Rising eSport: Can Overwatch become the next big eSport title?
In recent years, the eSport world has been dominated by household names like League of Legends and CS:GO with their large number of viewers each tournament. As the Overwatch League continues to develop, can the Blizzard title dethrone these staple games to solidify their spot?
Growing numbersIt’s been a steady rise to the top for Overwatch League since their first week of the tournament. The first two weeks saw viewers turn out in abundance as they were able to clock in over 500k viewers, with a large portion of that number being influenced by overseas viewers.
Since the start of Stage Two, the overall number of recurring viewers on Twitch has stabilized to just over 8.1 million as they rank under Dota 2 as one of the most watched games on the platform. Those numbers although positive can be much improved over the course of the year as Blizzard continues to tweak the broadcast model to make the game more engaging to fans.
Regardless, the Overwatch League has made significant strides in their first official branded tournament. The sponsors seem to keep on coming, the teams involved have better infrastructure top to bottom than most other leagues in different eSports, and the fans have been clawing for a Blizzard title that can rival the bigger names out there. Overwatch may very well be that kind of game.
With every start of a new league, there’s always going to be ways to improve the quality of the product. One of the main problems with first person shooter titles as they transition into eSports is the lack of action you can physically capture in one camera angle.
In the first two weeks of the Overwatch League, the camera was regularly fixated on one star player, while three kills were happening elsewhere on the map, and the viewer couldn’t really contextualize what was going on until the post-game replay. Since then, the camera work for OWL play has massively improved as they implemented different camera angles that capture the entirety of the fight, rather than just one facet of play.
On top of that, Overwatch League has been blessed with some of the best commentary teams in all of eSports as big names like Montecristo, DoA, and Semmler have made the move to Blizzard, and the production value has risen with those additions.
The analyst desk featuring names like Reinforce, Crumbz and Chris Puckett have all been interesting additions that have taken the best elements of previous eSports, from Call of Duty to League of Legends, and packaged them together to provide an experience unlike any other as you get set to watch each match.
Is Overwatch the perfect eSport? Not by any means. But there is argument to be made that no game upon release has been ‘perfect’ up to this point. The plus side is there is still plenty of additions to be made and tweaks to be implemented to an already engaging gaming experience. The appeal of Overwatch since its inception was the quick gaming experience that, when played correctly, could draw massive appeal with the teamwork needed to really succeed as a squad.
The future is bright for Blizzard and Overwatch as they continue to develop an aura in viewer experience unlike any other game that has come before them. If they keep making positive adjustments and find ways to make the game more engaging as a live experience, the possibilities are endless for a game development title that is no stranger to making big moments happen.