The Overwatch League is once again upon us all, although now the League is on YouTube as Blizzard has signed a multi-year contract with Google that brings all of their leagues over to the video conglomerate. While many mourned the loss of TriHard and Pepe’s that once littered the blisteringly fast Twitch channel, it seems as though the vast majority of copypastas and trolling safely made the jump over to YouTube.
What a sigh of relief.
The core of gameplay was fantastic for the entire day, and it seems like banning random heroes has worked well to eliminate the consistent mirror-matches that had teams perfecting 6 heroes, and playing them for the entire season. For the entirety of the day, there were no mirror-matchups, meaning both teams playing the same six heroes out of the entire roster. Matches were fast and furious, and Reinhardt was back to slapping everyone with a massive hammer. Genji also made a surprise appearance with the Vancouver Titans, bringing multiple kills with every dragon blade. It was almost like the stale meta’s had never been present, and that’s arguably a good thing for a team-based hero shooter.
The day started with almost 100,000 viewers tuned in to watch the first two matches that New York Excelsior hosted in their city.
Paris Eternal / Toronto Defiant
1 / 3
Toronto Defiant clashed with the Paris Eternal in the first match-up, with Paris taking an early lead on Control, Lijang Tower. Ultimately Logix, Agilities, SureFour, and Kariv proved to be a bit too much for the Eternal to handle, and the lost the next three maps in decided fashion. A new addition to the Paris Eternal roster was Xzi, and he did admirably well for his first foray into the League. Logix seemed to make it a personal mission to dunk on him in the final map, and consistently pulled off headshots in a Widowmaker duel before Xzi could even get out of spawn on Havana. Toronto Defiant came out with a deep roster, and that depth is going to make them a threat in coming matches.
New York Excelsior / London Spitfire
3 / 1
London Spitfire had a bit of a hill to climb here, and it looked great on the Control map Lijang Tower, where London pulled off a fantastic win. It also seemed to be a Control point curse, as London then began struggling to match New York Excelsior blow for blow in an intensely fought match. While London would lose the next three maps that would follow Lijang, they had an admirable performance against one of the consistently toughest teams in the Overwatch League. London has shaken up their roster considerably since Season 2, and new faces Glister (DPS) and Bernar (tank) will likely improve dramatically as they continue to gain time on stage. Nenne, for the NYXL, had an impeccable performance as Tracer, a role typically held by SBB.
At this point, broadcast changed from the New York arena to Dallas, and users would have to switch away from the stream back into the stream, else the previous stream would just play on repeat. Overwatch League lost approximately 40,000 viewers that would be maintained through the next match, trickling back up to ~60,000 for the final match.
Vancouver Titans / Los Angeles Gladiators
3 / 2
The first match of the new season to go the distance, and it was an absolute treat. OGE came out for a map on Hanamura for Gladiators, and the crowd ate it up to see the former Dallas Fuel player on the new roster. Cloudy was the primary tank for the LA Gladiators, and he did impeccably well for the majority of the time; impressive aggression at surprising times consistently pushed the might Titans to their backfoot, time and again throughout the five maps. The Control curse continued after a hard-fought five maps, and Gladiators succumbed to resounding pressure from Vancouver Titans. RyuJehong made an appearance for the Titans on Hanamura with Ana, repeatedly sending nano-boosts into Genji that would use his blade to cut large swaths through the enemy team. It was this consistent Nano-Blade tactic that cut the Gladiators down, and arguably the map that ended up losing Gladiators the series.
Dallas Fuel / Los Angeles Valiant
1 / 3
It was a rivalry match-up that once again saw Los Angeles Valiant standing on Dallas Fuel turf, almost mimicking the Dallas Homestand from Season 2. It was surprisingly coordinated from both teams as they fought back and forth; Dallas Fuel managed to eke out a victory on the Control map on the back of Doha and Decay, and it seemed as though the Control curse would strike yet again. Los Angeles Valiant picked up the next match on Blizzard World with McGravy throwing a couple of deciding D.Va bombs. Horizon Lunar Colony was the third map, and Dallas ended up stumbling after LAV put up a blisteringly fast time on their first attack, ending with 4:44 left on the clock for their second attack despite Decay’s best efforts. LAV picked up Horizon in their second attack after holding Dallas to a one-point capture. The final map was Junkertown, amusingly fitting the caster of Jake Lions’ preferred hero. LAV struggled to complete the map, and finished near the end of the third point before running out of time; Dallas, carried hard by Decay on DPS role that continued to give the Fuel a chance in the series, ran out of time on the attack at 50 meters, shortly after the second point.
Both teams had fantastic DPS, but Dallas tanks consistently struggled to stop incoming damage from KSP and KSF from the Valiant.
Memes and Dreams on the Overwatch Scene
As alluded to, there was an astonishing number of gaffs and mistakes that punctuated the entire first day of Overwatch League‘s first entrance into 2020, and they resulted in some admittedly horrible viewings. The close of the first match with Paris versus Toronto had a Victory Moment screen that stayed up for about 20 seconds straight, as the arena grew silent expecting…well, anything.
Half-time segments were held in LA with Soe manning the desk, and their talks were constantly interrupted by the screen just showing ‘Cheeze-It’, and various montages and messages of the snack. When Nenne ate a Blizzard from an opposing Mei in the second match, the screen stopped showing the action for more ‘Cheeze-It’ scenes. Production would stop showing ongoing fights, instead opting to show everyone’s face in a seemingly bizarre flex of power. Streams would backtrack for ten seconds, replaying what viewers just saw. This happened multiple times, so almost everyone watching would have different moments of excitement, making forum discussion a bit confusing at times. Other times, it would skip forward a minute or two, with the action suddenly being displayed after viewers were enjoying yet another ‘Cheeze-It’ commercial.
‘Cheeze-It’ continued to propagate throughout the entire day of broadcast, occasionally interrupting itself to show itself yet again. Player cams were 80% high-resolution, 20% 360p.; If you start seeing ‘It’s crunch time’ memes along with ‘Cheeze-It’ interrupting text online, those are memes stemming from the day of egregious technical difficulties that constantly interrupted the League.
Overall, however, it’s difficult to disregard the new face of the Overwatch League. If they can get these issues under better control, fans should get ready for what promises to be a fantastic season of the game that’s cancerous to play and enjoyable to watch.