Overwatch is coming up the ranks of the most successful eSports in the world. While it was talked about before the game was even released, it was done carefully, almost timidly. Once it came, however, the competitive scene grew quickly. Rosters were signed by well-known endemic brands, tournaments started sprouting up like weeds, Blizzard Entertainment announced the Overwatch League. It’s safe to say that Overwatch is there to stay as an eSport.
With its growing popularity, more and more people around the world will start taking notice and trying to see what the big deal is. Here, we will quickly go over everything you need to know to have some clue about what’s happening if you tune into an Overwatch match.
First of all, Overwatch is played by teams of six players, each controlling a different Hero on a map with certain objectives that need to be reached to get a point, which will get them closer to winning the map. Each Hero has its own history, role in a game and abilities. Heroes are sorted into four categories according to their intended purpose. The categories are Offense, Defense, Tank, and Support. While it would seem like a team should have a good mix of all of these, it’s not the case at the moment, as the game is dominated by Tanks, paired with a couple of Supports and maybe an Offense Hero.
While each Overwatch Map is different in look, they are split into broader categories according to what the team’s purpose is when playing it. The categories are Escort, Control, Assault, and Hybrid.
In Assault maps, the Offensive team pushes a Payload or a train locomotive as far as they can, while their opponents try to stop them. When the half is over, they switch sides. The team which got the farthest wins the map.
In Control maps, each team fights for the… control of one of three points on the areas of the map, one after the other. Once you capture the point, you have to hold it until the counter reaches 100%, at which point that part of the map is over and another starts. This game mode is played until one team manages to capture and hold to 100% two points.
In Assault, there are three points on the map. The attacking team tries to capture the first one before the timer runs out, while the defenders defend. If the attackers succeed, the action moves to the next point, repeating the same turn of events. After the attackers run out of time or take all three points, the teams switch sides. The team with the better result wins.
Hybrid maps are a mix of Assault and Escort maps. First, attackers need to capture a point at the beginning of the map, defended by their opponents. If they succeed, a Payload appears. They have to move it as far as possible. After that, the teams switch sides and the one with the better result wins.
At the moment, Overwatch competitions are held in an open circuit model, where any team can try to get into any tournament they want if they can qualify for it. With that said, Blizzard Entertainment are planning to hold an Overwatch League with localised teams, revenue sharing, draft and similar sports-like goodies.
When watching a tournament, it’s helpful to at least have an idea which teams are the best in the world in this game. If you’ve ever followed eSports before, some of these names might actually be familiar. The undisputed best team in the world is Team EnVyUs. After that, we have Cloud.gg, MisfitsGG, Ninjas in Pyjamas.OW, FaZe Clan, Fnatic.ow, compLexity.OW, Immortals.gg, Rogue, Lunatic Hai and Afreeca Freecs Blue. If national sentiments would help you to enjoy matches more, nV, C9, FaZe, Fnatic, cL and IMT play under the US flag, even though the EnVyUs roster is European, while Misfits, NiP, and Rogue are European. Lunatic Hai and Afreeca Freecs Blue are Korean, if that floats your boat.
At the moment, competitive Overwatch matches are notorious for being very hard to follow. A lot of things are happening at the same time. The best way to spectate the game hasn’t been discovered yet, the shoutcasters, spectators and other personnel are only starting to figure it all out. If you start watching an Overwatch tournament but can’t understand what’s happening, don’t fret and keep watching, you WILL get an idea after a match or too. When you finally get into it, the game is extremely exciting, fast-paced, skillful and beautiful.