Rise of Farming Simulator in esports

Tractor rushes, power-ups, machinery banning, wheat wars, high-octane farming. Enter FSL: Farming Simulator League with prizes paying up to €250.000.

Everything began In the year 2017 at AgriTechnica, a peaceful agricultural fair taking place in Germany where developers of Farming Simulator, GIANTS Software came up with the idea of making a competitive hay bale stacking competition for the visitors. It became so popular that the devs decided to take it on to the next level and gave birth to a niche scene where teams compete against each other in a race of wheat collections.

Farming Simulator: Origins

Okay, you say, but how exactly does it all work out? The original formula has been tweaked to such a degree that it allows a team-based strategy-driven match where the first FSL took place in 2018. The teams consist of three and before the match begins respective teams’ captains pick and ban tractors, just like the hero and champion banning phase in LoL and Dota 2.

Image credit: GIANTS Software

Where tractors have different qualities such as frontloaders, more horsepower or speed. It doesn’t end here. Then the teams pick their respective power-ups which differ from expanding their wheat collecting capabilities to running their conveyor belts faster, which will further alter the way they play the match -there are intricate details such as multipliers, overheating opposite teams conveyors, manually unloading the bales without the added bonus of the conveyor belt etc.- which will further complicate the match and how team’s pick their strategies.

Image credit: GIANTS Software

Tractors on the roll: Meet the wheat busters

The teams then compete in a mirrored map where they first make a rush for the machinery with their tractors. The machinery consists of combine harvesters, bale stackers, agricultural engineering that’s essential to compete, and the first player that gets into the machinery locks the opposite player from taking the same machinery on the opposite side of the map. If a team rushes the machinery first and locks the whole opposing team from competing they get an instant win and this is called a “tractor rush”.

There are drop zones, tractor triggered drawbridges, a tiny village that multiplies teams scores and a whole lot of planning and personal skill going into the match that you just have to watch it to pick it up.

Image credit: GIANTS Software

Since 2018’s first FSL, this “niche” esports scene is on the rise with earlier prize pools of $3.4K now reaching a steady number of 150,000€, with an additional 100,000€ in prizes for the Farming Simulator’s champion team. This proves that the farming esports scene isn’t just a niche esports anymore and it’s getting even more competitive every year with tens of tournaments organized over Europe and even attracting sponsors from over the world. The League itself is sponsored by Intel, Logitech, gaming chair maker Noblechairs and server hosting company Nitrado and agricultural tech companies backing the teams and not the league itself as to not to spark a conflict of interest. In an interview with esportsobserver.com Giants Software CEO Christian Ammann stated:

“They are really excited,” said Ammann about the participating manufacturers. “One problem we had was that they all wanted to sponsor the league, but this isn’t something we wanted—because if you want to send a team to the league and then sponsor the league, there is a conflict of interest. That’s why we completely concentrated all of the sponsoring on traditional endemic sponsors, and kept [farm-tech companies] out of the sponsorship of the league itself. Of course, it makes sense for them to sponsor that stuff. We thought it’s better to have them outside of that, if we find enough sponsors in the endemic area—which we did.”

Future is bright

Farming Simulator’s future in esports seem bright, and FSL is seemingly going nowhere anytime soon, with a rise in popularity both in its steam sales -with numbers reaching high as 1m in 10 days after its FS 2019’s release- and the popularity of its competitive scene attracting sponsors from North America to all over the world. Among the competing teams, Team Trelleborg seems like it’s on a winning streak (They won first place in FSL 20 and took home 28,000 euros and took the first place in FSL 21 and acquired the 100K euro prize for the champion title along with previous tournaments’ prizes) for the last two years and seen as favourites in high octane wheat wars.

This is a competition of sorts, and definitely a niche one. By the way, if you are looking for even more competitions, you can visit Luckbox's main page and follow your favourite esports, tournaments and teams. You can even bet on your favourites and see if they live up to your expectations. It's really fun! Join now.