Mournflakes

Overwatch League Forces Gamers to Answer an Important Question

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In just a few hours, Blizzard will launch its inaugural year of the franchise esport known as the Overwatch League. This historical day has been the highlight of esports conversations ever since its rumored conception.

The actualisation, however, of the idea has been no small feat. Millions of dollars, thousands of man hours, and the household Blizzard name were all integral parts leading to the ultimate success of this launch, and with the necessary steps taken, the day has finally come.

While Blizzard prepares for the first match, many questions surrounding the league are being posed across game forums (alongside big news outlets likes Forbes and the Wall Street Journal.) While some of these questions are less important, I believe it is pertinent that we discuss one of the most hotly debated queries surrounding the Overwatch League.

Will Fans Be Willing to Attend Games In Person When They Can Watch on Twitch?

As I explained the idea of the Overwatch League to those who have never played the game, I have consistently been asked by gamers and nongamers alike, “Why will people go to a stadium and watch people sit and play games when they could watch at home?” I think this is a legitimate question that stems from well-meaning ignorance.

The key to Overwatch League’s success (and the answer to this question) will be one simple thing—community. An enthused and excited community is everything Blizzard is betting on, and everything Overwatch League fans need to be. Community has kept ticket sales to live sports steady, and will continue to do so for years to come. During any football, soccer, or other sporting event, the camera is guaranteed to pan across fans who are decked out in face paint and costumes. While some people will never understand why someone would dress up as a Cowboy, a Maple Leaf, or a Red Devil, the fan who is screaming and cheering for his or her team in person is undoubtedly having the time of their life. No one would dare ask him or her why they are dressed up because the smile on their face would be enough of an answer. They dress up, they brave the weather, and they travel across continents because they love the game and they love the community. Loyalty to a team is demonstrated through a community coming and cheering for that team in person. Now, for the first as a franchise esport, a developer has presented this same opportunity to gamers. This is what esports fans have always dreamed of, and Blizzard and Overwatch have made that dream a reality.

When friends have asked me why people would attend an esports event, I can tell them from first-hand experience why people would pay money to go watch games live, and it’s because of the community. I attended Blizzcon 2017, and while I enjoyed trying out new things coming to Blizzard games, I mostly watched esports. If my friends who doubt the legacy of franchise esports had been at the South Korea vs United States match at the Overwatch World Cup, they wouldn’t doubt any longer. The vibe that night was electric, and everyone was on the edge of their seat the entire match. But I can’t convince people that those feelings exist without having them experience it first-hand. When it comes to comprehending the Overwatch League, only feeling and witnessing a match first hand will end in understanding.  

So if you are around for any of the future matches coming up this year, buy a ticket and represent your team. Wear face paint, dress up in your team’s garb, and cheer till your voice hurts. If you cannot make games in person, host an Overwatch League party at your house and invite your buddies to come over and cheer on your team with you. Or, if your friends are spread out across the United States, create a Discord channel so you can talk about the game as you all watch together. No matter how far away you are from the action, you are in control of your Overwatch League involvement. You can question the league’s prevalence, or you can get in on the fun, it’s completely up to you. Community will be the lifeblood of this league, so I suggest you grab some snacks, invite your friends, and jump in on this historic event.

I'll personally be rooting for the Los Angeles Gladiators, but who will you be cheering for? Also, what are your thoughts on the Overwatch League as a whole? Post your excitement or woes concerning the league below!

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I don't think they'll have too much trouble selling tickets nowadays. But Blizzard will need to push hard to keep the game relevant in order to make this a worthwhile investment.

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Exactly, the hype train is super high right now. However, the community of Overwatch players is what will keep fans and new viewers interested in the long run.

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