Bigger and Better: Vainglory’s move to 5v5 team games

Vainglory is a hot topic at the moment as the tablet and smartphone based 3v3 MOBA that could. I was at the Vainglory Unified Live Championships in London and the atmosphere was amazing. In fact, as far as esports events go, I found it to be the most similar to attending a Rocket League event. Slightly smaller scale but just as much energy and hype on display.

The big news in Vainglory at the moment is the upcoming 5v5 format which will bring the game in line with other MOBAs like League of Legends and DOTA 2. Kristian Segerstrale, CEO of Super Evil Megacorp—Vainglory’s developer—took to the stage to showcase some key art of potential new larger maps, testing footage for the mode, and to explain the approach the devs want to take with this new format.

Vainglory is a mobile product, so it’s important to remain true to that identity. According to everyone I’ve spoken to at SEMC, keeping a constant flow of action is essential to Vainglory. They don’t want to have players finding themselves on their own, grinding away. The devs are focused on player experience and making it fun to play. Taking the game to a 5v5 instead of 3v3 requires a lot of work to avoid the lengthy gaps between player interaction that you see in desktop MOBAs.

The mode will be filled with more objectives that pull players into fights, forcing those interactions and building the potential for the moments that Segerstrale said the game is built to create:

“We’re aiming to make Vainglory the mobile esport that people are talking about by delivering an experience that delivers highlights.”

Heini Vesander—Executive Producer of Vainglory Esports—reinforces that by saying:

“This year we’re focused on two things. One is the competitive side [and the second is the casual audience], making sure that the esports and the competitive gamers are being served by us—and that the game values them and is worthy of their time and investment. A big part of that is working on 5v5, it might launch this year, it might not but we’ve started the work.”

Players and organisations are enthusiastic about the potential gameplay that is unlocked by 5v5 and what that could mean for the pro scene. Alex Novosad, CEO of Gankstars—one of the teams that competed at the Championships in London—says:

“We can’t wait for 5v5 to come about. Some months ago, I played Mobile Legends for a bit and noticed myself addicted for a week or two. It then wore off quickly, as the game is shit on the competitive level and the controls are oh-so-bad, but it was the strategic depth that comes purely from having more jungle and lanes that sucked me in for awhile.”

He goes on to talk about the merits of 5v5 against 4v4 saying that he feels 4v4 would be a more original choice that you could have two lanes in and play with the size of the jungle but that he trusts SEMC with their choice to make the new format 5v5. Interestingly, he also spoke from an org owner’s point of view on what 5v5 means for the back end resources supporting the team:

“As an org, we need to have more analytical resources and definitely a solid coach. 3v3 has enough for a few analysts to gnaw on; 5v5 will double that. I think the orgs that recruit best analysts now and build the infrastructure will find themselves way ahead of the game once 5v5 lands.”

That’s what the developers think and how organisations as a whole might feel but everyone says Vainglory is about the players. I asked Tempostorm’s roamer Christopher “LostBoyToph” Basco about the potential of 5v5:

“I want there to be 5v5. I’ve played 5v5 in other MOBA games but it’s going to be interesting [in Vainglory]. There’s going to be a lot of dynamics and situations. They really have to change the game a lot because there’s too many broken heroes and team comps you could form. They really have to change the heroes if they want to put out 5v5. Roles, the map, there’s a lot of details [still to come] but I’m excited for it.”

This sentiment is echoed by Gankstar’s Jasper “XenoTek” Murphy:

“I believe 5v5 will make the game extremely dynamic and I’m looking forward to how this will affect the map. 5v5 will require the amount of objectives to increase, which in turn will increase strategic macro play”

A change this big is one that needs a careful approach but by all accounts, the top players and the organisations involved in Vainglory are confident in Super Evil Megacorp’s ability to do it right. After all, when I asked Heini Vesander how SEMC keeps their community the highest priority, she said that’s why they’re called Super Evil Megacorp—so they don’t forget that.

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