We asked Riot Games about the status of a Spectator mode for Teamfight Tactics which is imperative for TFT’s competitive esports scene.
Since Teamfight Tactics first launched nearly a year ago, one of the most-requested features the ability to Spectate other players in a match. Even back then, lead designer Stephen “Mortdog” Mortimer called it a “high priority” for Riot.
Given the competitive nature of TFT and the esports background of Riot Games, you’d think this would be a primary focus. After all, it’s a key component for tournament play. Well, fast forward and Teamfight Tactics, now in its third set, still does not have a spectate feature.
I asked TFT Lead Producer Dax Andrus
"“That is something that we are — we want to deliver that quickly, especially because we know that it’s an important part of the overall esports ecosystem for TFT. And we really want to try and foster that esports ecosystem so it’s something that we’re developing. But it’s got a little bit of a timeframe on it. It won’t come immediately, but we really want it out there.”"
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I know what you’re thinking because I had the same exact thought while talking to Dax Andrus. Spectate is already supported in Summoner’s Rift, why can’t they just copy the code over to TFT?
"“One of the hard things — and I will say I learned this first hand on TFT in many ways — about game development that’s not immediately apparent on the outside is that very few things are actually copy and paste. People have similar reactions with mobile about copying and pasting everything over and changing the aspect ratio. Sometimes that’s like kind of true, and you can do it. We didn’t have to change much about core TFT, the game, to make it work on mobile. But in other places it’s really not true.”"
Andrus likened the situation to how TFT on mobile requires its own specific app while TFT on PC can launch within the League of Legends client. On mobile, you can’t simply have an app live inside of another app so they had to rebuild all of the basic infrastructure, menus and everything else that comes with the League client. Spectator kind of falls in that same bucket.
"Spectator for Summoner’s Rift is one thing. Spectator for TFT is different. There’s different requirements and different things it needs to be able to do. So we need to make sure all of those things are taken care of and accounted for."
Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like the Spectator feature is close to launching for Teamfight Tactics but it’s good to know that Riot is still committed to it. Riot is already hosting championship tournaments for TFT so at least the competitive scene is not being held back by it.