Why Gwent will be a proper E-Sport
When you try to explain Gwent to someone, there are a few ways to do it. You can be very brief and say: “Gwent is about having more points than your opponent.” This isn’t wrong at all, but it’s an oversimplification. When you go into more detail, you start to realize that Gwent’s depth grows out of all the small separate mechanics. You start explaining the rounds and how difficult it can be to pass. There are limited ways to extend your resources like card advantage. The three rows on each side of the board are vital to the game and card design. All these little pieces of the puzzle make for a complex and interesting game. Because let’s be honest, If Gwent was just about getting more points than your opponent, it wouldn’t be fit to become an e-sport. But let’s take a little bit more of a look at why Gwent is destined to become a successful e-sports game.
Easy to grasp, hard to master
Gwent is easy to understand, most of the mechanics are very straightforward and logical. Along the way, of course, it introduces interesting and sophisticated ways to produce strength points. Indeed, that’s the whole purpose of the game, getting more strength. And when you start to read all the cards and watch videos of fully coherent decks that synergize and revolve around one strategy, that’s when you realize how far the developers can take their card design. And looking at some cards, I really have to hand it to the developers, some are quite sophisticated and take the simple concept ‘getting more strength’ to a whole new level.
A lot of people make the argument that you can see who will win the game because you have almost all your cards to start off with right off the bat. So according to those people, Gwent’s skill ceiling is thereby lower than some other card games, because you’re very limited in terms of your resources. They do have a point, and if you go in with a fragile deck and gameplan from the beginning, counting on every card you want to play from the start, it’s probably not going to end well for you. A good deck and a good player will be able to continue even when some of his core strategy components can - and will - get disrupted. There are multiple win conditions and just as many more ways to try and disrupt those of your opponent. So in reality, it isn’t really possible to predict the game’s outcome right of the bat based on the cards drawn alone. Instead, any match will need skilled players to pilot an excellent and flexible deck. When you have a good player playing a good deck like that, you can immediately see the difference between a player who has played only a few hundred games and a player who has been playing thousands. This is important for a game that wants to become an e-sport, because training and hard work should put you ahead of the casual players.
For a game to become an e-sport, there must be interest first. Interest from the community is the backbone of all e-sports. Without the community there will be no drive to do something more with the game than simply play the ranked ladder. There might be a few smaller organized tournaments, but when we talk e-sports, we’re thinking of the big stages, with cameramen, prize money, bright lights, the whole deal. There is one component of the e-sports equation that makes these bigger events possible, and that party is called sponsors. And what do sponsors need? They want to spread their brand, e-sports is a good way to do it if a specific game has an excited and active community. The community has multiple reasons to be interested in sponsored tournaments: rooting for a team, seeing what the best players playing, sheer interest in the game etc.
CDPR shows interest
The first official tournament was hosted not that long ago, and it had overwhelmingly positive feedback, with over 40,000 viewers. This event, the ‘Gwent Challenger’, was organized by CD Projekt Red themselves, and that’s very reassuring because they took the first step for us. They organized a big event together with a very experienced third party ESL. The fact that CD Projekt Red is already organizing and thinking about events like this while the game was still in Closed Beta can only be good news for the future. It shows other event organizers that there is a lot of interest in these kind of events.
All these reasons together can only mean one thing for the future, Gwent is destined to become a successful e-sports game. CDPR has already taken the first step and proven that people love it. With time, Gwent will inevitably grow larger and larger, and with it will come a vivid e-sports scene.