The world of esports doesn't slow down.
While League of Legends is gearing up for its second-biggest international tournament of the year in Europe with the Mid-Season Invitational, Overwatch League is in the middle of an impressive rookie season with its championship game looming come the summer. Dota 2 is barreling toward its Super Bowl in the form of The International (for the first time in Vancouver), the fighting game world has all eyes on Evolution 2018 coming up in Las Vegas in August, and speaking of Vegas, one Tyler "Ninja" Blevins is breaking streaming records left and right in Sin City.
Let's take a look at which current esport storylines are real and which are just giving a bit too much into the hype.
Fortnite is going to be the next big thing in esports
Does Fortnite cater to casual video game players? Sure. Does that mean it can't become the next big esport? Nope. Back when League of Legends was starting to make waves as a competitive title almost a decade ago, the prevailing thought from fans of other esports was that the game was "too casual" to break into the mainstream. StarCraft II, the king of Western esports at the time, was miles ahead when it came to complexity and depth as a game, and how could a game like League of Legends, which appeared to be an easier-to-control Dota clone, become an actual esport?
Now we're at the same point with Fortnite. Although Epic Games hasn't made any concrete plans when it comes to its wildly popular game and esports, one thing trumps all: viewership. Ninja's live event at the Esports Arena in Las Vegas had over 600,000 concurrent viewers on Twitch, and when there's that much fascination with a game -- even if it was centered around the biggest name currently in video games -- it can only mean good things when it comes to esports.
Ninja can't single-handedly make Fortnite esports, but the 26-year-old can certainly be a driving force in the process.
Boston Uprising is the best team in the Overwatch League
Fiction (for now)
Boston is the biggest story of the first season of Overwatch League. The team was predicted to be dead last in the league standings by almost everyone, from fans to pundits, before the season started, and the Uprising have gone above and beyond anyone's wildest expectations. Boston is currently sitting in second place on an 11-match winning streak after beating all three of the all-South Korean squads (New York Excelsior, London Spitfire and Seoul Dynasty) in impressive fashion.
Still, when it comes to the best team in OWL, I have to go with New York, at least for the moment. Boston is the definition of a well-disciplined team and looks like the best-prepared team in the league. NYXL, though, while sometimes lackadaisical in its play, has the best talent in the league and has been by far the most consistent squad throughout all three stages so far. NYXL is 24-3 with a plus-58 map differential; Boston has evolved more than anyone from day one to the present, but until it takes a stage title (which might very well happen in the next two weeks), I'm going to be boring and stick with the XL.
Kingzone DragonX is going to win the Mid-Season Invitational
SK Telecom T1 might not be at MSI this year, but South Korea is still the heavy favorite going into the event with Kingzone as the country's representative. Kingzone's perceived biggest threat was supposed to come in the form of China's Invictus Gaming, but Invictus won't even be at the competition following the team's loss to Royal Never Give Up in the League of Legends Pro League Spring Split semifinals. Invictus was missing its star top laner, Kang "TheShy" Seung-lok, for the match, and although either RNG or perennial domestic finalist EDward Gaming should be the front-runner for the second-best team at MSI in Europe, it feels like it'll take a herculean effort for anyone to dispatch Kingzone before it reaches the crown.
Will Kingzone go through the entire tournament undefeated? No. It'll drop a few games here or there and possibly get upended by a surprise team like Fnatic or Team Liquid. Will Kingzone take home its first international hardware, though? It's hard to see any other outcome.