FRI’s eye: A report on the final tournament of the “JAPAN e-SPORTS LEAGUE”
-its challenges and future- Second half

-This year, at the start of January I went for a walk around Harajuku. It was slightly cloudy, but the sun was peeking through. When I reached those offices…I was a bit surprised. The atmosphere was totally different-

This last 22 of January the JAPAN e-SPORTS LEAGUE 2016 winter finals were held. This is the second half of our report about these exciting finals, and a discussion on the current state and future of the JAPAN e-SPORTS LEAGUE.


■ The challenges of the JAPAN e-SPORTS LEAGUE

The JAPAN e-SPORTS LEAGUE has been discussed a lot by the media and has generated a lot of excitement, but it is still early in its beginning phases. There are several different competitive groups, and one can’t really say that there are many people competing within e-SPORTS as of yet.

According to Mr. Seiichiro Kakehi, head of the secretariat at the JAPAN eSPORTS association, the main problem is the legal side to all this. He told us that: “Due to various legal constraints, here in Japan we can’t hold sports competitions in which large sums of money could be won as prizes. For example, if the players collected some money and used that as the prize, it could be considered an act of gambling under the criminal law. If these competitions were to be seen as a form of sales promotion for a certain game software, then the prize can’t be larger than a 20th part of the original software’s monetary value, under the Act against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations.”
Furthermore, there was even a game center where a certain fighting game was played a lot and they got tied up in the Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses, whereby no cash prize tournaments were to be allowed within those premises.

Also, in Japan it is common for people to pay money for items in their smartphone games. In response to this, there is now a law which states that the Japanese game studios who make these should only sell items which, “the more expensive they are, the stronger the user becomes”. The gaming mainstream in overseas countries also does this, and there are no purely decorative items on sale for your character. Items only help you progress in the game and become stronger.

Now we must also look at the issue of life plans for e-SPORTS players. In Japan as overseas, players tend to be in their 20s, and their lifespan as competitors is short. Players must think of their future plans once their life as an e-SPORTS competitor is over.
Except for some famous players who compete all over the world, the earnings of players are generally attached the gaming organization they are a part of, and it would be hard to claim that they are stable.

However, according to Mr. Kakehi, overcoming these problems is the responsibility of the gaming associations.

■ The outcome of the finals – The third match : Overwatch

The CYCLOPS OSAKA athlete gaming “Overwatch” team

The Tokyo Verdy “Overwatch” team

“Overwatch” (*1) uses a variety of maps as its playing fields where teams of 6 players compete. Depending on each map there are different routes to take, and different options depending on the characters you choose, all of which requires the player to make very detailed strategies. On top of all that, there is also the skill required to beat the enemies and play an action game of this sort.

CYCLOPS OSAKA athlete gaming (from now on, “Osaka”) were expecting revenge during the preliminary league, and during the first game Tokyo Verdy (from now on, “Tokyo”) achieved an overwhelming victory. After this first game, Osaka’s leader took off the headphones and shouted “make your voices louder!” to the rest of the team, trying to motivate them with a loud yell. This is what sports is like.

The second game took an exciting turn, with the teams advancing and retreating in alternation. We saw Osaka’s stubbornness, but for a small difference Tokyo ended up winning. I like games too, and when watching these kinds of multiplayer contests, even if my team is winning I often end up rooting for the team which is losing. Between both teams there was a miniscule difference, but this difference was hard to ignore.
Tokyo won once again during the 3rd game, and so with a 3-0 score Tokyo won the Overwatch game.

This JAPAN e-SPORTS LEAGUE final tournament had lasted almost 4 hours, and CYCLOPS OSAKA athlete gaming became the overall winners, achieving victories in the categories of FIFA17 and BLAZBLUE CENTRALFICTION. They became the first ones to win this tournament.
Tokyo Verdy retained the dignity of being the strongest team at Overwatch.

The winners, CYCLOPS OSAKA athlete gaming

The awards ceremony (Mr. Seiichiro Kakehi on the left)

We asked the leader of Tokyo’s Overwatch team, Vader, about why they chose this game, and he told us that among FPS games it is pretty popular in Japan, and also since the game was only just released last year, they thought it was probable that the rest of the world would not have too big of an advantage towards Japan.
Tokyo Verdy were unbeatable in this Overwatch league, and it seems that they have been playing practice games often with Chinese and Korean teams online. “It’s very hard to win,” says Vader, who this time felt the advantage of other countries.
But they want to continue trying hard and pass over this obstacle, in order to compete internationally.

The next tournament, “JAPAN e-SPORTS LEAGUE 2017 summer”, will be held in May of this year. The number of participant teams will likely increase. We look forward to seeing how Japanese e-Sports evolve from now on.

■ That day after New Year…

After the finals ended, and we left the tournament venue, I remembered that day after New Year.
It was the beginning of January and I was headed towards Mr. Kakehi’s offices in Harajuku to give him my New Year’s greetings. It was a bit cold and it was slightly cloudy, but the sun was peeking through. A pleasant breeze was blowing.
It was my first visit in one year, and when I entered those offices I was a bit surprised. I couldn’t count the exact number of people, but there was definitely a bigger group. And before these offices had felt relaxed, but now they felt lively and busy.
This loud atmosphere was full of a certain sense that new things were about to happen…
It was a cloudy day. But a pleasant breeze was blowing.


(*1) Overwatch

>>First half

(Article by: Kenichi Nakamura)

Fields Research Institute (FRI) conducts research in entertainment.
This article was written by a member of FRI, through the original coverage of his/her interests observed in their daily lives.


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