Just when you think it can’t get any better, something else explodes into the world. In the midst of all the preparation and debate as to who makes the best Overwatch League team, Toronto is set to dominate and showcase some of the most fan-driven scenes in the entire esports industry.
As the linchpin of the Overwatch League’s map system expansion season, the Toronto Arenas will be the focal point for some of the most rabid scenes to come across the league. The recently redesigned arena, which mimics the look of Europe’s famous Medieval Castle, will host another gargantuan in the league’s enormous historical view.
We got a visit in Toronto with ESL Studio which runs the league’s pre-season International Overwatch League (IOWL) Challenge and I asked them for an exclusive tour of the new venue, the excellent fan section and insight on how the arena’s setup will be utilized.
The map selection system is still under construction, so many fans are still wondering if they’ll be getting any of the spectating experience that I am used to. If you’re living under a rock, and don’t follow the league, an intriguing new addition to the arena this season is that Toronto Arenas has added a giant map that is fully articulated, complete with its own specific entrance and atmosphere.
With its own vibe and I Want Show, Toronto Arenas will allow fans to wander through a European-style castle, view the in-game battles and even go behind the scenes of the production area. It was nice to finally step into and examine the new addition, and learn how this all works.
“This is why Overwatch League is such a great thing,” said ESL Studio representative Ken Katsuyama, and of the layers of administration, he doesn’t half-ass it. “It’s not only about getting the content that the fans want but also what they want to see.” The placement of the map, within the arena, will allow fans to make their way between the I Want Show and center of the arena, allowing them to wander through I Want Show as well.
Fans can also ascend a metal staircase situated in the middle of the roof to peer down to the fight taking place a few feet away. One of the many things I like about the new map is the size and ambition in creating it. It looks majestic and beautiful, capturing the style and heart of Europe in the Renaissance. In a city full of Victorian architecture, it’s interesting that this one is being introduced with such a cavalcade of modernity.
Let’s not forget about the tiny BOOM screen inside the arena where both the teams and fans can watch games on a plasma screen. What kind of screens can you buy for around $100 that look as impressive? Just kidding. This is an arena screen by all accounts. I want to see in person how the whole panel design, the screen content and geometry — all this intricate detail is on full display. With this much theater and energy on display, it has been amazing to watch the inaugural season of the OWL unfold. This is something I’ve done many times in my 14-year esports career, and I’m not just saying that either.
It’s no secret that in the past, the league’s design has not captivated the internet, nor managed to win over the critical masses. However, with three weeks of pre-season play to go in North America, it’s definitely a good time to look back, evaluate and learn. TSN and CTV have once again brought streaming coverage of their coverage to the globe. Things are starting to pick up and with Toronto’s addition to the league, everyone is excited to see what the future brings for the Overwatch League.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of our editorial staff.