With high production values and surprising game play the Overwatch League kicked off into high gear last night with their preseason match ups. Some critics have thrown stones at the league, but Blizzard proved them wrong last night with a solid show for fans and hardcore Overwatch players.
The League will host its preseason this week and then go quiet for the holidays as official games begin on January 10th. Two match ups began last night with San Fran Shock stepping in to play for the Philadelphia Fusion who has had player logistical issues and could not take part. The Shock played host to the Florida Mayhem who are made up primarily of the Misfits from Overwatch Contenders last fall. You can find a solid match breakdown at Overwatchscore.com from their analyst Wrekk.
Match two saw San Fran Shock step in against the Los Angeles Valiant. The Valiant have been a popular team in esports under the Immortals organization. After a slow run in Contenders they have switched out their roster and came back to beat the Shock in their battle. Some fantastic pushes by the Valiant on escort maps really made the difference. You can read Taco’s breakdown here. Both teams playing in California expect a heated rivalry once the season starts.
The last match of the night was the Seoul Dynasty, one of the top teams in the world, versus the Shangahi Dragons. The Dynasty are a powerhouse made of Lunatic-Hai, GC Busan, and LW Red players. These are all the top Korean teams. The Dragons have solid players from China like Fiveking and Undead, but they had no practice time going into the match. Even though it was a 4-0 win for Dynasty, the Dragons put up solid fights throughout.
Overall the production had some interesting choices. The biggest is that Twitch did not show the matches. Blizzard kept things in house with MLG.tv and on the Overwatch League website. There is no way to watch the games on television which may frustrate some new fans. However, not showing on Twitch was a huge surprise. Still, fans got very involved and the MLG broadcast chat was full of your favorite esports pogchamps.
The preseason plays like a tournament with winning teams playing each other on Friday and Saturday night this week. Tonight the Atlantic Conference teams play each other, the biggest is Boston vs. New York. While the cities host a huge rivalry, NYXL is made up of all Korean players. Boston hosts a mixed team globally which should prove to be a very difficult match up. Analysts have placed NY near the top of the ranking with Boston at the bottom for most polls. Boston is expect to surprise a lot of people though and their first test is an uphill battle.
Blizzard has wasted no time selling jerseys and hats for the league. The only downside was Philadelphia not being able to play yet, but they should come out swinging in January. One of the biggest observations is that the league definitely appeals to the hardcore fans, but new fans may struggle with the deep meta buy in for the game. It is complex for sure and someone coming into esports for the first time will need some support. For now, the League showed it can be a solid contender in the growing esports landscape.