around eventually. “Whenever I was able to show my mom the ticket that Tencent paid for us to fly to LA, that’s when my family knew it was real. I’m not just playing video games because I want to play video games”, shared Justus “Angry” Wilson.
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Mobile esports remain overshadowed and undervalued
But there’s still a stigma attached to mobile gaming esports. Spacestation Gaming responded to the skeptics: “If they would just watch, they would see it’s competitive. Just as competitive as any other game. It’s just another platform.”
This sentiment was repeated by caster Lauren “Pansy” Scott. She has been involved in esports since the early days, casting tournaments for a variety of esports titles — from Battlefield to CS:GO, and World of Tanks to PUBG Mobile. Scott sees a lot of potential in mobile esports. “Mobile can genuinely be the next big platform, I think it already is, but I think it hasn’t got the mainstream media’s attention to the degree already established esports have,” Scott told Android Authority. “It’s a little separate from it but you can’t ignore the numbers. I think eventually it will be seen as exactly on par as other esports and supersede them in numbers.”
But she sees other upsides to the mobile scene in general: “I think for me specifically what I love about it is how global it genuinely is. We all tout it around: gaming is a global thing, but sometimes it’s not. PUBG Mobile genuinely is. I’m seeing more regions, more talent, more accessibility to regions we don’t often see, which I love. Even if they don’t win the event, the storyline to me – a genuine underdog having a shot at something that could be life changing, that is what I love specifically about the mobile side of things.”
Scott also shared that it’s easy to be skeptical until you actually play and watch PUBG Mobile. According to her, the game is a great combination of fun and competition and it’s best played with friends.
Keeping the mindset of a champion
Teamwork and friendship were also the main talking points in our interview with the PMCO 2019 winners Top Esports. The Chinese team managed to snag the victory after impressive performances and strategic plays on day three of the tournament. They credited their success to constant practice, but also to communication and trust in their teammates.
Every member of Top Esports plays a different role and they adjust as maps and opponents change: “We split our tasks into different roles, and they help everything run smoothly. When we encounter some difficulties or obstacles, we can deal with it.” The team also shared that one of the most important factors for success is admitting and correcting your mistakes. Talent can only take you so far if you are not willing to learn.
Top Esports also agreed that you don’t need a high-end gaming phone to compete. Instead, it’s the unquestionable support of family, friends, and coaches that helps the team pull through even in tough moments. The players also stressed that the most important thing for a professional esports player is self-adjustment: “Sometimes you encounter difficulties and you have to be able to bring your mind back to the game and never give up.”
Adapting quickly is more important than phone specs.
And according to them, competitive gaming is not as easy as it might seem to an outsider: “There is no rest in esports”. Top Esports will take a couple of days off before diving right back into practicing, since the Fall Split and 2020 PUBG Mobile World League are both approaching fast.
And what did we learn from our PUBG Mobile Club Open experience? That it’s easy to be dismissive of mobile esports until you meet the players and casters that make it all possible. Seeing the enthusiasm, positivity, and how much difference the game has made in players’ lives makes it hard to be cynical.