Posted 23rd August 2018 By: Derpina
Esports News – Blizzard Entertainment already has improvements lined up for the next The Overwatch League (OWL) season. Hence, the future of Overwatch is looking brighter than ever. Beyond question, 2018 and the years succeeding that would be the right time for the competitive gaming industry to try something ambitious.
Tackling the current situation and future plans of Blizzard Entertainment and the OWL, we have Jon Spector, the Director of Franchises and Competition of Overwatch, to share his thoughts on various points of the league as well as esports.
The OWL’s grand finals marked a successful inaugural season with London Spitfire as the first-ever champions. It was a big hit. According to Jon, the numbers were really impressive.
“In person, Barclays Center was sold out, which… north of 10,000 fans a day in the setup that we had…we were super happy about that. From a live viewership perspective, we just released recently it was around 11 million unique viewers over the course of the event worldwide.”
On the last night of the finals, the match was aired on ESPN-1 and Disney Channel. It was the first time that an esports event has ever been on ESPN’s flagship as the network initially aired traditional sports. Given this, Jon added that “the Overwatch League was one of the first major esports shows that was so much like an “ordinary” sporting event”.
It was recently announced that The International Olympics Committee (IOC) is now open for discussions on the possibility of esports and Olympics collaboration. However, the governing bodies acknowledged that esports not having a single organization would completely keep them out of the Olympics. This is what Jon has to say about this: “As far as a governing body goes, I’m not gonna try to speak for all of the other folks in our ecosystem about that. Overwatch is a specific esport versus… Counter-Strike looks very different or Dota looks really different or Hearthstone looks really different. My own point of view is it makes sense to think of esports as individual, specific games as opposed to lumping them all together and saying “This is one thing.”
Almost all esports have the same tournament format, but the Overwatch League is different. When asked if Blizzard remains open for more opportunities to improve the league’s tournaments, Jon answered: “We’re about to start our Overwatch World Cup again this year — that kicks off this coming weekend. Our fans love the drama and excitement of rooting for their favorite country. “Hey, how is the US gonna do this year?” We had a great underdog story last year with Japan doing surprisingly well on the World Cup. That format seems to be really engaging and fun. The players like it. The fans love it. I do think there’s a real opportunity for things like that.”
After the successful first OWL season, the league will surely have more surprises in the future. The strengths and opportunities of the competitions are now open for improvements. According to Jon, they’ll continue to grow. “We’re one season old now, so there’s a ton we can do as we continue to grow. We’ll be adding new cities, which is exciting for fans around the world who’ll have a home team. I think the big focus for us, moving forward, is going to be bringing esports into that sort of home-and-away format where, when you have a match between Shanghai and Seoul, they’re playing it for thousands of fans in Shanghai. Or the New York-Boston rivalry takes place in Boston or in New York instead of out here in LA.”
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