The 2016 game Overwatch is a massively popular online multiplayer first-person shooter video game developed by Blizzard, creators of the infamous World of Warcraft and League of Legends games.
Much like these other Blizzard titles, Overwatch got its very own professional esports league, known as the Overwatch League. But what exactly is the Overwatch League, and how does it work?
In this article, we are going to be taking a closer look at the Overwatch League as well as Overwatch in general to see how it functions as both an esports league and a game. Let’s get started.
What Is Overwatch?
Overwatch is a team-based first-person shooter (FPS). It features a diverse cast of characters, all of whom have different abilities that fall within one of the three classes: attack, tank, and healer.
Each class has its own unique set of skills, but they also share some similarities.
For example, every character can use a special ability called ‘ultimate’ which allows them to unleash devastating attacks on enemies.
These ultimate abilities are often used for team fights or when you need to deal massive damage to multiple targets.
The gameplay itself revolves around objective-based matches where players must complete certain objectives such as killing enemy heroes or capturing points.
Players can choose between the aforementioned attack, healer, or tank classes, with each class being necessary for a well-balanced team.
Attacking characters focus on dealing damage, tanks focus on soaking up damage and protecting teammates, whilst healers keep their teammates alive.
In order to succeed, the teams must work together, and each class must play their part!
What Is The Overwatch League?
The Overwatch League was founded in 2017, and produced by the developers of the game OverwatchBlizzardEntertainment.
The league has a similar model to traditional North American esports leagues, with city-based teams competing against each other over the course of a season.
There are currently 12 teams in the league, split into two conferences – Atlantic and Pacific. Each conference consists of six teams, with the top four teams qualifying for the playoffs.
Each team plays home and away games against the other five teams in their conference.
This means that each team will play 14 regular season games throughout the year. At the end of the regular season, the top four teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs.
The winners of the playoffs then go head-to-head in the grand finals.
How Does The Overwatch League Work?
The Overwatch League works much like any other major esports tournament.
Teams compete in a series of weekly matches, with each match being played out over several weeks.
Every week, there is a double-elimination bracket, meaning that teams who lose twice during the week will be eliminated from contention.
At the start of the week, teams are seeded according to their performance during the previous week.
The highest placed teams receive a bye until the final round of the competition. Once the playoffs begin, however, seeding no longer applies.
Instead, the teams are ranked based on their overall record.
In addition to playing the weekly matches, teams also participate in a number of pre-season events.
These events include a variety of tournaments, ranging from exhibition matches to invitationals. Some of these events even feature prize pools.
Teams are awarded points for participating in these pre-season competitions.
They also receive bonus points if they reach specific milestones, such as winning an event. Points gained at the end of the season determine how teams finish in the standings.
What Teams Are Currently A Part Of The Overwatch League?
There are currently 20 teams in the Overwatch League franchise, including the following twelve teams:
- Atlanta Reign: Represents Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
- Boston Uprising: Represents Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
- Chengdu Hunters: Represents Chengdu, China.
- Dallas Fuel: Represents Dallas, Texas, USA.
- Florida Mayhem: Represents Miami and Orlando, USA.
- Guangzhou Charge: Represents Guangzhou, China.
- Hangzhou Spark: Represents Hangzhou, China.
- Houston Outlaws: Represents Houston, Texas, USA.
- London Spitfire: Represents London, United Kingdom.
- Los Angeles Gladiators: One of the two teams that represent Los Angeles, California, USA.
- Los Angeles Valiant: The second of the two teams that represent Los Angeles, California, USA.
- New York Excelsior: Represents New York, New York, United States.
- Paris Eternal: Represents Paris, France.
- Philadelphia Fusion: Represents Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.
- San Francisco Shock: Represents San Francisco, California, United States.
- Seoul Dynasty: Represents Seoul, South Korea.
- Shanghai Dragons: Represents Shanghai, China.
- Toronto Defiant: Represents Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
- Vancouver Titans: Represents Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
- Washington Justice: Represents Washington, D.C, USA.
All players must be at least 18 years old by the time the Overwatch League begins.
Players can apply to become part of the league once it starts.
However, players cannot sign contracts or make official announcements about joining the Overwatch League until after the first season has begun.
Each team is allowed to have a maximum of 12 players on its roster. This includes both players and coaches.
In order to play in the Overwatch League, players must be citizens of one of the countries listed below.
If you do not meet this requirement, then you may still apply to join the league, but your application will not be considered until you have been accepted into the country where you reside.
- United States
- Hong Kong
- United Kingdom
Final Thoughts On The Overwatch League
The Overwatch League is still young. It will take time before we can truly say that it has reached its full potential.
However, there is no denying that it has already become one of the biggest esports leagues in the world.
With so many teams competing and fans from around the globe, it is certain to continue growing.