Overwatch League VP Sean Miller On The Impact Of ‘Overwatch 2’ On This Season
The Overwatch League was at all times going to have a captivating 2022 season after it emerged matches would happen on early builds of Overwatch 2 — which wasn’t formally launched till October 4. Whereas that appeared like a dangerous (however a lot wanted) transfer, it appears to have paid off in lots of respects. We’ve had many wonderful matches this season, with the quicker tempo of Overwatch 2 making them really feel extra dynamic and thrilling.
I spoke with Overwatch League vice-president Sean Miller again in the summertime (earlier than the launch of Overwatch 2) in regards to the massive modifications this season, and the affect that the transition to the sequel has had on the league. With the 2022 OWL Grand Finals happening immediately, it looks as if a superb time to revisit that chat.
The largest change in Overwatch 2 is the shift from groups of six to groups of 5. Evidently’s primarily been a optimistic. “One of many massive issues that we touted early on this season that we have seen be an enormous profit is the 5v5 format and regularly seeing suggestions from each essentially the most engaged and hardcore followers in addition to the extra informal viewers that 5v5 was only a significantly better group expertise,” Miller stated. He additionally pointed to the brand new content material in Overwatch 2, corresponding to new heroes and maps, that has freshened issues up. That was a lot wanted after the sport stayed comparatively stagnant through the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
The ever-evolving meta has enabled some groups to stand up the ranks at numerous factors this season (take as an illustration, these Play-offs, the place the twelfth seed Hangzhou Spark completed in fourth place). “It has been tremendous, tremendous enjoyable for me to see groups just like the [London] Spitfire, who simply know what they’re good at,” Miller stated. “They pressure groups to adapt to them. It is the variation and fixed fluidity of the meta within the hero picks in these video games that’s been cool to see this yr.”
Viewership On The Rise
Throughout this week’s Play-offs, it appears the Overwatch League has been getting sturdy viewership figures, maybe buoyed by the launch of Overwatch 2. Throughout Tuesday’s hotly anticipated lower-bracket match between Shanghai Dragons and San Francisco Shock, concurrent viewership on the OWL English channel soared north of 250,000.
That determine is similar to final yr’s Grand Finals viewership, which noticed a median viewers of 218,000. And on Sunday, the primary day of Play-offs, OWL broke its stay peak viewership report on YouTube, according to Miller. Maybe we’ll see new data being set throughout Grand Finals — the truth that Blizzard will reveal the subsequent Overwatch 2 hero through the occasion actually gained’t damage viewership.
The OWL Decide’em sport, through which people had been capable of earn factors and prizes for accurately predicting match outcomes, has engaged followers as properly. Furthermore, Miller famous that with the ability to watch OWL video games from the angle of 1 professional participant for an prolonged time in a high-level aggressive setting may help followers discover ways to get higher at Overwatch 2, giving them one more reason to tune in.
Dwell Sport Parity
I discovered one side of my dialog with Miller notably fascinating in hindsight. I requested why the Overwatch League hasn’t at all times run on the identical patch because the stay sport — professional matches are likely to run on an older construct of the sport.
“The principle rationale behind it’s that we all know that with any sport, anytime you launch a patch, it’s inconceivable for a sport group to catch actually each single bug, irrespective of how a lot playtesting you do,” Miller stated. “That is notably true with the League being performed actually on a beta this yr.
“If the sport group comes out with a brand new hero, and a few pretty sized steadiness patches, and a brand new map, there’s going to be some minor issues. There at all times are in any sport. That two weeks offers us all a little bit little bit of time to repair some bugs, be certain issues work and are acceptable for the extent of high quality and polish and precision that these execs play with on the League stage.”
That’s all completely affordable. Nevertheless, it’s intriguing that Play-offs and Grand Finals are taking part in out on a patch that gained’t be obtainable within the stay sport till November 15. So, OWL is at present operating on a more recent model of Overwatch 2 than one you or I can play proper now.
“The League’s objective has at all times been to reflect the stay sport as a lot as potential, and that is an effort to do exactly that,” an OWL spokesperson informed GGRecon. “With Overwatch 2 within the fingers of over 25 million gamers, it’s important for the League to be consultant of the sport being performed by the group, and we’re excited that our grandest stage will mirror that.”
A Extra Inclusive Future
Past OWL, Blizzard is hoping that the transition to a free-to-play mannequin in Overwatch 2 will open up the sport to many extra gamers. Inside 10 days of launch, and regardless of the preliminary server issues, greater than 25 million gamers had joined the fray. Reducing the barrier to entry (at the very least in some respects) might result in there being a extra various group of Overwatch League gamers within the coming years, which is actually a optimistic — after 5 seasons, just one lady has joined an OWL group and performed within the League.
Miller informed me that the free-to-play shift was “going to result in a broader pool of potential Overwatch League viewers and gamers globally, which goes to make competitors extra fierce, and it is going to usher in new followers.”
Blizzard is engaged on some initiatives to increase the participant base on the highest echelons of Overwatch 2. A program referred to as Calling All Heroes, which is being run collectively by the Overwatch League and Overwatch 2 groups, features a Challengers Cup match that’s operating this fall. The occasion was designed as “an entry level for underrepresented genders to leap into the broader Overwatch esports ecosystem.”
Blizzard can also be attempting to assist potential broadcast abilities from underrepresented genders to be taught from skilled casters, develop their abilities and forge skilled relationships by way of a Caster Camp.
Inside a number of days of the Calling All Heroes program going stay, tons of of individuals had signed up for the Caster Camp and Challengers Cup. Right here’s hoping we see people who’re participating in these initiatives present up on the Overwatch League stage and within the casters’ sales space within the close to future.
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