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FACEIT CEO Niccolo Maisto on PUBG esports and the company’s role in its future

Despite many people claiming battle royale has no space in the competitive gaming world, it’s not stopping PUBG from attempting to cement itself as the number one battle royale esport. From the third-party tournaments like StarSeries and GLL to the Global Invitational in Berlin earlier in the summer, the scene is accelerating even though it’s still very much in its infancy.

FACEIT has risen to the top of esports like CS:GO and Rocket League by providing players with a platform to compete and make a name for themselves. Their next step is to do the same with PUBG. Currently in beta and launching fully later this month, FACEIT’s PUBG platform offers tournaments and a competitive environment that can’t be found anywhere else.

According to FACEIT CEO Niccolo Maisto, the platform currently boasts “around 10 million players” – across all games, of course – and about 12-15 million game sessions each month. The PUBG side of things will be focused on leagues, as a way for players to rank up, earn prizes and prove themselves as worthy in the PUBG scene.

In a private walkthrough given to us by Niccolo, he explained exactly how the system will work. You can join a game by selecting one from a list, with each option detailing how long is left and how many players or teams are currently in. Once you’re in a game in the FACEIT client, the match is configured in PUBG and you can join the private lobby. From there, you’ll be placed into the right team automatically and the game starts in one minute.

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Picture of a scene from a movie called The Grinch

A peek at how FACEIT’s PUBG client will look

As the game progresses, FACEIT will track the stats for each individual player. In one game showed to us, we could see that the top team got 14 kills, dealt a total of 1,700 damage and they travelled 10,728 metres. Click on the dropdown for each team and all that information is displayed for each individual player. Right now, only Erangel is tracked but Niccolo confirmed that when it becomes available to the public, Miramar and Sanhok will be available.

For anyone keen on getting their foot in the door with PUBG esports, FACEIT has it all. It’s based off their success in previous games and it shows, because despite still being in beta, the client is polished and it’s working successfully for those who have been involved so far. The full version of the client launches today, and Niccolo is confident about PUBG as an esport, explaining to us that the amount they’ve invested and the focus they’ve put on it is a “statement that we believe in battle royale being a potential competitive genre.”

One of the biggest complaints surrounding battle royale as a potential esport genre is that it’s too random. Players can get extremely lucky with the loot they find at the start and be set up for the rest of the match, while others can spend considerably longer scavenging for supplies. Niccolo explained that in PUBG, a lot of that randomness can be eliminated.

“If you jump into a public match, you’re going to have a ton of teams hot-dropping,” he quite rightly told us. “They’re going to the school, picking up the first gun they find and trying to get a kill. Because it’s all about getting that kill. While if you go into a FACEIT match, after 20 minutes you still have 11 teams that are alive. It’s way more tactical, more about playing as a team and not dropping in the same zone. Checking out who’s dropping when and where – that aspect is the competitive aspect, it’s the big difference between a competitive match and a public match. It ends up killing the randomness of the game quite a bit.”

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He had a lot of praise for PUBG Corp and their five-year esports roadmap that they announced at PGI 2018 too. “I think they’re on the right track. For me, it’s more than the five-year roadmap, it’s also the way we’ve been working together. I think they understand the importance of the community within esports which is a key to succeed. They understand it’s not a top-down effort but it goes both ways. So you can organise a very large event but you also need to make sure that the community can flourish. That’s very much the direction they’re taking, they’re very open towards the community, they’re very community focused.”

Of course, PUBG isn’t the only battle royale game attempting to make waves in the esports industry though. Fortnite recently concluded their first official tournament series called Summer Skirmish, where they dished out over $8 million across eight weeks of events. Even though the focus is on PUBG right now, we had to ask if the prospect of Fortnite competition on FACEIT could become a possibility.

“We’re always open to talk with game developers and actually, the way the integration works is very seamless and easy to integrate. In 2019, we’re planning to open the game integration to any studio, so that it’s a self-service system. Towards the end of 2018, we’re going to open a private beta for that and we’re already accepting applications – we have a few case studies. In 2019 it’s going to be fully open and anyone is going to be able to integrate a game inside FACEIT. So from our point of view, we’re very open to it.”

FACEIT is huge when it comes to CS:GO, with the London Major taking place right now. Niccolo touched on it a few times during our chat so it felt important to raise the question of offline PUBG events. He laughed when we asked, but followed it up by explaining that if the opportunity exists and PUBG Corp/Bluehole want to, then it could absolutely happen. They’re not focused on it though and that for it to happen, they need to feel like it’d be “either needed or appreciated.”

There’s a long way to go before PUBG is viewed as a world class esport. 2018 has been bright so far though and with FACEIT’s involvement, it’s only going to get brighter. Niccolo wants players to be noticed through the platform and make it the number one place for upcoming stars to shine.

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