How to spectate Arena of Valor – INQUIRER.net

The SEAGames 2019 opening ceremonies played off to a rousing start last week, and challengers from all over the region—including some of our very own—have started claiming victories and medals in various familiar competitions. In just a couple of days, however, we will begin watching playoffs in the newest addition to this lineup of disciplines: esports.
Many of us are at least casually familiar with a few of the games that will serve as the virtual courts for our new breed of athletes. Titles like Tekken, and StarCraft are practically household names at this point; these three have had decades to cement themselves into pop culture, and are staples at any arcade or internet cafe. By contrast, one of the biggest esport titles making an appearance in the SEAGames only made its Philippine debut just over a year ago.
Arena of Valor might sound like a mobile app with lofty ideals and nebulous goals, but one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover—or a game by its name. While it definitely is a mobile game, it’s not quite right to lump it into the same group as Candy Crush, Angry Birds, or Pokemon Go. There’s a reason why it’s been awarded “Best Competitive Game” at the 2018 Golden Joystick Awards, and “Fan Favorite Mobile Game” at the 2018 Gamers’ Choice Awards.
Arena of Valor is a truly competitive title, where players must strategize, communicate, and adapt in order to emerge victorious against an opposing team. The game’s tempo and flow are so radically different from most mobile games that it’s fair to place it more in line with the likes of DOTA and League of Legends, two other esports titles that will be making an appearance in the SEAGames. In fact, Arena of Valor already made its debut as an official esport title once before, at the 2018 Asian Games held in Indonesia.

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Considering the freshness not only of Arena of Valor but of esports as a whole, it’s understandable if not many viewers would be familiar with the rules or mechanics of this and other games in the esports SEAGames segment. For the benefit of those who want to follow along and support our contenders, but aren’t sure what to look out for, here’s a brief primer on how to spectate Arena of Valor.
Starting off with the most important detail: there will be live commentators during this and other esports playoffs. Even if nothing else sticks, you will get a general idea of the status of every match just by listening attentively to the hosts, also called “shoutcasters” in the context of esports. “Usually the casters bridge the gap between the game and the casual viewers,” says Cara “CaraCute” de Dios, professional Hearthstone player for Globe/Mineski’s Team Liyab.
“They should be able to tell or point out who is winning and who is losing and what needs to happen in order to win the game. So aside from checking out the scoreboard, just listening to the commentators will help a lot.”

Kevin “Gambit” Dizon, Team Liyab’s Arena of Valor captain, echoes that sentiment. “With the help of our local shoutcasters, it will be easier for Filipinos to understand the basics of the game. 

Getting into Arena of Valor’s finer details, we start to see just how deep the game can be. Teams in Arena of Valor consist of five players, each controlling one Champion which is usually fit to serve a specific role. Think of this as something akin to the positions filled by basketball players on the court. You’ll hear words like “DS lane,” “AD lane,” “bottom,” and “jungle,” or “warrior,” “tank,” “mage,” and “support.” These are the positions and roles that different team members can assume, and their goal is straightforward: destroy your opponent’s “core” before they do the same to yours.

Those of you familiar with MOBAs will feel right at home. Gambit adds, “For Arena of Valor, the objective is very simple and it is to destroy the enemy base which can be done through obtaining other minor objectives such as [attacking] towers, defeating enemy champions, and getting resources.”
Breaking down the terminology: “core” is fairly obvious, being the base of operations for our competitors’ characters, which are called “Champions.” “Towers” are obstacles which protect bases from attack, and must be circumvented in order to mount an offensive. “Resources” in this context refers to the gold points players earn through their actions in gameplay, which can be spent to improve their Champions in some way.
Gambit continues, “It’s important to see how many towers have been destroyed, the kills from both teams, and the gold difference as well because this determines how far each champion is with his/her items.”
It’s a lot to take in step by step, especially for new viewers. However, once the match begins, the flow of the game quickly becomes clear. And with each match lasting between 12–18 minutes on average, that flow will move faster than one may expect.
If it all seems too overwhelming, just remember to listen to the shoutcasters; or, even simpler than that, observe the reactions of the players during the game. Esports athletes are an emotive bunch and there’s bound to be plenty of drama for them to work with. And in the end, it’s precisely that human drama of athletic competition which makes all sports, including esports, an exhilarating spectacle.
You can watch and support Gambit and the rest of our athletes as they fight for the gold in the 2019 SEA Games. He will be competing under the Philippine Flag together with the National Team for Arena of Valor esports events on Dec. 7–9 at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
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