ByAna Valens, writer at Creators.co
Writer and games critic. As seen at the Daily Dot, Waypoint, Kill Screen, Bitch Media, and ZEAL.
Ana Valens

What's the first name that comes to mind when you think of esports? Is it Nintendo? If not, it should be. Nintendo is killing with their bizarrely strong esports line-up.

For one, Nintendo is hosting three esports tournaments over the course of E3 2017, starting with a Splatoon 2 invitational and ending with a semi-open Arms competition that's sure to fire up some friendly competition between both esports competitors and E3 attendees alike.

And if that isn't enough, Nintendo is bringing Rocket League over to the Nintendo Switch, allowing console owners to compete head-to-head against players across PC and other consoles. That's huge, seeing how Rocket League has become such a major esports title in the past two years.

[Source: Nintendo]
[Source: Nintendo]

For some fans, linking the Japanese gaming giant with competitive gaming seems ridiculous. Nintendo is a franchise-based blockbuster company, why would they specialize into esports? Super Smash is great for tournaments, but until Splatoon, that was it.

But Nintendo has created a solid roster for Nintendo Switch esports, one that could give the Switch the firepower it needs for Nintendo to enter into the world of competitive play.

Will The Nintendo Switch Become An Esports Sensation?

[Source: Nintendo]
[Source: Nintendo]

Nintendo has three major events planned for E3 2017. There's the 2017 Splatoon 2 World Inkling Invitational on Tuesday, the Pokkén Tournament DX Invitational on June 14th, and the Arms Open Invitational capping out the 14th. Each of those tournaments bring major esports competitors from around the world to the stage, with the Arms Open Invitational even bringing in E3 attendees to compete with competitive players.

It's clear why Nintendo is bringing these tournaments into E3. The publisher wants the world to see the capabilities of the Nintendo Switch as a portable tool that can be used to plan, practice for, and perform in major esports tournaments. Showing off the Splatoon series' esports scene is just one way.

And releasing games with a thriving esports population, like Pokkén Tournament, and marketing games like Arms as esports ventures will help convince the competitive gaming world to take the Nintendo Switch seriously.

[Source: Nintendo]
[Source: Nintendo]

Marketing the Nintendo Switch's esports possibilities during E3... it was totally unexpected. It's planting a seed in gamers' heads, too; you can compete with other players on Nintendo Switch as a professional player.

The Switch isn't just another Nintendo couch-console offering.

Nintendo Has A Serious Esports Presence

[Source: Nintendo]
[Source: Nintendo]

But it's not even Nintendo's long-term plans for the Switch. Nintendo is putting esports events on the ground as E3 2017 begins, making competitive gaming an important part of their presence during the expo. That differs from other esports-adjacent companies like Intel, ESL, or Bethesda. Those studios are supporting esports through a major partnership and a Quake Champions tournament, respectively, but all three groups avoided bringing competitions directly to E3.

Meanwhile, Nintendo has three showcase competitions. And one of them is open to fans as a semi-invitational, semi-open tournament. Oddly enough, that makes Nintendo one of the biggest esports presences at the entire show.

[Source: Nintendo]
[Source: Nintendo]

That said, Nintendo has a long way to go before the Nintendo Switch is hailed as an esports machine. Nintendo needs to secure more third-party esports games that can use cross-platform play to bridge the gap between other platforms and the Switch. The company also needs to make sure Splatoon 2 and Arms receive the proper content support to keep their esports scenes lively, fresh, and engaging.

And most of all, Nintendo needs more first-party esports games. Both Splatoon and Splatoon 2 show that Nintendo knows how to make engaging competitive games that create esports communities. But Nintendo needs to push the envelope by creating more esports-adjacent titles. Or promoting scenes around other games. That means boosting the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe community, as well as providing more tournaments and support for the inevitable next installment of Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo Switch.

So there's a long road ahead for Nintendo. But for now, the company is dominating E3 2017's esports scene. And that's good for any Nintendo Switch fan. Let's hope it stays that well in 2018, too.

Are you excited for Nintendo's esports competitions? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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