The Overwatch League is by and large a success, but lately there’s been a lot of fire from fans and critics alike. Earlier this month, a significant segment of the League’s viewership base is said to have deserted it in the wake of a major controversy involving arguably the league’s top team. Now, a new shakeup has been announced that will completely re-shape the esports community in North America, and the most important thing about it is that the changes will not come from The Overwatch League itself.
Recently, The Overwatch League announced that it has partnered with game streaming service Twitch to bring eSports and esports fans into the fold. There are still many pros and players playing out their dreams away from the major esports venues that are still the league’s home, but the move comes at a time when those are lacking in many ways. High ticket prices, hard to grasp fees for non-game gear, and seating in the pits are some of the things that we’ve all seen firsthand, and the streaming service itself has become a professional powerhouse in the eSports scene. The only way for the League to rise to new heights is to get in front of esports fans.
With the Twitch deal, The Overwatch League now has an official broadcast hub for the fans to tune into, and the league will broadcast four weekends of games. When someone wins on the internet, they’ll be able to celebrate it with all their followers using the click of a button, and it’s not all about peanuts either. This, of course, will provide new benefits for future players and fans who may have been wondering if they had a place to take their talents forward. The message seems to be loud and clear: now, it’s a good idea to try out a host of new platforms that are becoming more and more integrated with esports more and more.
This isn’t the first time that The Overwatch League and Twitch have teamed up. In fact, The Overwatch League is Twitch’s first subscription-based network and one of their more popular channels (behind the gaming community Super Smash Bros. Melee). The move, though will now have esports networks running deep, a situation that will make the League’s brand much stronger in the eyes of fans.
The last few years have seen some of the most popular esports franchises in the world, specifically League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, making deals for big sponsorship money and live shows. But fans are rapidly expanding and finding new platforms. In 2015, a crowd-funded card game called Fury flourished in little more than a month, and the following game Hearthstone has transitioned smoothly into Blizzard’s core lineup of games without missing a beat. Instead of teams starting their own events, fans will be seeing more of them continue to boost their game’s brand with streaming partnerships like The Overwatch League’s Twitch deal.