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Valheim fans have created the game’s first big PvP tournament

Who will become the first Vikings of Legend?

A Viking stands in a field in Valheim Image: Iron Gate Studio/Coffee Stain Publishing via Polygon
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

The Viking-themed survival game Valheim has blown up, and continues to be a best-seller on Steam. While most players are working on building, fighting bosses, and learning how to sail their new longships, a new community-organized tournament is breaking the mold of PvE adventuring, and focuses entirely on a clash between Vikings.

The Vikings of Legend is almost like an esport, but in a game with no esports leagues, community-wide rulesets, or even a major PvP focus. Here’s how the competition works: Two teams load into a server, completely nude and bereft of any tools or weapons. One team heads west, and the other team heads east. This is the build phase; players have to quickly chop trees, gather stone, hunt, kill bosses, and build up defensive bases.

There’s only one rule when it comes to building bases: the players need to put their beds, which act as respawn points, together. Teams can scout out their opponents’ base, making the action much like a game of StarCraft, where everyone is trying to get their economy going without being spotted by enemy factions on the map, while also trying to gather intel on the enemy.

The building phase lasts one hour, and then the real test begins. Each team will get to attack their opponent, with the goal of breaking into the base, finding the cluster of beds, and destroying it. If the attacker can’t break down the beds, the defender wins, and both teams go back to their bases to prepare for the next encounter, in which the attacker and defender sides are flipped.

This back-and-forth goes until one team wins three rounds, at which point they are declared Vikings of Legend. The first tournament is scheduled to air on Twitch at March 6 at 4 p.m. ET, with Dread Pirate Doug — the organizer behind Sea of Thieves’ Race of Legends — providing commentary. He’ll be joined by SayHeyRocco, a streamer who represents themselves with a cat puppet.

Valheim is not a particularly balanced game when it comes to PVP combat, and the Vikings of Legend tournament has set up a structure that should avoid the worst problems one can encounter when fighting other players. Some Vikings become too tanky by wearing end-game gear, but since they only have so long to collect what they need, and the objective of the match is a humble bed, we shouldn’t see too many players wailing on each other as their opponent simply refuses to die.

Since the game is so early in development — in fact, it’s still in early access — these kinds of homemade tournaments are crucial to help build the greater community and keep interest going, even after fans exhaust the available content. In addition, the organizers will be raising money for a worthy cause in AbleGamers.

This will be an experimental, wild take on the usual Valheim formula. It will likely be iterated upon in future, and other organizers may be inspired to add their own spin to the idea of a Viking esports league. But for now, all players can do is stand back and watch the carnage unfold, then collect the best bits from the rubble and prepare to try again.

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