OWLET is a tournament hosting 16 teams composed of sub-diamond players competing in organized, broadcast stages. At the halfway point in the inaugural season, members of the community reflect on their experiences and share hopes for the future.
The Creation of OWLET
After coaching in an amateur tournament, Dan “Bort” Marino, envisioned a miniature Overwatch League where sub-diamond players could compete. After writing a rule book and sharing his idea with fellow co-founders, Owlet was hatched. In order to replicate the positive competitive atmosphere of the Overwatch League, the co-founders of OWLET were confronted by immediate challenges.
Recruiting a talented administrative team has allowed OWLET to create a tournament infrastructure that future seasons will build upon. When asked about initial challenges of creating a new league, Bort stated that “once we accepted that the only way to figure those questions out were to just dive into the project, they solved themselves […] Though we face major and minor challenges every day and week, we feel [they] definitely help us grow and learn – I like to think we welcome them”.
One initial challenge was the incredible early interest, as OWLET was planned to host 8 to 12 teams for its inaugural season for a forecasted 175 signups. However, by the end of the OWLET’s launch week, nearly 350 individuals expressed interest. After adapting the tournament structure to include 16 teams split into two equal divisions, the administration team prepared for the draft and preseason.
Building a Tournament and Community
Andrew “ADD” Doyle and Meg “LunaXCl” B. are both members of the tournament support team who also play on an OWLET team. LunaXCl reflected on the initial player draft, describing that she “helped plan and prep for the draft, [and] also got to sit back and experience the excitement of witnessing the draft with the rest of the playerbase!” ADD also had fond memories of the start of the season, as he was drafted in the first round, creating friendly rivalries with fellow Tank players.
The draft marked not only the beginning of the season, but of a new commitment to improvement. Once players were drafted, they would be coached and exposed to coordinated team play. Rosemary “Nekkra” Kelley, a player, caster, and member of tournament support, reflects on how OWLET has allowed her to grow. On her team, Rinse and Shine, “we try to scrim twice a week and do VOD reviews of our Owlet games […] We also try to play competitive together as often as we can just to work on synergy in a more organized environment than quick play.” This team commitment has reflected in Nekkra’s competitive ranking – she has improved from 2300 to 3000 during her time with OWLET.
Players are not the only benefactors of organized competition. As each match between teams is broadcast on Twitch, OWLET provides casters, producers, and referees with opportunities to grow. Nick “Direboyd” Quirico, OWLET’s head of casting, not only organizes the schedules for casters and fills in uncovered games, but provides technical and moral support. Direboyd recognizes the importance of this regular practice, saying that “finding opportunities to cast is your best way to get better […] It’s a lot to put yourself out there but if you stick with it, you will get more comfortable with [casting]”.
Plans for the Future and How to Participate
This inaugural season, OWLET is separated into four distinct stages with unique map pools. Each team will play two matches a week and will play every team in their division once with the goal of qualifying for playoffs following the 4th stage. Stage 3 will begin August 5th; viewers can tune in on OWLET’s Twitch channel to follow the action.
To build upon the success of the first season, Bort says that “we plan on running a concurrent Owlet tournament for players 3k rated and above. This tournament [will] provide a new challenge for those players who graduate our sub diamond tournament and allow for them to apply what they’ve learned in a more strictly competitive environment”. They also plan on offering a prize pool to motivate players to continue to improve.
For those wishing to get involved with this organization, prospective players, casters, and referees may join OWLET’s Discord here. Nekkra encourages anyone to join, as “it’s a really fun environment. We’ve tried to build a community and it’s really turned into something special. If you want to be a ref, caster, or a player, please join our discord!” Overwatch enthusiasts can find an educational, competitive, and above all, fun community in OWLET. This author looks forward to see how the organization continues to grow and thrive this season and beyond.