Our Overwatch League editors spent a few (or more) hours of their life studying the first two days of the League’s preseason. And while it’s definitely living up to the hype, there’s still room for improvement between now and the first season. So they brought up a few concerns. Feel free to debate them and argue with them. We promise to only respond with memes and words that Jeff Kaplan would approve of.
1 Dude… Where’s the Payload?
Olivia: I really began to see why some viewers and esports fans have criticized professional Overwatch as boring and confusing while watching the League’s first preseason match yesterday. With so many things to focus on, even the footage being shown seemed a little scattered. I started to notice during San Francisco Shock’s Anubis game with Florida Mayhem that a lot of the footage being shown was not of the point.
Terrel: They need to focus on where the main action is… Yes, people will get solo’d in the flanks. But the main focus should always be the point or payload. You can view the solo action via replay.
Olivia: They started showing footage of Winston roaming around the map while I missed any action happening on the point, which was a little bit frustrating. You’re right though: It’s not to say there isn’t action happening outside of the point or payload. But it’s odd to be watching five minutes of Lucio riding walls around and scouting out Babybay’s Widowmaker hideout while there’s like seven people on the point battling it out.
Terrel: I mean, that is some great Tony Hawk stuff, though.
Olivia: I was going to say, were there any moments where you were actually excited to see some of the action happening outside of the main area of focus?
Terrel: The Pharah versus Pharah fight between Shanghai and Seoul was fun. But it was close enough to the payload on Eldorado…
Olivia: Right. It still felt relevant. There were so many epic Pharah fights. I really didn’t expect to see so much Pharah gameplay honestly.
Terrel: Pharmacy will always be viable. I mean… It’s a flying, healing attacker.
Olivia: With not too many counters.
2 More Explanation. Maybe.
Terrel: Okay, so the casters did a bad job at explaining what is going on.
Olivia: Are there any specific moments that made you feel this way?
Terrel: In the Seoul Dynasty and Shanghai Dragons game both teams gave up the first point. Then stapled down on their defense from there.
Olivia: Do you know why?
Terrel: That’s the thing… I don’t actually know why. I thought the casters would know and explain it to us. It seemed like there was some strategy going on that wasn’t being explained. Why did the teams give up? Why didn’t they try to defend it? There has to be some reason, especially if both teams did it.
Olivia: For new viewers this can be especially confusing, since the point is to, well, defend the point.
Terrel: If the casters had that game knowledge, withholding it did nobody any good.
Olivia: I remember you mentioning a play between San Francisco Shock and the Los Angeles Valiant, where the d.Va popped her ult. And the caster said something like, “Nevix, with his two kills from the self destruct.” Which makes it seem as though he self destructed to rack up kills, and not because there was a strategy going on.
Terrel: Yeah, it’s not all about who kills who. His comment may have made people believe it was a bad play because it didn’t kill that many people.”
Olivia: He states earlier that the d.Va self destructed to force the Los Angeles Valiant around the corner, allowing the payload to move forward. So he did explain it a little bit, I think.
Terrel: I think he should have explained it more clearly.
Olivia: What would make his commentary more effective to you?
Terrel: Why do you want them to hide around the corner? Explain that it’s forcing the flankers to stay back because they can get picks. Also, why are they choosing certain heroes? Why do they use them? What are the stats behind them using a certain hero on certain maps? I always think that there should be two people in the chair: One for color commentary, and maybe a former player. Like in most sports.
Olivia: And you don’t think all this extra narrative would be distracting while trying to watch the game?
Terrel: I think it would help people who are watching, especially during major plays. Most of the MOBAs have more explanation. As much as I don’t care for DOTA, their beginner’s channel is great for explanation. The FGC has a former player on the desk, who commentates on why somebody used a footie, or why they are waiting for a counter attack. But they aren’t as chaotic as Overwatch.
Olivia: I know this is bad to admit, but I really couldn’t stay awake for the entirety of the four games yesterday. For people on the east coast it really wasn’t a good time. But I know the actual League is taking place on the west coast.
Terrel: But when you have east coast teams, you have to placate to them.
Olivia: How do traditional sports deal with this?
Terrel: They try their best to get as close to the time as possible. With traditional sports, they will make sure their best games are on primetime: 8 PM EST. Yes, Overwatch is an esport, but they are emulating sports first.
Olivia: Hopefully they’ll change this for the actual first season. Honestly, by midnight or 1 AM, I’m either already sleeping or playing Overwatch myself.
Terrel: Most people are sleeping.
Olivia: I could have it in the background-
Terrel: Second monitor, yo.
Olivia: -but if they want to be viewed as an actual major sport, they really need a better time slot. One where not most people are sleeping.
Terrel: Some of the time slots are okay. But they need to do something about the breaks. Most of the games last around 20-30 mintues. So if you have four maps, that’s two hours, along with the 21 minutes of breaks… That’s 2.5 hours. Then add three games to that… Now that’s 7.5 hours of Overwatch. That’s a lot of time.
4. They’re Ad It Again. Get It? Okay, I’ll Stop.
Terrel: This one is tricky. There are two entities that you do not want to piss off: Your fans and your advertisers. But they have to find a way to have ads while shortening the time.
Olivia: What is your solution?
Terrel: My thoughts are play the game through. So if it’s a payload, have each team play their part, then take a seven minute break in between each game. Like a commercial break. Then have a halftime show. It would honestly still be long, but at least it would keep the action together.
Olivia: Yeah, so people don’t keep losing interest.
Terrel: I’d rather tolerate a long commercial break, then sit back and watch the entirety of the game.
Olivia: Well, with how confusing this game can be to watch to some viewers – even some seasoned players – having a break in the middle of a match isn’t really helpful.
Terrel: Yeah, they’re just showing the crowd at different angles…
What are your thoughts on the Overwatch League’s first few days? What did they get right? What do they need to improve on? It’s exciting to witness the first moments of this brand new esport. But to stay successful, viewers have to understand what they’re seeing on screen. And be awake for it. Drop your comments below or start a debate with us on Twitter or Facebook.
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