What We Liked And Hated About Overwatch League Preseason

What We Liked And Hated About Overwatch League Preseason
From Deadspin - December 12, 2017

Blizzards Overwatch League is maybe the most ambitious American esports league ever, and its preseason wrapped up this weekend. The Compete staff, with an assist from our one blogparent that were still on speaking terms with, breaks down what went well last weekend and what can be improved for the regular season. The real matches begin January 10.

Im less skeptical than I was!

Many mediocre Overwatch broadcasts made me extremely ready to hate the Overwatch League. The preseason wasnt perfect, but Im much more excited for the regular season that I was a week ago.

The presentation and production, especially having teams that exist specifically for the League, really sucked me in. With names, cities, and colorsnot givens in esports!each team both on-stage and in-game looked like an organized unit rather than a smattering of players.

In-game skins with team colors for home and away is one of the best ideas Ive seen yet for competitive broadcasts. The replays did a great job of breaking down intense action or highlighting specific moments, and the studio looked professional as hell.

The biggest question that remains for me is how Overwatch League will pull in the dreaded non-endemic audience, not just players of other competitive games but non-gamers, period. If Blizzard wants to pull in the apocryphal moms, it still has some wrinkles that it needs to fix. The spectator view can still get confusing at times, especially when it focuses on one persons perspective for too long. Certain maps are easy to understand, but others dont provide good viewpoints for the action. And the overall responsiveness of the production crew to hop to different observers or cameras when the action is happening is a little too slow.

Personally, Im anticipating the regular season more eagerly than I thought Id be. But the league has a ways to go before its a product that pulls in the average sports fan to fire up a stream and watch competitive Overwatch on any given Friday.

-Eric Van Allen

Im more skeptical than I was!

At the Overwatch World Cup finals last November, I got to see Overwatchs new spectator modes in action. The team colors, the birds-eye view mode, and the instant replays all made Overwatch matches easier to follow, and the wild energy in the stadium helped, too. As I walked out of the World Cup finals, high on the cheers of the crowd, I thought, Maybe Overwatch League has a chance after all.

After watching the preseason, though, Im back down to Earth. Commentating and producing live sports is hard, but the Overwatch announcers and producers seemed to struggle to focus on the right characters. Instant replays helped fill in the gaps, but I found myself longing for much, much more of the birds-eye view than I got.

The World Cup and league both struggled with a problem that has plagued Overwatchs competitive scene from day one: minimal acknowledgement of healer characters and their unique ability to turn a match around. Commentators almost never mention healer-related highlights, but theyre integral to the game.

Now that almost every team has a Mercy player, including pro teams, her resurrection skills have become central to Overwatch strategy.Her ability to heal an entire team in seconds is on par with a good Widowmakers ability to take down a whole team with a series of well-placed headshots, but commentators tend to only focus on the latter. In the Overwatch booth, killing people is impressive; saving your teammates isnt.

I bleed orange now


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