Sixteen teams arrive in Leicester, UK this week to participate in the VR League Season 3 Grand Finals for a portion of the season’s total $250,000 prize pool. Finalists also received an expense-paid trip to England to compete in the finals event at the Haymarket Theatre.
It has been two years since Oculus launched the VR League and in that time VR esports has continued to grow immensely. Season 3 saw 451 unique players and 146 teams across the four games featured this season: Onward, Echo Arena, Echo Combat, and Space Junkies. We also saw the league’s youngest team secure a spot at finals. A two-time world championship team was knocked out of the competition. And we discovered how one player didn’t let the physical challenges that keep him in a wheelchair deny him the ability to play VR esports at the highest level.
The competition was once again divided into stages this season, giving teams that join later or improve as the season progressed an opportunity to qualify for advancement to online qualifiers and possibly grand finals.
The first stage of season 3 wrapped up with a few surprises.
In Downpour Interactive's Onward, it was BossFight that took the European spot for stage 1 rather than Beginners, the VR League Season 2 Grand Champions. Globochem, the number one team in North America, secured the spot for their region.
The Echo Combat teams were easily predicted as Team Gravity (EU) and VRespawn (NA) took the stage 1 positions in the Online Closed Qualifiers. Echo Combat is a game set in zero-gravity from Ready At Dawn. RAD also developed Echo Arena, the ultimate VR esport.
Eclipse, the world’s number one Echo Arena team for the past two years, began to show signs of fatigue as they failed to advance during stage 1. Kangorillaz had the most points for NA during this stage and Team Gravity advanced from EU.
Ubisoft's Space Junkies was released on March 26, two days after the official start of VR League Season 3, so the first two weeks were practice tournaments and then teams entered a group phase on April 14.
There were two spots per region up for grabs during stage 2 for Echo Arena, Onward, and Echo Combat. Since Space Junkies was in a group phase, there would be 8 teams to advance from group phase to playoffs.
Eleven Point Five had done incredibly well in the weekly cups and they secured one of the two spots for Echo Arena. Although they continued to struggle, world championship team Eclipse managed to take the other North American spot. EggBoyz and Ouroboros earned their right to advance to the Online Closed Qualifiers in EU.
Onward teams G-Men and Mob Squad advanced from North American and in Europe, Beginners and Article Thirteen advanced to closed qualifiers. Ultimately Beginners would secure a double seat at finals (by placing first in the VR Master League Spring Championships and the VR League European qualifiers) and Article Thirteen dissolved, passing their spot at qualifiers to Silent Purge.
Kangorillaz and Alpha Derezz were able to take the two North American spots for Echo Combat while Blerst! and Floaters Unite did the same for Europe.
In Space Junkies eight teams (two teams from each group / 4 groups) qualified in Europe, but since North America only had three groups, there was a Last Chance Qualifier to determine the final two teams that would qualify for playoffs.
Last Chance Qualifiers
There were last chance qualifiers for Echo Arena, Echo Combat, and Onward. This event gave all teams that hadn’t previous qualified for Online Closed Qualifiers one more opportunity to compete for a chance at prize money and a trip to finals.
Online Closed Qualifiers
While there were a few surprises during the Online Closed Qualifiers, the main impression you couldn’t help but come away with from the competition was how well all the teams played and how close the matches were. Definitely we’ve seen the players’ skill levels increase throughout the two years of the VR League and as new games have been added, this continues to be the case.
Unfortunately the big shock in North America came in Echo Arena as Eclipse failed to qualify for the grand finals. While Kangorillaz had played consistently well throughout the season, the real shock came in the form of VRespawn Jokr, a team of 15-year-olds who ended up claiming the number one seed for grand finals.
Blerst! finished strong in the EU region closed qualifiers, taking the number one spot away from Team Gravity. This put Blerst! in a much better position so that they won’t have to face VRespawn, the number one North American team, first at finals.
In Space Junkies, The Leftovers were able to advance to finals with Proper_D and MrRJGreen. Most of MrRJGreen’s friends in the game had no idea that he spends his days in a wheelchair. He’s proof that VR games level the playing field and others wouldn’t have even been aware of his physical challenges except for the fact that he was willing to share his story with us.
VR Master League
The VR Master League worked in tandem with the VR League again this season. Two spots at finals were reserved for North American teams, one spot for a European team, and the final spot would go to the team that won the VR Master League Spring Championship. Since Beginners won both the Spring Championship and also secured the European slot through the closed qualifiers, their VRML “golden ticket” was passed on to the second place team, BossFight.
Teams Heading to Leicester
Ultimately the two best teams in each region secured the invitation to compete at the VR League Season 3 Grand Finals. We’ll soon find out which teams will claim the bulk of the prize money along with bragging rights as VR League Season 3 Grand Champions!
Where to Watch
Be sure to tune in on the VRL social media channels so you can see overlays of players in real life at the LAN event that's expected to have the best competition we've seen throughout the first few seasons of the VR League!
Semi-finals - Saturday, June 8th - 12:00 BST/4:00 AM PDT
Finals - Sunday, June 9th - 13:00 BST/5:00 AM PDT
Twitch - https://www.twitch.tv/VRChallenger
YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/VRLeague
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/WatchVRLeague/
Sonya Haskins is better known among the gaming community by the username "hasko7." Sonya lives with her husband and five children in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Northeast Tennessee.