As most of you would have probably noticed over the past week. Game developer, Blizzard Games, has come up with a brand new competitive eSport League called the Overwatch League. If you’re following the eSport scene, you would have also noticed how similar the format this league has with League of Legend’s LCS, LoL Championship League. This is a great move by Blizzard in an attempt to create more hype and exposure to their relatively new game, Overwatch.
Following in Riot’s Footsteps
Riot Games has been wildly successfully in running their flagship title, League of Legends. They manage their Championship Series globally and it brings a huge amount of viewership and awareness online from platforms like Twitch.tv and Hitbox. Mostly streaming platforms, and of course from players who are hoping to enter the Championship Series. This is really good for the eSport sub-industry which includes services like player management, and League of Legends coaching and boosting.
The championship series in itself runs in multiple regions and countries, and spans over months of rounds and matches. The winners of each individual League will then represent their respective regions and compete in the prestigious League of Legends World Championship, sporting a prize pool of more than USD $2,000,000. This is a huge event that takes place every single year. 2 teams from every region compete against each other in the round robin format. Leading up to the grand finals, where one team bags the first prize of usually more than USD $1,000,000.
It’s not a surprise to see that Blizzard is trying to do the same thing, or at least something very similar to what Riot Games are doing.
The Overwatch League
As shown on the official Overwatch League site, we can see there are a number of different phases. First the pre-season where they hand pick skilled and talented players from the pool in the ranked ladder. eSport organizations will then have their pick on all of these players, have time to sign them into their teams. Then we move to the “Inaugural Season” where league action is streamed live every week, showcasing the best teams playing against each other. Moving on from this, we have the World Championship Run, where the top teams compete against each other for the Championship title and chance to bring pride to their respective regions. The final phase of this is the “League expansion”, where Blizzard doesn’t really elaborate on. I’m sure we will find out more about this in the future, but now things are still rather vague.
Check out the promotion video they did for the Overwatch League –
Not a lot of information in it, it probably qualifies as a “hype video” more than anything else, but it’s really interesting to see the steps that Blizzard is taking in order to make their game a more competitive and catered to both the casual and competitive player.
Where does Blizzard go from here?
As the Overwatch League is still very new. The results of this little “experiment” are unsure. Will it bring more players to the game? Probably. Will it make a big difference? We’re not sure. Even looking back to how things were during the Overwatch World Cup, which we did an article on and you can read it here. Things still look very uncertain, even though we can tell that the direction Blizzard seems to be going in is positive.
What we can be sure of is that players wanting to compete in the League will drive many new services, and organizations looking to cash in on this new and exciting area of eSports. There are a number of things Blizzard can do better to attract more players and make this a better move for them overall.
For example, giving players base salaries and more attractive prize pools in the League, or similar to what Riot does, link everything and focus on the main yearly Championship event. Which increases the prestige and makes the League all the more harder to ignore for businesses, sponsors and players alike.