What is the Overwatch League?
First, we need a basic understanding of how Overwatch works professionally. The first official Overwatch League (OWL) game took place January 10 of 2018. The OWL became the first and only professional game to have a traditional American sports play style where teams play scheduled games against other teams, competing for a position in the season’s playoffs. They’re organized into twenty teams split between two conferences and subdivided into two divisions each. Players are guaranteed a minimum annual salary, benefits, and a portion of winnings and revenue based on team performance.
What are the mechanics of the game?
Overwatch has four main competitive game modes…assault, control, escort and hybrid. The teams consist of a 2-2-2 formula, 2 tanks, 2 DPS, 2 support. However, some characters can be played as alternate versions of their main role such as Mei, acting as an off tank utilizing her ice wall. Despite some changes in game play here and there, Overwatch has stayed relatively the same. Teams of 6 focusing on team work to win matches.
The ball just dropped
Overwatch 2 has been in the works for some time. Although a release date has yet to be confirmed, there has been a question on our minds. How will this impact not just the game itself, but the OWL? Well, a few days ago, the ball was dropped. Upon the release of Overwatch 2, 6v6 will be replaced with 5v5, but why, and why smack in the middle of the current OWL season? Overwatch game director Aaron Keller explained,“tanks can be problematic and noisy”. Blizzard has “always tried to make our combat easy to read and very understandable”. “Sometimes it’s just hard to track what 11 other players are doing.” The new formula will consist of 2 DPS, 2 Support and 1 Tank. I myself am an avid Overwatch player. Personally, I’ve never had a problem understanding whats going on.
Mixed feelings over decision
Some pro-players are all for the change, like Boston Uprising president Chris ‘HuK’ Loranger who agrees with the change. He argues the game suffers from “clutter and barrier issues”. However, others are not to keen at all, some fearing for their jobs. Peter Levy of the Atlanta Reign’s Gator voiced the fact not just the change was being made, but that it’s been announced during an Overwatch League season: “Imagine spending 5 years to perfect your role…..Just for it to be deleted while knowing your role does not translate to another, but your expected to give all you got till the end of season”.
I absolutely agree with Frdwnr and Hadi. These changes should have been announced after the season. Why announce this if it’s not going into effect anyways till Overwatch 2, which doesn’t even have an official release date? Furthermore, why are platinum ranked players the ones apparently testing this, but not the PROS! The backlash and fear for what the future holds in the OWL is completely valid. There’s even a petition out now by some of the pros. Regardless of your stand point, there is no doubt this is the biggest shake up in Overwatch and E-sports history. There is still plenty of time, so all we can do is wait and see what happens.