In any platform you can play video games, you can be sure that there will be players looking to play as competitively as possible. Mobile games are the newest frontier for esports and because of the ubiquitousness of the smartphone, it’s a space that is rapidly increasing in size – in both players and money.
If you are a PC or Console player you might be taking this all with a grain of salt, thinking, “how serious can a mobile esport be?”
Well, take a look at the recently announced PUBG Mobile tournament.
The PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile Club Open 2019 will have a $2 million prize pool, that’s more than some established esports – we’re looking at you here FIFA.
Professional and semi-pro teams will be able to take part with the tournament split into Spring and Fall. Each Split will have a global final, the first of which will be held in July. Every region will be represented making this one of the first truly global mobile esport tournaments.
Sound’s all very proper, eh? And what more this isn’t some unsustainable headline grab tournament, we’ve already had the PUBG Mobile Stars Challenge when Thai team, RRQ Athena won $200,000 from a $600,000 prize pool.
As people get their hands on ever more powerful smartphones and open their mind to playing games competitively on them this space looks set to explode. So let’s take a look at the very best mobile esports in 2019!
The Best Mobile Esports
It’s the little brother to the PC/Console game that looks like it could surpass the achievements of the breakout game of 2017. PUBG Mobile is developed by Chinese mega-company Tencent. The game was released in 2018 and has quickly established itself as the leading mobile shooter, recently surpassing Fortnite’s monthly revenue records on iOS.
It would be rude to call this game a port. It is so much more than that. It not only has every feature of the PC/Console version it also has a number of quality of life improvements that make the PC version look positively dated – like the in-game Clan system that allows you to squad up, gain rank and enter tournaments – potentially the first step in a career in esports. There is also the auto-loot system, taking the pain out of that particular mechanic, and an intuitive control system that will surprise PC players with its fluidness.
Graphics wise the game looks stunning, all the 3 maps available in the base game are here. Sanhook in particular with its lush greens and cool blue waters is a blast to play on. Don’t worry if you don’t have the latest and greatest smartphone, there are a number of GFX options designed to work on any system and save your battery if you are running low.
Audio can be an issue on mobile games, most players will be using cheap in-ear headphones with no directional audio – but that’s where the minimap comes in. The direction of gunshots and vehicles are highlighted which means you won’t be running confused with things are getting crazy. The VOIP is also clear enough for you to communicate with your teammates.
On top of all that, there is a number of mobile-only game modes. Do you want to play a quick deathmatch, snipers only or a quicker version of the full game? PUBG got you covered.
As mentioned at the top of the article the esport scene for PUBG mobile is buzzing at the moment. The recently wrapped up tournament in Dubai was a huge success, the clan system keeps you connected to the esport ecosystem and with 200 million players and counting things look like they are only going to get bigger
Oh, and did we mention, unlike PC the mobile version is Free2play?
This is the turly one of the best mobile esports.
Mobile: Legends Bang Bang
A game so similar to Riot’s PC smash that they were sued a lawsuit that Riot eventually won.
That hasn’t stopped them becoming one of the biggest and best MOBA’s on mobile and any fan of the namesake on PC is going to find a lot to love here. The graphics have that same vivid quality and the action is frantic and you will need to have your wits about you to compete with the best.
Daily rewards and grinds whether you love them or hate them are here and there are frequent updates including a recently included Battle Royale game mode.
The esport scene is mainly focused on Asia at the moment with tournaments held in Malaysia and Indonesia but as the game expands west expect to see it open up to include other regions.
A game featuring the addictive mix of card collecting and tower defence was always likely to be a hit. Especially as it was from mobile gaming legends Supercell the same developers of Clash of Clans and Boom Beach.
The graphics will be familiar to anyone who has played other Supercell games. They’re clean with their cartoon aesthetic and really fit in with the game. The gameplay itself is great – easy to get in but hard to master.
Be warned though this game is a major time sink and if you want to progress it’s going to involve a lot of hours on your part. It has that game mechanic prevalent in all SuperCell Games where you collect two currencies, one easier than the other and with a massive incentive to buy the rarer of the towo.
That’s one of the huge downsides of this game. It can, especially in the later stages, feel pay2win, with the crates/cards taking weeks to unlock and level up.
On the esport side Clash Royale is now one of the biggest mobile esports in the world. It’s first major tournament the Clash Royale Crown Championship Worlds was held in 2017 and over 28 million players from all over the world competed in it with a prize pool of $400,000 with the winner SergioRamos taking home $150,000.
It was also one of just 4 esports featured at the 2018 Asian Games held in Indonesia and recently wrapped up its brand new league system the Clash Royale League in Tokyo.
Teams play in a combination of 2v2s and 1v1s so whatever your jam is there is something for you. A crazy addictive game worth playing if you like quick tactical matches that reward loyal players.
It’s perhaps no surprise that this esport made its way to mobile. This game is almost tailored made for a mobile port. If you don’t know Hearthstone is a card collecting game where players battle it out. Developed by Blizzard and steeped in Warcraft lore. What makes this game unique is the ability to play cross-platform. That means PC, Apple and Android players are all competing together in the same ladders and tournaments which makes the mobile version an equal to the PC version a rarity in the world of gaming.
The game itself is massively enjoyable – with Blizzard at the helm you know there is going to be a certain level of polish and this game has it in spades. The sound including the music is great, the visuals spectacular, and the humorous writing really brings you into Heartstones world.
The battle system is equal measures challenging and addictive. If you haven’t played a card battling game here’s the short version – you have a deck of 30 cards. The cards all have their pros and cons. You play your cards against each other until either you or your opponent’s hero dies. Much of the joy is the endless strategizing you will do in the game, the trial and error and the continuous learning make this a deeply satisfying experience.
The only quibble with this game is the length of time it has been out. There are now many different packs which can be bought with real or in-game currency. The problem is the in-game currency isn’t going to come quickly though so you will find yourself grinding hard until you have a comparable deck to most of the player base – but importantly it can be done, so while the game is Free2Play you will have to put a lot of hours to catch up with the best.
The competitive scene for the game is healthy, there are regular tournaments held all over the world. There are a number of online tournaments that you can play and you earn points throughout the season – the players with the highest points can find themselves invited LANs and ultimately the Hearthstone World Championship, which last year netted Taiwan’s Tom60229 $250,000.
Blizzard is shaking Hearthstone up for 2019 with the newly announced Hearthstone Masters – a tournament format open to everyone with the chance for top performing players to earn packs and potentially an invitation to the Hearthstone Master Tour. The first tour will take place in Las Vegas on June 14-16 with a minimum of $250,000 in the prize pool.
Best Mobile Esports 2019 – Honorable Mentions
Clash of Titans, the international version of Tencent’s widely popular MOBA Honor Of Kings, hasn’t quite caught on in the west in the way HOK has in China but with more people taking a serious look at mobile esports that could yet change. It’s widely regarded as a superior game than Mobile: Legends Bang Bang just without the player base.
Another to keep an eye on is Brawl Stars another game from the Supercell stable with them turning their hand to the MOBA genre. Released in December 2018 the game made $68,000,000 in its first month and has already had a Red Bull-sponsored tournament – expect more in the future.
So what games are you playing? Have we missed any out in our list of the best mobile esports of 2019? Let us know in the comments below.