A big change is happening to the biggest regional esports competition for Free Fire. Taking inspiration from the likes of VALORANT and PUBG esports, Garena has announced that the Brazilian Free Fire League (LBFF) will become a closed league in 2023, featuring only invited teams.
The LBFF 2023 will start on April 15 and conclude on Aug. 5. While Garena has termed this change as “a new era,” we take a look at what this means for the game and the questionable timing behind this move.
LBFF 2023: A closed league means fewer grassroots-level tournaments
Needless to say, Free Fire esports in Brazil had one of the best formats for any esports title around the world. This is because it had created a league system consisting of three tiers which had a promotion and relegation format.
These three tiers were Series A, Series B, and Series C. Series A was the top tier and featured the best teams competing in an offline venue across several weeks for the title. Series B and Series C gave chance to lower-level teams and also served as a scouting ground for the top teams. Between Series A and Series B, there was a Promotion League. This featured the bottom teams from Series A and the top teams from Series B fighting for a spot at the highest level.
This system not only ensured a constant stream of events for Free Fire fans in Brazil but also ensured a constant development of new talent. It also encouraged more players to follow Free Fire esports as the format gave more chances to aspiring pros.
While Garena will likely continue hosting some sort of lower-tier competitions, the closing of the LBFF will still affect the overall ecosystem. This is because there were many tier-two organizations which supported lower talent in the Series B and Series C. With no clear promotion format, they might be dissuaded from offering this crucial support anymore.
Free Fire esports is facing a fall in viewership
The astounding growth stories of Free Fire and its esports scene happened because Garena focused on building the community from the ground up. This is also what contributed to the FFWS Singapore 2021 becoming one of the most-watched esports tournaments in history. It achieved a peak viewership of more than 5.4 million viewers, per Esports Charts.
However, since that peak, Free Fire esports is witnessing a fall in viewership globally. The FFWS Bangkok, for example, witnessed a >90 percent fall in viewership since its 2021 peak.
The LBFF has been no exception. Since 2021, all LBFF Series A tournaments have recorded a fall in viewership.
With interest in Free Fire esports dwindling, Garena’s decision to make the LBFF closed is a questionable one. Instead of attempting to grow and support the scene from the ground level, it’s closing off the top-tier tournament.
Nonetheless, the viewership for Free Fire esports is still strong. The previous season of the LBFF Series A peaked at nearly 200,000 viewers. Having a closed league also has a lot of benefits for the teams. It offers stability to them and better leverage to attract brands and sponsors.
Only time will tell, however, if the decision to make the LBFF a closed league will pay off. Garena has said that it will be revealing more details in the coming weeks.
- Brazilian Free Fire League (LBFF) gets invite only format in 2023
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