Wordle has taken the world by storm and inspired many to take up the word puzzle genre once again. The game has drawn in people of all ages and walks of life, but mainly word and puzzle lovers, into a daily game of brain teasing and Twitter clout chasing. While much of the allure of the five-word puzzle comes down to its simplicity and ease of access –Wordle is just a website and has no ads or any sort of microtransaction – so what if we decided to up the ante and turn this casual game into a competitive esport.
Competitive word games are nothing new to those in the know. Scrabble competitions, and even spelling bees if we want to go granular enough, have been around for decades as people spar over their knowledge of the often confusing and listless English language. With the popularity of Wordle, let’s capitalize on the new trend and craft an esports ecosystem around guessing a five-letter word in six tries or less.
The next big Battle Royale: Wordle esports
The competitive structure of Wordle esports hinges on what kind of system is put in place. One-on-one word play is too close to Boggle, and may be too stressful to draw in the right audience. So instead we propose a points system attached to the game. The post-solved screen that drops down after a successful try at the daily puzzle that displays how many attempts players used per day should have a points system added. Players will be awarded more points for how quickly they solve each puzzle and for how few attempts they use.
This would create different strategies to the already brief word game. Will people default to “Wheel of Fortune” strategies and try to use starting words with the most vowels or common letters? Is it worth it to switch up their starting word in hopes of getting a Wordle hole-in-one? Should they take the hit to their points by using an extra attempt to search for more letters or confirm they have them in the right spot?
The strategical depth only goes further as the stakes raise higher.
All that’s left after is to create a national leaderboard for the top players. We then propose that Wordle use Battle Royale esports rules and as the weeks roll by cut the bottom points holders from the national table until we are left with the top Wordle players. By the final month, the top 10 Wordle players in the nation — the final circle — will compete for the top score and title of Wordle esports champion.
Capturing the right audience
Creating an esports structure is one thing, making players participate and fans watch is another. Many people play the game before work over their morning coffee, on their lunchbreak or whenever they have a spare five minutes. Making players do the puzzle at the same time everyday would take away from some of the allure of the new title. Just like how a new Wordle pops up at a specific time, normally around midnight, player’s chance at making the leaderboard will too.
The leaderboard will update everyday for those that do the puzzle in time and those with the top scores will have their letter boards highlighted the day after the timer has concluded.
As for a viewing experience, this is envisioned more as like a leaderboard watch in the initial stages. Almost like racing, fans won’t really want to tune in, or pay too close attention, until the final rounds. Up until the final month of the year-long competition, people will just have to keep an eye on the leader board and follow along with their favorite players on their daily Twitter posts about the game.
very meh word, 2/10
Wordle 214 3/6
— Sean Morrison (@sean_morrison) January 19, 2022
As we reach the final month, fans should be able to watch on Twitch as those in the final circle stream their perspective once they decide it’s time to take a crack at their daily puzzle. There could even be a main Wordle Twitch channel that accompanies the final month that also streams players’ perspective, and splits its screen if more than one player starts the puzzle. Imagine Tetris 99 but as a word game.
Could Wordle esports go global?
Wordle is a distinctly English language game and while many other languages have words that could fit in the Wordle framework, maybe a six letter daily puzzle for Spanish speakers or eight for German speakers, cross pollinating does not seem fair to anyone.
For now, Wordle esports is an English speaking phenomenon and will highlight the best and brightest of the language. Move over Scripps National Spelling Bee, Wordle esports has entered the room.