Welcome to This Weekend in Esports, a brief overview of what to watch in the world of competitive gaming for the coming weekend.
It's the first weekend of the new year, so many of the biggest esports in the world are still taking some time off before getting underway. However, there are a couple of games that are deciding championships this weekend and both come from Hi-Rez Expo 2018.
SMITE World Championship 2018
Game: SMITE (PC and console)
When: January 5-7
Where to watch: Twitch.tv/HiRezTV
Smite is ready to crown a world champion this weekend and the narrative has changed slightly from the past couple of years. NRG Esports enters the event as the two-time defending world champions, but the team has looked surprisingly mortal this season. Their Fall Split performance, where they finished 6-8, left a lot to be desired and even as they started to pick up steam again towards the last couple of weeks, the question has been which NRG team would show up? They face a major test against Luminosity Gaming, who had some big success at this event last year.
Speaking of teams who had good showings at least year's World Championships, Obey Alliance enters this weekend with a desire to finish the job they started in 2017. Coming up short against NRG last year, they're looking to finish the job this year and they're already off to a good start. They took a convincing series against Entity, completely blowing the doors off of them in just 17 minutes.
Next up, Obey faces Elevate, who pulled off a big upset on Thursday against the Black Dragons. Elevate will also enter this series with Obey as huge underdogs, but Mohaned "Cherryo" Walied and company won't be backing down and they'll be ready for this intense matchup.
Paladins World Championship 2018
Game: Paladins (PC and console)
When: January 5-7
Where to watch: Twitch.tv/PaladinsGame
Paladins also got off to a big start on Thursday, with eight of the twelve teams competing in the first part of the group stages. The most surprising result of the day saw the top-seeded team from Brazil, Spacestation Gaming, get knocked off by a very game Fnatic squad. While Spacestation tried to keep things close throughout the series, the second game was a total stomping, with Fnatic coming out on top 4-0. That was enough momentum for Fnatic to ride to a 2-1 victory and send Spacestation to the lower bracket.
Fnatic would then get taken down 3-0 by a strong G2 Esports squad and now face an uphill battle in the lower bracket, facing off against Entity Gaming.
I won't pretend to know much more about the Paladins scene, but a lot of eyes are on Virtus.Ppro, who entered the tournament as one of the favorites, but are currently without one of their best players, Simon "Simsiloo" Andersson, who is missing the event due to severe and unforeseen circumstances. They did manage to make it past Nocturns Gaming, but now face off against Ninjas in Pyjamas, who are coming off an impressive 3-0 sweep over Kanga Esports.
Those looking to learn a little more about the world of Paladins may want to give this event a look this weekend, as the best in the world compete for the World Championship.
So what will you be watching this weekend? Join the conversation and let us know in the comments.