For a fledgling esport like Overwatch, offline tournament circuits are extremely important. Aside from being a tool to promote the game, offline tournaments help grow both the scene and the people involved.
Despite releasing just over six months ago, Overwatch has been able to foster different tournaments around the globe. Huge organizations like Turner’s ELEAGUE, ESL and Korea’s OGN have taken an interest in the game, creating large scale international tournaments with even larger prize pools.
These international tournaments like OGN’s APEX League have introduced and made known the names of the best Overwatch players around the world. Almost anyone who has even slightly monitored the competitive scene will have at least heard of Taimou’s insane accuracy or Miro’s amazing Winston showcased at the World Cup.
As Overwatch gains traction as an esport, more teams are being created to compete at tournaments. With the higher influx of teams being introduced to the space, more tournaments are both wanted and needed. But, since there logistically cannot be multiple huge international events occurring every week, more domestic tournaments are needed.
As mentioned earlier, some of the top names in overwatch like HarryHook, Taimou and ShaDowBurn have all made themselves known within the esports community. Anyone who watched at least one of the major Overwatch tournaments over the last couple months have heard about one of these players. These players were able to create their notoriety through their performances at major tournaments like MLG Vegas. Through flashy plays, creative map movement and ability to play a specific hero extremely well, viewers started to notice and remember some of these previously unknown players.
For many of the players in these newly created teams, a chance like this hasn’t been presented yet. With many of these major tournaments being invite-only, most semi-professional players lack a notable stage to display their skills. While there are offline tournaments these players can compete in, most of the offline tournaments lack any notable viewership and thus these teams/players remain hidden from the public.
If more prominent offline domestic tournaments were created, these smaller teams would finally have a chance to display their talents to the world. These domestic tournaments could put a spotlight on these small teams, which could catch the eye of bigger organizations like Team SoloMid and OpTic Gaming, both who have yet to pick up an Overwatch roster.
The upcoming Overwatch Premier is a step in the right direction. Their massive qualification system allowed for smaller, less well known teams like Kingdom Esports and Kungarna a chance to play against the more established brands like Cloud9 and Fnatic.
One of the biggest issues raised by the community over the past few weeks was Blizzard’s decision to have predetermined map pools. Many of the previous tournaments, like OGN’s APEX utilized a map drafting system, where the loser of the previous match of a set got to choose the next map from a specified category (payload, control, e.t.c). This system was thought to be the most fair for map selection.
Blizzard’s decision to implement a predetermined map system angered many people in the community, including some professional players. The main critique almost everyone had regarding predetermined map pools is its random nature. Due to this system, one team could possibly have to play their worst maps, giving the other team a clear advantage. In an interview done by Yahoo Esports, it was revealed that in Cloud9’s semifinal match against EnVyUs at MLG Vegas, Cloud9 were forced to play on their three worst maps, which were coincidentally also EnVyUs’ better maps.
More domestic tournaments would allow Blizzard to try out changes like predetermined map pools, without affecting major tournaments. As it stands currently, Blizzard is forced to try new ideas in IEM’s and MLG’s, as these are the only tournaments around with any significant form of competition.
While it may not have the number one team in the world, a domestic tournament featuring the top NA teams such as Cloud9 and NRG Esports would have enough competition and garner a notable amount of viewership. This would, in turn, give Blizzard an outlet to try out new ideas without affecting the top tournaments.
The More Games the Better
At the end of the day, more domestic tournaments means more competitive games being played. Instead of watching a meaningful Overwatch tournament once or twice a month, you would instead have one to two a week. And, for a rising esport like Overwatch, these competitive games are craved by the community. Hearthstone, one of Blizzard’s other games, grew in popularity as an esport mainly in part due to all the different tournaments being created, both domestically and internationally.
Tournaments like the Seatstory Cup and Viagame House Cup, which were previously fairly unknown, provided the Hearthstone community with high quality and competitive matches early in the game’s lifespan when there were not many other tournaments being ran. These smaller tournaments are regarded as fundamental aspects to Hearthstone’s success as an esport.
Overwatch is one of the fastest growing esports of all time, and is easily in contention for the top spot. All over the world people are tuning in to watch major Overwatch tournaments. The community desires to see new creative rocket jumps like the Zarya jump Zunba pulled off at the Overwatch World Cup, or clean, coordinated team plays such as EnVyUs’ Ana sleep dart into Reinhardt’s Earthshatter in the finals of MLG Vegas. By not creating more events, domestic or international, tournament organizers are leaving an ever growing market untapped. This next year will be critical for determining Overwatch’s true potential as an esport. If Blizzard and tournament organizers don’t monopolize over the current hype of Overwatch, Blizzard could see themselves with another esport failure like Heroes of the Storm.
Do you think there should be more domestic Overwatch tournaments? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @GAMURScom.
Article by Malcolm Abbas. Follow him on Twitter @SmashhLoL.
Photo via INVEN