eSports News by Content Engine AI

LONDON (BBC News) — The Overwatch League is live on Amazon’s Prime Video and while there’s plenty to keep the interest of the usual sports audiences, one person stands out in particular.

George Butler is the man behind the voice of the hit eSports league.

BBC News spoke to him about his voice-acting career and what it’s like working with some of the biggest names in the game.

The narrative arc of the Overwatch League hasn’t always gone down well with some fans.

Some may feel like Blizzard’s attempt to expand spectator experience by moving the game from Seattle to London is a step in the wrong direction.

But, to Michael Jones, CEO of Activision Blizzard who runs the league, the shifting of the league “has been less about priorities and more about strategic optionality”.

While he acknowledges the vocal part of the Overwatch fanbase, it’s clear that popular brands don’t come along every day and Mr Jones has himself spoken publicly about his desire to expand the Overwatch audience even further.

“Many fans turn the tap off and just get on with their lives,” he said.

“But maybe when they hear me behind the microphone they feel a bit more invested in what I’m saying.

“They might not respond to it exactly the same way but I think that’s good. That’s going to create an emotional connection with the game and I’m in it for the long haul.”

Speaking to BBC News, Mr Jones also touched on how working in eSports is like trying to bring “inventiveness to a routine”.

To make the most of the opportunities available, he said he’s tended to think outside the box and the eSports community to better understand what makes their audiences tick.

Mr Jones’ sense of curiosity meant he was able to experiment with new audience experiences and even change the outcome of a match so the pro players in it had a different outcome.

In this way, the Overwatch League “infuses light and intrigue” into the game experience.

Evolving multiplayer-role playing game, Warcraft III, was first created in 1993 and is still being played to this day.

A medium with a built-in audience, eSports have become a growing global phenomenon.

In 2018, the number of games watched online grew by 200% to reach 190 million globally.

Overwatch’s growing popularity, with players across a variety of esports titles from Riot’s League of Legends to Apple’s eSports, has pushed Blizzard to take the game overseas for the first time.

Not only is London seeing the launch of the team but the Los Angeles Valiant have just set up shop in America after their 2018 World Cup success.

Mr Jones is keen to point out the different elements of the competitive eSports scene, around example the European gaming scene, with smaller clubs having more time to run their tournaments, for example.

“One thing that’s difficult is you’re competing against every game that you’ve ever played,” he said.

“A lot of Overwatch players have spent over 20 years doing this but we’re beginning to see new experiences being built.”

Video analyst David Manconi also points out that a lot of pro gamers are non-profit organisations using the game’s popularity to generate enough money to get involved in other endeavours.

Being an expert and professional gamer is all about finding “perfect synergy”, he says, and often that comes when the player is working for themselves.

“It’s incredibly hard to bring out the full potential,” he said.

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