Is Mobile Legends: Bang Bang the next big mobile esport?

The mobile MOBA has big plans set for the near future.

Image via Moonton

Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) is a multiplayer-online based arena game for Android and iOS that was released in November 2016. Since then, the game has racked up over 500 million downloads and has 75 million active players, according to Moonton, the developers of MLBB. And now, the game is preparing to take the mobile esports world by storm.

MLBB is already immensely popular in Southeast Asia and has a properly structured esports league in countries like the Philippines and Indonesia called the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League (MPL). The fourth season of the MPL-Malaysia/Singapore is going on and has a prize pool of over $100,000. The MLBB SEA Cup held last June peaked at over 276,000 viewers, according to Esports Charts

In addition, MLBB is also a part of the Southeast Asian Games 2019. The SEA Games will mark the first time that esports will be played as a medal event in a sports competition sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee.

If you haven’t heard about MLBB, it’s because the game isn’t very famous or heavily advertised outside of Southeast and South Asia. But after the Moonton Epicon 2019 last month, it seems like the developer wants to change that.

The Moonton Epicon event revealed future plans for the game. It’s receiving an engine upgrade that will address the lag issue and speed up loading times, which are both frequent complaints in the MLBB community. The loading speeds will be increased by at least 60 percent, according to Moonton. The graphics of the game and the frame rate will also be significantly enhanced. The in-game maps will receive an update that will completely change its look with newer textures and environments. The present graphics weren’t visually appealing, which was a major reason why many players in western countries preferred to play other MOBAs like Arena of Valor and Vainglory. This won’t be an issue anymore, however.

Image via Moonton

The character models and the game interface will be refined with the MLBB 2.0 update as well. Since the game’s release, the UI has remained the same, even after the addition of a bunch of new features. This has made it congested and cluttered with a lot of things. The upcoming update will address these problems. An interface overhaul was necessary to invite new players from other regions to the game since it gets a bit confusing for unfamiliar competitors to navigate around the menu.

James Wang, the business development manager at Moonton, also revealed that the company intends to provide fans with a variety of visual content that involves MLBB. This upcoming content will be put out on TV and potentially in theaters. A CGI animation from the MPL recently showed that the company can certainly pull this off. 

The MLBB World Championship, called the M1, is coming later this year with a $250,000 prize pool. The tournament will be held from Nov. 11 to 17 at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Indonesia. This will be the first international esports event for the MOBA. The regional qualifiers will be held for countries around the world, including Russia, Turkey, Brazil, and the U.S. The international championship may be the time for MLBB to solidify itself as a major esports title in SEA and across the world.  

This game has everything required to become a leading mobile esports title. The immense success and popularity of it in SEA showcase the potential that Moonton possesses. MLBB 2.0 should be everything the game requires to attract an international audience while building an esports scene around it.