Clash Royale might be compact enough to fit on your iPhone, but the game’s competitive ambitions are anything but small. Just last week, Supercell—the maker of both Clash Royale and predecessor Clash of Clans—announced the Crown Championship, a massive tournament that spans several months and will award more than $1,000,000 in prizes along the way.

It’s an enormous leap in both scale and payout from previous Clash Royale tournaments we’ve seen, and it shows that Supercell is serious about trying to establish the game as an eSports sensation. That’s a lot of money for any competitive game, but especially so in the world of mobile exclusives, in which Vainglory is really the only other game with a strong following

And the best part about the Crown Championship is that you don’t have to be an established pro player to sign up: any high-level Clash Royale player can potentially sign up and vie for prizes when the tournament gets underway later this week. Here’s everything you need to know.

Competitive Clash 

Launched in March 2016, Clash Royale was an immediate App Store sensation—and one of our favorite iOS games of last year, free or otherwise. The cartoonish fantasy game pits two online players against each other, each with a deck of cards in tow. As your energy reserves build, you’ll toss cards onto the battlefield to spawn skeleton warriors, witches, giant fireballs, and other units and attacks, hoping to destroy your enemy’s towers before your own fortress falls. 

Andrew Hayward/IDG

You can watch replays from top Clash Royale players within the game itself.

Clash Royale is essentially a blend of the real-time strategy, collectible card combat, and MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) genres, and the resulting concoction can be remarkably addictive. With speedy three-minute battles, ample online competition, and one of the friendliest free-to-play frameworks on the App Store today, it’s a tough game to put down.

It’s also perfectly primed for competitive gaming. Players must build a balanced and effective deck using the best cards they have—including powerful Legendary cards—and then put it into action against a real, unpredictable opponent. Skilled combatants have battle-hardened knowledge of how every character and attack works and when best to use them, and can swiftly unleash counterattacks and defensive maneuvers to keep their base intact. 

They know exactly which cards to use to defeat or even momentarily distract enemy attackers, giving them a leg up when a large army of foes suddenly spawns in view—or a chance to claw back some momentum when a tower is about to fall. The tense back-and-forth can be really exciting to follow, especially if you’re the kind of player who could take a few tips from watching high-level competition. You can watch replays of top showdowns from within the app itself, but large tournaments and live finals events have also been growing in size and interest. 

Last fall’s Clash Royale North American Open was a comparatively modest first eSports effort from Supercell, with more than $100,000 in prizes awarded throughout the tournament, including $15,000 for ultimate Crown Duel winner Backstabx from team Hammers Esports. Other international tournaments have been held (as seen in the video below), along with community and third-party events, but they feel like baby steps leading up to the next big thing.



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