Korea is the bastion of competitive League of Legends, having the strongest Ranked ladder in the world, enjoyed by players of surrounding countries with the help of VPN services. Also, the Korean professional League of Legends league, LCK, is the strongest and most competitive in the world. The most popular MOBA in the world has been dominating as the most played PC game in the country; however, recent data from PC Bangs (internet cafes where people play hourly rates to play, which is very popular in Korea) shows that Overwatch is just as popular if not more than the reigning king of PC Bangs.
Of course, some of this could be attributed to the fact that Overwatch is the new kid on the block, having been released on May 24. The fact stands, however, that Korean players are slowly trickling away from League of Legends, preferring Overwatch. It’s quite likely that the universal unpopularity of Dynamic Queue plays a great part in this exodus. In Korea, your solo queue standing used to anecdotally define your social standing in the real world. With the introduction of Dynamic Queue, people who queue with other people have a small advantage against players who prefer to play alone, thus making it not that big of a stretch that a bad player is ranked as Diamond I or even Master because he played his games with Master friends, who picked up the slack and somewhat carried him to victory. While it’s a problem in North America, where attitude towards Ranked is lax overall, this is a disaster in Korea, where people actually care about Ranked, always trying to play their best to climb.
Calycae, an employee at a Korean gaming company, provided some of their statistics on Reddit. While League of Legends enjoyed a 43.60% share in PC Bangs before the launch of Overwatch, it immediately dropped to 34.08% on May 24th. In the following 23 days, League’s numbers dropped by 6.19%, reaching sub-30% share for the first time in several years, while Overwatch steadily climbed from its initial 11.70% to 26.84% on June 15th. According to Calycae, GettoGold, another Internet Cafe business that managed about 40% of Korean Internet Cafes, released data, which stated that Overwatch is played 29.21% of the time against 28.80% of League of Legends, in their establishments.
With so many people playing Overwatch in Korea, it’s quite likely that skilled professionals will start popping up in some time, if the game’s popularity persists for a long time instead of turning out to be a passing craze. One thing is for sure, however. With over 10 million players jumping on the hype train since release, Overwatch is a strong contender to be a long-lived game, the fanbase needed for it has certainly showed up. Now, Blizzard only needs to keep it. With one of the most important non-content-related factors in a game’s longevity, communication, being done very well, I’m quite optimistic about Overwatch’s chances. Now, it just remains to be seen how new content being released will be received. If it goes well, Overwatch might actually succeed where many failed and kill League of Legends. Or at least take a big chunk of meat out of its… backside.