Top 5 Storylines at the Overwatch Open
Miss me? With the Overwatch Open LAN fast approaching, I decided to break down what I think are the top 5 stories to keep your eyes on.
5. Going in blind
Envyus came into gamescom as the clear favorites. After weeks of constant competition in qualifiers for both the ESL Atlantic Showdown and the Overwatch Open, the viewers had enough data to draw their own predictions. Even though Rogue upset Envyus in their run through the bracket, EnVy were still very much on the competitive radar.
However, we come into the homestretch of the Overwatch Open during a dearth of top tier competition. This deadzone comes as a result of teams being unwilling to show their strategies before the big event; not playing in smaller tournaments as a result. In the meantime, the meta has shifted, and many analysts are left scrambling for information. Simply put, we don’t know who will show up.
Will NiP’s dominant triple-triple composition pull them to a strong finish? How will Misfits do without Zaprey and Skipjack? What exactly is EnVyUs up to? This is the closest the scene has been since its inception. Look for every team to bring out the big guns with $300,000 on the line.
4. Different Voices
The Overwatch Open’s talent lineup was filled with surprises. Most notable was the inclusion of CSGO mainstays, Anders and Semmler, as casters. The OnFire duo brings a plethora of live broadcast experience, especially having worked with TBS previously on their Counter Strike league. Well-known for their exciting and in-depth style of casting, the two casters unfortunately come into the Overwatch Open with a combined zero public Overwatch games casted. All eyes will be on these standouts, as they try to adapt a slower analytical style of casting to the fast-paced world of Overwatch.
The other two casters are Mr X and Goldenboy, who come from Call of Duty and Halo respectively. I am actually more excited about these two acquisitions because of how similar the casting styles of CoD and Halo are to Overwatch’s. Their background in a faster, fragging-centric game should transition nicely and will bring the hype to a dull meta.
The lack of numbers on the analyst desk is a little worrying. While ZP and Huk should bring enough game knowledge between them, Seltzer will function mainly as a moderator and a host, leaving only two full time analysts. Despite being a huge pain point at gamescom, there may again be a lack of in-depth strategy discussion due the size of the analyst desk (especially considering the lack of tested experience on the caster desk). I am looking forward to see how the talent steps up to the challenge.
If the theme of gamescom was discovery, the theme of the Overwatch Open will be redemption. Very few teams were happy with their performance in Cologne. EnvyUs remains the statistical best team in the world, but their claim grows weaker every day they don’t win a Major title. REUNITED floundered out against Rogue in the finals, despite beating them earlier on in the tournament. C9 and Dignitas will look to redeem themselves after exiting last at gamescom, while also clinging onto their spots among the tier 1 teams. Above all, Rogue will try to cement their place as the Kings of LAN with another victory, but arguably facing the harder European side of the bracket.
The Open also brings promising talent into the spotlight. Hidan and Ryb will be core for Misfits to advance beyond the group stages. TwoEasy has an opportunity to upset his old teammates from REUNITED in a clash for top of Europe’s group A. Seagull will have to show the NRG bootcamp has been enough to return to the top of the game. North American up-and-comers Method will be looking to prove their qualification was no fluke. Everyone has something prove in Atlanta, making for great stories and, hopefully, even better matches.
2. A Brave New World
The biggest news out of Blizzard in the past month has been no news. Unlike many other Blizzard titles, Overwatch will not be seeing a World Championship event at Blizzcon. For all intents and purposes, the Overwatch Open will be the closest thing we get to a world title in the near future. Thus, the Overwatch Open occupies a very interesting place in the esports landscape. From a calendar perspective, the live finals will be competing with both the League of Legends world championships and ESL One New York for viewers. Maintaining high viewership throughout the entire event will be an essential test of Overwatch’s potential to compete with the top esports titles. Looking at the bigger picture, the Overwatch Open will be the watershed moment for the industry. Esports organizations and investors will be waiting on Nielsen ratings to determine if there is a future on the television platform. With Riot Games dealing with fallout concerning their treatment of the professional scene, Blizzard has the unique opportunity to capture a larger share of the gaming population. On the other side, failure to perform would mean the almost certain relegation of Overwatch to a second tier title, never to secure the large prize pools or viewership numbers to warrant large investments. Whatever happens after September 30th, esports will not be the same.
1. Winter is Coming
What if I told you the biggest story wouldn’t even be in Atlanta? For the average eSports player in the west, the game Crossfire doesn’t mean anything. But for those more attuned to the Asian esports scene, it represents the biggest reason the West has remained so dominant in the FPS genre. This is about to change. With Overwatch overtaking Crossfire as the most popular shooter game in Korean PC bangs, Asian organizations have started to branch into the scene. Notorious for strong esports infrastructure and having a deep pool of mechanically gifted players, the East has often been referred to as the Mecca of esports. Considering the supremacy demonstrated in both DotA and League of Legends by Chinese and Korean teams, it would not be surprising to see the same culture of excellence in Overwatch. We’ve already seen how strong the teams can be playing from across the Pacific and twelve hours ahead. Just think what they could do with proper teams and coaching.
Atlanta might be the last Major without an Asian team participating. It might also be the last time a non-Asian team wins one.
Let us know what your storylines to watch are in the comments below! You can catch ELEAGUE and FaceIT's Overwatch Open on www.twitch.tv/overwatchopen
For more competitive OW news, follow @GosuOverwatch.