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Esports Overwatch

Overwatch Contenders Week 3: Group stage round one takeaways

It’s remarkable how much a tournament can twist around in a week’s time. Here are a few points to mention concerning the Overwatch Contenders tournament as a spectator.

One: The lack of streams on matches is becoming abhorrent

In group stages, there are 16 very strong teams that should be all drawing in major viewership from their respective fans. We get to see eight games over two days. That’s a quarter of the number of games played in that time, and it’s not good enough, especially without a replay feature. No replay feature means people can’t go back and watch the replays themselves or even have a VOD or two to browse.

During the Saturday European games, eUnited, who crushed the competition last week, had no games on stream. None. The single best team of the bracket and of the groups gets no coverage whatsoever. This is a huge tournament. Put the big teams out there. Close matches between two strong teams yield the best results.

Two: The group format is confusing

This is going off Team Liquid’s page here. Here’s what I can gather: every win is a point, ties are nothing and losses lose a point. Ergo, a team that wins every match finishes with 12 points at maximum. So the closer you play the game, especially with a two-two tie, means you theoretically have averted damaging the chance to continue but have also done yourself no favors. This shorter gap means matches become more important and so on and so forth. Every match that ends in a tie creates more pressure to win the next one. So the emphasis is on wins overall first, followed by how many maps are won. Losses are losses and ties mean absolutely nothing happened. There, this is the format explained as best as one can without any explanation from Blizzard.

For people who’ve never seen a group stage, this is confusing, and for a tournament to go from brackets to groups, this is even more confusing. Somewhere Blizzard figured group stages are a good way to measure teams metrics and yet they did brackets first. They could have done pools and used that to weed out a lot of the teams and then gone to brackets. Evolution does it every year with over hundreds of people and it gets sorted out rather quickly. Whatever the case may be for the tournament thus far, changing styles only made it worse. When group stages are over, the tournament seems to go back to brackets. So why did they do this in the first place?

Three: The shadow of the news cycle

One group has a team that disbanded immediately following the day’s matches. Cyclowns, who a week prior showed incredible poise and play under pressure, folded. What happens next week? They’re still in the groups, so do they just give the whole group a free point now by forfeiting? There are no rules in the tournament document I’ve found that has any info for this. To make matters even worse is the Defran suspension on Selfless which forced a switch and sub-in with Carpe. Carpe had a single day to practice with Selfless who also switched Kresnick for Midnight (a D.Va Main) and finished the night going for two losses and one win. The win was against FaZe clan which is considered an upset until you look at the group performance. The Carpe and Midnight storyline would’ve been a lot bigger if Blizzard had streamed more matches during the day.

Four: Matches that were streamed were not that good

Teams getting demolished on a stream is not fun to watch. Immortals, the absolute favorites to win this, only lost a single map the entire time. Sure great play and amazing teamwork is something to study and revere. It doesn’t make for good viewing, however. Another example is the Selfless/FaZe match which essentially turned into a real match. FaZe pulled a reverse sweep on Oasis that started entirely off of ShadowBurn getting a reflect kill off a McCree Deadeye. The whole match swung and suddenly everyone comes alive. The rest of the series becomes tense as a result. That wasn’t always the case in streamed matches over the weekend.

Final thoughts

Those are some serious gripes but I won’t lie that the overall production quality was solid. The casters have found some serious chemistry and it’s working great now. We have laughs coming out of them with good jokes and insight wrapped into a solid package. The observers are doing their absolute best to really work on their camera control. You see a lot of the action the moment before it happens and get a decent scope of who’s doing it. It’s a rough job trying to guess just who is going to be making the hard picks for people. This is their inaugural season and it’s not surprising they’re trying and testing out things as they go along. It does, however, start reflecting on the tournament as a whole when even the pro team’s players start dissing the tournament on Twitter before and after their matches though. If this does wish to continue for improvement, Blizzard needs to look into making a replay system for their matches. Valve and Riot have made it a requirement for these types of things and even Blizzard can’t make the excuse of no replay. Hearthstone and StarCraft 2 have it so why is such a key feature missing. Much like this tournament, it’s in development but it needs to hurry up and fast.


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