Halfway through 2020, Blizzard has officially provided an update to the Overwatch Path to Pro initiative, including some thoughts around current issues and investments within the community.
Trevor Housten and Dan McHugh, the pair in charge of esports initiatives outside of OWL, touched on a lot of hot topics, including third-party tournaments, tier-two and three sustainability, and promoting players more.
Blizzard has already acknowledged that some of these issues are going to be hard to overcome in a short period of time, but the Path to Pro team said it is already working on ways to improve each of the most pressing areas of concern.
After the success and glowing reviews surrounding Fran’s Community Cup, the team said it has started working on changes to the framework of Overwatch’s tournament licensing system to empower third-party tournament organizers to contribute directly to the Path to Pro. This means being more open with the community and working harder to support those events from the developer side.
The main goal of these reworks is to give fans and players more events to compete in and enjoy, while also helping those third-party TOs integrate with the Path to Pro initiative.
Most of the changes made for Contenders 2020 have not provided the boost in quality the way the Path to Pro team was expecting. The combination of broadcast staff, talent, coaches, managers, and players moving in and out of the league into OWL or to a different scene hasn’t helped much.
The devs said they do feel that the changes implemented for this year have put a bigger spotlight on the high-quality matches, however, and now the goal is to improve the broadcasts as a whole, while finding more ways to consistently support the Tier 2 scene.
2020 Contenders live events and changes
The Atlantic and Pacific Showdowns have both been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Moving forward, Blizzard is trying to work out the logistics of having an end-of-the-year gauntlet that would include all regions, allowing the teams that would have attended those events to get some live matches in.
On top of that, the team is also going to revisit how players are being developed in Contenders and tier-three OW. A system is being created that will hopefully help everyone in the competitive scene react and learn when things are or aren’t working and fix them at a much faster rate.
That also includes taking a more proactive approach at the regional level while also trying to maintain the global structure that Overwatch is known for.
The Path to Pro team is going to double down its efforts to support China, Europe, Korea, and North America, what Blizzard views as the “primary regions.” This means the company will work on more first-party developmental initiatives in those specific regions that will allow for more third-party organizations to thrive and potentially branch out into other regions.
It isn’t all bad either, as Path to Pro has graduated another 60 players so far this year, with many flourishing in the OWL, although several players were brought up in response to departing players. Along with that, the Open Division has registered 20,000-30,000 global players participating in each season, and Blizzard is already implementing player feedback to improve each subsequent season.
More updates surrounding the listed issues and other pressing matters like team sustainability, the Open Division, the Overwatch World Cup, and the collegiate programs will be posted later this month.