Some friends and I have recently started up a Blood Bowl 2 league. The 10 of us started it last Friday night, and we're already halfway through the season, playing the games wherever we can fit them in, slid into a lunchtime or evening.
One thing has become clear: Blood Bowl 2 is the best eSport I've ever watched, and I say this as someone who's been sat in decent seats for CS:GO and League of Legends tournaments, basking in the atmosphere.
I haven't worked out quite why I've fallen for it so hard. Perhaps it's because Blood Bowl 2 is structured in a way that makes it appear like normal sports: Blood Bowl 2 is American Football crossed with a very tongue-in-cheek dash of Warhammer that sees Goblins charged up field chased by Werewolves and Zombies. It's a bizarre title, but it's sports trappings are instantly recognisable and easy to identify with. Most players already know what a foul or a touchdown is, and although most sports games don't have a box for injured and dead players, it's easy for even a casual observer to understand what that means.
Blood Bowl 2 has a few benefits too in that with Cabal TV, Cyanide has created a match spectating tool that's fairly easy to use and quite responsive and then paired that with a rather decent looking match engine. It might get old after the 100th time you've watched a Chaos Warrior drop-kick a Skink into the dirt, but the first 99 times are a blast. There are also so many races already in the game and many more are being added regularly.
Playing Blood Bowl can be infuriating and obtuse, and while Blood Bowl 2 does its best to take care of this in slick presentation, getting screwed over in the game by a dice roll or a rule you don't fully understand can really grate. However, I've found that none of this is an issue when you're watching your friends throw down. A game plays each evening after dinner, and a group of us get together to offer analysis and try to encourage people to tempt fate with stupid runs: 'it's only a one in six chance' we'll say earnestly, seconds before the long-shot pays off and screws everyone.
eSports has always been a social event, but I never expected Blood Bowl 2 to be one of my favourite sports games this year, nor for kicking back with some friends on Skype and watching my friends kick seven shades of hell out of each other on a sports field to be one of the most compelling eSports experiences of 2016.