Just as many players jump onto the payload while playing Overwatch, they will soon be able to rush into the Anaheim Convention Center on November third for the 11th annual BlizzCon. Years past have been spent on game updates and showing off products, but this year the focus will invariably be on fans and esports. A litany of competitive events has already begun with StarCraft II, Hearthstone, and World of Warcraft. Yet, news on the highly anticipated Overwatch League has been pouring out in the preceding days to establish a deep investment in the surrounding hype. From roster announcements and team branding, Blizzard is building toward a BlizzCon focusing on putting the fan experience first. As the London Spitfire, Philadelphia Fusion, and more join the Overwatch League, a plethora of jovial news will meet fans at the 2017 BlizzCon.
2017 BlizzCon – Overwatch Anticipation with Final October Updates
Schedule of Events – What to Expect at BlizzCon 2017
BlizzCon 2017 is going to jump directly into the foray of events on November first with the opening ceremony. With three different live stages utilized, Blizzard has something up their sleeve. The opening ceremony begins at 11 AM Pacific Time for those interested in tuning in.
At this time, there is expected to be more announcements regarding the Overwatch League. However, Blizzard may simply tease an announcement and drag out the process. Certainly, they have already garnished attention for the event.
Throughout the day, the afore mentioned fan focus will continue, centering around StarCraft, Overwatch Cup, and World of Warcraft competitions. However, there will also be special events for fans, such as panels with community managers, developers, and storytellers. Unprecedented events will feature art and cosplay contests for those on seen in Anaheim.
Not all special panels will be free to the public, however. Blizzard is capitalizing on their unique experience in the form of a glorified webinar. Tickets can be purchased for 40 US Dollars on the BlizzCon website, which unlocks all live coverage, in-game goodies, on-demand replays, and exclusive BlizzCon videos. For those who do not purchase the virtual ticket, only the opening ceremony and esports streams will be available.
Regarding esports, on Saturday November fourth, the Overwatch World Cup Bronze Match begins at 10 AM Pacific Time. Finals begin at noon pacific time, and will last until approximately 2:45 Pacific Time. The final eight teams beginning competition on Thursday will be Canada against Australia, China against France, South Korea against the United States, and the United Kingdom against Sweden.
For those interested in the Overwatch League, speculatively, most announcements will come at the “Inside the Overwatch League” event beginning on Saturday at 5:30 PM Pacific time. Knowing Blizzard, however, they will be dropping Easter eggs and hints at what to expect throughout the surrounding events.
Overwatch League Updates
Since the middle of October, the Overwatch League has added official branding for more teams. Most brands are built and scanned against the cultural and historical importance a certain area beholds.
The Los Angeles Valiant will adorn a bright yellow logo, representing the limelight and glory the city of Angels bring. Using poignant irony, Mercy (the Angel healer) is their mascot. A gold-winged Spartan-eqsue helmet is a mix of “aggressiveness and protectiveness” that the group will hold as they battle together. The Valiant are owned by the Immortals, one of the major esports members delving into the Overwatch League.
Deep blue and a revolutionary spirit for a revolutionary league will adorn the aptly named Boston Uprising. “Resilience and determination” are the core values around the name which recalls to honoring the American Revolution in 1775. Boston city’s flag is adorned in blue and yellow, recalling to the deep Boston pride. The Uprising are owned by Robert and Jonathan Kraft, whom also own the NFL New England Patriots – another Boston logo harkening back to the American Revolution.
Crossing continents and heading to South Korea, the bright orange and powerful tiger will embolden the Seoul Dynasty. The name Dynasty evokes both the dynasty established by the Asian kingdom system of a bygone era, yet bestows grace into the future success of the new esports team. Only the most successful get to own the name Dynasty. The Tiger is the national symbol for South Korea, bringing about the core values of, “Strength, courage, and good fortune.”
Back in the United States, heroism will be ever present in New York as the New York Excelsior will be ordained in jovial “optimism”. Excelsior is Latin for, “ever upward,” the spirit of the New York citizens. The blue flag is representative of the multitude of cultures and concepts that have come together to craft the city, the new venture in esports, and a team of players who are on a search to come together to be crowned Overwatch champions.
If Clint Eastwood’s characters could be personified in an esports team, it would be the McCree and the newly ordained Houston Outlaws. The “self-reliant and hardy” nature of Houston will be personified in their new esports team owned by OpTic Gaming. The dual revolvers which form a Bulls logo (reminiscent of the Houston Texans) is topped with a bright green star, hence OpTic’s nickname, “The Green Wall.” The Outlaws are everything that personifies Texas, hoping to take their bold ideals to the championships.
Bright colors and a unique mascot make any team branding standout; the Philadelphia Fusion will be no exception ordained in bright orange, a particle logo, and the loveable gorilla tank Winston as their mascot. The charged particles of the logo and fusion name not only evoke the creativity of science, but the “velocity” and “dynamism” the team’s play will bring. Comcast Spectacor is bringing a familiar brand to the Fusion, borrowing from the NHL Philadelphia Flyers.
Evoking a time when heroes needed to overcome a common foe, the London Spitfire earn their name and logo from the Royal Air Force and the Supermarine Spitfire that valiantly fought in World War II. “Bravery,” will be Spitfire’s emphatic virtue as they ride into battle in light blue and orange. The color scheme is representative of Tracer, the Overwatch mascot, and the parent owner Cloud9, who already owns a rich history with the blue logo.
The Boston Uprising have made their initial roster movements, signing eight players to their team. Although the official signing window ended on October 30, they have room to announce a ninth player later. However, there is no indication they must maintain a roster of nine.
Stanislove ‘Mistakes’ Danilov of Russia will be a DPS main for the Uprising, having spent the summer practicing and dominating in several tournament leagues. He placed second in the Overwatch Contenders Season Zero: Europe season, taking the onus of the DPS movements. He will be paired with a new personality to the American scene as Gwon ‘Striker’ Nam-Ju joins the roster as a flexible character with McCree, Widowmaker, or Soldier: 76.
Experience on the roster will come from Kristian “Kellex” Keller, a Lucio main who has been playing since Overwatch launched in Denmark. Kellex spends time experimenting in the PTR while putting together Lucio montages. Lucas ‘NotE’ Meissner will be operating as a supporting tank with D.Va and Zarya. The Canadian member of the team has played with the Toronto esports team since December of 2016, even finishing number three overall in season six of Overwatch.
The other tank on the team will be Noh ‘Gamsu’ Young-Jin, playing as Reinhardt and Winston. Compared to most players, Gamsu has been playing with one team, CONBOX, for his competitive career. Although he has not taken high ranking in major events as of recent, he will be ready to go. The South Korean Overwatch setting may be less known, but their skills are sharper than most due to a studied and dedicated practice few players have. Shin ‘Kalios’ Woo-Yeol will be bringing similar sharp-shooter skill from South Korea, playing as Zarya, D.Va, or Ana. The dynamic and range of talent he brings to the roster will help the overall roster.
Jonathan ‘DreamKazper’ Sanchez and Mikias ‘Snow’ Yohannes will join the Boston Uprising team from the United States. DreamKazper has operated with Tempo Storm and Spicy Boys as McCree and Genji. Although his placements have been lower, the prospect of talent makes him a growing team player to work in. Snow, who also has heritage with Ethiopia, will be maining Ana and Mercy. Thus, his support will be in corporation with Kellex to round out a controlled and specified roster.
Kaplan on Improving Esports Viewing
As Overwatch continues to grow, more and more people have wanted to participate in the viewing. Not only does viewing help the ‘minor league’ players in watching how the best play, but casual fans and non-players are delving into the nuances of esports terminology and strategy. Although Overwatch is not strictly esports, Community Director Jeff Kaplan has released a recent developer update that deals with the specifics on, “Evolving Overwatch Esports.”
One of the meta problems of esports is the technical rules and nuances that come with learning what is happening in a certain match. If the game is too overwhelming, viewers are turned off. To mitigate this, Blizzard will be making team uniforms for the World Cup finals at BlizzCon. Just as traditional sports go, uniforms will be bright for the ‘away’ team, and darker for the ‘home’ team.
Differentiating between player personnel is one problem, understanding the map is another. Thus, broadcasters and observers now have access to instant replays, a top-down map, and a third-person viewing camera. These tools will follow all the action, so broadcaster can introduce a learning and ease of viewing environment to the matches.
For those who wish to introduce their friends to the competitive genre, or establish a minor league system (such as the Overwatch University League) a new interface has been built to make such operations smoother. The interface includes new tools to instantly pause a match should someone disconnect. A faster and more convenient interface should allow for users to ease into competitive Overwatch and learn the intricacies in a swift manner.