Overwatch League is a major global professional Overwatch esports league, a first-person multiplayer shooter from Blizzard. Overwatch League is very different from all other esports disciplines. If some team wants to take part in it owners must make a contribution of $20,000,000 and conform to the sports standards, such as the presence of a large sports base, training complex, minimum player’s salaries have to be at least $50,000 per year and much more. 12 teams joined the Overwatch League in the first season.
Overwatch League format is quite unusual, it mostly works as the traditional sport like American Football. 12 teams play with each other for six months in four stages of Regular Season. The champions of each stage will receive invites to playoff. Also, two more slots will receive the best teams of each division (there were only two of them). The playoffs began on July 11, the grand final happened on July 27-28 in New York, The winner appeared to be the European organization with headquarters in London — London Spitfire. Nevertheless, all players of this team are actually from South Korea.
The championship demonstrated good results, nevertheless at first time many people supposed that it would be even better. The biggest amount of viewers was at the first stage — 436,789 people at the peak without the Chinese audience. After that, the tournament started to lose viewers rapidly with each month.
The community tried to understand why Overwatch League couldn't hold the results of the first stage. Many people told that the biggest problem is that it is nearly impossible to observe the event as a viewer. The game is too quick and full of animations and micro moments and what is more — Overwatch is quite hard game for new players. Many people also told that Overwatch League had way too many matches which did not influence anything.
The start of each stage had less viewers than the previous one. Nevertheless, despite all problems Overwatch League managed to keep the audience. The fourth stage couldn't compete with the first one, although it had more viewers than the third stage. Overwatch League - Inaugural Season: Playoffs also demonstrated great results.
The peak amount of viewers was 322.072 without the Chinese audience and 1.227.637 spectators together with the Chinese. It is less than it was at the first stage, but there is still a huge escalation compared to all other stages. The average amount of viewers was 128.672 without the Chinese viewers, it almost reached the result of the first stage — 137.327 viewers on average in January. The last two days were the Grand Final, the average amount of the non-Chinese viewers these days was 274.978 spectators.
A completely different situation happened with the Chinese audience. There was only one team from China at the tournament — Shanghai Dragons. This team is often called as the worst team in the history of esports, as throughout the Overwatch League Shanghai Dragons did not win any match and finished the season with a magnificent score of 0-40. Chinese fans actively supported their team despite all the problems. After the first stage, the number of Chinese viewers fell slightly, but each new stage gathered more and more Chinese viewers. A serious drop occurred only during the playoffs, as the Shanghai Dragons did not reach the final stage due to their disastrous performance.
Many expected that Overwatch League will make the revolution in the world of esports, but the miracle did not happen. The championship faced with many problems which were hard to be fixed. Despite this, the Overwatch League was able to make the successfully start for the new discipline and demonstrated the trends for growth. It is likely that the second season of the Overwatch League can surprise many esports enthusiasts.
The number of teams in the new season will increase to 20, the new headquarters will be new cities from Europe and Asia, like Paris and Guangzhou. The cost of each slot for teams seems like will cost from $30 to $60 million. Blizzard still didn’t make any announcements with a clear start date, but it seems like to open the gate probably in early 2019. The second season should consolidate and multiply the success of the first season.
Overwatch League All-Star Weekend was the last part of the first Overwatch League season. Best players from both divisions formed two teams and made the fun competition in non-standard formant — Lúcioball Showdown, it is kind of basketball, but Overwatch. Players didn't play for money so it wasn't actually serious competition — just fun event for viewers. Nevertheless, Overwatch League All-Star Weekend did not gather that many viewers.