Overwatch is a popular team-based multiplayer shooter game introduced by a well-known name in the video game development industry, Blizzard Entertainment. The game was released back in May of 2016 for PlayStation 4, Windows and Xbox One. The game assigns players into two teams consisting of six players, and every player gets to pick from a roster of twenty-five already defined characters or heroes. Every character or hero has a unique style of play. Heroes’ roles are divided into four categories including Tank, Defense, Offense, and Support. Players in one team work together in order to secure as well as defend their control points on a certain map. Payers also work together on escorting a payload across a certain map in a predefined limited amount of time.
Players during the game gain various cosmetic rewards which don’t affect their gameplay like different characters skins and various victory poses as they progress in the game. The game designed by Jeremy Craig, Scott Mercer and Michael Elliott was initially introduced for casual play with a defined competitive ranked mode, player-customizable server browser, and various arcade games modes. Later, the game developer Blizzard Entertainment added new maps, characters and different game modes stating that the game’s updates will remain free only with the additional cost for micro transactions made by players in order to earn some cosmetic rewards.
The game is Blizzard Entertainment’s fourth major franchise which came sometime following the cancellation of the developer’s game Titan back in 2014. The game developer decided to use certain parts of Titan’s concept in Overwatch game following growing popularity of multiplayer online battle arena games including a hero-based gameplay that emphasized teamwork.
The developers after establishing the narrative of that optimistic future Earth after a global crisis aimed to create that diverse cast of heroes which spanned ethnicities and genders. The developers invest a significant amount of time in order to adjust that balance of the heroes in order to make sure that new players would have an opportunity to have fun while more skilled players would present that exciting challenge to each other.
The game was unveiled in 2014 at BlizzCon in a fully playable state. Then the game was in a closed beta stage until early months of 2016. An open beta stage in May of 2016 attracted around 10 million people from all over the world. The introduction of the game was mainly promoted with animated videos in order to reveal the game’s narrative and every character. Upon the game’s official release, Overwatch received global acclaim from various critics who mostly praised the game for its global accessibility, bright cartoonish style, diverse appeal of its heroes and exciting and very enjoyable gameplay.
Therefore, it was not surprising that the game was considered the best release in 2016 receiving numerous awards like Game of the Year award and Game Developers Choice Award in addition to numerous other publications. The game since its introduction has become widely recognized as an esports game having Blizzard Entertainment behind its back which helps funding and producing various professional Overwatch events and tournaments.
According to the game’s developer Blizzard Entertainment, the game wasn’t developed heading toward professional competitive esports scene. Although Blizzard had that massive success with the introduction of its other game StarCraft 2, the developers have learned that it may be too soon for the new game to enter the professional esports scene since it may be dangerous to be that committed to that scene in the pretty much early lifespan of the game. Therefore, Blizzard planned to incorporate the game into the professional scene sometime later. The major esports organizer ESL back in June of 2016 announced that they will be the host of the first international Overwatch competition which took place in August of 2016. The event is called Overwatch Atlantic Showdown.
The competition used four open qualifiers which took place in June closely followed by regional qualifiers and culminating into the single final online qualifier. Eight teams were competing for an amazing six-figure prize in the grand finale which took place at Gamescom from 20th to 21st of August. The first Overwatch Open Tournament was announced by Turner Broadcasting’s League which started in July of 2016. The event offered an amazing total prize pool of $300,000. The grand finals of the event were broadcast on Turner’s channel TBS starting in September. Then in November, the game developer hoster their first Overwatch Wolrd Cup that allowed users to vote for their favorite teams representing their region or nations. The finals of the event took place during major BlizzCon event.
During major 2016 BlizzCon event, the game’s developer announcer their plans for introducing major Overwatch League using those permanents team in the league placements that are pretty much similar to that placement in traditional physical sport rather than using that system incorporated into League of Legends Championship Series. Blizzard helped to organize potential team owners while aiming to include those more local teams to participate. They hope that this local teams will be able to spark greater interest in eSports from potential sponsors and spectators through some new activities which will be supporting those local teams.
Blizzard Entertainment also announced that the major league offers a nice seven-figure payoff for the winning team at the end of Overwatch League season. There are also plans regarding paying a salary to all participating players within the league. The first shortened season of Overwatch League started in the third quarter of 2017, while the league will begin in full seasons next year having half-year long breaks starting in the fourth quarter. There was already a meeting held for potential sponsors and prospective team owners with Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke and Robert Kraft who is the owner of New England Patriots’ among the attendees.
Even though the game is very young, its talent and skill pool is quite deep. The best competitive Overwatch players started very strong in 2016 and three of them really made names on the scene. These players also were able to stay consistent into 2017 as well. The most successful teams currently are definitely Fnatic, EnVyUs and Lunatic-Hai and their leading members. The most successful Overwatch player is definitely Dylan “aKm” Bignet closely followed by Ryu Ryujehong Je Hong from team Lunatic-Hai, Kim “Libero” Hye Sung from team Meta Athena and Gong “Miro” Jin Hyuk also coming from team Lunatic-Hai. When it comes to the top earners in the first place is Timo “Taimou” Kettunen with $49,098.52 in earnings followed by Sebastien “chipshajen” Widlund who has earned $47,907.06 and Jonathan “HarryHoo” Rua with total earnings of $47,907.06.