More than a 12 months after the competitors was first introduced, the Overwatch League lastly obtained underway within the early hours of this morning. And boy, did it ship.
Five of the preliminary 12 groups competed within the first three preseason matches, with the San Fransisco Shock, Florida Mayhem, Los Angeles Valiant, Seoul Dynasty and Shanghai Dragons taking to the spectacular stage.
These preseason matches have been the check mattress. It gave Blizzard an opportunity to check out the world setup, refine the areas of the published that also want work and provides everybody concerned an opportunity to get used to the setup and broadcast earlier than the massive launch early subsequent 12 months. As a end result many, myself included, imagined these first few broadcasts could be a bit of ropey, with tech delays, errors and a disappointing product, and that might have been completely high quality, as a result of it is a trial run.
In truth the precise reverse was true. The broadcast was close to flawless, the world is likely one of the most spectacular everlasting phases we’ve got seen in esports and amazingly there was no tech delays. This was day zero for the Overwatch League, however already it’s difficult the likes of the LCS (League of Legends) and ELEAGUE as probably the most spectacular esports broadcasts on the market.
For years individuals have complained that Overwatch is troublesome to look at, and sure that’s nonetheless the case a occasions, however Blizzard has carried out every little thing they’ll to guarantee that the Overwatch League is so simple as attainable. We noticed the return of the color coordinated skins, which made the World Cup a a lot easier broadcast, clearly exhibiting what crew every character is on. No longer do it’s important to work out which hero is on which crew. The solely minor criticism right here is that hero outlines, which present positions by partitions are all the identical shade. Make these crew particular and this space of the published is pretty much as good as it’s going to each get.
It was additionally clear that quite a lot of thought has gone into what’s proven on display screen. Sure, it’s nonetheless simple to get disorientated when watching a Genji ult in first individual, however usually they’re ignored or proven from a unique angle. The crew additionally appeared to favour going to a Widowmaker, which was a typical choose in most video games. Being capable of watch a sniper who stands on the again and watches the entire struggle makes it simple to look at whereas nonetheless seeing some nice ability with spectacular flicks. When the meta adjustments and Widomaker returns to trash tier this may in fact be a problem, however for now it appears the observers know what works and what doesn’t.
Add within the casters and issues get even higher. The casting crew that Blizzard has assembled is actually spectacular. Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles and Erik “DoA” Lonnquist are legends of esports, being the voices of the Korean League of Legends scene for years, whereas Mitch “Uber” Leslie and Matt “Mr X” Morello are names who’ve floated round esports for some time however appear to have discovered their new dwelling in Overwatch. Both duos managed to create narratives all through the matches, however crucially would name out issues that the digicam many have missed. If you converse the language of Overwatch these guys offered key additional data.
Outside of the published specifics probably the most spectacular space was the stage itself. There isn’t any cubicles in sight, with gamers out within the open air utilizing noise cancelling headsets to drown out the casters. The primary display screen is of a strong measurement for the viewers in attendance, however much more spectacular is that the entire stage is a display screen. The total space behind the gamers is lit up with their logos and colors, and when the following map is being arrange the entire stage seems to be within the map. It actually does look spectacular, and is in my thoughts the most effective everlasting esports stage we’ve got ever seen.
It additionally helped that the matches have been fairly strong, with the match between the San Fransisco Shock and the LA Valiant happening to the wire. Every map was an in depth affair, with each groups having a number of possibilities to win it, after which it ended up going to the tie breaker map, which once more was very shut. If all of the groups are this evenly matched then the primary season might be one thing particular, and you must actually attempt to watch the VoD of that match in case you have the prospect.
There have been just a few quirks that irked some, such because the competitors solely being proven on MLG.TV and never exhibiting any viewing figures, however each strikes are solely comprehensible. Blizzard will nonetheless be seeking to do broadcast rights offers, so it’s going to wish to preserve numbers near its chest, and won’t wish to be handing out streams without spending a dime to different platforms. It additionally implies that the hardcore followers will seek for it, however the extra informal followers who simply browse Twitch gained’t see the OWL till it kicks off for actual in January. Irritating sure, however solely justified.
It appears unusual that lots of people have been fast to criticize the published. Yes, Overwatch is troublesome to look at, however in the identical manner that League of Legends or Dota is troublesome to look at. You wouldn’t tune into the LCS for the primary time and count on to know every little thing that is happening, and the identical needs to be true for Overwatch. It is easier than LoL, however with lots of of talents to be taught it’s going to all the time be a bit of complicated until you’ve performed the sport or watched so much. Blizzard’s messaging could not have helped right here, as they’ve usually made some extent of constructing the OWL a mainstream league, however this is a matter quite a lot of huge esports have.
There are just a few kinks to work out, however the first ever broadcast of the Overwatch League proved that this lengthy wait was value it. It took League of Legends years to get to the place it’s now, however the OWL is already difficult the LCS by way of broadcast high quality, manufacturing worth and normal look. No one might have count on the primary outing to go this properly, and it actually does make it appear to be the Overwatch League shall be up there with the LCS as quickly as the primary season launches in January. After being one of many league’s greatest critics only a few months in the past, I’m now a full convert and may’t wait to look at much more tonight.