Esports in 2022: what will the future hold? Part 1

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It seems like we’ve been here before.

We approach the new year full of optimism, hopeful of a return to normalcy, yet find ourselves hit with yet another wave of this never-ending pandemic. 

With yet another new variant of the coronavirus, it is anybody’s guess if 2022 will see a return of the esports world as we knew it. 

But one thing’s for certain, the esports community is a resilient bunch and if the many strides made in 2021 is any consideration, there is hope that the new year will bring some good news.

Moving away from Online-Play

While the pandemic is still wreaking havoc on the traditional sports world, with athletes testing positive for Covid-19 and having to sit out tournaments and matches,  things carried on for esports. Our one benefit: it can be fully played online.

Credit: lolesports

However, with this benefit comes a truckload of other problems. Latency issues arise. Integrity is called to question. Production quality drops and most importantly, there is no crowd cheering the players on.

What was once a phenomenal party-like event was reduced into a studio production with little to no ambient tension and excitement.

With the world slowly re-opening, I think esports fans and players would gladly return to watching and competing in the physical realm. And if it means getting a stick shoved up the nose every single day to ensure offline events finally happen again, we would gladly get shoved.

Year of the Fighting Games

However, if we were to truly stay online, one adrenaline-pumping genre will stand above the rest. While the competitive Smash community took a serious hit last year due to all the grooming scandals, there are many other fighting games waiting to take their place.

Gone are the days where people would gather at the arcade watching players battle to the death in front of the machine. Now that fighting games are on consoles and PCs, Online Play is more important than ever before.

Credit: EVO 2021

With developers finally embracing Rollback Netcode, Street Fighter V, King of Fighters XV and Guilty Gear Strive look to be the future of fighting games. While EVO 2021 was held in regions, it proved that online play was still possible because of the revolutionary coding technique.

As the pandemic pushes online technology further, perhaps one day we’d be able to seamlessly execute a full combo against someone in Latin America. Perhaps, maybe even this year.

But fingers are still crossed that EVO 2022 would finally be an offline event, at least to relive the good old days of cheering impossible feats.

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