How Blizzard can change the Esports scene in North America
I feel as though I’ve had to explain to multiple friends and family members what exactly Esports is. I have several friends who understand the basic concept of it but don’t understand how fun and entertaining it is. This is where the Overwatch League steps in.
After being announced over a year ago, January 10th was opening night. Twitch viewership peaked at just over 400,000. 400,000 people tuned in to watch a video game competition. In the grand scheme of things people gather to watch this number is relatively small, but also very big. Let me explain why Overwatch League matters.
Why does it matter?
The United States is known for a mulititude of things but Esports prowess is not one of them. In Korea they’ve been showing Esports on television since the days of Starcraft Brood War. TBS signed a deal with ESL to broadcast CS:GO on their station and I made sure I tuned in.
On January 9th Blizzard Entertainment held their first ever media day for the OWL and announced that they signed a deal with Twitch for a two year broadcasting agreement. It’s been reported but not confirmed that Twitch spent in the area of 90 million dollars to obtain exclusive broadcasting rights.
If you’re like me you tuned in to the games opening night and saw one of the best Overwatch matches I’ve ever seen played between the Dallas Fuel and the Seoul Dynasty. Seoul ended up winning the match but it was as close as they could be. Nearly to half a million people watched that game. It’s very early into the first year for OWL but from what I’ve seen online they’re living up to expectations. They loaded the booths with experts on the broadcast team. The analysts, shout casters, and production teams are insanely talented and above all engaging.
So why does any of this matter? Personally I think that it matters because this is giving the kids who were picked on for being a “nerd” or what have you a safe place to gather. The word nerd has lost its sting and gamer culture has become celebrated and cool thanks to sites like Twitch. Streaming has exploded over the past years resulting in communities of kids and now adults having a place to embrace our passion, gaming. The average age of an Esports fan in the US is 28 years old. Right on the nose for me and my friends.
Overwatch League can bring people together
Another reason OWL is important is it gives kids and parents something to bond over. Several of my friends have kids of their own and are always looking for a way to connect with them. This offers them that opportunity as well as a way to see if their passion will grow into something more than just a fan. Overwatch League is important because it’s helping to legitimize Esports as a whole throughout more of North America. If you told me 5 years ago that Robert Kraft was going to own an Esports franchise I would looked at you upside down.
I haven’t been covering Esports actively very long in the grand scheme of Esports itself but even in the “short” amount of time I’ve been around, the scene has flourished. There are major companies/sports franchises buying teams for video game competitions! Is this a business move? Yeah, probably. But even so it helps to legitimize this crazy thing we call Esports. While we’re only a couple days into season one of Overwatch League look for it to continue to do well and if things go the way they’re projected to, expand exponentially.
What do you think of the Overwatch League so far? Do you think it’s going to sustain viewership or will it die it over the season? Let us know and be sure to stay tuned to The Game Haus for more Esports news!