Esports has been around for decades. From when it began in 1972 at Stanford University for the game Spacewar. As the years have gone by Esports has grown more and more. Many popular titles have amassed a large following. League of Legends, Starcraft II, Call of Duty, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Smite, and most recently Overwatch.
While Overwatch has just entered the scene they have had a very successful go of things. The world cup they held just last year brought in a total of 5,000,000 viewers. Overwatch has helped make professional playing a little more secure. With offering a base salary, and benefits that would be provided with an everyday job.
The Overwatch League has just begun its inaugural season. It’s pre-season began in December 2017 and will continue until June 2018. Overwatch League has brought in not just video game fans, but as well as people who aren’t even into the Esports scene. There are even bars to watch matches from the Overwatch League.
The Overwatch League not only has bars dedicated to watching them, but they are the first Esports to have a dedicated building for the matches to be watched. You can buy tickets if you'd like to attend in person, and see your favourite players on stage, and cheer them on.
They as well produce merchandise as you would see for a regular sports team. I myself have a jersey and hat from my two favourite teams. You can get player jerseys as you would for popular football players. They also have teams for many towns, making it so even if you aren’t into Overwatch League you can root for your city's team.
Currently, as it stands there are 12 teams. Dallas Fuel, Los Angeles Gladiators, Los Angeles Valiant, San Francisco Shock, Seoul Dynasty, Shanghai Dragons make up the Pacific Division. The Atlantic Division consisting of Boston Uprising, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, London Spitfire, New York Excelsior, and Philadelphia Fusion.
There will be four stages, the playoffs, and the grand finals. Each team trying to do its best to stay on top. We are currently in stage two and the top teams at the moment being New York Excelsior, Seoul Dynasty, London Spitfire, Los Angeles Valiant, Houston Outlaws, and Philadelphia Fusion. Each stage as well offers the top three teams of that stage to compete in a title match for a bonus of $125,000.
Much like any popular physical sports, you can even bet on your favourite teams. There are many sites that allow you to bet on your favourite teams as you would with any other sport. Overwatch League is changing Esports to not be just a niche community, but expand beyond that. To make Esports known by more than just the gaming community.
Overwatch League has set a new bar to reach for Esports. With merchandise, city teams, worldwide acknowledgement, and an enticing even those who aren’t into video games to watch. Overwatch League has helped Esports immensely as now Esports isn’t just for hardcore gaming fans, but even a regular Joe happening to catch the game in a bar.
Written by Arabella Cavazos.