The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) presented its second-ever esports award during their awards ceremony last night. The mobile game Clash Royale won, beating out a handful of the most popular and fastest-growing esports titles in the world. People are not happy.
Last night’s Esports Audience Award (the only esports award of the night) had really strong contenders: League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, Street Fighter V, and Overwatch. It also had one nominee that seemed pretty out of place: Clash Royale. While Clash Royale is a popular mobile game with some competitive tournaments, the size of its competitive following and number of pro-level events pales in comparison to the other nominated games, some of which regularly sell out arenas around the world and have even broken Twitch streaming records.
Clash Royale‘s biggest tournament to date, the King’s Cup, took place in an airplane hanger in Los Angeles with a few hundred people in attendance. League of Legends‘ most recent Worlds finals drew nearly 20,000 people to the Staples Center in the same city and had over 14 million people watching online at its peak.
Clash Royale won its BAFTA award via an online vote that anyone could participate in.
The BAFTA Awards are considered the most prestigious entertainment awards in Britain. With only one esports award at the show this year, some people were inevitably going to be upset that their favorite game didn’t win. Almost nobody involved with esports expected Clash Royale to win. People took to Twitter to air their frustrations.
Some people thought (or maybe hoped) the nomination was a joke. Unfortunately April Fools’ Day already passed by. This is reality.
Some Clash Royale fans came out in support of the award, saying people who were angry just weren’t good at the game.
Although the award was chosen by the people via a vote, it’s up for debate whether Clash Royale should have even been nominated in the first place. Clash Royale does have a large player base and will occasionally make it to the front page of Twitch (where the top 12 currently most-watched games are featured), but its views don’t come close to those of the other nominated esports titles. The game also doesn’t draw in professional team organizations like other esports or even other competitive mobile games like Vainglory or Hearthstone.
Clash Royale‘s own highlight video from a tournament in Finland is potentially one of the most lackluster tournament highlight videos on the internet despite its banger of a thumbnail. The small crowd at the event does seem to get loud and excited at times but the video suspiciously lacks anything that resembles a gameplay highlight until the very end.
When the nominees for the Esports Audience Award were announced in February, Dot Esports pointed out that the inclusion of Clash Royale was questionable not only because it isn’t very big in the esports scene, but because BAFTA’s vice president of games invested in Clash Royale‘s developer Supercell back in 2011, which could be seen as a conflict of interest.
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