Overwatch: Too Little, Too Late? Roadblocks On the Way To the Overwatch League

This article is part of our Overwatch series.

With the recent news coming out from Blizzard about the Overwatch League, hype has been steadily building around Blizzard’s first attempts at bringing the exciting FPS to the global stage. According to a release from Blizzard, the seven confirmed teams for OWL Season 1 will be able to sign players from August 1st to October 30th of this year, which will include benefits for players. These benefits include, but are not limited to, one-year guaranteed contracts, minimum salary of $50,000 USD a year, health insurance and retirement savings plans, and teams distributing at least 50 percent of performance bonuses directly to the players.

The total bonuses available for OWL Season 1 will total roughly $3.5 million, with a minimum of $1 million given to the Season 1 champions, making OWL S1 one of the most profitable debuts for an esport in recent memory. With big time investors flocking to the scene, it seems like this could be Overwatch’s, and esports in general, big break into the mainstream. With city-based teams and international exposure on the horizon, it’s hard not to get excited for the future of Overwatch.

There are, however, dark clouds looming that somewhat temper the hype around Overwatch. With Blizzard being reluctant to release news about the OWL until very recently, and with opportunities for OW teams to make money few and far between, several organizations have dropped their OW squads entirely, illustrated by this helpful picture from r/competitiveoverwatch user “ThatCreepyBaer”.

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Make no mistake, Overwatch has plenty of room to grow, but the problems that plague the game at its core still exist and don’t appear to be getting a fix any time soon. These problems include:

The meta is stale. Dive meta, D.va/Winston tank combo, almost every team running Lucio, and other factors make the game incredibly stale in competitive play as the game receives few balance updates in between grueling hours of play on the professional circuit. Many pros have cited burnout due to the game getting boring and the grind becoming too tedious to maintain, which has affected even the best pros, such as NV DPS star Timo “Taimou” Kettunen.

Ranked mode is still plagued by toxicity and a lack of punishment for trolls/throwers. This makes the game incredibly hard for pros to grind in soloq, meaning there is less creativity in theorycrafting. Even outside of professional ELO, the fact that the report system in Overwatch is so blatantly useless have turned many off from the game.

Hard to watch. The relentless pace of the game is what makes Overwatch exciting to play, but it is near-impossible to keep track of all of the action from a spectator’s point of view. Blizzard has done very little to improve the spectator UI since the launch of the game, and, with OWL S1 looming, one would hope that Blizzard would take steps to make its game at the very least watchable, but sadly there is no new news on that front.

The list of problems goes on and on, but I don’t want to get too negative. Overwatch is still relatively in its infancy, and the OWL is still a source of excitement for several across the scene. Let’s just hope that Blizzard gets their stuff together in a manner similar to how it has been handling the OWL recently, before it’s too late.

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