For the most part, esports have been built on the basic fundamentals of sports-style games: Either individual or team based games where sides in a match are mirrored in terms of number of players on the field.
There are 5v5 games like League of Legends, CS:GO, and Dota 2, or 1v1 games like Hearthstone and Starcraft II. But esports have the potential to expand beyond these core sports-style symmetrical team setups.
Take H1Z1: King of the Kill, for example, which is soon to run a massive $300,000 circuit. Teams of 1, 2, or 5 players are dropped into a giant virtual battlefield where they fight it out until one team remains.
This asymmetrical design is a fundamental break from the setup of most sports-style games.
Some publishers have tried to do something similar in the past but haven't found success yet.
Shootmania, for example, was a bold but ultimately underdeveloped first person shooter which featured teams of 3 trading turns in an attack/defend mode where only one player on the attacking team was equipped with a one hit kill gun, but the 3 defenders had to tag the attacker 3 times before they completed the objective or eliminated the defenders.
Every round became a 1v3. This was super cool in concept, but did quite work out in execution for a number of reasons.
The idea of developers finding a balanced, asymmetrical esport is super intriguing as it's much more difficult to accomplish something like this in traditional sports and is a possible unique differentiator between the two.
Although MMO's are unlikely to become a big esport ever again due to the amount of time it takes to grind the gear necessary to be a competitive PvP player, there are interesting formats on the horizon there too.
The Elder Scrolls Online's new upcoming expansion, Morrowind, is featuring a 4v4v4 arena style PvP mode that looks intriguing, but obviously 3 teams competing at once introduces a variety of interesting balance concerns (including, you know, making sure two teams don't just gang up on the third every single game).
Regardless, esports have a better opportunity to experiment with interesting game design formats that are just not feasible in traditional sports, and it's one of the things that makes esports cool and unique.
More esports influencing from Knocke:
- Love It or Hate It, the LCS is the Most Consistent High Quality Production in Esports
- Esports Needs More 1v1 Contests
- Esports Needs More Approachable Broadcasts