12 June 2018
Follows ‘unexpected changes’ with parent company’s finances
A tabletop gaming tournament with ambitions of becoming the biggest global stage for competitive board and card games has been forced to cancel its second world championships.
Unrivaled made a lot of fanfare with its launch last year, revealing a generous $250,000 prize pool divided between a diverse selection of games, including Munchkin, Ascension, Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Rumble at Castle Tentakill, Nevermore, Villagers & Villains and King of Tokyo.
The event was open to anyone, filtering down hopeful gamers through a series of local tournaments in hobby stores, summer regionals and then grand finals – hosted by Wil Weahton, no less – held in Las Vegas during the autumn.
Last month, Unrivaled announced that it would be returning for a second ‘Championship Season’, upping both the number of games in the line-up and the amount of money on the line, with players able to win up to $10,000 each from a total pool of $300,000.
Among the 16 games planned to feature in the 2018 series were Champions of Midgard, Kingdomino, Villagers and Villains, Evolution, Klask, Red Dragon Inn, Nevermore, Onitama and Exploding Kittens.
"When we launched Unrivaled last year, no one had ever done anything like it," founder Michael Williams said at the time. "We learned a lot in the process, and this year we're bigger and better in every measurable way."
Just over a month on, however, and Unrivaled has been forced to cancel its plans, citing money issues with the online social media company that owns it.
“Recent unexpected changes have occurred with the financial status of our parent company, Oomba, Inc,” a statement posted to the Unrivaled site explains. “Given these changes we are no longer confident that we will be able to fulfill a quality product for this year’s Unrivaled tournament.
“We believe it is in everyone’s best interest that we cancel the event this year and do everything in our power to make all partners and participants whole. This orderly wind-up will be taking place immediately. It is with our deepest regret to announce this change in plans.”
The statement adds that Unrivaled invested $4 million in running last year’s debut event, with Williams telling ICv2 days before the announcement that the company expected to lose a further $2 million this year before generating profits from sponsorship, live streaming and providing the tournament format to other events in years to come after the event found a foothold.
“Our play is much bigger than that [making money],” he said. “Among other things, we've creating some software, the Oomba software that actually helps organise tournaments and stuff like that. We hope that somewhere along the line, the software's good enough and popular enough that that takes off. Honestly, we're still working on it. We don't yet think our software's quite ready for prime time but each year it gets better and better and better.
“This really is about community building."