While most people will remember 2020 as a time of turmoil and social isolation, VR esports players can also recall a year of Quest ports, community growth, and increased interest from sponsors. In January we wrote about the VR esports competitions that kicked off the year. Now we’ll share news of the upcoming season championships for Downpour Interactive’s Onward and Vankrupt Games’ Pavlov to close out the year.
Like other games in the VR esports ecosystem, Onward has seen tremendous growth of the playerbase since the game was ported to the Quest. Onward is a mil-sim tactical multiplayer shooter that was released in August 2016 on Steam Early Access. The community Discord server has over 16,000 members, double the 8,000 members in November 2019, and the game broke records with its Quest debut in July 2020 as it made over $1 million in revenue in just four days.
While many of the players who own Onward or are in the Discord will never participate in the VR Master League, the overall increase of the playerbase is definitely reflected in the increased number of registered league players.
When DaKinMan started the VR Master League, a community-driven platform designed to allow player input for organization and decisions, there were 24 players registered for season 1 in early 2017. The numbers continued to steadily grow and jumped from 437 players (including reservists) registered at the beginning of season 9 in January to 930 players in season 10 with the Quest port.
Although Vankrupt Games’ Pavlov, a multiplayer first-person shooter, isn’t officially ported to the Quest yet, the game is accessible via SideQuest, an application that makes it possible to load content onto the Quest via sideloading. While the numbers haven’t risen quite as quickly as Onward in the league, the playerbase is definitely growing. During season 1 in 2017, there were 19 players in the league. Currently there are 548.
This will be the largest championship season for the games not only in terms of players, but also sponsors and prizes. In fact, the prize pools have increased nearly tenfold for this winter championship season.
The cash and prizes for Pavlov VR Master League season 6 was just over $1,000 and the season 7 championship will feature a prize pool worth $7,000 USD in cash and prizes from the following sponsors:
Cash and prizes for Onward VR Master League Season 9 was just over $1,500 and the season 10 championship boasts a prize pool worth $15,000 USD in cash and prizes from the following sponsors:
- ProTube VR, VR Cover, ARMA, Rebuff Reality, FIXT Gaming, Asterion, Cybershoes, bHaptics, HyperX, Downpour Interactive
Today the VR Master League is pleased to announce that HyperX will be providing some fantastic prizes for the Onward and Pavlov championships. HyperX sponsors more than 20 gaming teams globally and is a prominent sponsor of notable gaming events such as DreamHack and PAX.
“We’re really excited to partner with HyperX,” VR Master League founder DaKinMan announced today. “HyperX graciously offered prizes for the recent Echo Arena Charity Cup and we enjoyed working with them for such a good cause. The HyperX brand is synonymous with quality products used in esports competitions worldwide.”
“VRML has grown significantly in the past year,” he continued, “and the main goal has always been growth and to bring VR esports players the feeling of high-tier competition, but also the feeling of community. Together, we hope to increase VR esports visibility.”
Vince Quan, Marketing Coordinator for HyperX, reminds us of the HyperX catch phrase when he discusses their increasing interest to support the growing VR esports ecosystem:
“We at HyperX are excited to be coming aboard as a supporter of the VR Master League. Thanks to our previous support of the Echo Arena Charity Cup, we’ve learned that the future of VR esports is growing at a remarkable pace. This was made possible from embracing gaming communities everywhere with the core HyperX belief—We’re All Gamers”
Regardless of the chosen platform, HyperX embraces all gaming enthusiasts and provides products to enhance the gaming experience and boost performance.
Before they can enjoy the fantastic prizes, players must win the championship. One of the great things about the VR Master League is the format for competitions, which makes it possible for even new or lower ranked teams to do well if they continue to improve. Even with the championships, there is an opportunity for teams that don’t initially qualify to still earn a spot.
The top 7 teams automatically qualify for the Round Robin stage of the championships, but those that aren’t automatically qualified can play in the Challenger Cup for one last chance. This is encouraging for lower ranked teams and provides some great competition among the higher ranked teams that barely missed one of the top seven spots.
The schedule for championship stages is listed for each game below.
Onward Championship Schedule
- Challenger Cup Registrations: November 19 to November 27
- Challenger Cup: November 28 & 29
- Challenger Cup Final: November 30 to December 5
- Round-Robin: December 5 & 6
- Semifinals and Finals: December 12 & 13
Pavlov Championship Schedule
- Challenger Cup Registrations: November 23 to December 4
- Challenger Cup: December 5 & 6
- Challenger Cup Final: December 7 to December 12
- Round-Robin: December 12 & 13
- Semifinals and Finals: December 19 & 20
The championship pages on the VR Master League website are fantastic and we’d recommend that you use these as a resources if you’re interested in following the brackets.
Where to Watch
VR esports are exciting to watch and the VRML production team puts on a top notch show. The casters and camera crew are the best in the field of VR esports coverage. You can join others on your chosen platform and see the most competitive matches of the year, listen to casters share details about the players and teams, and join the hype in chat as other viewers enjoy the show!
Here’s an easy to use guide to help you choose where to watch the championships.
Onward VRML Challenger Cup
Onward VRML Challenger Cup Final, Round Robin Group Stage, Semi-Finals and Finals
Round Round Robin Group Stage will also have matches on Onward VRML Twitch channel 1.
Pavlov VRML Challenger Cup and Round Robin Group Stage
Pavlov Challenger Cup Final, Semi-finals, Bronze Match, and Finals
Additional information about the league and other games can be found on the VR Master League website.
Format and Rules
Specific format and rules for Onward and Pavlov can be found here.
Stay tuned to VR Fitness Insider for continued coverage of the best news in VR esports and of course how you can use VR for health and fitness.