Monday, December 11, 2017

The Bi-weekly Gamer: Overwatch lands close to home

November 15, 2017 by Adam Boyle, staff writer

When game developers Blizzard’s smash hit Overwatch hit online markets last year, no one expected how successful it would be. While the game’s honeymoon phase went on, Blizzard cashed in big time.

Then, as with most games, popularity began to waver and the community began to gradually get upset.

While the game remained fun and had a decent amount of new content added over the months, the lack of balance updates and, in some cases, the developers doing exactly the opposite of what they should’ve done—like easing up on their rules for restricting chat and banning players—caused people to feel neglected by Blizzard. On the esports front, spectator tools were terrible and viewership for competitive Overwatch had plummeted drastically.

The Bi-weekly Gamer is a column about competitive gaming that appears in every issue of Nexus.

Enter the Overwatch World Cup, Blizzard’s latest attempt at reviving its viewership and remaining a top contender among esports. With the viewership low and the Overwatch League concerning fans and investors alike, Blizzard had to use their now-annual event to show off to the world that they’re listening and taking things seriously. Ultimately, Blizzard delivered by implementing new spectator tools in its system that allow for replays to be slowed down, paused, and properly viewed.

But, for me, the real story behind the World Cup wasn’t the spectator tools; it was the matches and results. I myself haven’t played more than one or two matches of Overwatch for months, but the allure of this tournament isn’t lost on me. This was one of the only esport tournaments to properly have country-versus-country games; seeing that Canada had a team and had made it into the knockout stages made me really want to watch and cheer for my team, even if I hadn’t been playing.

Taking place at Blizzard’s annual convention, BlizzCon, the World Cup matches sure did deliver. Canada made a strong push right through to the finals, where they came face to face with esports overlords South Korea. While Canada managed to take a game off of the giants, the team was unable to knock out the final boss.

Overall, the final result didn’t disappoint me; it made me proud to see my country’s team get close and finally make a name for Canada in esports, after being lumped in with the USA for so long. Silver medals are nothing to be ashamed of.

If this is how competitive Overwatch looks, I’m excited for the future.

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