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Overwatch League: Viewership Rewards, Player Retirements, Hero Pools, and Path to Pro

OWL 2019, Overwatch League season 3: news, results, teams.
Overwatch League: Viewership Rewards, Player Retirements, Hero Pools, and Path to Pro

The Overwatch League seems to have been in trouble for the past few weeks. The departure of San Francisco Shock's star player Sinatraa was certainly proof of this emergency situation. That's why Overwatch Esports Vice President, Jon Spector, discusses the current state of the league.

Overwatch League: Viewership Rewards, Player Retirements, Hero Pools, and Path to Pro

The Overwatch League has never been this bad. After its creation three years ago, it struggled to find the magic recipe for success. For the year 2020, everything had to change for Overwatch Esports. Homestands were set up to allow the first esports franchised league to expand to a global level. However, the health crisis that the world is currently experiencing has turned all these plans upside down.

After the departure of many of the league's major actors before the third season even begins — MonteCristo, Malik Forté, or Semmler to name a few — followed by the cancellation of all home matches to set up online format, it's an understatement to say that the OWL is in an emergency situation.

Most recently, it was the players themselves who decided to quit in the middle of the season. The weariness and the sometimes chaotic organization that the league is experiencing at the moment certainly had something to do with it. While Vancouver Titans seems to be a shadow of itself, it was the departure of San Francisco Shock star Sinatraa that shocked the fans.

Overwatch League MVP Sinatraa is moving to Valorant

It's news that has shocked the entire Overwatch scene. Overwatch League and 2019 World Cup MVP Jay 'Sinatraa' Won is retiring from the game to pursue a career in Valorant, Riot Games' new competitive FPS.

It's this tense climate — and to reassure fans — Overwatch Esports Vice President, Jon Spector, has decided to discuss the current state of the league but also its future on a Reddit post.

Viewership and Viewership Rewards

At the beginning of the season, we learned that the OWL would no longer be available on Twitch but on Youtube Gaming — as for all other Activision Blizzard competitions. Why this change? According to Jon Spector, this long-term partnership would be beneficial for the league. The platform offers a quality VOD system to viewers, allowing more people to watch their favorite team's games without the constraints of time zones.

Nevertheless, audiences aren't at their highest — except in Asia, where they're setting records. That's why both the OWL and Youtube are working on a way to better showcase their content while at the same time bringing novelty. The May tournament is one example and should be followed by other such initiatives in the coming months.

San Francisco Shock and Shanghai Dragons win the Overwatch League May Melee!

We're halfway through the 2020 Overwatch League season and Blizzard has just unveiled the May Tournament. All Overwatch League teams will compete against each other for a $225,000 prize pool.

However, the real problem for the fans concerns the viewership rewards that aren't available on Youtube. Unlocking tokens while watching games was a way of thanking the most assiduous Twitch viewers. On this specific point, Jon Spector wants to be reassuring and says that a similar system will be deployed on Youtube in the coming weeks.

"I’m excited to share that we are a few weeks away from bringing back token drops for watching on and our mobile app. Viewership rewards on YouTube’s platform are still being worked on, but we’re excited to have some form of viewership incentives for fans very soon."

Player Retirements

The list of professional players who decide to retire seems to be getting longer as the days go by. The Vancouver Titans are on the verge of collapsing, while Season 2 and World Cup MVP Jay 'Sinatraa' Won has made the decision to continue his career in Valorant. How do you run a league if all the players leave? Only fate will tell us. For now, Jon Spector looks back at the many reasons for these departures.

The main cause is obviously the health crisis caused by COVID-19. This causes logistical and technical issues that don't spare the players. They're going through periods of crisis and intense stress and unfortunately, Jon Spector expects more departures to be announced in the coming days/weeks.

Team Envy steps down from the Overwatch Contenders

While a large majority of the Overwatch League teams had already shut down their Contenders roster, Team Envy — Dallas Fuel Academic team — has just decided to do the same.

He also adds that he understands these decisions — which prioritize personal aspects over professional careers — and that all of these players will always "be a part of the Overwatch esports family."

Fans were also wondering whether Sinatraa's MVP skin would still be released despite all this. The answer is yes! The former player will have his own skin in-game:

"We do plan to release the skin celebrating his MVP performance from last year. This skin is something we know he, along with our fans and players, has been looking forward to, so we will release it as planned in the next few months. It’s an awesome skin and we can’t wait to share it with everyone."

Tier 2 and Path to Pro

Updates regarding Tier 2 and Tier 3 Competitive Overwatch are expected. The current ecosystem and the numerous feedback from players and staff members require changes to the model. Despite the few talented players this scene has brought to the forefront, the goals haven't been achieved. The primary idea would be to actively involve the community:

"One early idea we think has a lot of potential is running more community tournaments, as we believe the recent Breakable Barriers and Echo tournaments were very successful and fun for the broader competitive community."

Hero Pools

Hero Pools Will Now Use Overwatch League Data

Hero Pools eligibility will be determined using hero usage rates from Overwatch League games. Patch 1.47 has created significant differences between the online hero picks and the most played hero compositions in the OWL. After the end of the 2020 season, the use of Competitive Play's high-level match data will be resumed until the beginning of Season 4.

Refining the Algorithm

Minor modifications to the algorithm will be made to reduce the risks of what they call a “hero rotation ping-pong" where a hero is replaced every other week. The objective is to create some variations in the available heroes from week to week.

Hero Pools Now Only for Master and Grandmaster Players

Hero Pools will now only affect players with a Master or Grandmaster ranking (>3500 SR). Competitive Play at lower skill tiers are very varied and don't need such a system according to the developers. This change will require a client patch, but its development is only at the beginning and a deployment with Patch 1.48 seems impossible. Therefore, Hero Pools have been temporarily suspended in Competitive Play until Monday, May 4.

It should be noted that players can be in a "Master and Grand Master" match during their placements.

Sean Miller discusses Overwatch League organizational issues

The Overwatch League schedule has had to evolve in this context of international health crisis. New challenges and restrictions are to be expected.

Clémence LEMOAL
Clémence "Idril" Lemoal

La Anton Ego du jeu vidéo.

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