An Inside Look At PUBG's Second Big Tournament

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is wildly fun to watch, as its victory in the multi-million-player bloodbath that is Twitch has proven, but can it make the transition onto the big stage? I went to IEM Oakland in November to find out.


The tournament was in turns thrilling, slow-moving, and hard to follow. With 80 players crowded into what I took to calling PlayerUnknown’s BattleCubicles on stage, it was definitely a different kind of esports spectacle than, say, CSGO, League of Legends, or Overwatch might offer. In a piece I wrote about the experience, though, I said the following:

The final five minutes of each PUBG match were always thrilling, as the circle tightened around the remaining competitors and forced them to make lightning-quick live-or-die moves. But everything leading up to those moments is a lot of waiting around. Players spent more than half of each match picking up gear, jostling for position, and only occasionally finding themselves in skirmishes.


It was uneven, in other words. PUBG does show promise as an esport, though. Check out our video to see for yourself.

Kotaku senior reporter. Beats: Twitch, streaming, PC gaming. Writing a book about streamers tentatively titled "STREAMERS" to be published by Atria/Simon & Schuster in the future.

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David Foster Wallace Sean P

PUBG seems ripe for the kind of edited television presentation that made poker blow up on ESPN about 10 years ago. Trimming the fat and interspersing gameplay with info about strategy, background on players, and then focusing on the last ~5-10 players once the circle tightens could be a really interesting viewing experience.

I wonder if competitive video games will ever embrace “packaging” content like that or if it would be poorly received by the community.