Much like the popular first-person shooter Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), Overwatch’s success has motivated its creators to invest and explore the opportunities presented by the ever-growing world of eSports. At the most recent Blizzcon, Blizzard announced the creation of the ‘Overwatch League’. This ‘Overwatch League’ seeks to create a clear pipeline to becoming a professional player, while also providing for job security through guaranteed contract-based salaries, and permanent positions on teams associated with specific localities.
The ‘Overwatch League’ is not (surprisingly) based upon a league format in which teams will consistently compete in regular Blizzard-sponsored tournament play. With Blizzard taking the lead on the eSports front, the Overwatch community is left to question whether this new format spells the end of third-party hosted tournaments.
With the recent announcement of the ‘Overwatch Winter Premiere’ event, hosted by Next Generation Esports (NGE), the answer to the community’s question seems to be a resounding NO. Much like the CS:GO scene, it appears that Overwatch will evolve and grow to sustain a year-long season, saturated with constant qualifiers and tournaments. Rather than competing with Blizzard, NGE has collaborated with them to create the ‘Overwatch Winter Premiere’, and contributes to a $100,000 prize pool. This tournament represents the willingness of Blizzard to partner up with third parties to expand Overwatch’s eSports presence as much as possible.
It is clear that the basic league play outlined at Blizzcon represents only the tip of the iceberg for what is in store for Overwatch players and viewers alike. However, as in the case of CS:GO, the community may begin to notice potential downsides of such an All-In approach to the development of a title’s professional scene. Constant tournament play, unrelenting travel schedules, and the inability of teams to practice and develop, may take its toll on players and spectators alike.
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