Last year was a seminal one for the popular game Overwatch, after London Spitfire defeated the Philadelphia Fusion to claim the inaugural Overwatch League Championship at the Barclays Centre.
Not only did a capacity crowd of 20,000 spectators watch the finale live in Brooklyn, but a staggering 300,000 more fans enjoyed the live stream via Twitch.
This has certainly whetted the appetite for the 2019 iteration of the league, which hit the headlines recently when organisers announced that they’d signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with Coca-Cola.
About the Game
Overwatch is a team-based multiplayer first-person shooter game, which was developed by Blizzard Entertainment and first published in May 2016.
Available on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows platforms, the game is best described as a hero shooter in which players work in teams of six to secure and define control points or escort a payload across a map within a predetermined period of time.
The game also features a diverse roster of nearly 30 characters, each of which have a unique style of play to suit different strategies and missions.
Just a week from the game’s launch, Blizzard reported that there were an impressive seven million Overwatch players who had accumulated play-time of 119 million hours.
This number broke the 10 million barrier less than a month later, while Blizzard have since to look to build on the popularity of the game by introducing new characters, maps and freemium game modes.
These include casual play and various arcade game modes, which have helped the Overwatch franchise to reach a wider target market. Blizzard have also unveiled a competitive ranked mode, laying the foundations for the title to establish itself as a popular and accessible game.
What’s the Format of the Overwatch League?
Overwatch is a relatively unique game, as there’s a clear pathway that enables eSports players to complete the journey from casual game to competitive all-star!
This starts with the game’s aforementioned Competitive Play mode, after which individuals can apply to compete in the Overwatch Open Division. From here, they can enter trials to compete in the Overwatch Contenders tournament, which represents a major milestone for any aspiring player and sees 12 teams compete over the course of a year-long season.
The best and most successful teams can subsequently enter the coveted Overwatch League, which is the first major eSports tournament to feature city-based sides who have genuinely earned their place among the elite.
This year’s’ tournament will feature 20 highly qualified teams, while it will start in earnest on February 14th with a mouth-watering repeat of the 2018 final between London Spitfire and the Philadelphia Fusion.
Each team will play home and away fixtures against their opponents, with sides required to travel across the globe in search of the ultimate prize. In terms of the match structure, each contest will consist of four competitive maps selected by the League Office, with the goal being to win more maps then the opposing team.
As with standard gameplay, teams of six will compete against one another, and it’s interesting to note that each of the four maps will be contested regardless of how the first three play out. In the event of a draw on any given map, neither side will be awarded the win and this could result in a tie overall.
Casual players should also know that all matches are contested in accordance with the “Competitive Play” ruleset, with the so-called “Killcam” feature disabled. Each game will also commence with a control map type, which requires teams to fight over a series of objective areas in a best-of-three format.
All-in-all, this makes for enjoyable and accessible gameplay, and a league format that will be enjoyed by millions of fans across the globe this year. Coverage for the 2019 Overwatch League will be available via ESPN and Disney Network platforms, for example, which Twitch will also stream live action as it unfolds.
Overwatch Betting and Wagering Requirements
While Overwatch is relatively new to the world of competitive eSports, it has quickly gained a cult following and betting brands have been quick to capitalise on this.
After all, many consider Overwatch to be the next big eSport, and as a result of this they’re looking to introduce a host of new markets during the major tournaments.
These market include the overall winner and the result of individual matches (referred to as Money Line bets), along with handicap wagering on how many maps a particular team will win during a game.
The available odds will be determined as they are in any other sports betting market, with the quality of the competing sides and their recent form among the most influential factors.
Knowledge of the game and competing teams can also help to inform your betting selections and actively improve your chances of winning. This is especially true when wagering on the result of a specific game, as some maps are easier to play as an attacking or defending team and understanding this will enable you to identify value in wagers.You’ll also need an awareness of the world’s best teams, especially if you intend to wager on the overall tournament winner. Last season’s finalists London Spitfire and the Philadelphia Fusion can be counted among this number, while the Korean side Lunatic-Hai is widely considered to be the world’s best competitive eSports outfit.