Overwatch is the popular class-based shooter by developer Blizzard that has been slowly growing a competitive scene online. Recently, the eSports corporations ELEAGUE and FACEIT has announced it they will be holding a major tournament for the game with the finals being broadcasted live on TBS.
Overwatch is a 6v6 multiplayer only game that tasks both teams with completing a variety of objectives. These include holding control points, attack and defend, and escorting a “payload” until it reaches the end of the map. Overwatch stands out from other shooters because of the 22 heroes you can pick from, each with their own style, strengths, weaknesses, and personality. Each character is powerful, and in the hands of a skilled player, can cause come serious damage on the battlefield.
There is little doubt that the competition is important to not only the Overwatch community but Blizzard itself. This is Overwatch’s chance to break out in the eSports scene and step into the spotlight alongside other games such as League of Legends and Starcraft 2.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. This Is a 3-Round Series With The Grand Finals Being Shown Live on TV
FACEIT and ELEAGUE’s official competition will be three rounds, with the first happening over the span of four weekends. The portion of the competition, which started July 23, will continue until the end of August. All of the matches for the portion will be hosted live online and can be viewed at Overwatchopen.com. These early games will culminate in playoffs for the finals, which take place August 26-28. Every Saturday portion of the competition will begin at 3 p.m. Eastern time, with Sunday events starting at 7 p.m. Eastern time.
Once the playoffs are complete, the top eight teams across both the North American and European regions will compete against each other in the finals. Each region will have two days for their competition, with the North American portion starting on September 25 and the European section beginning September 28. Both events will take place at Turner Studios in Atlanta and will be broadcasted live on Twitch.
Once two teams are selected, they will proceed to the televised Grand Finals, which will also take place at Turner Studios.
These series of matches will be broadcasted simultaneously on Twitch and TBS, making it Overwatch’s TV debut. There has been no time listed for when the event will commence, but it is going to be on September 30.
2. There’s a $300,000 Prize Pool With the Winners Receiving $100,000
Prize money is nothing new in eSports, but this marks the first time that Overwatch has had such a major sum available to the players. While the Grand Final winners will win $100,000, there are cash prizes going to every team that places in the top 8. The Grand Final runners-up will win $32,000 and the second place team at the Regional Finals earning $24,000. Third and fourth place will receive $18,000 with fifth through eighth earning $6,000.
In comparison to the ELEAGUE Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament that had just wrapped up, this prize pool is noticeably smaller. The winners of the last competition, Vitrus.pro, won $390,000 for taking the gold. A lot of this has to not only do with Overwatch’s popularity, but that Counter-Strike has been a staple of the eSports industry for years. It’s possible for Overwatch to reach these prize numbers, but it will take some time.
3. The New Meta Has Taken Over the Competition
Since the July 19 patch the team compositions of competitive Overwatch have altered drastically. Originally, each team would run with the support heroes Lucio and Mercy, but thanks to the new update, Zenyatta has taken over once again. Now teams seem to run just Lucio and Zenyatta for supports, thanks to their wide healing capabilities and the debuff utility of Zenyatta’s Orb of Dischord.
Winston and D.Va have also made some pretty big waves in light of this change, as players have needed direct counters to the growing use of Zenyatta. Given that Winston can directly counter Zenyatta thanks to his ability to close the gab between them, his use has been far higher. This goes for D.Va as well, whose huge changes after the patch have made her far more viable in competitive play. While this game has always had a changing meta, this is one of the most interesting.
4. Teams NRG, Reunited & ANOX Have Been Dominating the Preliminaries
There are some fantastic teams playing Overwatch, but it looks like three teams have emerged to be the frontrunners. ANOX, NGR, and Reunited have taken the scene by storm, racking up an impressive amount of wins and taking up the top three spots in the standings. The North American team NRG eSports is in the first place slot and ANOX has taken the European Region’s first place spot.
NRG is co-owned by Shaquille O’Neal after the key players of Luminosity Gaming contract expired. The players include Brandon “A_Seagull” Larned, Carl “enigma” Yangsheng, Yomar “milo” Toledo, Daniel “Gods” Graeser, Mark “Pootz” Rendon, and Tim “Dummy” Olson.
Apparently, Shaq really enjoys Overwatch and has had a major interest in securing a team for his gaming organization NRG.
5. This Is Not Blizzard’s First Major Game to Gain eSports Traction
Overwatch isn’t the first game by developer Blizzard to gain significant eSports traction. Two of Blizzard’s games have been major success stories. The first is Hearthstone, whose 2016 World Championship series had a $1 million in prize pool and will wrap up at the end of September.
However, it’s Blizzard’s second game, Starcraft 2, that has cemented itself as a staple in the eSports scene. The wildly popular strategy game has not only had nearly five World Championship series but is actually taught at UC Berkey. This year’s tournament saw $500,000 in prize money and was hosted in countries all around the globe, including South Korea, Canada, and Mexico.