overwatch league

Esports Franchising has Begun: First 7 Cities for Overwatch League Revealed

The Overwatch community has been waiting for this day since the announcement of the Overwatch League back in November 2016 at Blizzcon. The first seven teams have been revealed today. They are Boston, New York, Miami-Orlando, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seoul, and Shanghai. This is not just a major announcement for Blizzard and Overwatch, but for the entire esports world.

What does this mean?

Esports has always needed to establish itself outside of just the online world. This began when LAN tournaments first starting popping up and continued on to full blown sold out stadiums for major tournaments and events. To many though, this was not enough. People still believe that esports are just a fad that will eventually die out, as most games can only stay popular for a few years. What esports have needed was a way to show that they were here to stay and today’s announcement signifies that Overwatch is the first game to answer that call.

Having teams play in cities will do many things for the scene. To start, it will allow for people who are already fans to view more games. Instead of tournaments and games just being held in one city every couple weeks, or online, these teams will play in multiple cities on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays for however long they decide to make the season. League of Legends has already set up this method by playing Thursday through Sunday for EU and NA. As a side note, League is also franchising, so it will be interesting to watch how they react.

Also, when you ask traditional sports fans who their favorite teams are, they normally answer the teams in closest proximity to where they live or grew up. While esports fans have grown up with certain teams that may not be near them, new fans will be able to become more attached because they will be able to say, “I am a fan of the Los Angeles Immortals”. How great is that? People also have deep pride for their cities, which in turn translates to their sports and now esports teams. Naturally, people who live close to these cities and who have any interest in competition or video games will gravitate towards their closest team.

The Team Owners

The announced team owners such as Robert Kraft (owner of the New England Patriots), Jeff Wilpon (COO of the New York Mets), and even Noah Winston (CEO of Immortals) show that this league has a lot of promise. People like them do not invest without doing their research and the reported price of up to $20 million in major cities is not inexpensive.

https://www.gamblingsites.org/

Most, if not all, of the new owners have experience in owning teams either in sports or esports and thus they understand what it will take to make these teams successful. It also shows the trend of traditional sports owners, business individuals, and former players getting involved in esports is growing as well. If you would have told me a year ago that Robert Kraft was going to get involved in esports I would have told you, not a chance.

What these owners signify most importantly is that esports are here to stay. Owners would not invest in a league that was not well planned out and one that they thought would not make them money in the long run.

What Teams Go Where?

https://esports.yahoo.com/

So far we know that Immortals will be based in Los Angeles. Also it looks like that NRG will be in San Francisco as that spot was grabbed by Andy Miller and Misfits will be in Miami-Orlando due to Ben Spoont’s buy-in.

As for the other four teams, one can only guess for now. I believe that some established teams will either be bought up or completely new ones will form. For established esports brands such as Team SoloMid, Team Liquid, Cloud9, and many others, one can imagine that they would either have to team up with one of the current owners or find a way to come up with the millions of dollars and establish their brands in their own cities.

For teams like Immortals, NRG, and Misfits, their establishment in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Miami-Orlando respectively means that if they buy into any other leagues (League of Legends) they will most likely have first dibs on these cities. Wouldn’t it be odd if Immortals had their Overwatch team based in Los Angeles and their League team somewhere else?

The league will not only consist of seven teams. As was seen before, this league will be global and consist of many different teams. It is most likely that they will start with a minimum of 10. If the league succeeds, then more will buy in and possibly at the locations that are pictured.

What is next?

There has yet to be an official date announced for when the Overwatch League will start. Many believe it will begin sometime in 2018 and all of the first season’s games will be played in Los Angeles until proper arenas have been built or at least teams have the rights to use certain arenas in the city.

playoverwatch.com

 

With esports arenas going up around the world one can only hope that we will see esports continue to grow. I have time and again compared what is happening now to the beginning of traditional sports like the MLB, NFL, NBA, etc. For esports fans this is just the beginning. We are at the dawn of stability and major growth for esports as our children will grow up with tradtional sports and esports teams to cheer for.


Featured Image Courtesy of: https://ginx.tv/

Information Courtesy of: overwatchleague.com

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Genji's deflect

Genji’s deflect: This ninja is made of rubber

Genji Shimada is one of eight offensive heroes in Overwatch and is a nightmare to play against.

Genji is scary for a number of reasons. His mobility is the greatest in the game because of his ability to wall climb and double jump. He’s deadly at close and mid ranges because of his shurikens and swift strike. But what really makes Genji a nightmare is that he’s made of rubber! He’s not actually made of rubber but it does seem that way when he uses Deflect.

Today we are going to be breaking down that ability. We are focusing on Deflect because apart from D.Va’s Defense Matrix, it’s the most powerful defensive ability in the game.

Genji’s deflect: The breakdown

Duration: 2 seconds

Cooldown: 8 seconds

Genji uses his wakizashi to deflect all projectiles aimed at him back at his opponents. Deflect blocks all melee damage done to him as well. This means that Genji can block Reinhardt hammer swings. But wait there’s more…

Genji’s deflect also works on hitscan damage like Soldier 76 and McCree. Yet what makes deflect truly terrifying is that it can deflect ultimates like Dragonstrike, Blizzard, Graviton and Pulse Bomb.

Genji’s deflect: return to sender

Yes, you read that correctly. Genji can reflect ultimates like Hanzo’s Dragonstrike, Mei’s Blizzard, Zarya’s Graviton and Tracer’s Pulse Bomb. What’s terrifying about this is that as soon as Genji deflects one of these ultimates it becomes his.

Notice in the kill feed that the game recognized that the ultimate had become Genji’s, thus making it friendly. Now just imagine if Genji were to deflect your Zarya’s Graviton back into your own team. Scary, right?

Genji’s Deflect is without a doubt the most terrifying defensive ability in the game because it can turn friendly ultimates against you. Yet this begs the question: how do you fight it?

Genji’s deflect: Beams and discipline

The only true counters to Genji’s Deflect are beam weapons. Winston’s Tesla Cannon, Zarya’s Particle Cannon, Mei’s Endothermic Blaster and Symmetra’s Photon Projector are all damage dealing weapon Genji can’t send back. But if you’re not one of these characters the only thing you can do is have discipline.

It takes discipline when facing Genji because as long as he has Deflect up he’s got the advantage. So when facing the cyborg ninja try and bait Deflect out of him. When using it, Genji waves his wakizashi in front of him like he’s swatting flies.

And keep in mind that his Deflect lasts for two seconds and those two seconds will seem like the longest of your life. On the bright side, when Genji deflects he can’t attack. Yet baiting it out is easier said than done because Genji’s mobility makes him very hard to hit and he can easily bait you into shooting him.

Facing Genji can be terrifying and frustrating at times. Hopefully this guide helps you be unsurprised by what the cyborg ninja can deflect and how to deal with it. Let us know what you think in the comments below.


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beat invitational

Bizzaro world: Beat.gl Invitational recap

The results of the Beat Invitational were kind of a given, yet the actual matches themselves were definitely a surprise. Rogue won, Immortals took second and Arc6 took third. The placings below those three spots made as much sense as an Ouija board prediction.

LG Evil didn’t place and yet a month ago they looked stellar. Tempo Storm took a game off of one of the best Overwatch teams in the world. Rogue almost lost to Arc6 in a screamer. FNGRFE almost took out Arc6 in a match that required a look at the rulebook. Just what exactly happened in this tournament?

We have found the Scary Door.

Day One: Friday

lg evil, beat invitational

Courtesy of Team Liquid

Of all the matches, look to Envision versus LG Evil to be the real takeaway. Despite a laundry list of production problems, the match between LG Evil and Envision won match of the day.

LG Evil was the favorite, previously playing in groups two weeks prior and crushing Envision’s hopes. Envision now had a much better Genji in Jaru, and like MasterCard, he’s accepted everywhere. ConnorJ stepping down from Envision was a loss but Jaru seemed like an above average fit for a team indeed of a possible carry. On LG Evil’s side, Jake was still considered one of the better Soldier:76 players in the league, not above aKm but certainly no slouch. What played out through this match was a back and forth of Envision going absolutely crazy followed by Jake and the rest of LG Evil tying them to a bench to hold on. Poor team fights, wild ults that did nothing – it was a match that just felt tilted from the get go.

LG won Lijang, then lost Route 66. Envision almost lost Dorado but a last second brain fart cost LG the match. LG beat Envision on Anubis and held them to absolutely zero. The match on Ilios would have been much more interesting but once again Jaru proved to be the difference in killing everyone. Envision looked a lot fresher than they have been while LG just looked tired.

Day Two: Saturday

beat invitational, Arc6

Courtesy of Arc6 twitter

With five matches, the day went off surprisingly without a hitch. Arc6 and Rogue beat their respective teams handily and then nearly killed one another in the very next match. Arc6 going up two games to nothing, putting Rogue into a fly or die mentality. In everything after, Arc6 failed to finish off Rogue in Lijang and opened up the door for a comeback. Rogue blanked Arc6 on King’s Row and it felt like the game was over immediately. As Arc6 failed to get even two points on Route 66, Rogue took out all the brakes and finished them off with time to spare.

The reverse sweeps were just coming, however, as a few short matches later, the exact same thing occurred once again for Arc6. CLG went up one game to nothing against them in a best of three and was unable to close Arc6 out. Another nightcap of a match sent home the message that the tournament could easily be great when it wanted to be.

Day three: Sunday

beat invitational, rogue

Courtesy of TeamLiquid

Sunday borrowed the script from Saturday and turned it into a summer blockbuster. It even added more zany antics and wild plays to top it off.

Immortals looked very strong and nigh unbeatable in Contenders and then fell to Rogue in a three to one. Arc6 and FNRGFE repeated the match between Arc6 and Rogue except Arc6 won out. More so, the match itself went into a best of three, winner-take-all control point on Oasis. It had shades of similarity to Kungarna vs Cloud9 just two weeks prior in Contenders. Arc 6 looked gassed, and Immortals, still licking their wounds from Rogue, ended up trouncing them.

The final deserves recognition.

The heroes of this series were easily Kariv and uNKOE. Kariv became Proffesor Xavier to uNKOE’s Magneto. They just knew what and where the other one was and was planning to do all the time. uNKOE was obviously the aggressor in a lot of the fights and early on Immortals had zero clues on what to do. Enter Envy on D.Va and suddenly the match pulled a massive u-turn.

People joke that if teams want to get better they simply need to add Korean players. Maybe this is the truth because Immortals morphed into a totally different monster with a single substitution. Call it a hail mary of some degree – down three to nothing with the tournament on the line, Envy changed the dynamic of the game by doing a better job of taking care of Kariv on Zenyatta. Both are Korean so it’s probably not a hard guess that Kariv and Envy could actively communicate easier. Rogue looked hard pressed, with Kariv knowing just exactly when uNKOE was going to use EMP on a team fight. Kariv’s absolutely ridiculous aim and game sense seemingly turned on with their backs to the wall. Add in that GrimReality and Agilities woke up and found themselves in a team fight and flank battle with players way better than themselves. Immortals DPS looked very average compared to Rogue, who absolutely annihilated anyone in a one on one. aKm, SoOn and NiCO were above and beyond better but unable to match the support and tank play of Immortals.

The games went from being a possible sweep to a possible reverse sweep, to a best of five, to a best of three to finally winner-take-all on Volskaya. It drew over 25k+ viewers, which was at or higher than Contenders for most of its run barring finals. It highlights that when done well, Overwatch isn’t just great, it’s incredible to watch. Immortals made only a single mistake and it cost them the match, just a single blunder of contention. Otherwise, the match may have flipped and the power pyramid of teams in the US might need some adjusting.

The conclusion

This tournament had a lot of problems, with what felt like a roving bunch of gremlins trying to sabotage it from the get go. But addressing the considerable amount of production woes this tournament had is both unfair to the work that was put in by both the casters and the tournament staff. It’s all over Reddit and other websites, but in the end, it seems pointless to bring it up. Every tournament has a handful of missteps and this one albeit higher than average did a very good job of rolling with those production issues. Hexagrams and ZP are easily a great pair and you can sense that Hex is pushing through a lot of quality work despite the pressure. This tournament shined through the muck and really highlights that Overwatch can and is a good esport to watch.


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Lunatic-Hai vs KongDoo Panthera: Apex Finals preview

Season 3 is almost over and the final is a battle of two Korean Overwatch behemoths: KongDoo Panthera vs Lunatic-Hai. This promises to be one of the best finals out of the previous two seasons; not a David vs Goliath situation but a Goliath vs Goliath situation. The two teams to make it out of Group A are now facing each other once again in the finals.

How will this Bo7 play out? Will the reigning champs reign supreme or will KongDoo give us a new and third champion?

Lets break down the numbers and teams to see how this final will play out.

The meta and who is better

The final is going to be an interesting contest. During group stages, KongDoo beat out Lunatic Hai 3-1 but Lunatic Hai is a reigning champion and has been dominating the scene recently. They won last year by a large margin and have lost, only to KongDoo Panthera. After watching the match between Lunatic Hai and KongDoo several times the biggest difference between the teams is the DPS.

Lunatic Hai coach said that this meta is less about playing smart and planning tactics, but instead about which team plays better that day. This is the curse of dive.

However, which team tends to play dive better? It depends on the day.

During the match between the two of them, KongDoo was able to dominate on the back of their DPS duo. The style of the two teams are very different.

Lunatic Hai wins on the back of their support and tanks whereas KDP wins because of their DPS and tanks. This is not to say that KDP’s supports aren’t good, but rather that they aren’t used to make an impact on the game. Every team uses certain players to force win conditions and for KDP it is their DPS whereas for Lunatic-Hai it is their supports and tanks. Specifically, Miro and Ryujehong.

This matters only in their strategising sessions. If either team can shut down the other teams stars while enabling theirs, GG. Obviously, this is easier said than done. For KDP they need to consistently dive onto Ryujehong as soon as Miro jumps in.

For LH it comes down to shutting down Birdring and Rascal. Using Miro to shut down the space that these two could determine the match.

During the game between KDP and Lunatic-Hai it seemed like LH wasn’t completely used to the dive meta; but they have since adapted and look stronger than ever.

LH plays by punishing any engages on them. They like to have Miro jump between the diving tanks and their supports. Divide and conquer. LH will play map control and slowly rotate and force their opponents to engage on them, then delete their tanks. After that, the fight has been won.

However, this strategy might not work in a BO7. KDP has studied them, and if I can figure that out then so can KDP. They likely have a counter strategy to this.

The winning factor

These teams are so close that the determining factor will not be pure skill. It instead could come down to their coaches. The team that can come up with better strategies for a grind fest will be the team that comes out on top.

We noticed fatigue last season with Runaway vs Lunatic-Hai. Runaway wasn’t used to winning and playing a lot of games, and they didn’t have enough strategies. LH managed to outlast them and beat them on pure skill.

This final is a lot different simply because KDP and LH are both very talented teams. This could come down to whoever has enough plausible strategies for 7 maps. a BO7 is a long match. You have to win four maps. Not that you play four maps, but you have to WIN four maps. A tall order.


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Doomfist Overwatch reveal

Doomfist Overwatch reveal: The hype train has pulled in

After many months the hype train for Doomfist has finally pulled into the station with his reveal this past Thursday. But some fans will surely be disappointed by this Doomfist Overwatch reveal because Terry Crews is not voicing the character.

Doomfist Overwatch reveal: Sarh Ngaujah

The person voicing Doomfist is veteran actor and theatre director Sarh Ngaujah. Ngaujah has appeared in films such as Stomp the Yard (2007) and Money Monster (2016) as well as spending time on Broadway. Now he can add on being the voice of Doomfist to his resume.

Ngaujah doesn’t offer the high energy and comedic stylings of Terry Crews. Instead, he offers a more serious approach to the character. And there were no hard feelings from Crews.

“I will always love Overwatch and everyone at Blizzard,” Crews tweeted Thursday. “Doomfist is incredible and I’m happy to have had all the fans consideration.”

Although Crews isn’t voicing Doomfist, with his talent there’s a chance he might appear in Overwatch as another hero.

In addition to the Origin story for the Nigerian anti-hero Blizzard also released a developer update for the new character.

Doomfist Overwatch reveal: Jeff Kaplan talks Doomfist

In the developer update, Jeff Kaplan gives Doomfist’s backstory as well as breaking down his abilities.

What we learned from Kaplan is that Doomfist is an offensive hero who’s abilities center around his gauntlet. He uses abilities like Rocket Punch, Rising Uppercut and Seismic Slam to punch enemies into walls, up into the sky and down into the ground. These abilities make him a front line brawler, which isn’t always the best role for squishy offense heroes.

But never fear, for Blizzard has given Doomfist a passive called The Best Defense. This passive generates a barrier for Doomfist for every enemy he hits with his abilities. This also includes his ultimate: Meteor Strike. When using Meteor Strike, Doomfist leaps into the sky and crashes down dealing AOE damage and stunning his targets.

Although Doomfist’s play style is tied to his gauntlet it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have ranged options. The Overwatch team has given Doomfist the Hand Cannon, a shotgun weapon attached to his knuckles. The shotgun has four shots and has regenerating ammo.

We don’t know yet how Doomfist will fit in the current dive meta. But watching streams of players like Brandon “Seagull” Larned leads us to believe that he will be a diver, not an anti-diver. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Doomfist is currently available to play on the PTR.


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Overwatch Contenders week 5: A tale of two finals

Europe

eUnited was favored to win the tournament since June. Their competition in the bracket never really matched up, no matter what or when the match happened. eUnited showed top tier gameplay, coupled with outstanding performances, putting them ahead of the rest of the teams within the European bracket. Their staunchest opponent only reared their ugly head in the final match, an ironic twist of fate. 123, the culmination of unsponsored talent, rose to the occasion. It wasn’t Misfits, or Ninjas in Pyjamas, or even Laser Kittenz – it was a living mirror reflection of eUnited’s team-first mentality.

Dota 2 Power Rankings Team Liquid

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

The ensuing final match was like watching a fighter shadowbox. eUnited did what 123 did, they dove at the problem and let the rest shake out. eUnited just had more firepower than 123, with players like Kruise out-shining Snillo and Mistakes. Vallutaja (pronounced Vallutaya) wasn’t forced to carry heavily like his counterpart Mistakes on Tracer. The D.Va play from uNFixed and Kodak was not comparable. uNFIxed planted himself in front of Snillo and absorbed every bullet, rocket and mean look he had. Kodak had less impact simply because Kruise on Genji never bothered to deal with the D.Va unless he had to.

The score of four to one does not reflect what exactly happened in this match. The key difference between eUnited and 123 was flexibility and firepower. Kruise and Boombox (on Zenyatta) were better than their counterparts. eUnited compensated their deficiencies by plugging their better players into situations where they flourish. 123 could only do what they knew and practiced, never deviating, never wavering, less the house collapse.

North America

While undoubtedly the favorites to win it all, Immortals were not the talk of the tournament. Yes, they won, beating Liquid handedly in a four to one match where Liquid looked hard press to attempt any strategy without a strong counter. But the talk of the tournament was a former sponsored team, now freelance. It was a contenders storyline made in heaven with FNRGFE showing the grit to battle their way in and around every situation. They fell short, like any sad film where the real hero never sees the finish line. They did, however, make it into Season One, and if any indication is true, we’ll be seeing more out of them in the coming months.

Immortals, on the other hand, looked as poised as ever to not just secure the win but annihilate the competition. Whether tired from the previous down to the wire match or overwhelmed, Liquid looked lost. Their one shining win was beating Immortals on Gibraltar, which very well could have been the start of a streak. It was more a bump on the Immortals pathway towards the finale. It’s hard to describe just what exactly makes them better than Liquid. Their DPS with GrimReality and Agilities looked ready to pick and play any hero to guarantee a win. They not only wanted to win, they looked like they wanted to prove something.

One thread to reflect on is that Immortals won the second day of open bracket back in June. They lost to Arc6 (Formerly Yikes!) in a two to nothing rout and later were held to their only draw against them in groups. Now they’re kings of the tournament and Arc6 will be forced to drag themselves through yet another bracket just to qualify. They improved and evolved their games week in and week out against. The only key to beating them lay entirely on knowing to exploit their sometimes rocky team fights. Liquid could not capitalize on those and went down round after round afterward.


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Zarya Guide

Zarya guide: How to use bubble power

Zarya is one of the six tanks in Overwatch and is considered the most difficult to play. Yet, when played well she is the most rewarding. This is due to the power of her barriers, which most people refer to as bubbles. The aim of today’s Zarya guide is to aid you in how to maximize the use of her barriers.

But first, let’s understand why it’s important to use her barriers effectively.

Zarya Guide: Why barriers are important

Zarya’s barriers are important for two reasons.

First, they are how Zarya protects herself and her team. And second, they are how Zarya builds up energy with her passive ability.

Passive Ability: Energy

Zarya’s passive ability is Energy. What it does is that for every five points of damage that Zarya’s barriers absorb Zarya gains +1% damage. This increased damage buff is capped at 100%. Which means that the more damage Zarya’s barriers soak up the more dangerous she becomes.

And Zarya can be a one-woman wrecking crew when she is fully charged.

The difficulty lies in charging that energy and maintaining it because every second she loses two points of her charge and the barriers she charges with have long cooldowns. In addition, those barriers have short durations. Let’s look at the barriers in question.

Zarya’s bubbles: One for me, one for you

Zarya has two barriers she uses, one that she uses for herself and the other for allies. Each barrier has 200 health and lasts for a whopping total of two seconds. The only difference between the barriers is that the one for allies has a two second shorter cooldown. Which means that Zarya can protect her teammates, and build charge off of them, more often.

Yet, with only a two-second duration for each barrier, it means that Zarya’s timing has to be spot on, which wasn’t always the case in the clip above.

Zarya guide: Timing is everything

Timing is everything when using your barriers to absorb damage. Too early and the enemy team will not shoot at them. Too late and the enemy team will have the chance to deal plenty of preventable damage to you and yours. So always keep in mind that timing matters when using your barriers.

The easiest way to build charge with your barriers is to wait until the damage is coming. Waiting until the enemy is shooting at you gives them little time to stop shooting you, which builds you charge. Another thing to keep in mind is that Zarya’s barriers are not limited to blocking 200 points of damage.

In fact, Zarya’s barriers can block all of D.Va’s, Junkrat’s and Tracer’s ultimates if timed correctly. Zarya’s barriers can do this because those ultimates are single bursts of damage. Her barriers also stop teammates from being killed by Reinhardt’s pin and negates the knockdown from Earthshatter.

That is it for Zarya. Hopefully this guide helps you improve with Zarya’s bubble power. Let us know what you think in the comments below.


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Apex vs Contenders: A tournament showdown

There are only two tournaments running right now. Apex and Overwatch Contenders. Contenders is the Blizzard sanctioned tournament that is running in North America and Europe whereas Apex is in South Korea and has probably the best four teams in the world competing in it. Both of these tournaments have different formats. Which is better?

Overwatch Contenders

Season 0 of the Overwatch Contenders has been a bit of a gong show so far. The qualifiers for it were open to everyone and forced teams to play a grueling 12 hour day of constant games; those who didn’t qualify on day one were forced to play yet another 12 hour day to get to top 8. Then, once we had the groups, we couldn’t even see all of the games. Each group would play games at the same time but only one would be streamed, which sucks. We would miss massive matches like Cloud9 vs Kungarna or Misfits vs Laser Kittenz.

Frankly, the tournament is nearly a failure. Luckily, Overwatch is an entertaining game to watch and the NA group stages pulled over 20,000 viewers at its peak. A respectable viewership. The problem with this is that it wasn’t a good representation of Overwatch as a game.

However, we missed the most important part of a tournament: story line building. Going into the tournament we had several story lines brewing; Cloud9 vs Kungarna had its fair share of trash talk on Twitter beforehand. The game went to a 2-2 draw and apparently was an exciting game. We wouldn’t know because it wasn’t streamed. One of the best games of the year and it wasn’t even streamed, which is a huge shame.

Another high stakes and story-building game was Misfits vs LaserKittenz. The teams have taken potshots at each other on Twitter before. Specifically, between Reinforce and Alicus. Though, both have begun making their statements more professional making it, at least for me, all the more entertaining. This is how fans are made and retained.

OGN Apex

OGN has set up their Overwatch tournament in a completely different style to the Overwatch Contenders. It is exclusively a LAN with every match being televised with lots of time in between games. Season 3 has been running since April 26th and we are just now getting to the Semi-Finals. Having this massive amount of time between matches, four matches a week, has certain advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that every team gets more time to prepare for their upcoming opponent and cater their strategies to them.

This is part of the reason that Rogue were so unsuccessful there. When you are trying to separate the top teams in the world, it often comes down to things beyond mechanical skill. Out-skilling Lunatic-Hai isn’t an option, so you have to try to out-think them. The Koreans proved that they are the superior strategists. One could almost say that they are better at thinking about the game than the west. We do not have enough evidence to make that claim. All the evidence has shown this though, with a few exceptions.

This means that Apex gives coaches even more importance than Overwatch Contenders, because you have a week, or more, to prepare for a single opponent. You can craft individual strategies, such as the Rogue-busting strategy, for each team and each match.

OGN Apex has done a wonderful job of building up story lines. EnVyUs has been in the tournament every single season, winning the first one, and is looking strong once again. Whereas, you also have teams like RunAway pulling off a Cinderella run to the finals last season. Every team is so chock full of superstars and the fact that we get to see every single match has given us great rivalries. Lunatic-Hai vs nV is a big one but there are other smaller ones within teams such as Flow3rs’ wrist issues.

Comparison

Undoubtedly, Apex is a better tournament than Overwatch Contenders. If you want to watch the best Overwatch the world has to offer then you need to watch Apex. If you want the best story lines you need to watch Apex. The only thing that Overwatch Contenders has going for it is time of day it takes place, and the western teams.

Contenders could take a page out of Apex’s book. Stream all matches, and if you can’t do that, then you need to stream the high profile ones. Make teams earn their chance at the spotlight. Sure they beat a bunch of plebs to qualify, but I would rather watch Misfits vs Laser Kittenz than Team eSporters Cyberathletes take on Ninjas with Attitude. The latter match was to determine who would get last in the group whereas the former was to determine first; AND Misfits and Laser Kittenz have a history together.

We did get to see EnVyUs vs Lunatic-Hai, and have seen that match every time it aired. We all also got to watch the nV vs Rogue matchup in season 1. When Rogue was a totally different team. Rogue and nV got invited for season 3, generating a lot of excitement. Excitement was generated through the hope that they would play against each other, a rematch of last year. OGN developed the story line throughout their seasons.

Contenders didn’t do everything badly. The group stage seeding was a lot better than the seeding of Apex this year. Seriously, Rogue, KongDoo Panthera and Lunatic-Hai all in the same group. Shame OGN, shame. Whereas with Contenders it was a genuine surprise that Cloud9 didn’t make it out of group stages.

If Blizzard takes the criticisms to heart, which it seems they are, then the tournament can have a long lifespan. Blizzard has already responded to people complaining about the times the tournaments took place by moving the times up three hours.

Contenders is still young and while they should have a better starting place, there is hope. Whether the tournament is a success is entirely up to Blizzard and how they respond to the community. Which looks promising. Granted, we haven’t seen a lot of reactions from them about other criticisms such as streaming.


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The Overwatch League will succeed

Overwatch has so many things going for it that it cannot be anything but a successful esport. Yes, there are problems with the game currently, but nothing that can’t be solved. And they will be solved. Blizzard has put a lot of resources behind the game to ensure that it will receive everything it needs to succeed. The Overwatch League is on the horizon and soon we will have a long lasting and stable esport.

MonteCristo and Doa, two of the best casters in esports in general, left their cushy jobs in South Korea working for OGN to move back to the States to gamble on Overwatch. Which, to me, shows that it is far less of a risk than people have been making it out to be. Reddit, and others, have been constantly criticizing Blizzard over the way that they have been handling the OWL. While some of that criticism is warranted, most of it isn’t.

The biggest complaint has been the lack of communication, and that is completely warranted. Blizzard has been completely uncommunicative which is typical of them and their handling of esports. On the other hand, the other criticisms aren’t warranted. Things such as a replay system, an API, and the spectator client are things that shouldn’t be used to determine whether the game will succeed. Instead, we need to look at the numbers.

The things people are complaining about now don’t matter

Spectator Client

Things like the spectator client will help determine how popular Overwatch is as an esport. It shouldn’t be overlooked and should absolutely be complained about until something is done about it. But, we know from Monte and Doa that Blizzard is working on it. That’s why Monte and Doa are working for them in the first place. As casters, they know what needs to be worked on and some of the best changes to implement. Therefore, when looking at whether Overwatch will be successful we cannot judge its spectator client and observers as it is now. Instead, we will have to wait until the proper client gets released.

Replay

The replay system is on its way. But I don’t understand what the big problem is here, just use a program similar to OBS to record your own gameplay. Yes, I understand that sometimes you forget to record it and that a replay system is handy, but the replay system will not make or break this game.

API

The API has been announced and is on its way. That’s not something to worry about, but it should come as soon as possible. That would make it easier to compare how players perform in the two situations: Pre and post-franchise. See if the support that teams would be able to bring to their players would make a difference. The API is most important for the coaches to know what their players need to work on and how to most improve. It helps everyone’s understanding of the game.

Blizzard is working on these things. All of them. This shows that they hear us and are working on making things work. They have a vision and are executing that vision.

That vision is one of esports dominance and Overwatch is a piece of that puzzle.

It was recently announced that Ninjas in Pyjamas dropped their Overwatch team (who are still competing as Rest in Pyjamas or RiP). This, after Cyclowns disbanding and tons of other teams leaving a month ago, has convinced the general public that Overwatch as an esport will fail. Frankly, these losses are to be expected. Not every team will be able to get a franchise. If they don’t have the capital themselves and aren’t willing to work with investors then the only option is to drop your team. Why operate a team that you know isn’t going to be able to compete in the coming league?

It isn’t all gloom and doom

On the other hand, you have teams like Cloud9 who are operating like business as usual. About a month and a half ago they did another round of investing and got more capital. Other teams, such as Laser Kittenz, are wheeling and dealing (and effectively, pretty sure Alicus could convince me to give my future firstborn) to raise capital and make themselves more attractive to investors.

Without it officially being announced, the combine for the League has already started. Overwatch Contenders is a testing field and the combine at the same time. Even if there is an official combine later on, this stretch of games could determine whether a team will get a franchise spot or not. If a team like Lazer Kittenz is able to compete and place high (which it looks like they are going to) then they could attract investors who would buy the OWL spot for them. And the viewership for the games isn’t that bad at all.

Sure, they are getting 1/5th of the views that a CS:GO major gets. This isn’t surprising though. Counter-Strike is one of the most known esports. It has continually been played since the first iteration of Counter-Strike was released in 2000.

It’s doing well for its age

Overwatch is a year old. Take that in for a second. It is only a year old. And I get why people are complaining about the scene. A couple months after release Overwatch had its first triple digit and major LAN in the ESL Atlantic Showdown as well as weekly tournaments sponsored by GosuGamers and bigger monthly tournaments sponsored by Alienware. These tournaments are no longer being planned. There are no LANs on the horizon (beyond Apex) and Overwatch Contenders is the only online tournament right now.

Why should Overwatch get as many views as CS:GO? There is literally no reason. You can’t compare CS to one-year-old Overwatch. Although it is probably better to compare one-year-old League of Legends to one-year-old Overwatch. They look similar. But League is just now getting around to franchising their teams and bringing stability to their teams. The Overwatch League is looking to build a legacy and that takes time.

Give it time

Building a legacy takes more than time. It takes resources, but that isn’t an issue. Activision Blizzard is pouring tons of resources into the Overwatch League.

Activision Blizzard, the parent company of Blizzard Entertainment, is working to become a dominant, if the not the dominant, player in the esports scene. The acquisition of Major League Gaming (MLG) shows how dedicated the company is to developing the esports scene; no company casually spends $46 million dollars, not even Activision Blizzard. The company that owns Blizzard Entertainment is looking to dominate esports. Therefore, Blizzard Entertainment is looking at dominating esports. Which means that its latest Intellectual Property (IP) is focussed on esports. The company is dedicated to the success of Overwatch. Case and point: the Overwatch League.

Activision Blizzard is looking at having more than just a successful esport. They are looking to bring it into the mainstream and convincing the world once and for all that esports are something that is worth our time. And not just gamers time. Everyone’s time. Blizzard is working on bringing traditional sports owners together with endemic owners. Bringing these two worlds together will take hard work and patience. I am willing to wait for the OWL to come to fruition.

I believe in the Overwatch League. Do you?


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OWL Contenders Week 5: Finals preview

The finality of finals finally. We made it. Back to the bracket (no more group stages!), eyes on the prize, $25,000 to first place plus an invitation to Season One of Contenders, $10,000 to second and so on. But we don’t know who’s going to be featured on the weekend streams and there are only three matches to be shown nightly. The catch? They’ll be the best teams in those games so it’ll be a good series regardless. Capping it off, every match is a best of five which gives teams a lot more time to feel each other out.

Who’s ready?!

Europe Predictions

Eight teams are ready to annihilate one another for the top spot. Forged in the fire of groups, these eight are eUnited, Movistar Riders, Singulairty, Laser Kittenz, 123, Rest in Pyjamas (NiP), Misfits and Bazooka Puppiez.

eUnited vs Movistar Riders and 123 vs Rest in Pyjamas would be my two must see matches. eUnited has been a force of nature within the European portion of the tournament but Movistar Riders has been resilient, to say the least. Their records combined are nearly identical in groups with only Movistars sporting a loss. Add in that they supplemented their team with Destro and replaced Finnsi, and this would be a show match for sure. At the same time, eUnited losing seems farfetched but they had a rather easy group stage.

eUnited beats Movistar but it will go the distance. Five matches played out to the tune a jumping Winston slamming carts, points, backlines, jams, hoops. Counting out Logix, Cwoosh and Destro for Movistar is harsh but seeing Vallutaja’s Tracer chew up teams match after match begs to temper such enthusiasm.

As for the 123 vs Rest in Pyjamas match, it may be upset city. Pyjamas have been on the major stage a long time. High-risk games where mistakes cost matches, they’ve shown their composure. Remember they were a pro-team until a week ago. They gutted out their matches and fought through groups despite the possible blow to their confidence. The problem is that 123 makes matches look as easy as their name. They play aggressive but have their hand on the shifter, knowing when to reverse when necessary. In the matches that were streamed they showed incredible poise in group fights, a mastery of good dive mechanics. The match may go in 123’s favor but Pyjamas likely wins out in a best of five. For 123 to win out over Pyjamas it will hinge on if Pyjamas runs out of steam. They went the distance getting into the final bracket but maintaining such a push? That’ll be harder than getting there. Sprinting is difficult but there’s a reason tournaments can be called marathons. Well managed tempo for Pyjamas and stifling 123’s Snillo and Mistakes will be the keys to the match.

Laser Kittenz takes out Singularity in a roll because they want to rematch with Misfits. Destiny and magnets are the two strongest forces in the universe and that will win out eventually. Singularity is an amazing team and their matches deserve a real look into.

Misfits handles Bazooka Puppiez and this one is not going to be close by any means. Puppiez is staring down the barrel of Misfits who only want to fight Laser Kittens to the death. Puppiez tied eUnited but ultimately had to make a tiebreaker to win out over Team expert.

That leaves us with eUnited vs Laser Kittens and 123 vs Misfits. That’ll be a hell of a lot of good matches till the end of the evening for the Euro crowd. Everyone gets to see eUnited (with Boombox playing out of his mind hopefully) going ham against the rest of the bracket. 123 surprising the world with their out of the woodwork storyline. I’m sure deep down a rematch between Misfits vs Laser Kittens would arguably be the best possible outcome for their fanbases.

North America Predictions

(Quietly hopes the matches don’t go late. Yep, WOOO!)

Half the teams are breathing a silent relieving sigh. Immortals aren’t in their bracket. FaZe will likely fall to Immortals in a rout but discounting ShaDowBurn, the best Genji in the tournament, seems cruel. FaZe clutched out wins in a ridiculous stacked group. The thing is that meta feels a bit tilted after the Reaper buff and Sombra has been rearing her head in the matches, especially on defensive holds. If FaZe play smart they may take a match off Immortals but their chances are slim.

In the meantime, LG Evil with (Big) Jake who’s Soldier is the stuff of true fear, is matched against Kungarna. You’ll remember Kungarna for robbing every one of their good night’s rest and flipping the table against Cloud9 in the wee hours of a Monday morning street fight. Are upsets on the horizon for Kungarna? LG Evil is an amazing team and deserves their credit but Kungarna showed they talk smack and back it up, which means they deserve the respect as well.

I’d take FNRGFE over Renegades simply over the fact that they survived a group of death for two weeks. They lost three games in a group with Immortals who were nearly perfect. They beat Arc 6 (Yikes) so handily Twitch might have to submit the VOD to the police for abuse. Renegades post a similar record as Immortals but lack the same fatalistic feeling. This would be the match of the day for sure with upsets as a high serving.

Team Liquid vs Envision may not look like much on paper and to be fair, it may be the best match. These two teams will take it to overtime in a battle but I feel Liquid got a pass. They’re not as great as their record and Envision’s isn’t much better in the scope of things. Their group performances look eerily the same, winning close to the same number of maps. The difference is that Envision dealt with LG Evil and Liquid dealt with FaZe who’s not in the same bracket as far as teams go. Liquid wins but it’ll be a coin flip.

That leaves the winners with Immortals, LG Evil (despite Kungarna putting up a hell of a fight), FNRGFE and Liquid. Immortals for LG Evil becomes a ridiculous topic of discussion which deserves an article better written than this author can produce. FNRGFE may well cruise into the finals and get routed but it falls essentially on their ability to beat Renegades and maintain momentum in the win.

Conclusion

This should make for a great weekend of European and North American Overwatch. The tournament thus far faced criticism for some of the wild things that have occurred but has shown tremendous potential to highlight the non-Korean scene. This may be in part to Alex “Gillfrost” Gill and the Carbon series he ran months prior that featured many of these teams. All the same, it’s about the games and the players more than anything. A tournament is just a marquee hanging over a bunch of people doing their best to be the best


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